Today HRH The Prince of Wales, President of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, officially opened Middleport Pottery, home to world-renowned Burleigh pottery, as a new visitor destination. The site has undergone a £9-million, 3-year programme of regeneration and revitalisation by the Pottery's owners, The Prince's Regeneration Trust. It will be fully open to the public from 1 July.
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 whilst at the same time creating life changing opportunities for local people.
Arriving by canal boat ‘The Lindsay’, HRH met the donors and supporters who had made the restoration of Middleport Pottery possible. He met local people including Mrs Lily Wakefield aged 80 who was born and spent her childhood on the barges which served the Pottery. He also met the longest serving current Burleigh employee, ‘Glost Selector’ Carole Mantle. Carole has been with Burleigh for 19 years (for details of others HRH met see below).
During the speeches, 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 are thrilled that His Royal Highness, our President, 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. But the need for similar regeneration in the UK is huge. We have more than 15,000 heritage buildings estimated to be at risk of serious decay, and 37%* of the UK population lives in neighbourhoods blighted by poverty, unemployment and a loss of pride*. We need to work faster to help buy and restore buildings where other efforts have failed and to support community groups on projects far too complex for them to undertake alone.’
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 school children who have been working on making 2,000 mini clay kilns to mark the visit.
Burleigh employees presented HRH with a gift of a teapot made from the same mould first used to create a gift for his great-grandmother, Her Royal Highness Queen Mary, in 1913. It was decorated in the Regal Peacock pattern. Over the last two years, whist the site was restored around him, Burleigh employee Chris Glendinning took 1,911 hours to skilfully engrave a new copper cylinder from which the first piece of tissue was printed to decorate the teapot.
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.
(*people living in one of 144 local authorities identified as the 25% most deprived in the UK by the index of multiple deprivation in the 2011 census)