by Don Hardisty
from IBCS Bossons Briefs,
December, 2003, Vol, 19, No. 4

When I opened the computer on October 1, 2003, one email read: Ken Potts from Brian Potts. Ken did not use a computer. Our near daily correspondence was by telephone, handwritten letters of fax transmissions. The message read, "Dear Don, It is with deep sadness that I inform you that my brother Ken passed away this morning, GMT." I immediately wrote back and asked for more informaiton. Later that same day, Brian wrote, "We don't know [exactly] the time he died because he got up in the night, and went downstairs. The next morning he was found by Barbara [his wife] sitting in his favorite chair, still with a cup of tea in his hands. The funeral was held at St. Mary's Church Astbury near Congleton, October 10, 2003. I called Barbara Potts to again express condolences and indicated to her I wished to write this tribute for Ken. She seemed pleased. Barbara also worked at Bossons as a paintress for many years.  

St. Mary's Church, Astbury
Bossons 14" Plaque

He was a loving and devoted family man. Here is a short quotation from June 27 and 28, 2002, where he speaks of his Mother and Father.  "...My Mother's birthday is today and she is 92. She had lots of cards and presents and lives on her own.  (My Dad died four years ago at 89). She still goes out four nights a week playing bingo and shopping at the weekends." In addition to his mother, siblings and wife Barbara, Ken leaves two sons, two daughters and grandchildren.

We met for only about 30 minutes on August 18, 1984. I was a guest of Ray Bossons for three wonderful days in Congleton touring the factory and being entertained in royal English style. Ken and I were formally introduced along with many other employees while Ray took me from floor to floor and room to room at Brook Mills.

Pictures from the factory
Photo of Ken Potts (right, "K" or "KP") on the backs of Bossons products with George Proudlove ("P") also incised on the backs of Bossons. George was a foreman at Bossons during his professional life. Ken sent me the photo below in 2001.

On the final day of my visit, Ray asked Ken to drive me to my departing train for London. It was during those few minutes that a life-long friendship was to begin and develop for nearly 20 years. It was to become a friendship of trust and loyalty. His written letters were filled with words of contentment and respect for his fellow man. Several times, and as early as 1984, Ray told me that "...Ken was one of his most loyal and trusted employees."

Ken Potts had a phenomenal memory filled with facts and dates. He could answer any question I would ask about Bossons with precision and exactness. I know that Ray Bossons depended upon him throughout his career. In the last couple years of Ray's life, Ken told me he "...was one of the very few persons who could drop around and visit just to talk and share memories over a cup of tea. Ken said: "...Ray had always depended on him to remember the facts and intricacies of what went on at Bossons over the years."

He started at Bossons at the age of 17 working for Ray's father in 1947. [Ken speaking] "...This was just three years after W. H. Bossons started experimenting in his backyard making lead soldiers and farm animals. Following the lead items, we started to make aluminum moneyboxes during the day. We could come back at night, assemble them and the next mornng I would load them into the van and go with Ray's father to Blackpool (nearest seaside resort)  to sell them...That's how it all started. After Ray came in and we started to make plaques [around 1946].  
The first plaques included "Moreton Hall, Astbury Church, and Derwentwater." 

More of these early beginnings are recorded in the Bossons Briefs, cover story, September 2002, when Ken writes about making marbles for W. H. Bossons.
 Here's a picture of one of the first glazed pottery marbles made at Bossons, a gift from Ken to Don Hardisty).

Ken continued to work at Bossons in various positions, from Head Mould Maker to Factory Manager, and after spending his entire working life at Bossons he retired after 48 years in 1995. After Ray retired, Jane Bossons Roberts became Director at Bossons. She called Ken back, intermittently, over the next year to help close the factory and safely store the remaining original moulds.

Following are a couple pictures of one-half of an early "Master Casting Block" [mould] for the Bossons 14" plaque entitled "Coaching Inn," dated 6th May, '53. It resembles the Bossons 14" Departure Plaque (see 1957 dated below).  The Coaching Inn sample block  is not pictured in any of our current available references, written or shown on the internet.

In the years since 1984 when we met in Congleton, Ken sent me everything imaginable including personal photos, books, letters, memorabilia, brochures, special mailings from Bossons, framed advertisements, current plans and sketches of the old Brook Mills building, pen and ink drawings by Ray, and much more. He always took time to answer my questions with tireless details and accuracy.  It started with his first letter dated February 24, 1985, until his last fax dated September 18, 2003. As Bossons collectors, it is overwhelming when we realize that Ken, as Head Mould Maker until 1995, actually made or supervised the making of every coveted Bossons in our collections from the Bare-Arm Cheyenne to Mimi and Rosa, and Bengali. The amazing thing about Ken was that he remembered how many and when they were made. This information can be extremely helpful to collectors. True, "F. W." Fred Wright's initials appear on the Bare-Arm so we know that Fred Wright sculpted it. However, no initials appear on Mimi, Rosa or Bengali, but Ken said Fred also created these Bossons masterworks.

Ken Potts was eager to share his vast knowledge and experiences about Bossons. We established an exclusive time each day when the telephone lines would be ready for fax transmissions. This opened the door to a multitude of information transfer. All that is needed is time to organize and place in proper perspective these stacks of questions and answers. He helped organize the former Bossons employee reunion in Congleton March 2003. As early as June 2002 he began talking about it saying: "...I think this Bossons Reunion should go down well. There are quite a lot of us who still keep in touch..." also, he was taking an interest in the proposed IBCS meeting in the UK planned for 2005 and offered to help. (IBCS members know this meeting never took place).

It is fitting that his coffin traveled on that last journey from his home at Ackers Crossing, Borough of Congleton, to Astbury Church, via Little Moreton Hall. In his last communcation with us on September 18, he was thinking about a walk he and Barbara had taken that same day: "...The weather has been lovely lately, into the 75 degree range which is not normal for here. We walked down to Little Moreton Hall and along the canal and over the two fields, great to be out. All for now...Take care, Ken and Barbara."

Above is a picture of their garden that my Barbara and I  took while visiting Barbara Potts August, 2012. She was in good health, vibrant of personality, and welcomed us into her home still filled with Bossons and memories of Ken. They both tended and nurtured the flowers with much loving care. The greenhouse where Ken prepared seedlings and plants for planting is still shown upper left corner of the garden.. He frequently made a point of mentioning they could look through the trees and see "Little Moreton Hall,"

Little Moreton Hall
Bossons 14" Plaque (two versions)