New Exhibition for the Autumn

Stoke is famous for its pits & pots but who knew the secret history of Stoke Spiritualism? New exhibition at Gladstone Pottery Museum from 1 September to 31 October 2015.

"Most of our visitors know how important pits and pots are in the history of Stoke-on-Trent but in our new exhibition we're telling one of the untold stories of the everyday life of our city. 'Talking with the Dead - Spiritualism in Stoke-on-Trent' is an exhibition which looks at how the Spiritualist religion has played a significant role in Stoke-on-Trent’s history since 1870 and is free with admission in September and October. It has brought together memories, objects and photographs from three local spiritualist chuches, the Longton church being one of our neighbours. Whether you are a cynic, believer or just curious it offers an interesting look at a hidden past of out local area." From Creative Stoke - the official Facebook group here>  you will need to log in, I think

The Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker

There is a certain fascination about the old Potteries tradesman - The Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker.

What on earth did he (yes, it was definitely a male occupation) actually do?

Gladstone Pottery Museum, in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent is the only place in the world where you can learn about the saggar maker, his frame filler and his saggar makers bottom knocker.

It is here, tucked away in a corner of this remarkable multi-award winning museum (which according to the 'Visit England Awards 2015' it is amongst the top three visitor attractions in England) that you can walk right into the saggar making shop and see where the craft of saggar making took place.

Gladstone Pottery Museum Story - saggar making shop
photo : Phil Rowley 
Its a small workshop, packed with the tools of the saggar maker and his bottom knocker. An introductory video and well written descriptive posters describe why a typical Stoke potbank would employ such a team of dedicated craftsmen.

The craft of saggar making and of the Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker have long since gone except when occasionally, very occasionally, the traditional skills are revived by one man, Kevin Millward, who was taught how to do it.

Here is a great movie "MAU'ING THE SAGGAR". A film by Gerald Mee 1981 showing the process of saggar making by the late Ralph Wheeldon - one of the four last saggar makers at that time working at the Gladstone Pottery.

Read these interesting news articles about saggar making at Gladstone Pottery Museum here>