Staffordshire Potteries: “Gone to Pot!”
The Staffordshire Potteries is an area in Staffordshire that became a centre for pottery production in the 17th century. It is famous for making high-quality pottery, which became an essential part of the British economy. Various manufacturers still produce pottery today, but the industry has declined over the past 20 years due to competition from overseas manufacturers. Although “Gone to Pot”, the region remains an important centre for the pottery trade, with many traditional methods still being used by some manufacturers (e.g., Burleigh Pottery). I took the pictures below in 2011 while some factories still stand, as many may not stand for much longer.
The Staffordshire Potteries Today
The Staffordshire Potteries were home to many renowned pottery manufacturers, including Spode, Royal Doulton, and Aynsley China. These companies were known for their fine bone china, decorative pottery, and earthenware. The industry peaked in the 19th century, with many new companies and employing thousands of people.
Today, many abandoned or neglected buildings remain in Stoke-on-Trent that once made ceramics. These factories often appear rundown and crumbling, with broken windows, peeling paint, and overgrown vegetation. Many of them have suffered damage and are no longer safe to enter.
The Ups & Downs
Many skilled potters and ceramicists still work in the Staffordshire Potteries. The industry has also adapted to changing consumer demands, with some manufacturers producing modern and innovative designs that appeal to a new generation of customers.
While the pottery industry in Staffordshire has faced challenges and a decline in recent years, it continues to evolve and adapt, and the Staffordshire Potteries remain part of the UK’s cultural heritage.
Wedgwood is one of the most famous and oldest pottery manufacturers in the Staffordshire Potteries. Despite outsourcing some of its manufacturing to other countries in recent years, Wedgwood still produces pottery at its factory in Barlaston and has a significant presence in the area. The company has also invested in modernizing its production methods and designs and has expanded into new markets and product lines, such as luxury homeware and lifestyle products.
Today, Wedgwood remains committed to its heritage and traditions. The company still uses many techniques and skills developed over 250 years ago. And its products continue to be highly regarded for their quality and craftsmanship.
Burleigh Pottery has been experiencing a comeback in recent years. The company has a long history of producing high-quality pottery using traditional methods.
In the past, Burleigh Pottery struggled with declining sales and faced the threat of closure. However, in 2011, Middleport Pottery acquired the company, which invested in new machinery and updated the production facilities while retaining the traditional methods that make Burleigh Pottery unique.
Since then, Burleigh Pottery has increased in popularity, with its products sold in high-end stores and attracting new customers. The company has also expanded into new markets, such as luxury hotels and restaurants, and has collaborated with designers to create modern and innovative designs.
Burleigh Pottery’s success is partly due to its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. The company uses locally sourced materials, such as clay from the Staffordshire Potteries, and has implemented measures to reduce waste and energy use.
A Bygone Era
Despite their dilapidated state, derelict pottery factories hold a certain nostalgic charm and historical significance. They are a reminder of a bygone era of industry and craftsmanship that helped shape the culture and economy of the region.
Pictures of the Staffordshire Potteries
Check out the pictures below. I took them in 2011 while some factories still stood.
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