Jane Kelly: Penicuik Pottery at Valleyfield House

off 17 High Street Penicuik EH26 8HS



Hand-thrown Mariners teapots.

Made to stay steady when everything else moves around them.


I’m a descendant of many seafarers.  One, Edward Herbert, was with Admiral Rodney at Martinique in 1782.   Another, Richard Monk, served below decks in the Navy of the 1840s.  Another, Robert Hamilton, went to sea from Port Glasgow in 1850.  Another, Hugo Friedlander, sailed to Java with the flying Dutchman in 1856. Another, Sligo sea captain John Bruen, was swept away when his collier foundered on icy rocks at the Mull of Galloway in 1888.   Some of my Banff-based relatives started the Adam Brothers shipping fleet out of Aberdeen and built barges on the Tyne and Thames.  Great grandmother Annie Hope Blake was born at sea, lost her young father to the North Sea, and then lost both her husbands in the wild seas off New Zealand.   Grandfather Martin Bruen trained as a ship’s engineer with Dennys on the Clyde.  My father Winston Monk wrote a history of Britain in the Western Mediterranean.  And Valleyfield House here in Penicuik, where I make Mariners teapots, was built by the Navy in 1812 to oversee the Admiralty Transportation Board’s inland depot for 5,000 Napoleonic sailors.  Becoming the home of the Cowan papermaking family with their seashell trademark for nearly a century and a half, it’s been used by potters now for the last 30 years. And memorably used for a while too by Iain Oughtred and his friends, who built their famous Ness Yawl Jeanie Henderson here in the house one winter and launched it through a window.

-Jane Kelly, potter


Jane Kelly 
Mariners teapot
photographed at Penicuik Pottery by Amy Copeman 2009






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The Tragedy of the "Galgorm Castle" 1888



Come all you sympathisers and listen to my song,

On the melancholy subject I won't detain you long.

It's concerning the calamity that befell that gallant ship,

The ill-fated 'Galgorm' on her last and final trip.


The crew when last she started, was comprised of eight all told,

Undaunted and courageous men, experienced, brave and bold,

The Captain was John Bruen who knew his duties well,

And whose navigating qualities no other could excel,


The mate was Jamsie Tracey and no better could be found,

His experience as a seaman both practical and sound.

And John Murphy at the engine - he was in his proper place,

A temperate and steady man who never knew disgrace,


Edward Towey was a fireman, a genial, worthy soul,

Both he and Peter Foley had the fires to control,

Two worthier companions you could not in Sligo find,

And deeply they're lamented by the friends they left behind.


Michael Gillen was another one of that ill-fated crew,

And 'er embarking at the Quay, he bid his friends adieu,

All these have met a watery grave, it grieves me much to state,

There are but two survivors left, their story to relate.


The 'Galgorm' was a steamer built in 1879,

In the thriving town of Belfast, north of the bloody Boyne,

She never met an accident since first she worked a screw,

Until this sad fatality by which she lost her crew.


On the 12th of March she started with a load of English coals,

(Not thinking that so very soon she'd perish on the shoals)

She proceeded on her voyage that night and the next day,

But perished in a heavy fog near Dromore in Luce Bay.


A terrific snow storm was raging at the time,

Which the captain thought to weather with energy sublime,

But alas such hope soon vanishes as the crew were washed away,

And all of them, excepting two have perished in the sea.


The Captain leaves a loving wife and family of ten,

As a husband and a father he was foremost among men.

Poor Tracey leaves a widow and little children eight,

And Murphy's care was five in all, who now lament his fate.


Edward Towey leaves a widow and a family of five,

To mourn and tender for he loved them when alive.

And oft will Mrs. Foley in the stillness of the night,

Think of her awful vision and her little child's insight.


Now to conclude and finish, I have little more to say,

But that their souls may obtain peace, let every Christian pray,

And I hope a generous public, assisted by the press,

Will start a widow and orphans fund to relieve their sad distress.












Paddle steamer HMS Terrible, part of the Navy's early steam squadron in the 1840s described by Richard Monk.

Richard Monk enters the Navy aged 15 in 1844

"When I got to London Town I kept asking for the Queen's Head, Tower Hill, for I had heard that it was a sort of recruiting place for the Navy. Here I met a quartermaster, a big burly fellow, and asked him how I should go about getting into the Navy. He said that boys only got about 12s 6d or 12s 9d a month, but added that as I was a big chap, I could safely tell the captain that I was nineteen years old. Then he took me upstairs to the captain. He was sitting at a round table, and on it I remember was some blue paper, some red tape and a decanter of rum. The old man was a link to the very distant past and he had a terrible gruff voice.

"What do you want?" he growled, and I said, "To go in a man-o'-war sir." "Some young, runaway apprentice or other," he snapped out, and I owned up that he was right. Well, I passed the doctor, who had a room downstairs, and the captain ordered the quartermaster to take me to the receiving ship, Perseus, lying in the Thames off the Tower. When I got to the hotel I only had 2d. I spent that on something to eat, thus joining the Navy absolutely penniless. I didn't like the look of things aboard the Perseus at all, and as for the hammocks, I couldn't get into them until a fellow showed me how. The rations were none too good. We got 1lb of biscuits and a pint of cocoa for breakfast; a pint of soup, 1lb of meat, a few vegetables and 1/2 pint of grog for dinner, with a pannikin of tea, and some grog and what biscuits we had saved from breakfast for tea. Then we went to Sheerness to the hulk Minataur to wait until the Vanguard had fitted out of Plymouth."

 An Early Steam Squadron

"All the vessels of the line were sailers in those days and the real wooden walls of old England right enough. I boarded the Vanguard at Plymouth in 1844, and the next year we cruised in the Bay of Biscay. There were eight steamships when we started, seven paddle boats and one screw. I think it was the first steam squadron in the Navy. Anyhow it was an experiment. The names of the paddle boats were the Terrible, Retribution, Siden, Odean, Bulldog, Gladiator and Polyphemus, and there was the Battler, a barque rigged screw driven ship. After an 8 week cruise the Battler was the only one of the lot with us, the others having developed engine troubles and put into the nearest ports.

"For the most of my time I served in the Mediterranean. They were rough days. Nearly every week, men were flogged and on one occasion that I know of a man was hung from the yardarm. Part of the outfit of our ship would make sailors laugh nowadays. All round the orlop deck below the water line were hung shot plugs. These were made of wood, and when the boat went into action the carpenters had to walk round and round, so that if a shot came through they could grab a plug, cover it with oakum and grease, and drive it into the hole with a maul. 

A Whaling Cruise

"Early in 1849 I was paid off and in the same year I shipped aboard the whaler Norwhal for a cruise in the south seas. She was a wooden barque of about 400 tons and was commanded by Captain Baker. We carried six guns for our protection. Early in 1850 we arrived in the Bay of Islands. There must have been 18 or 20 whalers in at the time. I remember going aboard the American ship, Swift, hailing from New Bedford, and the John Franklin, which was a full ship. We had 760 barrels of oil. In those days Kororareka consisted of two hotels, two stores, and a few shanties. The 65th Regiment was camped somewhere in the neighbourhood, if I remember right, and there were thousands of Maoris…”

Link to Richard Monk's page





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