Thursday, November 07, 2013

From Westport through Longport to Middleport (and back!)

What to do on a lovely sunny morning when you don't want to travel too far but don't want to stay indoors either was the question on our lips this morning - the answer was a visit to and a walk around the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's reserve at Westport Lake.

After a stroll around the lake accompanied on occasion by noisy swans, honking geese and loads of plump coots - has anyone noticed that there seems to be lots of coots around this season?  We've seen far more than usual and they are less timid too coming right up, along with the mallards to ask for food.

Lots of plump squirrels too, living off the bird food placed around the lakeside for the smaller birds.  The ones in our garden are particularly well fed at the moment!


After coffee in the visitor centre and the purchase of some Christmas cards we walked along the canal towpath towards Longport.

Familiar sights in this area and throughout the city - bottle ovens (kilns), canals and narrow boats all harking back to the early days of the pottery industry when the kilns were fired each week and the pots distributed on the canal network.


We passed Longport Wharf

Then we passed the modern Steelite factory where pottery is manufactured mostly for the catering and hotel trade.  I would say that if you look at the bottom of a cup or saucer in a cafe or restaurant (as people from Stoke-on-Trent do) more often than not you will see the names Steelite or Dudson who along with Portmeirion and Bridgewater are the most successful potteries in this area at the moment.


We were headed though for a much older factory just a little further along the canal at Middleport. I've taken you here before but I'm sure you won't mind returning for a short while.

As you can see the sun was low in the sky making the taking of photos quite difficult so I apologise for the sometimes hazy quality of them.  Middleport Pottery is undergoing a huge regeneration programme at the moment and much restoration is taking place both inside and outside of this magnificent Victorian factory.


The factory shop is still open and I just love it inside here.

 Dressers and tables groaning with the most beautiful wares
and chintz patterns.

I think the blue Burleigh Pottery is the most famous 

 They do it in pink as well but I've always admired the blue.  Below are jugs in the iconic Blue Calico pattern.


We did make a few small purchases from the bargain baskets (who could resist?) but I won't say what they are as they will probably end up being presents.


Not only is the factory undergoing a regeneration with the help of The Prince's Regeneration Trust - the row of old factory workers' houses opposite the factory on Port Street also looked as if they had been refurbished and were looking very smart.  A new visitor and education centre is due to open at the factory next year. 

It was time to walk back along the towpath to Westport Lake just under a mile in distance and such a lot to see along the way.

24 comments:

  1. lovely blog :)
    http://saltskinned.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Thanks, Anita and welcome to my blog:)

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  2. So much history around you Rosie and what a lovely day for a walk. I could spend hours in those factory shops.

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    1. There are some wonderful factory shops to browse and part with cash in up and down the city and lots of history too sometimes sadly forgotten or neglected:)

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  3. super post. I would have had my purse out in that shop! Love Darcy, Bingley and Helen xxx

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    1. Thanks, Helen - I think we might have spent more if we hadn't had to carry the purchases back along the towpath:)

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  4. What a lovely Potteries post, they should have that to advertise our city. A nice post to read after nipping to Longton today.....Neck End....bless my town of birth but sometimes I despair at the types who live here. Always nice to see the positive side.

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    1. Know what you mean, Amanda! I feel that way to sometimes although I'm an incomer - I love the name neck end - I was told that it was the neck of the bottle oven? I do think there are some wonderful aspects to this city that often go unoticed or neglected:)

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  5. This post has only just appeared on my blogger dashboard, early on Saturday morning! What a lovely walk and lots of interest. It's nice to hear there is some regeneration happening, those terraced houses look great after their makeover! I didn't realise you could walk along the canal from Westport Lake.

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    1. Glad you found the post, Louise - don't know why that should be but I notice sometimes other people's posts don't always show straight away on my dashboard - must be blogger messing about! I think the factory will be wonderful when the work is complete. The canal runs at the side of Westport Lake - you can walk to the Harecastle Tunnel in the opposite direction and that is fascinating:)

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  6. It's lovely to see the houses being regenerated instead of knocked down. Your area is very pretty and so full of history which I find so interesting, the blue and white china is so pretty.
    I see you read Eden Falls - what did you think of it? I've just finished reading it. We seem to have similar tastes in books - just need to find more hours to be able to read more.

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    1. I love the blue and white china. I enjoyed Eden Falls because I'd read the two books before it - Netherwood and Ravenscliffe so the characters were familiar and I wanted to know what happens to them. Had you read the two earlier books before Eden Falls?:)

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  7. Don't the houses look smart? It is so nice to see something good happening in Stoke-on-Trent. I love the Burleigh shop too but it always annoys me that it is so hidden away and secret. How would a stranger ever find it? even the locals aren't sure. Good for you for giving it some publicity.

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    1. I think anyone who didn't know the area would be confused - hopefully when the new venture is up and running there will be better sinage, access and parking etc. The shop is fab though isn't it? I loved seeing those houses restored instead of pulled down like the ones in Hanley - such a shame - I looked at the details of the one for sale and it looks as if it is refurbished to a high standard inside too:)

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  8. There was a lot to see in a short distance and a stop for refreshments, a browse in the shop full of lovely pottery would add to the enjoyment. I shall be looking at the bottom of china when visiting a cafe from now on! It's good that the terraced houses have been refurbished. They look very smart and it would be good if they were affordable for first time buyers. I like the photo with the row of chimney pots.

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    1. I always like to stop for refreshments! The cafe at Westport Lake is in the new eco friendly visitor centre overlooking the lake. There is a small refreshment area at the factory shop too. The houses are reasonably priced a little more than an ordinary terraced house in this area but still affordable. I looked at the details of one of them that was for sale and ir had four bedrooms and two bathrooms:)

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  9. Hi Rosie,

    This looks like such an interesting walk. I love that calico design and the blue and white has such a timeless elegance doesn't it?

    It's always nice to be able to find a place for refreshments at the end of a walk too. That is one thing that I miss here, as cafes in smaller communities tend to be seasonal, if they exist at all.

    Marie x

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    1. Yes, I always like to find somewhere to have a mug of tea or coffee after a walk. The cafe at the visitor centre is especially nice as it overloooks the lake:)

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  10. Nice to see heritage being preserved. Many of the buildings where I was born were knocked down to make way for a one-way road traffic system. I would love to visit Stoke-on-Trent one day. I think I would feel quite at home there. x

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    1. They have taken down a lot of these old properties here I'm afraid! There was a regeneration programme started under the last government but this one stopped it - so houses were demolished but nothing built to replace them which is such a shame. If ever you find your way to Stoke-on-Trent I will be your tourist guide:)

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  11. Oh wow! I must get myself over to the factory shop. All my china is a mix of old and new bits of blue and white. I would be in 'blue and white heaven'!!! Jx

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    1. You certainly would be in heaven in the shop if you like blue and white pottery - it is full of gorgeous things:)

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  12. What a lovely walk Rosie. I think it's wonderful when old buildings are given a new lease of life. I love the blue and white china and don't blame your for making some purchases. I can think nothing better than walking along a canal towpath, a favourite walk of mine too. Your photos are lovely.
    Patricia x

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    1. Thanks. Patricia. It is good to see old buildings and derelict areas being regenerated. I love walking along canal towpaths too:)

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