In Remembrance of John Potts


Hawtons Engraving History

Remembering the works of John Potts. 

 Cylinder Engraving

John Potts (1791-1841) emerged as the pioneer behind a revolutionary calico printing technique, utilizing copper rollers engraved with intricate patterns. Originating from Manchester, he relocated to New Mills in 1820, where alongside his brother, William Wainwright Potts, he co-founded the renowned engraving company for calico printers, Potts, Oliver, and Potts, at St. George’s Works.

John was renowned for his artistic flair and exceptional skills in engraving, whereas William harbored a passion for pottery.

William later ventured to Burslem to embark on pottery manufacturing, following their initial experiments with pottery and decoration in New Mills, within an establishment that functioned as both a print and pottery workshop until 1841. John, on the other hand, dedicated himself to silk printing, operating independently.

Birth of the Copper Roller

His contributions were met with widespread acclaim, as his copper rollers found their way across the globe, significantly enhancing the calico printing process—a development that proved to be a significant advantage for women of various social standings.


Maps of St. George Works

The latter part of Roger’s presentation delved into an analysis of early maps of St. George’s Works. He posited that among the three industrial edifices identified on the premises, the lower works had no ties to Potts, Oliver, and Potts; the central structure housed the engraving studio, namely St. George’s Works itself, with John Potts’ art gallery forming the curved facade at the back.

The top structure, now the only surviving building and often mistakenly referred to as St. George’s Works, was the hub for pottery creation and silk printing activities.

The audience was particularly intrigued by the architectural history of the site, discovering that the space once housing the picture gallery, now transformed into garages, was originally a two-story building still preserving some of its original floor tiles.

Roger's discourse captivated the audience, serving as a poignant homage not just to T.M. Griffiths but also to John Potts, highlighting his enduring legacy.

Read the original  New Mills Local History Society Newsletters, Volume 21