Historical information

This bottle was made in Scotland and recovered decades later from a shipwreck along the coast of Victoria. It may have been amongst the ship's cargo, its provisions or amongst a passenger's personal luggage. It is now part of the John Chance collection.

Stoneware bottles similar to this one were in common use during the mid-to-late 19th century. They were used to store and transport. The bottles were handmade using either a potter's wheel or in moulds such as a plaster mould, which gave the bottles uniformity in size and shape. The bottle would then be fired and glazed in a hot kiln. Makers often identified their bottles with the impression of a small symbol or adding a colour to the mouth. The manufacturer usually stamped their bottles with their name and logo, and sometimes a message that the bottle remained their property and should be returned to them. The bottles could then be cleaned and refilled.

The Barrowfield pottery was founded in 1866 by Henry Kennedy, an Irish native, in the Camlachie district east of Glasgow, close to the Campbellfield and Mount Blue potteries. It is believed that Kennedy started with just one kiln but by 1871 was employing forty men and six boys and such was the success of the enterprise that by 1880, no less than eight kilns were in operation and a year later one hundred and the pottery was employing eighteen people.

Stoneware bottle production was a mainstay of the pottery and over “1500 dozen” were being turned out daily along with other wares, including 30-gallon ironstone containers. With so many kilns in operation, six hundred saggars were required every week but, unlike some potteries, these were made on the premises from Garnkirk and Glenboig fire clays. Pottery production reaches a high scale which presented a high risk of fire and Barrowfield was no exception. In April 1884 heat from a kiln set fire to the roof resulting in significant structural damage, the loss of unfinished wares alone amounting to £10,000 a very substantial sum in 1884. 
The pottery recovered from this reverse but then Henry Kennedy died in July 1890. The terms of his will indicated that he and his sons John and Joseph were partners and this was reflected in a change of title in the 1891-92 Post Office Directory to Henry Kennedy & Sons. Despite the growth of the business there was still space enough, however, to allow china, earthenware and glass retailers Daniel and John McDougall to commence production of their Nautilus wares there in 1894, the success of which allowed them to soon move to permanent quarters at the empty Saracen Pottery, Possil. In around 1900 John Kennedy left to resurrect the liquidated Cleland Pottery and although Barrowfield remained listed as Henry Kennedy & Sons, brother Joseph was in control.
In 1911 Henry Kennedy & Sons Ltd was formed, with two of the four directors being the Kennedy brothers. The pottery’s growth to this point was reflected in the eighteen kilns the largest pottery kilns then recorded in Scotland.  
However, the disruption of the First World War and the combined effects of subsequent economic depression, US prohibition, hygiene regulations and competition from alternative materials posed severe challenges for stoneware potteries in the post-war years as they competed with each other for diminishing markets. Competitors such as Eagle and Caledonian Potteries fell by the wayside and finally, Barrowfield closed in 1929.


This stoneware bottle is historically significant for its manufacture and use in the late 19th to the early 20th century.
The bottle is also significant as it was recovered by John Chance, a diver, from a wreck on the coast of Victoria in the 1960s-70s. Items that come from several wrecks along Victoria's coast have since been donated to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s museum collection by his family, illustrating this item’s level of historical value.
Stoneware was produced at Barrowfield pottery for the domestic and export markets, with South America being a large market. Barrowfield stoneware can be found throughout the world. Its longevity and abundant production makes the subject item a significant addition to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum collection.

Physical description

Bottle, salt glazed stoneware, beige, some discolouration above base. Chip on base and on neck. Inscriptions stamped near base.

Inscriptions & markings

Makers lozenge stamped, H Kennedy Barrowfield Pottery GLASGOW at base.