Monday, August 12, 2013

The Potteries

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

We started our weekend in Stoke on Trent at the Gladstone Pottery Museum and I'm so glad that we did.
It was the perfect way to start, because it really set the tone for our visit to the area. 

The museum explores the fascinating history of the Staffordshire Potteries.
When we pulled into the parking lot and walked up to the entrance,
we were a little concerned.   It's in a nondescript industrial area and there were only two other cars in the parking lot.  It's nothing fancy.  We paid our £7.50 each and took our map for the self-guided tour.  

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

 We were immediately drawn into the history of this place.

Since the 1600's this area has been known for the production of pottery and coal mining.
Royal Doulton, Wedgwood and other world renowned potteries were established in this area.
Several hundred years ago, thousands of these distinctive bottle kilns dotted the landscape pouring out black smoke.  This is where the pottery was fired.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

There are now only 47 of the kilns remaining and they are all listed.
The tour walks you through the whole process and shares the stories of the
men, women and children who worked in the potteries.
You can read all about it in this BBC article.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

And I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and mark this off of my bucket list.
I got to throw a pot!  So amazing!

First Gary gave us a demonstration and then I handed over £3 and got to make my own. He's been doing this for 18 years and makes it look so easy.  Then it was my turn.  It's much harder than in looks.  But I made a pot!!!

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

I got to bring it home in a little box.  It's unfired so I can't really use it for anything.
But it was so much fun and now I want to do it again and again.

Then Rita gave us a demonstration on making flowers with bone china.
She started doing piece work for the factories when she was just sixteen.
Her hands moved so quickly and she chatted with us as she worked.
She can make these delicate flowers without even looking.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The young girls were paid by the piece so they became very quick.
We purchased one of the roses in the gift shop.
Gary and Rita were so interesting and friendly.  They were happy to tell us about the potteries and the amazing history of the area.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

I think a visit to the Gladstone Pottery Museum should be your very first stop when visiting Stoke on Trent.
  The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

The Gladstone Pottery Museum

It added a whole new dimension to our weekend and took our visit from
shopping bag tourism to a true exploration of the area and its history.

Have you been to Stoke on Trent?  What did you think?



12 comments:

  1. As usual your photos bring a grim building to life. Great you were able to have a go. The flowers are gorgeous.

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  2. Amanda @ Adventure YearAugust 12, 2013 at 5:43 AM

    That building is absolutely brimming with history, and I love it! I knew I was going to love this before I even got to the pottery. Great photos and a great place to highlight!

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  3. Those flowers are amazing! I can't even believe the attention to detail these craftspeople must have to create such cool things. I love your photos--they really make me feel like I'm walking around and discovering with you :)

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  4. I loved this post and the pictures. I had no idea stuff like this could be done in Stoke on Trent. In fact, I don't think I've ever considered that anything cultural or fun could be found in Stoke on Trent. Consider me educated.


    Thank you for the really kind words on my most recent post by the way. I'm feeling much better today!

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  5. What a cool place to visit. The sad part is, I'm sure its often looked over.
    Your photography makes me want see this building through my own lens.
    Golly, just beautiful.

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  6. the small flowers are so beautiful

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  7. Looks like such an interesting place to visit and the flowers look amazing! I have always wanted to try my hand at pottery :)

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  8. Oh wow what a fascinating place! I would have bought so much!!

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  9. I loved reading this, this place is AMAZING...
    I've just been educated on another place in England and you know how much I love it there.
    I don't understand why you broke pots? Is that a tradition after they made pottery? And what are those round barrel things? Did they actually put the pottery in there and fire them all together in that huge place? I mean that's just amazing. I also briefly skimmed the article.... So interesting, I love your blog!
    Tammy x

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  10. PS... I'm sure you could get your piece of pottery fired somewhere so that you can use it. I know how hard it is, I've made pottery that way and mine kept flying off to the side!
    Have a great week!

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  11. Check out your pot! I think you did an excellent job and it's a lovely little pot :)

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  12. With the demise of Steel, Pottery and Mining in Stoke the area is going through a slow transition period into other sectors. Whilst not very pleasing on the eye there are some great places to visit, and the countryside in the surrounding area is some of the best in the UK. Very nice pictures of the museum.

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