Work is now well underway to restore 11 Victorian pottery workers’ houses and create a new heritage attraction alongside one of The Potteries’ most popular visitor destinations.
A multi-million pound project will see the properties in Harper Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent -which are opposite the main entrance to the Middleport Pottery site – transformed into a new attraction, studio, and workshop space.
When fully restored, visitors will be able to step back in time to the 1950s when they enter the lodge keeper’s house, which will provide a range of immersive activities based on the daily experience of the lodge keeper’s family.
Providing a significant boost to Stoke-on-Trent, regarded as the world capital of ceramics, regeneration charity Re-Form Heritage has begun works to transform Harper Street into a new visitor attraction.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and other supporters, the Harper Street: Engagement in Heritage project has now broken ground as work continues to breathe new life into the area.
In total, £2.5m will be invested into the project, which will see the long-derelict terrace become an attraction focusing on the domestic life of the early 20th century pottery worker, alongside workshop and retail space for creative businesses.
The row of houses is intrinsically linked with Middleport Pottery – the UK’s last working Victorian potbank in continuous production – and are thought to have been built at the same time, or shortly after, the construction of Middleport’s factory in 1888.
When fully restored, the project will add another visitor experience to Middleport Pottery – home to the world famous Burleigh pottery, and an award-winning visitor destination in the heart of Burslem, the Mother Town of the Potteries. The project is also another addition to Re-Form Heritage’s portfolio of historic buildings which, through being regenerated, help to revitalise communities.
Visitors to Middleport Pottery will take a step back in time as they explore the unique heritage site, beginning in the original Victorian offices before discovering the mould store housing Europe’s largest collection of ceramic moulds. Visitors can also take a look inside the pottery’s huge bottle kiln, one of the few remaining in Stoke and an iconic reminder of the city’s great industrial heritage. (http://bit.ly/31tnaEt).
And when the new Harper Street attraction opens, expected to be Spring 2020, the terrace will also contain a dedicated store for Middleport’s collection and archive, as well as a public research space to allow people to study archive items, many of which will be digitised for the first time.
Harper Street sits within the Trent & Mersey Canal Conservation Area in Stoke-on-Trent, an area “of outstanding industrial archaeological importance, both nationally and locally”, thanks to its early examples of England’s canal network and associated industrial buildings, which include Middleport Pottery.
For updates on the Harper Street project, visit www.re-form.org/harper-street
For more information on Stoke-on-Trent as a destination, see www.visitstoke.co.uk