Wedgwood. It’s one of those names that’s famous the world over: a genuine British icon; a brand with immediate and universal recognition.
What’s even more incredible is the history behind the name. The story of a man born on July 12th, 1730 – and the following 285 years which witnessed the birth of a small pottery company in 1759, which has subsequently gone global.
The factory Josiah built in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1769 became one of the most visited factories in England, as well as a focal point for anyone with even a passing interest in fine china and ceramics.
Two hundred and forty six years later, history is repeating itself all over again – thanks to the opening at its Barlaston headquarters of the World of Wedgwood: a new, flagship attraction for Stoke-on-Trent, and a place where visitors from around the globe can come to enjoy what the company hopes will soon be recognized as “one of the finest behind-the-scenes factory tours”.
But there’s so much more to World of Wedgwood than simply seeing cold grey lumps of clay being magically transformed into things of beauty.
It’s a true 21st century attraction, with hands-on opportunities for visitors to throw pots, decorate plates, and test their skill at various other crafts under the watchful eyes of master potters.
And once the hard work is over, there’s a choice of places to eat – in The Dining Room @ Wedgwood, with its relaxed vibe and ‘light bites’ menu featuring everything from a warm mushroom and avocado salad (£8.50) to the DH Burger with Staffordshire blue dressing and double fried chips (£14.50); or in the exquisite Wedgwood Tearoom, where Afternoon Tea ranges in price from £25, to £45 (with Pol Roger Brut champagne and the Master Zu Tea Experience).
An entirely new concept, there are plans for the Wedgwood Tearoom to be recreated in cities around the world, starting with Mumbai and Beijing. But the original is here, at the Wedgwood HQ in Stoke-on-Trent, where you’ll sip your choice of 52 teas from ‘Parkland’ cups and saucers, which are sold exclusively in the dazzling lifestyle shop – the largest Wedgwood retail space in the world.
If art and design is your thing, this is also where you’ll find four installations reflecting the four streams of design at Wedgwood: Floral World; Expressive World; Prestige World; and Shape & Textiles World.
There’s a lot more art and design, of course, in the Wedgwood Museum which has now been further integrated into the visitor experience. Originally founded in 1906, the Wedgwood Museum has its own long and checkered history; but is today one of the largest (and finest) industrial museums in the world with a collection owned by the V&A Museum, but on permanent display in its rightful ‘home’.
Originally built in a green fields site on the outskirts of The Potteries, Wedgwood is still in a world of its own. But it’s a world which, from July 17th 2015, will be open to anyone from around the globe.
A full day ticket to visit costs just £15 for adults (with family tickets available at £30). Tickets are also available for anyone simply wanting to take the Factory Tour (£10 for adults), or to visit The Wedgwood Museum (£7 for adults).
For further details, visit their website.
And for all other tourist information for Stoke-on-Trent & The Potteries, visithttp://www.visitstoke.co.uk.