KEN A. POTTS AS I KNEW HIM
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
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
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
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
Little Moreton Hall
Bossons 14" Plaque (two versions)