Visitors to the Leach Pottery can see the old pottery workshop built in 1920, including what is believed to be the first Japanese climbing kiln in the western world. The kiln was in continuous use for over 50 years until the middle 1970s. The studio resonates with the memories of Leach, his colleague and friend Shoji Hamada, his sons David and Michael, his third wife Janet Darnell, plus the many other great potters, such as Michael Cardew, William Marshall and Warren Mackenzie who first came to study there and learn their craft.
Key Areas of the Site:
1) Reception and Entrance Gallery
Where you can see a display of 20th Century pottery from our permanent collection alongside contemporary exhibitions by leading UK and international potters
2) Clay Room
Where clay was prepared and recycled. Note the clay mixers, the pug machine used for creating plugs of clay for use on the wheel, and bins for powdered clay and glazes.
3) Wheel Room
Designed by David Leach and Dicon Nance, the Leach ‘kick wheel’ is driven by the potter’s foot via a cranked pedal, and provides steady momentum to the throwing surface. Still used today by our production team.
4) Glazing Area
Where pots were decorated and glazed including the fireplace where Bernard used to hold impromptu debates on the nature of pottery. Up to 8 people would work in here.
5) Kiln Room
At one time open-sided to the south, this room houses the climbing kiln, built in 1923, which was the first in the Western world and was in use until the 1970s.
“A friendly and inviting atmosphere in the rooms where pots are thrown and decorated, good lighting, reasonable orderliness and quiet, the tools and furnishings attractive in themselves, however simple, and a few specimens of first-rate pots against light toned walls make all the difference to the mood in which work is done” Bernard Leach, A Potter's Book, 1940