Ivan Martin and his wife Kay opened the Cricklade Pottery in 1951 and for a quarter of a century, produced thousands of beautifully thrown pieces of domestic ware. Simply decorated, finely glazed and bearing the back-stamp CRICKLADE, these ceramic works are now collectors’ items.
Ivan started his career in pottery in 1947 at Winchcombe Pottery as an odd-job man, earning a princely £4 per week. In 1951 the couple spent a few months at Prinknash Abbey Pottery before moving to Cricklade to open their own pottery. It seems that Ivan did not wish to be in competition with his friend Ray Finch at Winchcombe but Ray was happy to give his blessing to the new venture.
Originally the Martins joined forces with a weaver, Marjorie Bevan, and her husband. Together the couples bought the stables and paddock behind Bryn Cottage, but the partnership faltered and the Martins found themselves having to make do on their own.
Kay Martin turned the coach room into her pottery while Ivan used the groom’s room for his pottery. The tack room became a general workshop and the wood-fired kiln was housed in one of the looseboxes. The Martins lived in the hayloft, accessed via an outside staircase, which also doubled as a showroom. In order to save money, Ivan dug his own clay from the paddock. This was later processed on a homemade pugmill that Ivan had constructed from scrap metal.
Later they bought a nearby house – 17 Calcutt Street – next door to the Baptist Chapel which now houses the Cricklade Museum. They moved their showroom to the house.
Following the opening of the Cricklade by-pass, Calcutt Street – once a main road to South Wales and the West Country – lost its passing trade. For this, and other reasons lost to time, the Martins decided to pack up their business and retire to Cornwall. We are lucky to still have examples of their craft.