A photograph of Middleport pottery

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Much-loved Pottery Brought Back From The Brink

Middleport Pottery, home to the famous Burleigh pottery, saved and transformed into an international visitor attraction.

Several years ago, Middleport Pottery, nestled in the heart of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, was on the brink of closure. Constructed in 1888 for local ceramics company, Burgess & Leigh Limited, it was considered a national treasure and much loved by the local community. The Burleigh pottery produced on site was beautiful and unique, and many of the workforce had been there for decades, passing down craftsmanship through the generations. But by 2010 the buildings were in such a state of disrepair the business looked destined to close.

In June 2011 The Prince’s Foundation and the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust stepped in to save Middleport Pottery. They put together a private and public funding package that allowed them to embark on an ambitious restoration and regeneration project. The work included a programme of training and educational activities to support the local community in skills provision with an emphasis on traditional British craftsmanship.

Following its three-year, £9 million* regeneration, the restored Middleport Pottery reopened to the public in July 2014. New workshops and craft areas were created, alongside a café, gallery and heritage visitor centre. The new visitor experience includes tours of the Burleigh factory, where visitors can see the handcraft techniques that have been used there since the 1800s. A growing number of businesses are now based at the site, and the new Prince of Wales Studios acts as a home in which craftspeople can work and exhibit their products.

Opportunities to train in traditional building techniques were provided as part of the works, and included placements for the Prince’s Foundation craft apprentices. A ‘Get into Construction Programme’ was also created to give 12 young unemployed people a taster in traditional construction techniques. This led to three trainees being taken on as apprentices with the contractor, William Anelay.

A photograph of Middleport pottery

Since it opened, the Pottery has won eight awards, including a RIBA National Award for architectural excellence and a Europa Nostra Award for heritage. Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund says: “We believe that to create a truly sustainable and viable regeneration project, we must work with an area’s unique character and community, often locked in its heritage. This is a working, busy, authentic Victorian pottery that still has an active future within the community.”

Visit Middleport Pottery to find out more

*Funding came from several public and private sources, including English Heritage (£1.2m), the Heritage Lottery Fund (£1.5m), the Regional Growth Fund (£1.7m) and the European Regional Development Fund (£1.2m).

When the Prince's Foundation was involved in this project it was known as The Prince's Regeneration Trust