Sunday morning we dropped Pat off at Stone railway station and headed back to the boat through the high street, again another town centre packed with charity shops. Apart from venturing out to Morrison’s, we stayed in and around the boat as the weather was indecisive, couldn’t decide whether to rain continually or not.
We left Stone the following morning after spending 2-nights on a 1-night mooring (we should have read the notice earlier) and headed
north to the Wedgwood Factory. Neither of us had been to the visitor centre or the Museum before so were looking forward to it, though Christine was far keener than I was to visit.
After mooring at Bridge 104, we followed the signs to the factory but they weren’t very accurate and we did an un-planned
detour to get there. Along the way we did contemplate not bothering as seeing the factory through the trees frustrated us as we struggled to find the way there, but hey ho, we persevered and duly arrived.
The original Wedgwood factory was in an area called Etruria within the
Potteries region, but because of major subsidence due to coal mining in the area over the years, by the first half of the 20th century manufacturing the factory was sinking and was forced to move. The
present site in Barlaston, a few miles from Etruria was selected; they even built their own railway station called “Wedgwood” just outside the factory.
In the museum there is a piece of china from every design and shape that has been made ever since Josiah Wedgwood started his pottery business in
1759. The collection is so vast that it would take several weeks to look at everything, but in the short time we were there we got
a good flavour of what the company has made over the years. It is also very evident why Wedgwood was so popular in the 18th and 19th century judging by the various European royal houses that patronised their products. Next we went round the
factory and this was quite amazing, we were quite amazed how labour intensive the operation is. Though there are modern ovens and mechanical handling equipment, scores of people are employed to carry out the decorations on all the various products. There are rows ladies and some men sitting at workstations delicately applying decorations to cups, plates and teapots etc. We were mesmerised and stood watching
in awe at their skills, steady hands, professionalism and the pride they took on their work. We spoke to a few and were surprised how long they had worked there. In the “blurb” they talk about how the various skills have been handed down from generation to
generation and it was evident to us this actually does go on, even in todays world. Of course today Wedgwood is not a family run business, it is part of the “Fiskars” Group who own
amongst many others “Royal Copenhagen”; “Waterford”; “Gerber”; “Royal Albert”, and “Royal Doulton”.
Halfway during our tour we visited
their “Tea Emporium” and we each enjoyed a rather expensive pot of tea in an ornate Wedgwood teapot and fine bone china cups accompanied by finger sandwiches.
On the way out we popped into the “seconds” shop but couldn’t find
anything suitable for the boat!!!!!
We now headed onto Stoke proper, stopping for a night along the way. Christine is still experiencing a small issue with her house; no water, no electricity; nothing major but it is holding up proceedings and she has received the forms electronically but needs to print them off, sign and scan before returning them, so we found a PC World, bought a printer and did the business; hopefully her building works will continue now.
We decided to spend the day in Stoke on Trent, so walked into the town centre but what a disappointment; it is thoroughly rundown boarded up shops, numerous charity shops, discount stores and a poor excuse for a market; I must say Campo Verde’s Sunday market is bigger, and that’s saying a something!!!!! Even getting a mid morning cup of coffee was difficult, we had to resort to a pub! Not everything was disappointing; by the time we had returned to the boat we had
completed nearly 9,000 steps.
The other place we wanted to do visit was the Industrial Museum but
lo and behold it was closed and upon better inspection noted it only opened when there was something special happening; what’s the point of advertising a museum, encouraging folk to visit and then not open it, perhaps this is indicative of a run down town.
The afternoon was taken up with chores ready for Russell arriving for a night’s stay tomorrow when we will attack the Caldon canal.