Copyright 2014 Hidden Wirral
Industry has now all but disapeared from the Seacombe area. Once it was home to the likes of the Seacombe Pottery works, The Gandy Belt works and many more smaller industries. The Ferry terminal was always packed full of commuters and traders coming and going. The area was somewhat loved. But now it's a shadow of its former self.
What happened to Seacombe and why has it become so unloved and desolate?
The Seacombe Pottery, Liverpool factory was established by John Goodwin in 1852. J. Goodwin was considered a prestigious potter during the 19th century and his goods were in high demand all over the world. He moved the Seacombe pottery to Liverpool to be closer to the docks for export trade to the Americas, Russia, Colonial Canada and Asia. Once the factory was set up, which consisted of six domed shaped kilns and several workshops located near the Seacombe Smalt Works. He sent for the workers from his Staffordshire pottery, which operated from 1840 - 1850 at Lane End. The Seacombe pottery gained widespread popularity, along with the demand for his crockery. In 1870 a large consignment of cargo being sent by ship to America was ship wrecked during a violent storm somewhere in the Atlantic and sunk with all its precious cargo on board. The Seacombe Pottery was not able to recover from this great loss and voluntarily liquidated the business in 1871. Today, Seacombe Pottery is highly prized and sought after by collectors and a large part can be found in the National Canadian Museum
The beginnings of the factory are in the Staffordshire based Crown Works pottery of John Goodwin. Goodwin began producing traditional blue and white earthenware in Longport in the early 1840′s and within perhaps ten years his wares were in high demand and his business was flourishing. In 1852 he shifted production (including his workforce) from Staffordshire to Seacombe, most likely as his pottery was now selling particularily well abroad a move closer to the Liverpool Docks would surely of been beneficial to exports.
The popularity of his wares continued to grow and Seacombe Pottery is known to have been exported to several countries but there appears to of been a particular popularity in Canada and the Americas so much so that a second enterprise was set up in Toronto Canada which was managed by Goodwins son George, one of eight siblings.
In 1856 Mary Goodwin – John Goodwins wife, passed away. Shortly after the death of his wife John Goodwin retired but little more than a year later and at the age of 65 John Goodwin also passed away. His sons continued to run the business but this appears to be the beginning of the end of the Seacombe pottery. Without John Goodwin at the helm the firm changed hands and in 1870 disaster struck again as a large consignment of Seacombe pottery destined for the Americas was sunk in rough seas with the entire shipment lost. From this point the history is not so clear but it appears this loss was too great for the company and in 1871 the pottery was dissolved.
Captain Maurice Gandy went to sea and on one voyage he was shipwrecked and lost all of his possessions. Half-starved and almost dead from exposure, he was kept alive by the flour and drinking water on the sinking ship. After being rescued, he retired from sea- faring at the age of 35.
He set up in Liverpool in 1864 as a ship- owner and ship- cloth manufactuer. He was not very happy with his venture and longed to start something new.
One day he was in a printers shop and spotted leather belting on the drives of one of the machines. Returning to his factory, he started to experiment with belting. If canvas was used at sea for sails, why couldn't it be used for belting he thought. He found that the stitched canvas did not work satisfactorily, as it ran over the pulleys. the captain had to go out for a while and when he returned he discovered that someone had upset a tin of paint over the canvas belts. He thought he would try the belts over the pulleys and found that they did not slip as before. From then on, he soaked them in oil and found it to be successful.
Some sixteen years later he had branches all over Britain, on the Continent and in countries as far as New Zealand, India, South Africa and others. He decided to move to the opposite side of the Mersey and set up on a field off Wheatland Lane in Seacombe. Captain Gandy met his death one frosty morning when he fell outside the Custom House in Liverpool and struck his head.
The Works caught fire on 18th feb 1927. Flames were seen as far away as Great Ormes Head. Gandy Belting at one time employed 500 people. Thge factory was re- built and modernised. In the fifties an annual 'Miss gandy' comp was held. The firm moved to Birkenhead in 1985. Then later they moved to Leyland on the site of the old Leyland Motors. Where they later became known as Dunlop Belting. This change caused a big impact in my life as my Nan and Partner worked in the offices and they also moved from Wallasey to Leyland, where they continued to work therre till the early years of the 21st Century. Thankfully they now live back in Wallasey.