Recently Bean, one of his little buddies and I visited Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Hailing from Staffordshire ourselves it was great to be able to introduce the kids to some of the county’s heritage but the museum is just as interesting for those visiting from out of the area too.
Upon entering Gladstone’s cobbled courtyard it is easy to feel like you are stepping back in time and the huge bottle kilns really are impressive and atmospheric. Stoke-on-Trent is world famous for its pottery and historically bottle kiln ovens were a predominant feature of the city, with up to 4,000 dotted around the city in the heyday of the pottery industry. There are now less than 50 remaining in the area (and only a few more in the country) so the kilns at Gladstone are a wonderful thing to see and especially to be able to go inside. Gladstone is the only remaining complete Victorian pottery factory in the country and the children really enjoyed being able to experience what it would have been like for the men, women and children who worked there.
As you wander around the factory buildings there are various displays and things to see, including the engine house and doctor’s rooms. The children’s favourite exhibition was (of course!) “Flushed with Pride,” which documents the history of the toilet, from the time of Queen Elizabeth I to the toilets of the future! Here they could experience the sights, sounds and smells of toilets through the ages and discovered some interesting historical alternatives to toilet paper.
The highlights of our visit however, for both the children and myself, were being able to throw their own pot and making their own china flowers to take home and decorate. The smiles on their faces were a delight when they were trying to form their spinning piece of wet clay into a pot and the demonstrator/tutor was very helpful and patient! One thing I should mention is that it is probably best to head to the pot-throwing studio as soon as you arrive at the Museum as by the time we got to it there was a long queue and we did have to wait for a long time.
All in all, Gladstone Pottery Museum is a great place to spend a few hours with the kids and definitely one for your list if you’re visiting the area!
Opening Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays and Bank Holidays. April – September: 10am – 5pm, October – March: 10am – 4pm. Adults: £7.75. Children: £5.40 (4 – 16 years inclusive) Concessions: £6.20. Family Ticket: £23 (2 adults, 2 children).