This Victorian pottery factory, home to the renowned Burleigh pottery, has been a symbol of craftsmanship and creativity since its establishment in 1889.
Middleport Pottery, located in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, is a fascinating destination that holds a significant place in the history of ceramics.
Preserving History: The Restoration of Middleport Pottery
Middleport Pottery’s story is one of resilience and preservation. In the early 2010s, the pottery faced the threat of closure due to the deteriorating condition of its buildings. However, a restoration and regeneration project was initiated thanks to the intervention of The Prince’s Foundation and the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust. With a combination of private and public funding, Middleport Pottery underwent a remarkable transformation.
The restoration process, which lasted for three years and cost £9 million, aimed to revitalize the site while maintaining its historical integrity. The project saved Middleport Pottery from potential demise and created a vibrant visitor destination and a hub for creative businesses. Today, the pottery stands as a testament to the power of restoration and the importance of preserving our cultural heritage.
Discovering Middleport Pottery: A Guided Tour
One of the highlights of visiting Middleport Pottery is the opportunity to take a guided tour of the site and factory. Led by knowledgeable and passionate guides, the tour provides a unique insight into the traditional pottery production methods practised at Middleport for over a century.
As you embark on the tour, you’ll be transported back in time, exploring the various stages of the pottery-making process. The journey begins with a visit to the heritage offices, where you can delve into the history of Burleigh Pottery and learn about the influential figures who shaped its legacy. Moving through the factory, you’ll witness the skilled craftsmen in action, meticulously shaping clay and transforming it into exquisite pottery pieces.
A particular highlight of the tour is the chance to step inside the Grade II listed bottle kiln, one of the few remaining in the city. This iconic structure serves as a reminder of Stoke-on-Trent’s industrial heritage and the rich tradition of pottery-making that once thrived in the area.
Middleport Pottery Information
Port St, Burslem, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent ST6 3PE, UK
Monday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
NOTE: Canalside venues often have seasonal opening hours. They can be subject to change. So, it's always advisable to check with the venue before visiting.
Middleport Pottery: More Than Just Pottery Making
Middleport Pottery offers visitors more than just a glimpse into the pottery-making process. Over the years, it has become a popular visitor attraction, offering a range of experiences that showcase the rich heritage and artistry of pottery making. The site has been thoughtfully repurposed, creating space for a range of activities and experiences that cater to all interests.
Café: A Haven for Food Enthusiasts
After immersing yourself in the world of pottery, take a moment to relax and indulge in the Middleport Pottery café. Housed in the original packing house, the café provides a charming setting to savour locally-sourced food and beverages. Whether you choose to sit outside, enjoying views of the tranquil Trent and Mersey Canal, or cosy up by the wood-burning stove during colder months, the café offers a delightful dining experience.
Factory Shop: A Treasure Trove of Burleigh Pottery
No visit to Middleport Pottery would be complete without exploring the Burleigh Factory Shop. Here, you’ll find an extensive selection of Burleigh pottery, showcasing the timeless beauty and craftsmanship that has made it renowned worldwide. From elegant dinnerware to decorative pieces, the shop offers the opportunity to take home a piece of pottery history.
Heritage Trail: Immersing Yourself in the Past
To fully appreciate the history and significance of Middleport Pottery, follow the Heritage Trail. This self-guided exploration takes you through the preserved Victorian offices, the design showroom, and even the underground bathhouse used by the pottery workers. Each step along the trail reveals fascinating insights into the daily lives of those who worked at the pottery and the importance of their craft.
Adjacent Attractions: Harper Street and Clay College
While Middleport Pottery itself is a treasure trove of history, additional attractions are worth exploring nearby. Just a stone’s throw away is the beautifully renovated Harper Street complex. This collection of terraced houses, now transformed into exhibition spaces and shops, provides a glimpse into the lives of pottery workers in the late 1800s.
Clay College, also situated near Middleport Pottery, offers a range of educational opportunities for those interested in furthering their knowledge of ceramics. From workshops to exhibitions, the college fosters a community of talented artists and provides a platform for their work.