On Sunday we found ourselves passing through the village of Barlaston and decided to drop down into the Wedgwood factory site to have a look at the recently opened museum building
. The new museum cost 10.5 million pounds to build, nearly six million of which came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We didn't have time to go inside and decided to save this treat for another day but it was interesting to see the new building. It all looked very shiny and new and having visited the Museum before it was moved from its original place, I can't wait to go inside to see what it is like.
The Wedgwood Factory moved on to its present 'garden site' in the 1930s. Its previous site being at Etruria, near Hanley, where Josiah Wedgwood I had a purpose built village for his factory and its workers. The Wedgwood Family lived just up from the factory complex in a house which is now The Moat House Hotel. This area was where the Garden Festival of 1986 was held and is now a huge retail park with leisure facilities like a multiplex cinema, dry ski slope and Waterworld. I found a rather wonderful 'virtual' tour of the Etruria site on the museum's new website here.
The Museum used to be within the Visitor Centre but when that was refurbished a few years ago it was decided that the Museum needed its own building as there were many more things in the collection than there was room to display them.
If you approach the Wedgwood site from the centre of Barlaston by the village green you pass Barlaston Hall, and it is always a splendid sight. It was rescued by 'Save Britain's Heritage' in the 1980s and restored in the 1990s. Built around 1756 by Sir Robert Taylor for Thomas Mills it was later occupied by Francis Wedgwood, master potter, partner in the Etruria site, grandson to Josiah I and brother of Emma, wife of Charles Darwin.
The old church of St John the Baptist stands close to the Hall and was completely re-built in the 1760s. It is a lovely little church almost hidden from view as you pass through the avenue of trees leading to the parkland surrounding the Wedgwood factory complex.