From heavy metal to china

By Nigel Booth HEAVY metal music, ceramics and fine pottery seem worlds apart, but in the life of rock guitarist Graham Oliver they blend seamlessly.

One of the founder members of veteran heavy rockers Saxon, Graham from Mexborough, has developed an obsession for fine china and earthenware, and his latest DVD is not 60 minutes of thrash metal but a 35-minute homage to the pottery industry in Ferrybridge.

He has had help from ceramic historian Alan Tomlinson of South Milford, former Ferrybridge Royal Cauldon Pottery manager Peter Marshall and historian and cameraman Giles Brearley from Swinton, who filmed the Ferrybridge factory just before it was demolished in 2003.

The film gives a fascinating insight into Ferrybridge's pottery past from the first cluster of kilns by the River Aire in 1795 to the industry's demise in the area.

On Sunday October 23, Graham is one of Featherstone broadcaster Ian Clayton's guests on his Yorkshire Television programme My Yorkshire.

Graham said: "For many people it's hard to reconcile my life as a heavy metal guitarist with my life as a collector, but you can blame my wife for that as 15 years ago she was the one that bought me my first piece of fine Rockingham ware.

"Through those 15 years I've become a bit of an anorak about pottery with a special interest in preserving the memory of the industry particularly in my home area and of course Ferrybridge.

"It was after reading the Pontefract and Castleford Express article about the closure of the Ferrybridge factory in 2003 that the idea to make this DVD was formed."

In the DVD the expansion of the Ferrybridge site is traced beginning with the factory's founders Timothy Smith a coal proprietor, William Tomlinson a merchant, John Foster a ship owner, John Thompson a gentleman and John Stenton a banker.

It also tells of the involvement of designer Ralph Wedgwood, the son of Thomas Wedgwood who was the cousin of Josiah Wedgwood, the man responsible for the transformation of the industry from its sleepy beginnings to mass industrialisation in Staffordshire.

The DVD costs 10. Pontefract Museum has leaflets available with details of how to order a copy and the DVD is on sale at Hill Top post office in Knottingley. For more information on where it is available call Giles Brearley Accounting on 01709 581667 or write to them at 39–43 Bridge Street, Swinton, Mexborough, South Yorkshire S64 8AP.

Pictured: Heavy metal guitarist Graham Oliver on stage.