The Origins of Gladstone Pottery Museum

The idea of making a Living Industrial Museum in the Potteries was given a major impetus by the circumstances which had changed the face of Stoke-on-Trent within a decade - slum clearance, the reclamation of derelict land and major reconstruction.

Bottle ovens, once the most characteristic feature of Stoke’s landscape, still numbered more than a thousand after the war. But by 1964 only about two hundred were left. Today less than fifty remain.

Gladstone Pottery Museum Story
Huge ovens dominate the cobbled yard of Gladstone Pottery Museum

It was during the 60s and early 70s that some City planners and Museum officials had the foresight to conduct surveys of some of the older remaining factory sites with a view to considering whether some of them could or should be conserved. The Gladstone Works in Longton was high up on the list but in March 1971 it became evident that the buildings were to be demolished and it was only at the eleventh hour, when the bulldozers were about to move in, that the site was saved.

H. & R. Johnson-Richards Tiles Ltd under their Managing Director Derek Johnson,  provided the money to buy the site; immediately thereafter the Trust was formed which was destined to plan and finance and administer the Living Museum on the site. In September 1972 the Title Deeds of the Gladstone Works were formally handed over to the Trust.

The plan was to restore the Gladstone Works so that future generations should come and see the old bottle ovens, and learn how this major industry developed here in Stoke-on-Trent. It would be a working museum, where methods of manufacturing pottery would be daily demonstrated to visitors.

Edited from the Gladstone Souvenir Brochure  more>