Stoke-on-Trent and The Potteries is set to be featured on prime-time television, in 2020.
Middleport Pottery – one of the oldest, and most historic factories in the UK – is once again hosting the crew and contestants for a new series of The Great Pottery Thrown Down, which goes insearch for Britain’s best amateur potter.
Made by the same production company behind The Great British Bake Off, the show will be returning for a new 10-part series, following 12 potters as they strive to create their most intricate and imaginative work.
Previously shown on BBC, the switch to Channel 4 will also see new host Melanie Sykes take over from former presenter Sara Cox. Cox fronted the show for the previous two series, before it was cancelled in 2018, while BBC TV and Love Productions discussed its future. Channel 4 has since stepped-in to commission the new series.
Sykes joins the show alongside returning judge and master potter Keith Brymer Jones and new judge and award-winning ceramicist Sue Pryke.
Contestants will once again be seen battling it out for the title of Britain’s best budding potter at Middleport Pottery, the home of Burleigh, which was reopened to the public in 2014 following a £9-million restoration project led by the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT).
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 UKHBPT stepped-in to buy and save the site following a major fundraising campaign. And 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: 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 more than 130-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’. It’s a description that 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. An on-site café, meanwhile, overlooks the Trent and Mersey Canal.
For all tourist information about Stoke-on-Trent & The Potteries, visit http://www.visitstoke.co.uk