Commondale Pottery was not founded by a potter, but by a printer and businessman named John Slater Pratt. Pratt was from Stokesley and owned a small but successful printing shop in his home town. Between the years 1841 and 1853 he produced over 300 titles and made a small fortune, about £30,000 in today’s money.
In 1860 he used this money to purchase a plot of land in the village of Commondale and set up the Cleveland Fire Brick and Pottery Company. He had found out that the area had a source of fireclay, and a new commercial railway line had opened nearby. He saw an opportunity to produce building materials and pottery to export across the country.
However this business only had a short lifespan as Pratt died in 1867 and production ceased. The works remained idle until 1871 when the business was sold to John Crossley of Stockton.