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Throwing Your Own Pots in England
Touring the Wedgwood Visitor Centre
by Alain Gayot
Entrance to the Wedgwood Visitor Centre
Statue of Josiah Wedgwood at the entrance to the Wedgwood Visitor Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

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 Wedgwood Visitor Centre in Stoke-on-Trent is considered a highlight of any trip to England. In fact, Americans can be constantly found touring the Centre, and Wedgwood’s biggest overseas market is the United States.

The Wedgwood Company—created by Josiah Wedgwood in 1759—is perhaps best know 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 Centre are able to see some of the world’s oldest and most recognizable china.

Cafe with Royal Doulton China Signature Wedgwood Pot

However, the Wedgwood Visitor Centre 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, the Centre 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 the Centre 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 Visitor Centre 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. Best of all, you can buy factory seconds at discounted prices. Bargains range from 25-50 percent off in addition to the waiving of VAT if you have your purchases shipped directly back home from the Centre.

The Working Wedgwood Factory Throwing Pots

You might even get lucky and be able to purchase some of the Royal Doulton pieces from the Gordon Ramsay collection. The short-tempered British culinary king who has taken America by storm with his shows Hell’s Kitchen and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, has his own china series entitled “Gordon Ramsay by Royal Doulton.”

The Wedgwood Visitor Centre is definitely a must-see for all those planning a trip to Britain. Combine your visit to the Centre with a stay in Stoke-on-Trent. The Centre 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.

The factory element of the Visitor Centre tour is available Monday through Thursday 9.30 - 3.30, Friday 9.30 - 11:30, all year. All other elements of the visit, exhibition, hands on activities, craft demonstration area etc. are available seven days a week throughout the year. Last admission 3pm.

Weekday
Tour
Adult Concession Family
Wedgwood Tour
£8.25
£6.25
£28.00

Friday afternoons & weekends
Please note that the factory element of the tour is not available on Friday afternoons and weekends

Tour
Adult Concession Family

Wedgwood Tour

£6.25
£4.25
£20.00

Prices include VAT, and children under 5 enter free.
Family is two adults and up to three children
.

For more information, visit www.wedgwoodvisitorcentre.com

Going to Great Britain? Check out our Guide

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(Updated: 09/23/13 RED)

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