Gladstone Pottery Museum, Uttoxeter Rd, Stoke-on-Trent, ST3 1PQ – Visit Now
As the last complete Victorian pottery factory in Britain, Gladstone (named after the 19th century Prime Minister) in Longton provides a unique insight into the history of Stoke-on-Trent; an area defined by its reputation for world-class high-quality pottery and ceramic production during the industrial revolution up until the mid 20th century.
Today, the factory is home to a museum where visitors can learn how bone china tableware was once made in the original workshops and monumental bottle kilns of the former Gladstone China Works, and discover what life was like for men, women and children working in a typical potbank. It’s also a place to get hands-on, with daily pot-throwing, bone china flower making and pottery decorating workshops, as well as plenty more events and activities for all ages.
At their peak, over 4,000 bottle ovens dominated the skyline of Stoke-on-Trent, lyrically described by the Hanley-born playwright and author Arnold Bennett throughout much of his work. Yet today, only 46 remain. To mark the 40-year anniversary of the last bottle oven being fired, Gladstone Pottery Museum presents Festival of the Bottle Ovens (Aug-Sep) – a two-month long programme of events, displays and activities designed to bring the rich heritage of The Potteries bottle oven back to life. Highlights include: Go Wild at Gladstone (16 Aug), a day of activities led by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust including fire-lighting and DIY birdfeeder construction; Oatcakes all Round! (11 Aug), a historical review of the origins and development of the Staffordshire oatcake featuring ‘the ancient ceremony of the Grand Order of Oatcake Tasters’; Bottle Ovens – An Archaeologist’s View (11am 18 Aug); and Coiled Pot Making led by the museum’s expert ceramicist (11am 18 Aug, £12).
Find out what else is on in Stoke-on-Trent this summer here.