The Verwood and District Potteries Trust

The Verwood Area

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The heathland settlements

Verwood is on the edge of many things: right on the boundary between the counties of Dorset and Hampshire; on the edge of the New Forest (but not part of it); and only just into agriculture because the land is so poor.

Although divided from the New Forest by the big valley of the River Avon (the county boundary), the Verwood area is really very similar to the New Forest. In both cases the geology (clays, gravel and sands) has produced poor agricultural land.

Verwood is now a town and, in 1996 had 11,000 inhabitants, its own council and a mayor. Until the 1950s it was a small scattered settlement on the heathlands. The abrupt changes from heathland to farmland, or heathland to houses, still remain. In fact it is the only Dorset parish which is entirely on heathland. In the past it was surprisingly industrial. Because of the poor soils the small farmers looked for ways to supplement their income. They used the local clays to make pottery, brick and tiles, and the woodlands supplied the raw materials for hurdles, thatching spars and brooms. The heathlands were not good for farming but they were useful for small industries.

Map of the kilns