Pottering in the Potteries

I couldn’t face making the journey home in one day so Katie and I are on a little road trip. We broke the journey roughly into three and chose Stoke-on-Trent as our first port of call.

Of course while we where there we had to have Staffordshire oakcakes – we had them with Staffordshire sausage and cheese. Just to be clear these are nothing like Scottish oatcakes, these are soft like an oaty pancake.  Do you see the melted cheese oozing out? Heart attack material but ok for a treat.

We went to the lovely Trentham Estate, I could not persuade Katie to look around the gardens so that’ll have to be another trip when I’m not with her but she was very excited to see the Monkey Forest. Cue lots of monkey pictures …


And the babies, oh the babies. Look at their HUGE ears.

This one is a little girl because she has a puffy bum – I don’t think that’s the technical term though. Apparently for Barbary macaques the bigger the bottom the more attractive the female!

We also had a browse in the cute shopping village where each store is in a little wooden chalet. I had the sharpest lemon sorbet ever which was the perfect counteract to all those cholesterol clogging calories in the oakcakes.

Of course no visit to Stoke-on-Trent would be complete without checking out the very thing that gave it it’s nickname. It’s Jason’s home town so he suggested a museum for us to visit but as usual I ignored his advice. I love history, if I had a time machine with two buttons “BACK” and “FORWARD” it would be back every time for me but walking through fusty museums looking into glass cabinets just makes me yawn. I like places that really take me back in time, where I’m walking on the same floors that people walked on hundreds of years before me and Where I can really imagine what their lives were like.

Gladstone Pottery Museum is one of those places. It’s amazing. It’s the last complete pottery factory from the era of the coal fired bottle kiln.

We learnt so much about the pottery industry, the process, the working conditions, the inevitable child labour – from as young as 5 in this factory – and the, sometimes hilarious, job names.

These pots are called saggers. They protected the pottery from the heat of the kiln.

Making them was a three step process. The sagger maker, at the top of the hierarchy sealed the side to the bottom. The side was made by the framemaker and the bottom by the sagger makers bottom knocker. You can see the bottom knockers at the front of the picture holding their knockers, see how young they are for such a physically demanding job. No wonder they ate sausage and cheese oatcakes!

We met this lovely lady who used to work in a factory hand making flowers. It was a 2 year apprenticeship. The first year to learn all the flowers and the second to get up to speed. And by speed she meant one complete flower IN ONE MINUTE.

Also at the factory are exhibits about the history of tiles which is fascinating and one about the history of the toilet. Look at the design on this bathroom suite from the 1970s. Groovy baby.

We were there for nearly three hours and we didn’t even go into the lovely tea rooms. I would definitely recommend this museum if you’re in the area.

Here are a few more of the many pictures that I took.



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