35 Years At Rye Pottery

By Pam Goddard Radio Days…….

I enjoyed working on my own in the throwing room; I had a radio to listen to and was able to listen to my kind of music without driving anyone else up the wall with it. I would go through the “Radio Times” on a Monday morning, and mark everything I wanted to listen to on Radio 3 for the week. Other times I would listen to Radio 2 and certainly “Open House” every morning, and during the summer it was great to be able to listen to the Test Matches and the tennis from Wimbledon while at work. If I was throwing small things or anything that was a bit of a fiddle Motzart was preferable to listen to in the way of music; and wonderful Richard Strauss for large things, but Radio 3 didn’t always oblige. During the week I was not always throwing, as I would have some things to turn the day after making them. If I made mugs or tankards I would have them to handle the next day, and, the day after that, the seam to trim off and things to sponge for a good finish. If I was working at my bench, it was rather good to listen to a play during the afternoon. I suppose the throwing room was like my second home, with a couple of plants in the window and during the summer a vase of roses from my garden, and my radio. At one time, with Robin and Josephine at work, and both having their own radios in the rooms they worked in, the three of us has a spell of listening to one of the “Pirate Radio Stations”, although it was not the one that belted out pop music all day! We found Radio 390, as it was called then, preferable because they broadcast all sorts of different programmes during the day to cater for different tastes in music, as well as a request programme. One called “Pot Luck” was a real laugh, because one had to send a postcard to them, with a number from 1 to 100, and you took pot-luck as to what they would play, depending on what record corresponded with the number on their list for that day. Anything was worth a stamp, so we sent off a number for a certain day, and the corresponding record was a real hoot, as it turned out to be one that wasbanned on the B.B.C! After they played this sexy record, the D.J said, “If you can pick them like that, do try again”, so we did. Our next number brought us Elvis singing “Please Kiss Me”;we did, in fact, have 47 requests played during quite a short time. The management knew what we were up to, and I think took rather a dim view of things, because the D.Js would often say, “Here are those Potters from Rye again”. One request we sent for was Al Martino singing his great hit “Spanish Eyes”, but we didn’t get to hear it. The morning it should have been played, the D.J said he was sorry he couldn’t play it because it was in a pile of records that someone had put on a hot radiator, and which had been ruined. The next day we brought the record in Rye and sent it to them, but they were forced off the air and couldn’t broadcast any more, so didn’t have the chance to play it for us. It was all good fun, and it was not unusual for us to have three requests played the same day during different programmes, when one of us had a birthday, be it Johann Strauss waltz, Wagner overture or popular song.

In those good old days, some of us would often have a flutter on the horses and hope to win a fortune, but I think the bookies came out on top, as they always do, do we soon gave that up as being non-profitable, except the bookies!

                            A Draught Solution

When Josephine Carr started work she came in the first place to do the turning, etc, for the casting, but she did, in the end, do just about every other job going, except for the decorating and the throwing. She was such a good mate, and we certainly had a laugh at times and a bit of fun, by any chance, we were bored with work. Christopher worked in the next room on the jiggerand- jolly, and there were times when he would open his window as soon as the sun shone, be it during March or June. To him, a breeze coming through the window to his face was fine, but by the time it got through our open doorway to Jo and I, it was quite often a very cold draft. As soon as he left his room for anything, one of us would dash in and shut his window, only to have the confounded thing open again on his return! The little wheel Jo sat on was in the line of fire from the draught, and if it was March there was a bite to it; we had to take action. My first thought was, “Nail the thing up one day if he is out of the room long enough”, but I couldn’t find any nails long enough; I had six inch one in mind, as he wouldn’t get them out in a hurry! One morning the draught got to me while I was on the power wheel, and that was it; fresh air to him was going to be bad backs to Jo and I, so the only thing to do was block out his bloody fresh air. We couldn’t request a door as it would get in the way for going in and out with boards of pots, so a curtain was the answer. I washed a load of plastic sheets that the clay was wrapped in once it was pugged, got them dry, and took them home for a sewing job. I had to machine several together to get the thing large enough, and with rufflete at the top and over a dozen curtain rings; I made a good job of it and it worked a treat. It pulled back well out of the way to take anything out of the room;we did only have it pulled along when necessary, but from then on, during winter months, it turned out to be the best thing I did in making the throwing room far more habitable, and I should have made that curtain way back in 1962. It was now possible to keep what little heat that came from the oil stove in the room, and cold air out, and Jo and I were warmer. I could now get my pots dry much quicker the day after I had made things, and be able to get on with any turning and handling, instead of doing more throwing while waiting for the day before things to dry enough to finish off. During summer months I could take things outside to dry in the sun; that was fine, so long as I didn’t forget them, then look out the window and see some of them nearly white hard! There were a few times when it would come on the rain and me not notice, and someone would shout out, “Pam your pots are getting wet”, and then it was all stations go and I would have to bring the lot in and curse the weather.

                        All Out….Bowled Clay!

One afternoon during a Test Match, our lot were not doing very well. Jo and I were bored with what we were doing and we just had to do something to relieve the boredom. I had a notice board on the wall; it was about a yard square and my lists of weights and measures for everything I made was on the thing. That summer I also had a cutting from the paper of a batch of quite small photographs of our test team. Just for a laugh, we thought we would see who we could obliterate, treating them as a dartboard, and with small lumps of clay instead of darts. I was never a Cowdrey fan, so my clay was aimed at him, but I just couldn’t hit him with a lump of clay twice the size of a pea. Jo couldn’t hit the one she intended to, so we had to increase the size of ammo, and got to about pound lumps, and then, without warning, the notice board came from the wall and crashed onto the bench. So that was the end of that, and we had to fix the thing back on the wall, but we did have a good laugh. I think it was during that summer when poor Cowdrey had his arm broken, and he did, in fact, go in to bat with one hand because his services were required to keep one end up, as we were on the point of being beaten.

             Changes..Architectural And Workforce!

Once again, there were more changes in the making departments, and this time the partition was taken down between the staff room and the casting department, to make it into one large area. The jigger-and-jolly was put in the part that was the staff room, and, as Josephine was now doing the mould making, the little kick wheel she was working on it with me, went back into the other room. There were several staff changes for the turning of the cast ware, and one girl who did stay for quite a while was Kathleen Thompson. If ever there was a fun person, it was her; she was a real live wire, so to speak, and a pleasure to have her at work. At times out there they did play about, and quite often the door into my room would come open, and one of them would charge through with someone else in close pursuit. After a few times of that caper. I would do the dirty on them by putting a piece of wood through the door handles, so that it couldn’t be opened from their side. After peals of laughter there would be silence, so I knew the fun was over for this time. Kathleen did, in the end, leave work and got married, but was taken ill and died at such a young age, and we were all so very saddened.

The staff room was now where the jigger-and-jolly used to be, in the narrow room next to mine, although there was no room to sit down out there; that’s where the tea was made. Mr. Cole got hold of a Baby Belling cooker for me at a jumble sale, and, although it must have been someone’s throw out because the thermostat didn’t work, I was made up with it. Others could also use it, but I think I was the only one to have cook-up of a lunch time, mainly in the winter.

The hot plate worked a treat and I could use the oven, so long as I didn’t leave it on for too long, and only put it on in stops and starts. If I felt like something special to eat during my lunch hour, first of all it was up town on my bike and get a nice bag, fat pork chop, with a piece of kidney on it if possible, then down the Mint for a portion of chips. The last stop on my way back to work was the little shop along Ferry Road, for a tin of garden peas. Once back at work it was all stations go, with the top taken off my oil stove, my frying pan sat on that, to cook the chop. The peas went into a saucepan on the hotplate of the cooker, and the chips kept warm in the oven by the heat from the hot plate. Once one side of the chop was done, and turned over, in went sliced apple (a Bramley nicked from Mr. Cole’s garden!), a quick way to do apple sauce, and if I had a tomato, that went in as well. I would then have a smashing meal that I couldn’t have cooked much better at home, and it’s surprising what one can cook if one means to, and with an appetite like I had, it was well worth the trouble. Quite often I would cook baked potatoes for some of us in that little cooker; if I didn’t have them too large they didn’t take long to cook, even with the oven on in stops and starts, and they went down a treat on a cold day. I always had a stock of cooking fat and butter ready for many a meal, be it just biscuits and cheese, a good fry-up, baked beans or poached eggs on toast.

In the summer it was good to go up town to get a selection of goodies and sit in the sun somewhere to eat them and have an hour of fresh air. One day, Jo and I decided to go the Fletcher House to get our lunch snack, as they used to have a wonderful selection of things to take away, if one had rather a sweet tooth. In the window was a huge lemon meringue pie, and we said, “That’s it” We bought a quarter each and went to the Gun Garden to eat it, and be able to relax in the sun and enjoy the view. It was so good that on our way back to work we went in and bought the other half, because we didn’t want it to go to waste! Well, that was our excuse, and we enjoyed that once we got back to work. It was even good to get away from work for a while in winter, for a walk round the town and fish and chips to eat somewhere. Rye is a most delightful place all the year round, and it’s so easy to see why it gets packed out with visitors. Who wants to go to Paris in the spring when we have beautiful Rye?

From the February 2002 issue of Rye’s Own

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