Middleport Pottery is located in Stoke on Trent, at the heart of the British ceramics industry. The Pottery was built in 1888 as a model factory for the production of what became the world-renowned “Burleigh” earthenware. In 2010 closure threatened, jeopardising 50 jobs, traditional skills, historic processes and unique collections of ceramics moulds and archives. So great was the cost of repairing the buildings that the site had no viable operational future.
But the business has been dramatically rescued by a UK heritage charity, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust. Its many buildings are still home to Burleigh pottery, using traditional techniques, and also host a growing visitor destination with interpretation facilities, a gallery exhibiting historic examples of its products, educational and teaching space and a café. Additionally, the historic machinery, artefacts and nationally important collections and archive have been saved for public viewing. The site also now houses three smaller specialist pottery businesses and has workshop space available for further creative businesses.
The Jury were gratified to be able to recognise the rescue of this fine unit of production – both the industrial premises and its delightful product. Many such worthwhile ventures fall by the wayside through the absence of a new sponsor, and that is where the Prince’s Regeneration Trust deserve thanks for facilitating the continuation in production of this attractive range of earthenware pottery. The factory too now has a secure future as one of the last surviving traditional potteries in the West Midlands of England, known as “The Potteries” and once characterised by its factory chimneys and distinctive bottle kilns. The techniques and skills of production have been revitalised and buildings and machinery carefully conserved to retain their unique atmosphere and spirit of place.