Throughout the public Inquiry about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, there was much discussion about Middleport Pottery as a good model for how the Foundry could be kept in operation.
Middleport Pottery, which opened in 1888 for the manufacture of Burleigh ware, was at risk of going out of business ten years ago, the building was on English Heritage’s buildings at risk register, so the site as a whole was bought by the United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust, a subsidiary of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust established in order to be able to attract public funding. It is now called Re-Form. It’s Re-Form which was encouraged to intervene in Whitechapel and they clearly have the skills and expertise to do so.
The factory is on a massive scale – a monument to late Victorian enterprise, designed by a local architect, Absalom Reade Wood, built alongside the Trent and Mersey canal, very carefully designed to be as efficient as possible, Fordist before Ford.
Unfortunately, it was drizzling as I walked from Longport Station along the canal:-
On the left is the only surviving bottle kiln of the original seven, the other six demolished after the Clean Air Act was passed in 1956:-
I started upstairs, above the engine house, in the Slip House, moving next door into the Mould Store:-
Immediately, you see and feel the difference between a sanitised and reconstructed modern environment à la Raycliff and one which has seen the wear and tear of everyday skilled work:-
This is the room where they do the jiggering and jollying in the Potter’s Shop:-
To be continued.