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Gladstone Pottery Museum (Stoke-on-Trent)

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A unique working museum allowing visitors to see how 19th century potters worked. Uttoxeter Road, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST3 1PQ. Tel.: 01782 319232

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      20.03.2002 04:36
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      Its Saturday and I want to do something else, but where can we go. I know says wifey, wheres that brochure on Stoke On Trent we'll go to one of the potteries, but which one, there are so many in Stoke. After much discussion we ended up at Gladstone pottery museum. Why I hear you ask, well after looking at all the information on lots of the other potteries, we decided that we wanted to visit somewhere that depicted life in the potteries in the last century, what it would be like to work in a 19th century pottery and what conditions the people of the time had to endure. So off we go to Stoke, luckily its only 35 miles from our house and once we arrive in Stoke it is well sign posted. However if your coming down the A500 I would advise staying in the left hand lane as its straight most of the way but the signs will indicate you must turn left, just as you must turn left. If you know what I mean! Once at the museum, there is a large car park that will hold maybe a hundred cars. However this is shared with the Portmerion Pottery which is also in the same area, so if its peak time I would probably get there early. The Museum is open from 10am to 5pm daily. The Gladstone Museum is about 2 minutes walk from the car park. Just follow the large bottle shaped chimneys, which are the only ones left in the area. Apparently the whole area was covered in them but they have been pulled down with the increased use of electric and gas kilns. Entrance price for the museum is £3.60 for adults and £1.20 for kids but you can phone to find the latest prices before you go. Once inside the building you will have to pass through the shop to get to the payment counter, don't be tempted to buy when you enter otherwise you'll end up carrying them round all day. When you've paid you are given a tour sheet which is floor plan of the museum with each room numbered. This being so that as you start to m
      ove around the museum you get the experience of how pottery was made in the right order. Before you take the tour you enter the movie room which shows you a short film about the potteries and the Gladstone museum, this takes about 5 minutes and takes you back to the early 19th century so you get the feel of the museum. Room 1 starts with the factories steam driven machinery, this would have powered all the machines in the factory originally. This machine is a fairly small steam engine, which is in full working order (I mean it moves), however it is no longer powered by steam and was being turned by an electric motor, but you still get the point. Room 1 leads on to Room 2 which is where the clay starts its journey through the factory. Here it is turned in to a sloppy mess, which is called slip. Here all the impurities and metals are removed before the clay is then dried out again before being made in to clay pots, or mixed with other ingredients to become Bone china. I am not going to go in to all the details of each room, as this will spoil the tour for you. I will say however that there is plenty for all to do and in some parts of the museum there is even a DIY section. You throw your own pot, make china flowers or paint your own pots, but there is a small charge for this. There is also a demonstrations by the skilled staff some of whom where wearing the traditional dress of the time. The staff we talked to where very informative and explained in detail what they where doing, why they where doing it and how it would have been done in the past. It took the potter about 10 minutes to make one large jug, but he informed us that in the past they would have made 400 in 1 working day each. Also on the site of the museum is a new exhibit, which is situated in the only new building on the site. This exhibit is about the story of the toilet. Sounds like a load of crap! (Sorry!) but it is very interesting, taking y
      ou fr om the old wooden holes in the floor right up to todays latest toilet innovation. This building also houses the ceramic tile exhibition which as well as showing how tiles are made displays a range of tiles from world history. The museum has its own cafe, which is reasonably priced, I had the all day breakfast, egg, 2 bacon, 2 sausage, 2 toast and a tomato for £3.20 and a coffee was 80p. Not to bad I'm sure you'll agree. There is plenty to do at the museum and enough to keep you occupied for a full day, although if you have kids I would keep a close watch on them as there are many steep stair cases and moving machinery around the museum. There are guide rails but unsupervised children would be over these in a flash. If you have a spare day and are short of something interesting to do then I can heartily recommend the Gladstone pottery museum. Gladstone Pottery Museum, Uttoxeter Road, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, ST3 1PQ Tel: 01782 319232 Web: http://www.stoke.gov.uk/gladstone © copyright 2002, Mike Porter. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------ UPDATE! We, me and my wife have just been to the Gladstone Museum for the second time and I can say I am equally if not more impressed than first time I went. This time the Bottle ovens where open for you to see. You can actually go and stand inside the ovens and see what it was like to work in them. One of the chimmenys is full of Saggars awaiting to be fired, One is empty and one is on a pretend (Well they cant have it going whilst the public walk around) fireing. All the work shops and displays where working and they even have a new exhibition called "The Doctors house" Which portays a late 1800 early 1900 doctors surgery. The toilet exhibition seemed to smell more than last time, but this has a few new items, or p
      erhaps a few things I missed last time. Overall, I'll give the museum a bit thumbs up. This has to be one of the best places we have visited this year!

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