Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Wedgwood Collection and the changing face of UK pottery

Wedgwood Museum

Staffordshire pottery manufacture changed forever in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The power of the supermarket buyers, the draw of low cost manufacture overseas and the changing markets in Europe all contributed to the massive decline in pottery manufacture in the UK. So many big names like Royal Doulton, Spode, and Royal Worcester, to name but a few, now exist merely as brands with the factories closed and demolished. Bleak as it was for the thousands of workers who lost their jobs during that time, many of those workers still talk fondly of the friendships, skills and pride of working in the hundreds of potbanks which existed at that time in north Staffordshire and especially Stoke on Trent.

Staffordshire Oatcakes
It was not just  the potteries that demised but also the services to those factories, the engineers, the material suppliers and sandwich and oatcake shops that provided breakfast and lunch to the hungry workers at break times.For the lucky few they found work elsewhere and the humble Staffordshire Oatcake lives on mainly through online marketing and Social Media.

Many of those pottery workers now rely heavily on their work pensions created during their employment at companies like Wedgwood. However Wedgwood pension trust has a big pension deficit that is causing  problems.

Over the last few years the importance of this pension deficit has been highlighted as the struggle to keep the magnificent Wedgwood Collection at its home in the Wedgwood museum in Stoke on Trent continues.

For those who have not seen the collection I urge you to do so. You will not be disappointed. At over 80,000 historical pieces, ranging from early experiments for new bodies and glazes through to modern production as well as rare manuscripts and letters, pattern books, works of art and photographs, covering the 250-year Wedgwood history, it is one of the most unique industrial archives in the world. The importance of the collection is explained in more detail in this Wedgwood video link.

The collection is under threat because a legal loophole allowed a Wedgwood previously in liquidation to place pension debt in the Museum trust. The trustees have no option but to try to pay off this debt by selling some or all of the collection.

We cannot lose this collection from the UK or allow it to be dispersed around the world to private collectors. It is OUR heritage and I urge you to donate to help meet the £2.74m shortfall still required to keep the collection together in the UK.

Thank you for your support.

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