I was invited to visit Middleport Pottery to catch a glimpse of the ‘wave’ …a bright red weeping window cascade comprising of several thousand handmade ceramic poppies which can be seen from the top of the bottle kiln oven right to the ground. The invite came in as I am a member of SnapperSquad, a photography group comprising of amateur and professional photographers run by The Sentinel in Stoke. Thanks to the original idea of artist Paul Cummins and installation designed by Tom Piper, this idea was initially conceived as the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the summer and autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of every British or Colonial life lost at the Front during the First World War. In their original setting, they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people. 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, is presenting the iconic sculptures at selected locations around the UK until 2018. They have already been seen by 4 million people in 16 locations.
All Stokies (A person living in the great city of Stoke-on-Trent, whether it be young, old, straight, crooked, professional) are so proud of hosting the poppies in our beautiful city. This is a free event and has attracted thousand of visitors already from near and far. My only reservations heading there (if you are driving) is to find proper parking ….as there have been a lot of people already fined. Scroll below to read our recommendations on where to park or if you are taking the public transport from the Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station, how to get there. Remember although this is a free event, you would need to pre-book your tickets here. For avid photographers, remember to bring along a long lens with you so that you can get a close shot of the poppies. There will be a barricade, so visitors won’t be able to get as close as they would want to. Security here is tight as well, so do not bring along a large bag.
Stoke-on-Trent is officially recognised as the World Capital of Ceramics, and Middleport Pottery has been operating since 1889. During the First World War demand for the ceramics goods made in the area greatly increased. These included tableware for hospitals, homes and the military; propaganda-ware, including small ceramic tanks and battleships; plates with patriotic designs or messages on them; and ceramics to mark both the early stages of the war and the Armistice at the end. The war also saw women taking on bigger roles in the pottery industry; with the men volunteering or being called-up, they came to the fore as decorators and designers, taking key roles from men and being recognised after the war as leading lights. Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent is the last regional tour venue before it moves to its final presentation at Imperial War Museum London before moving into the long-term ownership of the Imperial War Museum.
Here’s a 3 and half minute video of the ceramic poppies as well as some footage of Middleport Pottery, hope you enjoy watching it.
Here’s a lovely photo showing the cascading ceramic poppies which were all made in Stoke-on-Trent
Where is Middleport Pottery?
Opening hours: 10 am until 4pm (Mon to Sat)
How can I book a ticket to see Weeping Window at Middleport?
To see the Weeping Window at Middleport, you must have a ticket. Tickets are free and are available to book here.
How long will the Poppies be at Middleport Pottery?
This started on 2 August and will go on until 16 September 2018
How to get to Middleport Pottery from Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station?
There is a train station at Longport, which is a 15 minute walk to Middleport pottery. An hourly service runs from Stoke-on-Trent Railway station to Longport at 34 minutes past the hour.
There is a taxi rank at the front of Stoke-on-Trent Railway Station for those wishing to travel by taxi to Middleport Pottery. It is a 10-15 minute journey time to the venue.
By bus – there are two options:
From bus stop F. Take any service to the City Centre (Hanley). At the City Centre Bus Station change onto service 3/3A and alight at Burslem. From here it is a 15 minute walk to Middleport Pottery – click here for a map. Total journey time is 45 minutes.
From bus stop E. Take service 9 or 25 to Newcastle-under-Lyme Bus Station. Change onto service 98 and alight at Longport Rail Station. From here it is a 15 minute walk to Middleport Pottery – click herefor a map. Total journey time is 55 minutes.
By foot or car
Middleport Pottery is a 3 mile walk or cycle ride along the canal towpath. Click here for a map of how to access the canal towpath from the station. Folding bikes can be hired at the railway station from Brompton Dock Cycle Hire. Please be aware that there is no parking at Middleport Pottery or in the surrounding residential streets. This area is strictly for parking permit holders only. Please make sure you park at the designated event parking at nearby at Porthill Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 4NL – access is just off the A500. Follow the yellow AA signs. Poppies: Weeping Window is less than 10 minutes’ walk from this car park which is open between 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Sunday. Please note the car park will be locked at 5pm daily. Car parking charges will apply: £3 per car, £8 per minibus and £10 per coach. Disabled parking is also available at this car park with a free shuttle bus to Poppies: Weeping Window. The last shuttle bus leaves from Middleport Pottery to the car park at 4.30pm.
(We would recommend parking at Wesport Lake and taking a walk by the scenic canal to Middleport, this is just 10-15 minutes away and you may get lots of photo opportunity along the way too)
Things to Note:
*Middleport is a historic site and has cobbles across the site. It is recommended that you wear suitable footwear (or your feet might hurt).
*The poppies are accessible via wheelchair – there will be volunteers on site to assist if necessary. Accessible toilets, baby changing facilities and refreshments are also available onsite.
*Disabled / Blue Badge Parking only is adjacent to Middleport Pottery in Port Street. This is strictly for disabled and Blue Badge holders only.
*Please note for security reasons, no large bags are allowed at the venue.
*Please also be aware that bag searching will be in operation. It is sensible to leave adequate time to get into Middleport before your ticketed viewing time.
*Due to the nature of the event it is not recommended to bring dogs onsite with the exception of Guide Dogs.
* Photos for personal use are allowed. Strictly no photography for commercial gain.
* Middleport Pottery is private land. All drone photography and/or filming is strictly prohibited.
*Food and drinks can be purchased from the Middleport Pottery Tea Room (they serve some nice oatcakes and tea). There are no picnic areas within the venue.
Abou Middleport Pottery
Nestled in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, the world-renowned centre of ceramics, Middleport Pottery’s historic site was built in 1888 for well-known local ceramics company, Burgess & Leigh Limited. The Grade II* listed site is a red-brick maze, containing historic machinery, archives and collections in every corner. In June 2011, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT) stepped in to save Middleport Pottery from closure and to ensure that Burleigh stayed in Burslem. After buying the Pottery, PRT embarked on a £9 million, three-year project to regenerate and revitalise the site and has leased approximately half of it back to Burgess & Leigh for pottery production. As a result, 50 jobs have been saved at Middleport Pottery and a further 66 created have been since 2011. In June 2014, HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of PRT, opened the refurbished Middleport Pottery, containing the Burleigh factory, a visitor centre, cafe, shop, activity areas and workshops and offices for creative businesses. The Pottery is now a major visitor destination and has won eight awards, including a RIBA National Award and a Europa Nostra Award, since it opened. They also do pottery themed birthday parties, here’s a link to one which we were part of.
About 14 – 18 NOW?
14-18 NOW is a five-year programme of extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with the First World War. Working with arts and heritage partners all across the UK, we commission new artworks from leading contemporary artists, musicians, designers and performers, inspired by the period 1914-18. As with all 14-18 NOW projects, the presentation of Poppies: Wave and Weeping Window to new audiences across the UK aims to prompt a new, nationwide dialogue around the legacy of the First World War.
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