What do you get when you have clay and a skilled pair of hands?
Well, the answer to that would be pottery. It is definitely a craft that is to be commended. As earthenware, stoneware and porcelain, among others, are formed, these are then objects that are very much used in everyday living.
This ceramic act is both a source of living and an interest for many around the world. Imagine, with just your hands, you will get to come up with figures that can then be modified and tweaked with paint and colours. These will make them more fit for display and exhibition.
The making of pottery is with different stages. First, after formation, they are soft and malleable – still pure and without purpose yet. They can easily deform if you are careless in handling them. They must be left dry for some time before they are then to be put and fired into a kiln, a kind of oven. Chemical changes will occur on the clay forms by this time, with their physical colours appearing in another shade as well. Afterwards, the final stage commences, which would be the objects being glazed fired. In this bit, they become more hardened and decorations can already be applied. Painting, carving and ceramic glaze are just several of the methods that can be performed to enhance those pottery wares.
Now, Middleport is proud to present a wondrous setting for this activity. Middleport Pottery, even from when it was first built, was called to be The Model Pottery of the Staffordshire Pottery Industry. This pottery manufacturing business is situated next to the Trent and Mersey Canal, a 93.5-mile long canal in England.
It was in 1862 when William Leigh and Frederick Rathbone Burgess took ownership of Central Pottery, which they then called the Burgess & Leigh Ltd. The transition to the Burleigh Pottery name was then natural as they utilised their own surnames. But by the year 1889, the company then transferred to its present location, once again, by the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Nevertheless, the Middle Pottery is not just a building site and a production facility. At the present time, it is already with a visitor centre and a shop that is available for the public to access and enter into. It was just last year, 2014, when the pottery factory opened as a new visitor attraction.
Even with its state now, it is important to note the struggles that has happened through the years. The buildings along with pottery machines have been demolished and destroyed and the length of the canal has been declared to be a Conservation Area. This means the place is valued and must be restored and improved.
But as it is so, in 2010, the English Heritage regarded it as one of the “Conservation Areas at Risk” in their register. It is of good fortune that The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, one of the 19 charities of the Prince in the United Kingdom, stepped up to have the buildings renovated, signifying their continued use as a pottery facility.
By far, this historic factory has even been awarded, this year, 2015, with a prestigious award. The Civic Trust Awards gave this conservation accolade to five in the country and the Middleport Pottery is one of them. The design, construction and architecture of the newly-restored site were definitely achievements in their own right.
At any rate, supposing you are interested in visiting, the Middleport Pottery is no doubt open for all of you. There are activities and events that you can attend to, especially when you have the time. For sure you will be left delighted.
There is the Play With Clay Sundays, which, as its name suggests, are held during Sundays since January 11, 2015 to April 26, 2015. Therefore, you can still catch up! A session is for £1 only and this is a good opportunity to bond with your family members, more so your kids. They will certainly get to learn a lot of new things about the craft.
By March 28, 2015, there would be the Canal Celebration Day. It is a designated day of fun and entertainment – there is morris dancing, arts and crafts and the highlight would be an auction of plates owned by local boatwoman, Maureen Shaw.
Last but not the least would be the Middleport Mutts Dog Walking Day. Simply, it is a time to watch a dog show, go on guided dog tours and just enjoy the day with your furry pets.