The Spode Museum Trust was established in 1987, in order to protect the Spode Archive in perpetuity. The Spode Archive includes some 40,000 ceramic items spanning over 200 years from the late 18th Century to 2008. It also includes some 25,000 engraved copper plates from which transfer prints were made for printed ceramic wares. There are also collections of antique factory tools, furniture and moulds and ¼ million Spode and Copeland documents including watercolour paintings of some 70,000 ceramic patterns.
Because of time span and its near-completeness, the Archive enables unique insight into the history of a world famous factory from the Industrial Revolution to the present, its owners and employees during three centuries and its relevance to the local economy. The ceramics collection is of international standing, and ranges from spectacular items made for the very wealthy and the great 19th Century exhibitions to a definitive collection of Spode blue and white printed earthenwares and a wide variety of more ordinary wares made for domestic and export markets.
Archives and valuable collections from factories of world prestige with over 200 years of history, are very rare. Spode has been fortunate that so much remains intact. However, following the closure of Spode’s historic factory at Church Street, Stoke in 2009, the collection was put into secure storage and was therefore unavailable to public view.
Following receipt of a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund and with the support of Stoke on Trent City Council and others, our project, ‘Spode Works Visitor Centre’ opened in late 2012 in one of the historic buildings on the Church Street site. Details are on the ‘Spode Works Visitor Centre’ page.
The Trustees are continuing to work with a number of parties to establish a permanent home for the collection, hopefully in conserved historic buildings on the Spode Church Street site.