How the Gladstone Museum became a realityPersonal recollections by David Malkin
The late 1970s and into the 1980s
After six years of great success in establishing Gladstone, our first Director David Sekers left to face a similar challenge at the Styal Mill, near Stockport.
We advertised again for a successor and of over 40 applicants decided on Dr Francis Celoria, an eminent industrial archaeologist. He put an enormous effort into preserving the status of the Museum but sadly the financial results were disappointing and he left in 1986.
|David Malkin in 2010|
This was Cllr Ron Southern who had been Lord Mayor of the City of Stoke-on-Trent in 1977/8. I started to talk to him about a closer association with the City, which he thought was a logical step forward. However, my main task was to plan.
As well as trying to raise money in the ‘Please put your money in the Potbank’ campaign, we built the new collections gallery in what used to be part of the Roslyn works. Through the generosity of one of our trustees we produced a video showing what we hoped to achieve with the purchase of Roslyn. We gave the whole museum a new look and logo.
The Collections Gallery was opened by the Lord Mayor in 1987. Our first exhibition was to show the Victorian wares of some of the famous names of our industry. The exhibition ran for three months. We then displayed the wares of some of the less-famous potters of the 19th century, which again attracted a lot of interest.
Unfortunately, my time as Acting-Director came to an end in the middle of 1988. My place was taken by an employee of the City Museum (now called The Potteries Museum), Dr Cameron Hawke-Smith, who became Manager and thus started the association with the City. I continued to try to raise funds, but this was becoming increasingly difficult. I attended all trustee meetings until I was offered a position with H&R Johnson in the United States.
In the middle of 1990 I resigned from all the organisations with which I was involved and left for the USA in December 1990. David Malkin
1975 The Gladstone CentreDuring the late summer of 1975 the restoration work on the top floor of the main building at the museum was completed. The entire floor was to be called The Gladstone Centre "an experimental project within the Pottery Museum sponsored by the Quality of Life Experiment in Stoke-on-Trent"
To celebrate the opening of The Centre the Trustees of The Staffordshire Pottery Industry Preservation Trust, who administered the museum at the time, invited many volunteers, staff, and VIPs to a special reception on 10 October 1975.
'Cutting the ribbon' was none other than the late John Noakes of BBC Televison's Blue Peter programme.
|John Noakes of BBC TV's Blue Peter programme, far left|
Photo: Brian Colclough Collection Date: 10 October 1975
|Volunteers at the reception marking the opening of The Gladstone Centre|
Photo: Brian Colclough Collection Date: 10 October 1975
1985 The First Gladstone Exhibition of Paintings
1985 The Giant Teapot arrives
|Gladstone Pottery Museum - Curator Angela Lee with the giant teapot 1985|
1986 Souvenir Brochure - The Third Edition
/////Download the 1986 Souvenir Brochure here>
1986 National Garden Festival
|Gladstone Pottery Museum Story - National Garden Festival 1986 |
photo: Phil Rowley Collection
/////Download the 1986 Coloured Brochure - the 4th Edition here>
The story behind a picture on page 4 of the 1986 brochure. From Pam Woolliscroft (nee Bott)
One day, working at Gladstone Pottery Museum as a young curator in the late 1970s, I received an internal phone call from my boss, David Sekers, the Museum Director.
Originally, the museum was not going to establish a collection of ceramic objects - the preserved buildings and the demonstrations of pottery skills were its objectives. But people were so enamoured by this wonderful new museum they kept arriving with items to donate, loan or simply enquire about. So I instigated a system of receipts for any items coming into the museum for whatever reason and had nagged everyone not just to accept items willy nilly.
I answered the phone and David said “Bring your receipt book. There's a man in reception with a pot.”
Working in an industrial museum can be a grimy occupation so quite often I was to be found in a brown all-in-one boiler suit, purchased from the local market and adapted to fit. I was in the middle of some practical job or other when the call came, so I grabbed my receipt book and still dressed in the boiler suit dashed downstairs so that I could make a quick receipt and get back to the work I was doing.
Arriving in reception David Sekers proceeded to introduce me to no less than Sir William Gladstone of Hawarden Castle!
He was holding a huge and most wonderful pot - the pâte sur pâte 'Gladstone' vase made by Brown Westhead & Co. which he was presenting to the museum as a loan.
|Gladstone Pottery Museum Story - The Gladstone Vase*|
I was embarrassed but also amused; and David was telling the truth when he said 'There's a man in reception with a pot'.
I learnt a valuable lesson, and from then on wore clothes which could adapt from scruffy, grimy work in a museum store or preparing an exhibition, to a quick addition of a jacket to see visitors of all sorts at a moment's notice - useful, as I have always worked in industrial museums or dusty environments in the museums I was employed in after leaving Gladstone.
*The Gladstone Vase. One of the great achievements of the Victorian Potters. The central frieze is of pate-sur pate, the most expensive from of ceramic decoration, created by building up successive layers of bone china to make a translucent cameo effect. This unique vase presented by ‘a few Liberals of Burslem’ to the Rt. Hon. W.E. Gladstone in 1888 was made by Brown Westhead and Co.
More here about Brown Westhead and Co. > http://www.thepotteries.org/potworks_wk/058.htm
1989 Cuttings from The Evening Sentinel
|Gladstone Pottery Museum - Cutting from The Sentinel - 22 Feb 1989|
|Gladstone Pottery Museum - Cutting from The Sentinel - 23 Feb 1989|