A pottery collection celebrating the heritage of one of the most famous firms in Stoke-on-Trent is to go on show after the project was given £50,000.
The money from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will be used by The Spode Museum Trust to launch a display of the company’s 200-year history at the former factory site.
A huge catalogue of ceramics and historic documents, which were removed and put in storage after the plant closed in 2008, will go on public display for two years.
The hope is that the exhibits will bring to life the tale of the factory located in Church Street, Stoke; the generations of the people who worked at the factory and its importance to the local community.
The trust is now seeking volunteers to assist in explaining the displays to visitors.
Spode Museum Trust Chairman, John Democratis, said: “Of all the things that Stoke can be really proud of, Spode and its marvellous museum collection are among the most important.
“The ‘living history’ exhibition is a great opportunity for local people to explore and celebrate their heritage.”
The centre’s cost will be above £50,000 and the trust now wants to raise an additional £20,000 through donations and sponsorship.
The exhibition, which is provisionally called ‘On The Historic Site’, is expected to open in spring. Work has begun on preparing an old building on the site.
Mr Democratis said: “A lot of refurbishment is necessary for the building; like many others on the site, it is in poor condition.”
Spode’s collection includes antique factory tools, 40,000 ceramic items, 25,000 engraved copper plates which were used to make transfer prints, moulds and furniture and 250,000 Copeland and Spode documents. The trust was given the collection in 1987 to protect it for the benefit of future generations.
Former museum curator Pam Woolliscroft, who blogs on Spode, welcomed the plans that come as other ceramic archives are at risk of being broken up.
She commented: “It is great to see the exhibitions come back home for everyone to see.”
Bev Booth, a Trustee, said: “This is good news for the trust and good news for Stoke-on-Trent. We have an ambitious vision of creating a permanent visitor centre on the site.”
Former employees are being asked to share memories of life at Spode to add to the displays.
Stoke-on-Trent Council cabinet member of regeneration Councillor Ruth Rosenau said: “Many people will remember working at Spode and by having the collections on display once more it will not only celebrate their memories but showcase the city’s ceramic connections.”
Head of HLF West Midlands Anne Jenkins said the trust’s application met every criteria for funding, saying: “The trust had thought very carefully about the detail of the project and how they could involve the local community. Spode was a very important and fashionable pottery in its day and we’re delighted to be able to award this money.”
In 1777 Josiah Spode founded Spode. In 2006 the firm merged with Royal Worcester before it went into administration two years after.
In 2009 the intellectual property and brand names were purchased by Portmeirion Group.
If you want to find out more about how to volunteer call 01494 522644.