The Spode Museum Trust Heritage Centre opened in 2012 in one of the period buildings on the Spode site in Stoke. It was doubled in size in 2016 and is scheduled to expand further in 2017, with improved visitor facilities, new displays and activities and an enlarged museum shop.
The Spode Museum Trust Heritage Centre is open from 31st March on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 10.30am to 4.00 pm. The Centre is open for Parties and Groups by appointment at any time. Please contact the Centre direct to making a booking.
Admission to the Heritage Centre is free and includes the main Exhibition, the demonstrations and the Visitor Shop. Guided tours of the Blue Room and of the factory site are available at all times at a small charge.
The Heritage Centre Shop sells antique and vintage Spode and Copeland ceramics and high quality art prints reproduced from the Copper plates in the Spode Museum Trust archives, ceramic related reference books and much more.
|Address:||Spode Museum Trust Heritage Centre, Elenora Street, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST4 1QQ.|
The Heritage Centre tells the story of Spode and its importance to Stoke over the 230 years of its operation, with displays of its history, working conditions and people from the 1770s up to the time it closed in 2008, when Spode was still producing world class hand-painted ceramic wares (some badged as Royal Worcester!) Activities at the Centre include demonstrations by former Spode employees of printing on antique machinery from original copperplates and hand painting onto bone china.
In 2016, visitors were able to watch and talk to two highly skilled former Spode employees, Tony Challinor and David Bailey, as they hand painted and gilded two exact replicas of an important item from the Museum collection – a seau (ice bucket) originally painted around 1880 by C. F. Hürten, recognised as the foremost painter in England of flowers on ceramics during the Victorian period. They have managed to create work indistinguishable from Hürten’s. The original seau and one of the copies are now displayed side by side in the Heritage Centre.
The Blue Room Display
Despite the increased floor space at the Heritage Centre in 2016, it is still only possible to display a relatively small representative selection of objects from the entire Spode collection; however one section, The Blue Room, has been returned in its entirety. It includes hundreds of blue transfer-printed pieces made at Spode between c.1790-1847 and is almost certainly the largest and most important collection of Blue and White printed ceramics on public display in the world.
The process for underglaze printing in blue on earthenware was perfected by Josiah Spode around 1780, revolutionising ceramic decoration, and although widely copied, Spode’s productions are considered the finest of all.
The designs on many of the items in this collection, including the first known printed Willow pattern variants on earthenware, were inspired by Chinese originals, which are shown alongside. Other designs, following early 19th Century fashions, are more European in concept - Continental landscapes, hunting scenes in India, classical Greek figures, floral studies and the earliest examples of the famous ‘Spode’s Italian’ pattern; all these in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Many pieces are rare and unusual – items made for apothecaries, footbaths, bourdaloues, suckling pots, and pap boats. Also armorial pieces made for army regiments on duty in India and across the Empire.
The ‘Evolution of Style over 230 Years’ display
Representative ceramic items made in the factory from Georgian times to the 21st Century, showing how styles evolved from Georgian restraint through Regency opulence and Victorian eclecticism through to 20th century Art Deco, million sellers and, perhaps poignantly, some of the last designs produced.
The ‘Grand Tour’ display
Items made between 1800 and 1850 decorated with printed landscapes of continental scenes that would have popular destinations for young wealthy Britons doing the Grand Tour. Among these are places particularly associated with Lord Byron, and the source prints are shown alongside the ceramic items.
The ‘Rich Man in his Castle, the Poor Man at his Gate’ display
A display showing some of the more expensive pieces made in Regency and Victorian times, contrasting with utilitarian ‘below stairs’ pieces.
Additional displays are planned for 2017 as further space becomes available.