Middleport Pottery
In Brief

The Prince's Regeneration Trust 


Construction value:

April 2014

Middleport Pottery is the home of ‘Burleigh Ware’ ceramics, and is one of the last working Victorian Potteries in the United Kingdom.

The dilapidated Grade II* factory buildings in Burslem were saved by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. 

The site was purchased by The Prince’s Regeneration Trust  in 2010 and working alongside FCBStudios a brief was developed to repair the factory, save the jeopardised jobs of existing employees, create additional jobs and kick start the regeneration of the surrounding town. 

Now a popular visitor destination, the Pottery is bringing people into the area, and receiving extremely positive feedback with locals and international visitors alike.

The quiet and restrained refurbishment of the site has been awarded several notable awards including the Europa Nostra Prize for European Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Mending the Factory
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Architects Tim Greensmith and Charlie Wellingham describe how regeneration of a Victorian pottery in Middleport has created a dynamic new business and visitor centre which honours the past while enabling the future.

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Improving visitor access and education facilities were fundamental to the regeneration objectives of the project.

The brief called for the renovation of the at-risk building fabric, reclaiming abandoned and uninhabitable spaces to house new businesses and visitor facilities and create a more diverse mixed-use ‘hub’ of ceramics enterprises within the Victorian factory ranges. 

Improving visitor access and education facilities were fundamental to the regeneration objectives of the project, allowing the people of Burslem to reconnect with their industrial heritage, and rekindling the pride of a community built on generations of world-leading design and craft.

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The Grade II* listed factory was built in Burslem, Stoke on Trent. It was designed to an innovative new model, arranged to maximise the efficiencies of production from the arrival of the clay through to the packaging and export of the finished product. Sited on the banks of the Trent & Mersey canal, the factory was directly linked with Liverpool docks, and the international demands for British products at the height of the country’s industrial eminence

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Design Approach

Middleport Pottery is now one of a handful of sites across Europe where a traditional industrial factory and its original function have been conserved, repaired and regenerated for community benefit.

The building’s time-worn industrial character was very fragile and in danger of being lost to over-sanitised heritage commodification. Even though the buildings were at risk of collapse, their conservation could jeopardise everything about the site that the team hoped to save. The ‘light touch’ philosophy sought only to intervene where essential.

The ‘new layer’ of contemporary design was founded on extensive analysis of the existing condition and a thorough understanding of the site’s history, quantifying those characteristics that gave the site its sense of place.

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Working with communities

A major objective for PRT was to maximise regeneration potential for the town, which suffered extensive economic and social decline in the last 50 years.

Traditional training opportunities were provided, including a ‘Get into Construction Programme’ to give young unemployed people a taster in traditional construction techniques, which led to three trainees being taken on as apprentices with the contractor. Volunteering opportunities were created in photography and filming, with students from Staffordshire University. Many volunteer positions have been created in visitor services and the collections, and there is now a team of over 40 volunteers.


Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Middleport Pottery
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"The project is highly commendable in its totality, has clearly regenerated the area (which was a key briefing objective) and trebled the size of the workforce"

RIBA Awards Judges' comments 2015
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The refurbishment has made a number of major sustainability improvements. The conservation brief required extensive refurbishment of leaking roofs and windows, and improving the energy efficiency of the building envelope through upgraded insulation, enhanced airtightness performance and the installation of new highly efficient servicing, including lifts. External lighting has been designed to a low lux level to minimise light pollution whilst maintaining a flight path for bats.

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Selected Awards

2015 RIBA National Award
2015 RIBA West Midlands Awards: Building of the Year
2015 RIBA West Midlands Awards: Conservation Project of the Year
2015 RIBA West Midlands Awards: Regional Award
2015 Europa Nostra/ EU Prize for Cultural Heritage - Conservation
2015 Placemaking Awards: Best Heritage in Place-Making
2015 Civic Trust Awards: AABC Conservation Award
2015 Civic Trust Awards: Regional Finalist (North West)
2014 Heritage Open days Anniversary Awards: Community Champions

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The Prince’s Regeneration Trust
Building Contractor:
William Anelay Ltd
M & E Engineer:
E3 Consulting Engineers
Structural & Civil Engineer:
Integral Engineering Design
Heritage Interpretation:
Marion Blockley
Halahan Associates
Tim Crocker

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