Stoke-on-Trent: Ceramics Capital of the World

By | Category: Travel destinations

When Visit Stoke, the tourism body for the city sent us a press release calling Stoke the ceramics capital wonder of the world, the first thought was how they had one this award. Had ceramicists across the world nominated the town? Had collectors of fine china voted in huge numbers so that other centres around the world were defeated? No, it was none of these. They had decided to christen themselves with the title. The first thought was this was a tad arrogant. The second was more thoughtful. Stoke has an extraordinary good case to the title.
This is a place where ceramicists for centuries have plied their trade, introduced new concepts and created names that everyone recognises. Wedgwood, Aynsley, Moorcroft and Denby are just some that come to mind. Experts on TV programmes like Antiques Roadshow instantly start by telling you a plate or bowl is Staffordshire and then go on to name a particular factory, sometimes even a potter and painter of the piece. Staffordshire potters come up more often than nearly another other ceramics destination.
Today there are more than 350 ceramics businesses in Stoke and its area. There are over 25 factory outlets selling the town’s ares. There are more than a handful of museums. Rare pieces can fetch tens of thousands. New potters emerge such as Lorna Bailey who retired at the age of 30! Trying collecting her ceramics at reasonable prices. 7,000 people work in the industry and about a third of all the ceramics industry is based in the vicinity. That’s worth about £650 million per annum. Just as Stoke was an important centre a few hundreds of years ago, so it still is today. There aren’t many places that have managed to keep that single-mindedness for so long.
On that basis who deserves the title better?

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