News of an extension to the popular Trentham Shopping Village in Staffordshire – which opened at the end of July – has helped to reinforce Stoke-on-Trent’s position as one of the UK’s leading shopping destination.
The 18 new units at Trentham are a major addition to the existing 63 shops, cafés and restaurants within the Shopping Village, and represents over £7m of additional investment at one of the Midlands’s best-loved tourist destinations.
While many of the units in the Shopping Village are independently owned, several are outlet stores – offering additional value and choice to locals and visitors alike.
Add to that mix a host of famous-brand factory shops across the whole of Stoke-on-Trent, and it’s easy to work out why – rather than taking a short break which costs you money – this is one that could have been designed especially for you and your flexible friend. A short break that could save you a fortune!
Welcome to Stoke-on-Trent – home of “The Potteries”, one of the few places in the world where you are encouraged to go shopping for that special piece of Wedgwood…using a supermarket trolley!
Take a break in The Potteries, and you start to look not only at the back-stamp on your cup and saucer over breakfast, but also at the price tags in the factory shops highlighted on VisitStoke’s website. Most pieces may be ‘seconds’. But it’s hard for anyone to spot the slight flaws – especially when your line of vision is being distracted by a label which shows a £50 difference between the ‘Price When Perfect’, and the factory shop price.
Lying at the very heart of Britain’s pottery industry, Stoke-on-Trent was at one time punctuated by hundreds of brick ‘bottle kilns’, which all pumped smoke into the atmosphere, 24-hours a day.
But those dark days are over. Look around today’s modern city, and you will quickly see that cleaner methods of firing have banished the old image of Stoke-on-Trent to the historical archives forever; and that an area affectionately known as The Potteries has rightfully earned a reputation – both nationally and internationally – not only for firing the imagination of its visitors, but also for being shortlisted in the race for the 2021 UK City of Culture.
The Wedgwood & Royal Doulton Outlet Store on Festival Park is the area’s largest stockist of Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Minton, Waterford Crystal, Coalport, Johnson Bros, Edinburgh Crystal and Royal Albert – and offers huge discounts, of up 75%, with shipping and export services also available.
Visitors looking to take a prime piece home with them, meanwhile, or simply looking for great gift ideas, will be spoilt for choice at The World of Wedgwood where the flagship store is the largest Wedgwood retail space in the world.
Portmeirion’s three factory shops in Trentham, Stoke and Longton, also sell Spode and Royal Worcester at knock down prices.
The Moorcroft Heritage Visitor Centre shop, sells best quality handmade giftware and table lamps along with slightly imperfect pieces in Nile Street, Cobridge.
Emma Bridgewater also boasts a factory outlet that stocks a wide range of seconds and discontinued lines, along with tableware, cookware and textiles at reduced prices. A great “insider tip” for the collector or avid fan here is to also watch-out for the occasional sample and one-off pieces.
Burghleigh Pottery within Middleport Pottery (‘home’ of BBC TV’s Great Pottery Throw Down) is an Aladdin’s cave, with some of the most beautifully dressed and tempting displays in the whole of The Potteries, but also offers a large range of designs and excellent discounts on seconds and discontinued lines.
Middleport Pottery itself also now houses a small collection of one-off display spaces which occasionally sell one-off designs in their stunning exhibitions, as well as a handful of artisan shops, selling pottery jewellery, photographs and other crafts.
One of Stoke-on-Trent’s best kept secrets is its factory shops selling top quality ware usually reserved for some of the finest restaurants and hotels in the world. Churchill, founded in 1795 has built a reputation focusing on quality, innovation and design, and has a large factory shop which is open to the public close to Tunstall. Steelite, meanwhile, offers a superb array of designs at value prices at its outlet store in The Trentham Shopping Village.
But even if factory visits, and the opportunity to purchase some of the finest pottery and bone china in the world, are the major reasons for wanting to visit The Potteries, it is still worthwhile delving a little deeper to discover what else there is on offer in Stoke-on-Trent.
The history and heritage of the area is preserved and presented at various locations across the city – most notably at The Gladstone Pottery Museum, and at the award-winning Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.
Not content with simply offering you a money saving short break the good people of Stoke-on-Trent also want to give you an opportunity to go behind the scenes, to see how all of this fabulous ware is created in the first place and (in many instances) “try-your-hand” at making your own masterpiece at any number of the area’s factory tours, visitor centres and pottery cafés. Further details can be found at The Ceramics Trail.
And, for all further information, visit http://www.visitstoke.co.uk/potteries/.