Seven generations later, the oldest working pottery in Wales is still run by the Jenkins family.
The pottery industry has existed in this area from medieval times – from the mid 18th century there were fifteen potteries in the small village of Ewenny near Bridgend in South Wales. Today, only two remain – Ewenny pottery and Claypits. Unlike their huge industrial counterparts in Staffordshire, with their vast rows of bottle kilns, the potteries around Ewenny were small family businesses with one or two working at each pottery.
Local red clay was used to make glazed earthenware for everyday use. Everything was local – the coal for the kilns and the craftsmen used. The kilns were built by local stonemasons and the potters’ wheels were made by local blacksmiths. Horses supplied the power to grind the clay and pulled the delivery wagons. Even the lead ore – galena – was dug from small pits near Corntown.
Ewenny Pottery today is run by Alun and his wife Jayne, assisted by their daughter Caitlin. The kick wheel has been replaced by an electric wheel. The coal and wood-fired kiln is now powered by electricity and the materials used come from around the world, but the products are still made traditionally on the wheel. Visitors are always welcome to visit the workshop and showroom and may see the potter at work – they are always happy to show children and adults their ancient craft.
Also on site is a pine showroom, with hand-made furniture, and two cafes serving for refreshments. There is a large car park.
Ewenny Pottery is just under 30 miles from our self catering holiday cottages in Pontardawe. From junction 35 of the M4 motorway, take the A48 and follow the signs for Port Talbot. Just past McDonalds go under the bridge and turn left at the roundabout to Ewenny. The Pottery is on the right. Car parking is available and visitors are welcome to view the process of production and browse in the gallery. The postcode for satnav is CF35 5AP.
Further information may be obtained from the Ewenny Pottery website.