The Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent will once again be featured on prime time television, this autumn.
Middleport Pottery (Home of Burleigh) in Stoke-on-Trent – one of the oldest, and most historic factories in the whole of the UK – has spent most of this summer hosting the crew and contestants for the second series of prime time TV show The Great Pottery Thrown Down, which goes in search for Britain’s best amateur potter.
Presented by Sara Cox, the series is made by the same production company responsible for The Great British Bake Off, and enjoyed a successful initial airing last Autumn. Contestants are seen battling it out for the title of Britain’s ‘best budding potter’, with Keith Brymer Jones and ceramic artist Kate Malone deciding which of them should progress to the next round.
Middleport Pottery reopened to the public in 2014, following a £9-million restoration project led by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust; and is now operated by the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust.
In 2011 the historic site was at serious risk of closure, meaning that the famous Burleigh brand – which has been produced using traditional methods on this site since 1889 – may have had to move away from its home in Burslem.
But in June 2011 HRH Prince Charles’s charity, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, stepped in to buy and save the site following a major fundraising campaign. After three years of renovation and rejuvenation, the historic premises once again opened fully to the public in July 2014.
It’s difficult to think of a more historic pottery works in the whole of the UK. And – far from being stagnant, or ‘staged’ – it is a real, living, working, breathing building that is about to write yet another chapter in a proud history stretching way back over 126-years of unbroken pottery production.
A model factory when it was first opened, it is also believed to have taken a starring role in Arnold Bennett’s Anna of the Five Towns, published in 1922. The book contains a lengthy section in which wealthy pottery owner Henry Mynors takes Anna Tellwright on a tour of ‘Providence Works’. The description which follows leads the present day visitor back in time – as well as through the warren of corridors, rooms and stairwells within Middleport Pottery.
Today, the award-winning visitor destination in the heart of Burslem offers visitors the chance to: book a factory tour to find out how Burleigh is produced using traditional craftsmanship; step into the iconic bottle kiln; see the steam engine that once powered the factory; and explore the Victorian offices. The on-site café, meanwhile, overlooks the Trent and Mersey Canal.