When Sidney Tustin joined Michael Cardew at Winchcombe Pottery in 1927 he was thirteen years old. He could not have wished for better teachers; Cardew, fresh from his own learning experience at Leach Pottery, and Elijah Comfort, the former chief thrower at Beckett's Pottery, the former occupiers of the premises where Winchcombe had been set up.
His work, of course, was menial at first. He would turn the wheel for Comfort - a man for whom he had great admiration. But after a couple of years, when proper production had actually started, Cardew invested in a powered wheel for Comfort, leaving young Sidney free to start throwing. Sidney kept on throwing for fifty-one years, never leaving Winchcombe Pottery except for war service. He retired in 1978 having made over a million pots.
His work is of excellent quality, and he must be considered the backbone, and certainly a star, of Winchcombe Pottery.
The Winchcombe Pottery dates back to 1926, but there previously had been potteries on the same site. It was started by Michael Cardew when he left St Ives, having been a student, a potter and a friend to Bernard Leach.
Cardew was joined by Elijah Comfort, Sidney Tustin, and later, Sidney's brother, Charlie. In 1939 Ray Finch took over the management of Winchcombe while Cardew went back to Cornwall to set up another pottery at Wenford Bridge. After the war, Cardew's hands were full - with his new pottery, and work in Africa - and he sold the Winchcombe to Ray Finch.
Throughout the post-war years, Finch enjoyed the company of many potters - notably Colin Pearson in 1953/4, John Solly in 1951, John Leach in 1959/60, Dan Finnegan in 1978 - in fact Winchcombe's roll of honour would make a good basis for a Who's Who of studio potters. Various members of the Finch family were involved in management and production. Mike Finch has run the pottery since 1979.
|Winchcombe Pottery: the Cardew-Finch Tradition by Ron Wheeler and Helen Brown|