Owners come together to save the icons of The Potteries landscape
The newly-formed Potteries Bottle Oven Owners’ Club will enable the keepers of the city’s historic bottle ovens to collaborate and find solutions to conservation and ongoing maintenance issues. The Club is open to the custodians of the 50 surviving structures across 29 separate sites and already has the backing of nearly every owner.
The idea for the Owners’ Club has been developed over the past year 18 months with the support of the city-wide Ceramic Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) and Potteries Heritage Society, as part of a five-year programme of initiatives for covering Longton Conservation Area and bottle oven sites throughout the city. The HAZ is supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Historic England. The Club has been set up as an independent organisation, managed and co-ordinated by its members, so that it can continue when the programme comes to an end.
The Club’s aims are:
- To promote the heritage of Stoke-on-Trent through stimulating interest in the city’s bottle ovens
- To support the conservation and preservation of bottle ovens and their historic environments
- To co-ordinate and collaborate on projects, campaigns and events
- To formulate and share best practice in maintaining and conserving bottle ovens of all types
- To build our understanding of bottle ovens and to educate local people, workers and visitors
Membership of the Club already spans the whole city and every type of oven – from Moorland Pottery’s four-chambered muffle kiln in Burslem to Gladstone Pottery Museum’s unique collection of updraught hovel ovens in Longton – and including calcining ovens in Newport, Etruria and Fenton, updraught ovens in Burslem, stack-type ovens in Hanley and skeleton ovens in Cobridge and Longton.
Moorland Pottery’s Jon Plant, who was elected to be the club’s first chairman, said “Some of the owners have taken care of the ovens for generations and have learned, perhaps the hard way, how best to care for them, while others have recently taken on challenging sites. Together they bring an un-paralled level of experience and knowledge to the club. Caring for a bottle oven is a massive responsibility, and one best shared with other owners in a club dedicated to the preservation of The Potteries’ greatest icon”
A (pre-Covid) breakfast meeting over tea and oatcackes at the Glost House
Andy Perkin, who has been supporting the establishment of the Club on behalf of Potteries Heritage Society, said “It has been a real voyage of discovery getting to know the ovens and their owners over the past year or so, and its encouraging to find that so many of them share our passion for these structures and are keen to explore the benefits of work together.”
Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said: “These iconic buildings have not only been a symbol of the Potteries for many years, but also a great source of inspiration to many artists and creatives in Stoke-on-Trent and beyond. We’re very proud of our city’s unique history and heritage and have invested in our historic buildings to give them modern day purposes and safeguard their future. I think the club is a fantastic idea and one which I am fully supportive of, and I look forward to working with all the bottle oven owners in the city with the shared goal of preserving these unique buildings.”
The club’s activities were subdued by Covid-19 restrictions last March, but members aim to collaborate to tackle maintenance and vegetation growth issues early in 2021.
Sentinel article on 8 Jan 2021
Midlands Today 29 Dec 2020