Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Conlon Pottery of Glebe - over 100 years later

A few years back, I wrote a short article about Michael Conlon and his family for the Glebe Society newsletter - this supplements the less-well constructed posts here on the blog. They have a section called 'Who Lived in Your Street?' and the article can be found here:

At the end of that article I wrote "I would very much like to track down an example of Michael’s pottery – be it brick, tile or bottle.  If anyone is aware of one please contact me at cispt2@gmail.com".

I have two Conlon bottles (picture below), each with the distinctive stamping:

Conlon & Co
Broughton St

A great summary of his POTTERY work was published in Ford, Geoff & National Museum of Australian Pottery 1995,  Australian pottery : the first 100 years, Salt Glaze Press, Wodonga, Vic, pp. 69-70, and I transcribed the relevant section here:
There are a range of POTTERY products described as being produced by Conlon, including Closet Pans and Traps, Chimney Pots, Gingerbeer Bottles, Fancy Garden Tiles, Paving Tiles, Bricks - but it is not clear which of these products, and would not, have been stamped. There is no mention of NON-POTTERY products.

While work has really gotten in the way of this blog (and I'm sorry if I haven't responded to emails), I have had TWO contacts since that article from people, and I wanted to share to the blogosphere what they kindly shared with me.

What really surprised me about these contacts, is that both relate to metal sewer/pipe covers spotted on footpaths, rather than actual pottery-based products (bricks, tiles, etc).

The first find came to me from Helen Randerson, a long-term Glebe resident and history researcher. Helen indicated she'd seen this pipe cover on on the footpath in Pyrmont Bridge Road, Pyrmont. The cover was certainly there a few years ago, and probably still is. Helen indicated it is quite small, maybe 13 or14 cm in diameter.

The second contact came recently from Adrian Pokorny. He found an identical item on Cleveland Street in Surry Hills. This item is slightly more beaten, and reveals that they both have/had a small vent hole in the center, either to facilitate gas release, or to facilitate removal of the cover, or both. Adrian also provided a map with the location!!


I want to thank Helen and Adrian both - I had no idea of this particular Conlon item. Both are identical, made of metal, and presumably the 'S' is for 'Sewer'. While metal-based products such as 'grates' are advertised by CONLON in the Sydney Morning Herald, there is no indication I can find that Michael Conlon's pottery included a foundry for producing such items. The would be necessary as part of fulfilling contracts for drain pipes, and may have been produced elsewhere under order.

Helen also raised the concept of whether these items can be heritage listed - either with the City of Sydney, or possibly Sydney Water if they hold jurisdiction over the item. I'll follow up!

AND if anyone finds any Conlon-stamped items, please let me know and I'll add to the post.


Jill Ball said...

Fantastic finds Matt.

vinothika said...

I totally loved the way you presented the topic. Your way of presenting is good.

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