Wenford Bridge Pottery

Wenford Bridge Pottery near St Breward was established by Michael Cardew in 1939. Prior to this, the buildings were associated with the nearby Wenford Inn. A kiln was built with the help of Michael Leach, the eldest son of Bernard Leach. In 1950, the kiln was modified by the addition of a stoneware chamber built with firebricks; it is this structure that remains today. There is a rich and anecdotal history of pottery students and assistants at Wenford Bridge. Michael Cardew died in 1982, and his son Seth Cardew ran a pottery there until he emigrated in 2005. The building has since remained vacant and is in decay.

The existing property is one building, but consists of three different elements. At the southern end is a stone building described as The Smithy. The remnants of the original forge are still in place at the Eastern End. The kiln was built externally to The Smithy, and at a later date, the enclosure was built around it.

In August 2017, Parkes Lees Architects obtained planning approval to construct a new build house that incorporates the Old Smithy as part of the living accommodation and retains the chimney within a courtyard. The evidence of the building as a former pottery is to be retained; the design for the new house retains the existing stone walls of The Smithy, and the new buildings added have followed the accretive style of the former outbuildings. It has kept the same approximate massing of the existing building. It is planned that the chimney is repaired and retained as an element of the new design, signifying the building’s former use.

The asymetric pitched roof of the proposed ‘link’ building that connects the new house with the Smithy extends to a ground floor at eaves level creating a loggia to maintain access around the proposed dwelling but minimise the scale of the proposed building towards neighbouring houses. The proposed materials for the elevations of the new house, and the arrangement of the different roofs help to break up the proposed dwelling’s mass. This collection of materials and roof elements is inspired by the current building’s irregular form and materiality. The chimney is currently ‘enclosed’ by a series of sheds and workshops. This proposal deliberately places the chimney as the central focus and is not made part of the internal accommodation. This is because it provides a place for bats to roost, and for access for future maintenance.

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