On 1st October a group of fifteen PAS members set off for our trip to Stoke-on-Trent to have a whistle-stop tour of the Potteries. Our wonderful driver, Craig, managed to negotiate heavy traffic to get to Emma Bridgewater in excellent time for our factory tour, afternoon tea and design studio.
Our tour guide, Rosette, expertly guided us through all the processes involved in creating this iconic biscuit ware. We were particularly taken with the hand-painting area where dozens of ladies were busy stencilling and painting pottery. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the 2020 Spring collection.
We ate delicious sandwiches and scones for lunch and then took our seats for an afternoon of stencilling and painting our own pieces. We were also able to purchase items in the factory shops. Later that day, we headed off to our hotel for a relaxing swim or steam room, drinks in the bar and dinner.
Our blue badge guide, Vicky, met us bright and early the following morning for a tour of Etruria Hall and to give us an insight into Josaiah Wedgwood’s factory. We then headed off for a coach tour of the six towns that make up the Potteries. The landscape has changed hugely since the height of the Pottery industry with many factories now closed down and bottle kilns demolished. However, we were able to picture how things used to be as Vicky, our guide, described in great detail what the landscape would have looked like then.
Our next stop was Middleport Pottery, home of Burleighware, for a tour of the factory, bottle kiln, heritage trail and canal. Middleport is a beautiful traditional pottery where we saw ladies expertly applying tissue paper transfers to cups, saucers, plates, bowls and lovely cow creamers. It was mesmerising to watch the factory men making plates and bowls in the traditional way. During our buffet lunch in the wonderful function room, we were able to view an array of commemorative casts which were on display.
Next stop was the Potteries and Art Gallery in Hanley where we met the Senior Curator for a lecture on the history of the Potteries followed by a talk on the Staffordshire hoard. We were able to then spend an hour and a half on a self-guided tour of the museum taking in lots of Lowry paintings, a Rodin as well as seeing a history of ceramics through the ages. We were also able to view a remarkable collection of over 650 cow creamers.
My thanks to all those PAS members who came along and made it a memorable trip.