I’m rapidly falling in love with Stoke on Trent, with the heritage, the culture and above all the people. Last weekend I discovered another fantastic day out in the city. Middleport Pottery Museum will literally make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time when canal networks were extensively used for industry and factory workers laboured to create the ceramics the Potteries is most famous for.
Middleport Pottery is the last working Victorian pottery factory in the UK. To this day creating beautiful ceramics whilst educating visitors on the complicated processes behind each pot. The buildings are Victorian and utterly charming. You may even recognise them from an episode of peaky Blinders!
But it’s not just the buildings that make this such a fascinating day out with kids in Stoke. We visited during one of their Christmas market days and found plenty to keep us busy for several hours.
Getting crafty at Middleport Pottery
Of course getting creative and crafty will be a huge draw for little ones. We found several places to get hands on at Middleport. Kids were welcome to try their hand at moulding some Christmas decorations out of the readily available lumps of clay. Piper enjoyed rolling it out, choosing her design and loved having a memento to take home.
We also found an area where she could make hanging wool stars which she managed to finish on the car ride home.
Dotted around the site were lots of traditional games for the little ones to try, I had to drag Piper away from the ring toss!
The Heritage Trail at Middleport Pottery Museum
As well as exploring all the buildings, cobbled walkways and bottle kiln, Middleport has restored the original Victorian offices where you can get an additional insight into the people behind the potteries.
My Dad was fascinated by the huge Boulton steam engine and Piper was overjoyed she got to pull the very impressive engine’s whistle!
Dotted around the trail were kid friendly fact cards about the processes and workers. Piper found it hilarious to discover the various job roles including Bottom Knockers and Saggar Makers.
The Potteries really are an intriguing part of the UK to visit, Middleport has captured the rich history of the area so well. It has enough going on to keep children engaged and Piper learnt so much about life in a factory, for her the people aspect was the most interesting. I loved learning about the complicated processes involved in the ceramics industry and left with a new appreciation of how important places like Middleport were in shaping the area.
The Christmas Market at Middleport
Middleport is home to several permanent shops selling all things ceramic. We watched in awe as one of the shop owners sculpted a very complicated clay bird. Such skill! Several weekends a year Middleport also opens it’s doors to other independent sellers and we found everything from tasty fudge to metal sculptures. Plenty of unique gifts to tick off my Christmas list!
If, like me you’re a fan of independant markets then you’ll also love the Artisan Markets at the World of Wedgwood.
The Tearoom at Middleport Pottery
Managed by local company Totally Delicious, the tea shop at Middleport Pottery is the perfect place to stop for lunch. It’s very rustic by design with some lovely murals on the walls and extra seating upstairs should it be busy. They serve plenty of fresh cakes, teacakes and breakfast. For those a little hungrier they had oatcakes on the menu, a Stoke speciality for just £5.95. The childrens lunch menu was just £5.50 and consisted of a main (nuggets, fish fingers, sandwich or oatcakes), two sides and a drink.
We enjoyed a cup of tea and a pork bap from the food stall outside. I watched some more substantial meals coming out of the kitchen and they all looked delicious and were huge!
Shopping at Middleport Pottery Museum
As mentioned there are a few permanent shops and occasional markets at Middleport. There’s also the Burleigh Factory Shop where you’ll find some gorgeous items, beautifully displayed at fantastic prices. Here they sell seconds with slight imperfections with between 30% and 70% off the usual price! We couldn’t resist.
Factory tours at Middleport Pottery
Want to know more about the production of iconic Burleigh pottery? A factory tour of Middleport Pottery will take you through the 130 year old process. Including the unique tissue transfer decoration method which can’t be seen anywhere else. The tour also includes the heritage trail.
A Ride on the canal at Middleport Pottery
Entry to the Christmas markets included a free ride on Middleport’s narrowboat, Dane, one of the last remaining wooden built working narrowboats. The trip takes you along the historic Trent and Mersey Canal from Middleport to Longport and back. The boat is operated by very friendly and knowledgeable volunteers. It’s lovely to get a view of Middleport from the water.
Where to stay near Middleport Pottery
There is so much to do around Middleport Pottery, it’s well worth spending a weekend exploring Stoke. For another authentic pottery museum you could try Gladstone Pottery Museum where you’ll get to visit some more gorgeous bottle kilns or for kids that like to get hands on, try a family friendly experience day at the World of Wedgwood. Once you’ve had your fill of all things pottery then a visit to Trentham Gardens is a stunning outdoor space full of kid friendly activities or if you’re visiting between March and October, all kids will love to get among the cute Barbary Macques at Trentham Monkey Forest.
With so much to see and do in Stoke, you’ll need somewhere to stay. The Best Western Moat House at Festival Park is just 15 minutes drive from Middleport Pottery and is one of the few 4 star hotels in the area. It has an indoor pool, spa and lovely onsite restaurant. Prices start at less than £100 for a nights stay.
How to get to Middleport Pottery
Port Street, Burslem
Middleport Pottery is located in Burslem, just off the A500 and is well sign posted from the city. If you are traveling by train then it’s an easy 15 minutes walk from Longport Station – just change trains in Stoke.
Where to park for Middleport Pottery
Middleport has plenty of free onsite parking just outside the main entrance. We visited during the Christmas markets so the main carpark was full. They have several overflow carparks just over the road and we also found plenty of spaces on the road.
How much does it cost to visit Middleport Pottery
For entrance to the visitor centre:
Children/young people 5 – 16s; Students (with a student card); senior citizens (over 65); local residents: £4
Under 5s Free
For Factory Tours:
8-16 year olds £8
No under 8s.
Opening hours for Middleport Pottery Museum
Monday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Monday – Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Monday – Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Pin for later to plan your visit to Middleport Pottery Museum
We were invited to The Middleport Pottery Museum Christmas Markets as part of my role supporting #mystokestory, an initiative to highlight the many amazing cultural activities Stoke has to offer. All opinions are, as always, my own. I am proud to be an official ambassador of this wonderful campaign, and am really enjoying all the wonderful activities Stoke has to offer. If you’re looking for more fantastic ideas, events and things to do in Stoke make sure you take a look at the Visit Stoke website for inspiration. Be sure to use the hashtag #mystokestory to share all your own days out in Stoke on Trent.
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