Throwing Your Own Pots in England: Touring the Wedgwood Visitor Centre
by Alain Gayot
When we think of things that are quintessentially British, a good English cup of tea springs to mind. And whether you take that tea with lemon or with milk and two sugars, all English people know that real tea should be served in a china cup and saucer from a china teapot. Which may explain why a visit to the World of Wedgewood in Stoke-on-Trent is considered a highlight of any trip to England. In fact, Americans can be constantly found touring the center, and Wedgwood’s biggest overseas market is the United States.
The Wedgwood Company — created by Josiah Wedgwood in 1759 — is perhaps best known for its signature blue and white pieces, but actually makes a slew of different styles. Today, with the amalgamation of Wedgwood and Royal Doulton companies, visitors who come to the establishment are able to see some of the world’s oldest and most recognizable china.
However, the center is more than just a place to look at fine china. Here you can learn about “The Father of English Potters” and the history surrounding the rise of the Wedgwood factory and name. In fact, it is still a working factory to this day, and is completely interactive and participatory. While the clay is imported from around the world, it’s all mixed on the premises. Visitors have the opportunity to learn how to throw pots, paint a plate or create a personal Wedgwood souvenir. There are also self-guided tours of the factory where visitors can watch the china being created by the master crafts people. In addition, audio guides are available in five languages, and you can watch a 20-minute film on the history of World of Wedgewood prior to taking your tour.
But it’s not just the factory tour, the opportunity to see the world’s largest display of Wedgwood products in one place or the hands-on experience that makes the Wedgwood such a huge draw. The entire complex is situated indoors, making it perfect to visit even in typically inclement British weather. Plus, there’s a great café, where all meals are served ... you guessed it … on the finest Wedgwood and Royal Doulton china.
The World of Wedgewood is definitely a must-see for all those planning a trip to Britain. Combine your visit here with a stay in Stoke-on-Trent. The facility is located on 200 acres of Staffordshire parkland with the Trent and Mersey canal running past the factory: the perfect picturesque place to either take a picture or to paint your own onto a piece of Wedgwood china.