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The Prince of Wales opens Middleport Pottery for visitors

24th June 2014

The Prince of Wales visits Middleport Pottery

The Prince of Wales visits Middleport Pottery

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The Prince of Wales saw the culmination of one of his charities' work in Stoke-on-Trent today, by visiting a regenerated Victorian pottery.

Middleport Pottery is a Grade II* listed building based in Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of the British pottery industry.

It was purpose-built in 1888, overlooking the Trent and Mersey Canal, by ceramics manufacturers Burgess & Leigh who moved their business there. 

What makes Middleport Pottery unique is that it has remained in continuous production, making the same product ”“ Burleigh ware ”“ since it was built.

Today The Prince was visiting to see the results of the work of his heritage regeneration charity The Prince's Regeneration Trust which has been working with partners to restore the site, create employment and maintain and develop Middleport's role within the local community.  His Royal Highness officially opened the pottery to visitors, beginning on 1st July, by unveiling a plaque.

The Prince of Wales has for many years believed in the power of heritage-led regeneration and believes that heritage buildings can provide a key role in invigorating the regeneration of the areas in which they sit.

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The Prince of Wales opens Middleport Pottery for visitors

Burleigh ware in the factory shop at Middleport Pottery

Burleigh ware in the factory shop at Middleport Pottery

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In a speech to supporters and project partners, The Prince said that it was only the "end of the beginning", and that more help would be needed as the work at Middleport continues.  He also said that there were other equally important sites around the country that were also under threat.

The pottery is due to open on 1st July to visitors and is well equipped with a cafe, a factory tour and a shop selling the classic blue and white floral patterned Burleigh ware.  The pottery also makes items for the Highgrove Shop, which is based in The Prince's garden at Highgrove, with all profits going to charity.

During his visit, The Prince of Wales explored The Mould Store, which houses the largest mould collection in Europe, and in front of the only remaining bottle kiln, the mainly female employees from the 'tissue transfer' department - where they deploy the traditional method of transferring the Burleigh design to products using designs transferred by tissue - presented The Prince with a teapot.

His Royal Highness had met several of them on previous visits, and enjoyed chatting to them today.

The Prince also met children from local schools who were taking part in craft classes at the pottery - learning to make items from clay - which available throughout the summer.

A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the opening of Middleport Pottery

Published on 26th June 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, I know you have been crammed in here for hours, getting hotter and hotter and longing for your lunch as I pass endless long trestle tables next door, so I hope we won't prolong your misery for too much longer but I did just want to say what an enormous pleasure it is to see you all here today. As Ian has already said it is a very proud day for my Regeneration Trust and I'm particularly grateful after all the kind things he has said about me, to Ian and indeed Ros the Chief Executive, for all the amazing efforts and time they have put in to these projects. Some of you, perhaps, over the years, have got to understand just how difficult and frustrating they can be. Putting these things together is not easy, believe you me, so having somebody like Ian with the skills he has and the contacts he has (there are lots of people here I suspect with twisted arms and feet that have been trodden on and God knows what else, by Ian!) makes all the difference.

It is an enormously special day when we can actually demonstrate to all of you the way something like Middleport Pottery can be brought back to life and all sorts of jobs saved. When English Heritage approached my Trust about the imminent closure of this world-famous company, and the seemingly inevitable break-up of its workforce, the loss of traditional skills, and the destruction of so many industrial artefacts and archives, including the unique collection of moulds (and if you ever have a minute ladies and gentlemen you must go look at the moulds store because it is unbelievably special, the atmosp ...

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