The Prince of Wales, president of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, officially opened Middleport Pottery yesterday (June 24) as a visitor destination.
From July 1, Middleport Pottery will be fully open to the public. Based at Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent, the site has undergone a £9 million, 3-year programme of regeneration and revitalisation by the pottery’s owners, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust.
Middleport Pottery is the most complex project ever tackled by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust in its 18-year history. It showcases the charity’s ‘regeneration recipe’ for rescuing an important large scale building while at the same time creating work opportunities for local people.
At the time of the opening, Ros Kerslake, chief executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, said: “Middleport Pottery is a living and breathing part of British industrial history because Burleigh pottery is still made here using traditional techniques and skills. We’re delighted to be opening it up as a major visitor destination, so it can be enjoyed and appreciated for generations to come. We’re thrilled that His Royal Highness is here today to officially open the Pottery and to share this very special moment with us and with Stoke-on-Trent. Middleport shows what can be done to save a landmark building and begin to give new hope in an area of real deprivation.”
During his visit, The Prince of Wales toured several areas of the Pottery including the Victorian Offices, where he saw the collection of Burleigh pottery, and the mould store, which has one of the largest collections of moulds in the world. He also visited the new workshop and office spaces which are being rented to local craft businesses, the art gallery, and an exhibition on the regeneration of the buildings. He saw a scale model of the Pottery, and met schoolchildren who worked on making 2,000 mini clay kilns to mark the visit. Burleigh employees presented HRH with a gift of a teapot, decorated in the Regal Peacock pattern, which was made from the same mould first used to create a gift for his great-grandmother Queen Mary in 1913.
Ros Kerslake continued: “As well as restoring the bricks and mortar, the overall aim has been to create jobs and a hub of craftsmanship and enterprise for the benefit of Burslem and beyond.”
The project was funded by English Heritage, the Regional Growth Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund and by private donations.
Middleport Pottery, the home of world-renowned Burleigh pottery, is the last working Victorian pottery in the UK. The Grade II* listed site was purpose-built in 1888 by ceramics manufacturer Burgess & Leigh. The pottery business is now operated by Denby Holdings Ltd, which acquired it in June 2010.
In early 2011 Middleport Pottery was at serious risk of closure. The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, stepped in to buy and save it in June 2011. The charity has undertaken a £9 million project to regenerate and revitalise the site, leasing approximately half of it back to Burgess & Leigh for pottery production, and opening it as a new visitor destination.