After listening to Emma Bridgewater on Desert Island Discs and reading her memoir/stories ‘Toast and Marmalade’ the next thing to do was head off to Stoke-on-Trent to do the Factory Tour.
Emma Bridgewater’s Book
When you step out of the station at Stoke-on-Trent you are met by a statue of Josiah Wedgwood who was responsible for the industrialisation of pottery and specifically in Stoke, or what is known as the Five Towns – Burslem, Tunstall, Hanley, Fenton and Longton.
It’s about a 25 minute walk to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Hanley. It’s a magnificently restored factory formerly built for Meakins in the 1850s, later taken over by Johnsons and by Emma Bridgewater in 1985.
The factory on Lichfield Street
It makes for an excellent day out. There are two shops – seconds and perfects (seconds are of equal quality but may have a very slight surface or paint flaw which is indicated on each item); a cafe serving homemade soup, sandwiches, teas and coffees; a Decorating Studio where you can paint your own design on an EB mug or jug or bowl; a secret walled garden (closed in winter) and a Factory Tour (best booked in advance).
The Main Shop in the Courtyard
The shop counter on arrival
The Herb Garden behind the shop
The Decorating Studio
Enjoying the Studio
My Tour was booked for 1.30pm so I had plenty of time to shop and have lunch.
Roast Tomato and Beetroot Soup
Rosetta guided a small group of us (6) beginning in the separate mould making area and moving into the main factory to see the rest of the process where we saw jiggering and jollying and topping off and fettling and sponging and foot (or bottom) wiping. Every part of the process is done by hand and carried out by skilled potters and artists using traditional methods. All the clay used is from the UK – Devon, Cornwall, Staffordshire and Wales and Emma Bridgewater uses an old Wedgewood creamware recipe for the clay mix. All the clay not used is recycled.
Here is the process as we followed it through :
The Mould Store
Rosetta shows us the mould making process step-by-step
A teapot emerges from its mould and scrap clay for recycling
Ready for the next stage : Firing
Ready for Firing
Fettling and sponging
It’s a different process for plates
Ready for Glazing
Inside the factory
All summed here :
I still had time for a cup of tea before walking back to Stoke Station and my journey home. In the cafe I met up with old Yorkshire friends :
Looking round when I got home I found these :