Gifts Today magazine

Exciting year ahead for Spode visitor attraction

A visitor attraction preserving the heritage of one of Stoke-on-Trent's most iconic pottery brands is gearing up for an exciting year

In this year of celebrating the 200 years of Spode pattern Blue Italian, the Spode Works Visitor Centre in Stoke is gearing up for an exciting year of newness thanks to the appointment of a new manager, former teacher Michael Escolme.

Michael told the Stoke Sentinel: "I used to work just around the corner from Spode, at the time the factory closed, so I was very familiar with how important Spode was as a company and to the fabric of Stoke itself. To be part of maintaining that heritage is a dream."

The Spode works closed its doors in 2008 and was later bought by the council for £3.5 million in 2010. The site is undergoing a massive renovation and the visitor centre has just reopened for its third season.

"It is a celebration of the 230 years that Spode was manufacturing world class pottery,” says Michael.

"We have got plans this year to expand both the museum premises and the retail side, and we are hoping to be open on a more permanent basis. Ultimately our aim is to bring back all the pieces from the Spode Museum Trust – many of which are in storage – to the original factory site."

New at the centre this year are a display showcasing items from each decade of Spode's 230-year history, and a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the production of its famous Blue Italian ware.

On most days, visitors can see demonstrations of skills such as ceramic painting, gilding and printing from engraved copper plates by local artists.
Michael says the recent resurgence in the pottery industry was one of the reasons Stoke-on-Trent should be named the UK's City of Culture in 2021.

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