I’ve had a very intriguing enquiry come in from a reader, connected to the Potters Clay company that operated the Birch Coppice quarry site between the Pelsall Road and Coppice Side in Brownhills for many years, and who still have premises in the yard opposite the Swan pub to this day.
The reader asked the following:
I need some help, please…
Can you find or do you know who the founders of the original company that started up as Potters Clay and Coal were?
Theres not a mention of them any were on the net.
I have been told that a relative, Samual Ramses Jones may have been involved.
I just looking for more information, really – Samuel’s daughter is still alive.
We know they lived at The Croft I think it was Pelsall Road – I maybe wrong. Her father died in 1939 or 40.
If you have any more info at all please can you contact me, apparently he was a well known gentleman of his time in that area.
Well, thanks for a wonderful enquiry, that I’m hoping the Sunday research crew might get their teeth into.
I’ve had a good look around, and the Potclays website has a potted (get it?) history there, which you can see at this link.
THE POTCLAYS LIMITED GROUP OF COMPANIES
Founded in 1932, the Potclays Group presently comprises the holding company, Potclays Limited, and three subsidiaries: The Potters Clay & Coal Co. Ltd., Potclay Kilns Ltd and Forward Transport Ltd.
Several other companies have been merged into the group during its history including Harry Fraser Ltd. in 1976, H.&.L Kilns Ltd in 1983, Claytec (UK) Ltd in 1992 and D.J.Shaw in 1992. The group is a relatively small one employing about 45 people.
We operate from two sites: The Potters Clay & Coal Co. Ltd, which is the oldest member of the Group, still operates from the original site where it was founded in 1932. Called ‘Swan Works’ (in Brownhills, South Staffordshire), it functions as our main clay mine and clay processing. The other companies are based in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent: Material processing, glaze manufacture, kiln manufacture, warehousing, showrooms and main offices are located at Albion Works.
And on the history page itself, the following:
The Potters Coal and Clay Company was established as a clay mining company in 1932 at Brownhills, South Staffordshire under the Directorship of William Noake. It was later incorporated as The Potters Clay and Coal Company Limited with William Noake as Governing Director.
The company operated mines in Brownhills (Birch Coppice) and Walsall (Bentley and Landywood), extracting and processing high quality, pale firing fireclays that we still use to this day.
Warbreck Noake took over the Directorship of The Potters Clay and Coal Company Limited following the death of William in 1939.
…So no mention of Samuel Jones. Now something tells me the reader may not be local, and am wondering if this may all be confused with Brownhills in Stoke on Trent?
I can’t find any mapping evidence of The Croft on the Pelsall Road on either 1:10,000 or 1:2,500 mapping at the wonderful NLS archive, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist – if researching that, note up until the mid 1910s Pelsall Road was known as Wolverhampton Lane.
In the meantime, I found a couple of wonderful photos of the Birch Coppice Quarry which I’d estimate were from the 1970s on the Potclays site. The one that really made me think is this one:
I couldn’t initially see that being Brownhills, and looked to the buildings on the left skyline, and had a bit of a surprise.
This building here…
Does indeed appear to be the former Labro Works (Was that Lakin Brothers? I think they made boats?) – see it today in this Augmented 3D image from Apple Maps.
Further, the 1981 aerial image fragment below, taken from the Lichfield District Council aerial survey set taken in 1981 shows that the northeastern corner of the quarry was quite deep and had that curved profile and treeline. At the time of the 1981 image I believe the deep part of the quarry was being used as landfill.
So, in short, what do you know? Please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.