Manufacturer Notes: John Cliff & Company

CLIFF'S IMPROVED WHEEL FOR POTTERS. Mr. John Cliff, of the Imperial Potteries, Lambeth, has brought out an improved wheel for potters. He dispenses with all the straps, drums, breaks, pulleys, Ac, of the few steam wheels in use, and employs a system of gearing by contact only ; the machine occupies but one-forth the space now taken up by the present machines, and the boy to turn the wheel is not required Instead of slackening speed by means of breaks, and thus losing power, the slackening is gained by the reduction of pressure of G on the disc. The movement of G (by means of the foot lever) through the space of less than -t inch, secures at the will of the workman, every possible gradation of speed, from the full power of the engine to absolute stoppage Though the screw shown is deemed the best arrangement, a plain lever is sufficient. "When required, the entire machine may, by unscrewing the throe legs securing it to the floor, be removed intact. The arm, table, and disc are all cast-iron, the spindle, with its pinion and foot movement, being the only parts requiring skilled mechanism.

The following is a description of Fig. 1:—A, wheel box and set, of galvanized or enameled cast-iron. B, trident bar-iron legs. C, cast-Iron bracket. D, cast-iron disc. E, quick thread lever screw for making contact. G, pinion of leather between iron discs, or hood, or metal. H, steel spindle, with longitudinal groove for the set screw of G to fasten in, and which for various sizes of work to be thrown, may be raised or lowered. The various speeds may be registered on the face of the disc, and the pinion placed there In «" than Ave minutes.

Fig. 2 illustrates the application of the invention to in ordinary lathe. As in the throwing wheel, all ropes, straps, &c, are dispensed with, as well as the treadle board and wheel, giving a neat and compact arrangement, and securing a largo economy, as no boy is required to work the treadle of each lathe, as in ordinary work. In place of the stoppage of the wheel, and reversal of the motion of the rope for polishing clay wares, the workman, with his left arm on a wall lever, moves B to the left, causing M to come in contact with the pinion E, which is in constant motion; and to stop, for change of pieces, he allows the spring C to push it back half tho distance; while, if the spring is free, it will put L in contact with E, and give a cutting motion. In ordinary work every needful gradation of power is gained by more or less pressure of L or M on E, but in case great varieties of goods are required to be lathed on the same machine, the speed of E may be varied at once by dropping or raising I on the spindle, by means of a set screw ; the support K may be placed at any angle, or dispensed with altogether, if the plummet blocks carrying the driving shaft are placed in vertical line with the spindle, the 'crew-step T being screwed into it. The certainty of the motion, governed at will by the workman himself, seems to promise a greater result of work in a J* time, enabling the man also to earn, at given prices, better wages than he can do on the present

System. If arranged for a double row of men, the same length of shaft will do, the discs being placed at half the distance as for a single row.

The following is the description of Fig. 2.—A, is the ordinary lathe head, with under boss to allow of a long shoulder on F. B, cast-iron chuck spindle, with two discs. C, spring to keep at a cutting motion. D, ordinary chuck. E, driving pinion on head of F. F, a steel spindle, with grooves for set screw longitudinally. U, cast-iron disc in one piece, keyed on to H. the driving shaft. I, a screw footstep for V to run in. J, the pinion of wood, leather, or metal, or combined. K, support for spindle. L and H, two discs, either keyed on to 11, or cast part of same.

Journal of the Society of Arts Friday October 19, 1866 Volume XIV No 726 (London, Bell & Daldy, 1866)

Cliff, John, Chemical Stoneware Manufacturer, Fire Brick Maker, &c., Runcorn, near Liverpool. (158)

Exhibitors, London, 1851; Paris, 1855; Dublin, 1865 (Medals). Firm : Stephen Green & Co. up to 1857, John Cliff & Co. to 1869, and subsequently John Cliff.

Philadelphia International Exhibition, 1876. Official Catalogue of the British Section (London, George E. Eyre and William Spottswoode, 1876)


Imperial Pottery.—Another pottery at Lambeth was that of Messrs. Green & Co., which in 1858 passed, by purchase, into the hands of Mr. John Cliff, by whom it was considerably enlarged. Mr. Cliff here brought into use his own " patent kiln for what is known as double glaze or Bristol glaze kiln, and a circular bag for the salt glaze and pipe kiln, since adopted generally." Here also Carr's "Disintegrant" was first proved and got to work; and here, under his own eye, Siemens's gas furnace was tried on pottery. Here also Mr. Cliff brought out, and into work, his patent wheel and patent lathe—two most important improvements in the potter's art, and said to be the most perfect and convenient machines extant. The works were closed in 1869, through the site being required by the Metropolitan Board of Works for improvements, and Mr. Cliff removed to Runcorn, in Cheshire, where he still continues his manufactory.* The works were originally established for the manufacture of common red ware; but after a time Mr. Green added a little salt-glazed ware; and then, as the double glazed gained favour, added it, and made it his principal business, giving up the red ware entirely. Later still, he manufactured drain pipes and a good deal of chemical stoneware; and, besides all the usual articles, filters were here extensively made for the celebrated George Robins, the auctioneer. The old works were many times much injured by fire— being nearly destroyed just before passing into Mr. Cliff's hands in 1858.


Old Quay Pottery.—These works were carried on in 1869 by Mr. John Cliff, who in that year removed from the Imperial Pottery, Lambeth, to this place.

Jewitt, Llewellynn; The Ceramic Art of Great Britain (London, Virtue & Co., Limited, 1878)

The Imperial Pottery, in Prince's-street, Lambeth, was carried on until lately by Stephen Green and Co., and produced the same style of ware as Doulton and Co. Early in the present century a clever modeler seems to have been employed by the firm : witness the fine bust jugs of Nelson, Napoleon I., and other celebrities, bearing the name of Stephen Green impressed.

Downman, Edward A.; English Pottery and Porcelain (London, L. Upcott Gill, 1899)

The Imperial Pottery was the name given by John Cliff to the works at Lambeth which he bought, in 1858, from Messrs. Green &. Co. Originally, the common red ware was made here, just as it was in many prominent towns where the work has died out. Mr. Green built a small salt-glaze kiln and produced some ware with a salt-glaze ; then, when he saw the double-glazed ware was well received by the public, he added that to his manufacture and dropped the common ware. Like the other Lambeth potters he found drain-pipes and chemical stoneware in demand and in addition to these he manufactured brown ware filters. Cliff, on taking over the pottery, enlarged it considerably, and installed his own patent kiln for the manufacture of " Bristol ware" double-glazed. He also brought into use a circular bag or flue for the salt-glaze and pipe kilns. These improvements had such success that, since, they have been adopted generally with other inventions from the same fertile brain, his patent wheel and patent lathe two of the most important additions to the potter in practicing his art. When the site of his works was acquired by the Board of Works, in 1869, Cliff removed to Runcorn, manufacturing there, on a large scale, chemical stoneware and other goods. 

In a short notice of the Old Quay Pottery, Runcorn, where Cliff betook himself and his inventions, Jewitt says : " Mr. Cliff has taken out patents for an improved kiln, and for wheels for throwers, and lathes for turners, which have the reputation of being the most effective, simple and valuable of any in existence." During the eleven years of his work at Lambeth he had risen to a foremost place amongst the potters of that metropolitan borough where was then commencing that renaissance of art ,pottery which has brought such distinction to it. The Imperial Pottery and the London Pottery, like many others of lower degree, have gone. Some of these small makers were little more than names. How many potters were comprised in that nest of brown stoneware potters which existed at Lambeth, or near it, about 1800 onwards and who were they ? 

Blacker, J. F.; The A B C of English Salt-Glaze Stoneware (London, Stanley, Paul & Co., 1922)

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