Summer and Autumn 2022, until October 31st
St. Agnes is known in the pottery world for the Dobles clay pit which has been supplying stoneware clay since 1910. Many potteries including the famous Leach Pottery in St. Ives still use Dobles clay.
This exhibition in the St. Agnes Local History Museum celebrates a century of St. Agnes potters using St. Agnes clay.
Wayside Pottery in West Kitty, St. Agnes was established by Annette and Helen Bulkley in the 1920s, they were joined by Phyllis Shillinglaw in the late 1920s who stayed a few years. In 1949 Nancy and Frank Homer took over the pottery and stayed until 1973. Next to run the Wayside Pottery were John and Sue Sneddon who arrived in 1975, as well as using the local clay they developed glazes incorporating metal rich tailings from local mine spoilheaps. By 1981 the Sneddons had emigrated and John Vasey was producing pots at Wayside Pottery. In 1989 John left Wayside and built a pottery and showroom at his house in Vicarage Road, sadly John died in 2020. The Wayside Pottery building is currently used as a store by the National Trust.
The St. Agnes pottery tradition is being continued by Valerie Kent of Goonbell Pottery and Anne Treleaven of Churchtown Arts.
I would like to thank Clare Murton, curator of the St. Agnes Museum for permission to reproduce information from the exhibition.
Exhibition display case
Annette and Helen Bulkley
The Bulkley sisters established the Wayside Pottery in the 1920s, they made a range of pots including vases, jugs and candle sticks which they decorated in blue and green glazes echoing the colours of the Cornish sea and sky. During the summer they held throwing demonstrations to interest holidaymakers. When Annette died in 1944 they gave Wayside Pottery and their two cottages to the National Trust.
Phyllis came to St. Agnes in the early 1920s. After some training with the Bulkley sisters she worked with them at the Wayside Pottery. In 1928 one of her pots was shown alongside work by Bernard Leach, Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie and Norah Braden in the 14th Arts and Crafts Society exhibition in London. Phyllis moved to Wiltshire in the mid 1930s and later established Kenn Pottery near Exeter in Devon
Nancy and Arthur Homer
The Homers took over Wayside Pottery in 1949. Arthur built a kiln which he called a Reverberating Furnace, he patented the design and sold the plans to other potters. Nancy also taught art in Truro and later at Newquay School.
John and Sue Sneddon
The Sneddons returned to Cornwall in 1975 to take over Wayside Pottery from Nancy Homer who had taught them both at Newquay Grammar School. They made made tableware fired to 1240oC in an oil fired kiln. In 1979 they gathered together a group of local craftspeople and formed The Guild of Ten, a co-operative whose shop is still present in Truro.
John Vasey had worked in various potteries before coming to St. Agnes to set up his first pottery in 1981 at Wayside. In 1989 he left Wayside and built a pottery and showroom alongside his house in Vicarage Road, this he called St. Agnes Pottery.
After training at Truro College and attending courses at the Leach Pottery in St. Ives Valerie set up Goonbell Pottery in 2009. She works on an electric wheel producing domestic stoneware pottery.
Although now living near Penzance, Anne grew up and raised a family in St. Agnes, her parents ran the Driftwood Spars pub for many years. She started potting in her home studio after attending evening classes at Truro and Penzance.