Ball Clay Heritage Society Archive
The Ball Clay Heritage Society archive comprises extensive records of firms that have been engaged in the production - in South and North Devon - of ball clays for the ceramics industries. Since the 17th century these ball clays have been an essential ingredient of many types of whiteware ceramics - ranging from clay tobacco pipes in the early days to tableware from the 18th century and tiles, sanitaryware and electro-porcelain in more recent times. Customers have included potteries in many parts of the UK (including Staffordshire) and in Europe and North America.
The most important section of the archive includes over 60 letter books (each containing 1,000-pages of copies of letters to customers in the UK and overseas, port agents, vessel owners, canal operators, rail companies etc. and of memoranda to colleagues), original letters received, numerous ledgers, firm accounts and annual reports, pit production records, mining plans, minute books and brochures of the principal production firm, Watts, Blake, Bearne & Co from 1860, when the partnership was formed, to 2002 - by which time (having been a publicly-quoted company for over 30 years) the firm had been taken over and its headquarters moved to Cheshire.
The archive also includes material of other clay production firms such as the North Devon Clay Company, the Devon & Courtenay Clay Company, Newton Abbot Clays and Pike Brothers, Fayle, the main ball clay producer in Dorset.
The Society also holds a large collection of photographs relating to the ball clay industry.