It was raining when we got up this morning – what a surprise!
We headed off as planned to the World of Wedgwood – a very impressive place once we’d walked around the outside of an enormous building site, following signs for the entrance (signs that were intended for motorists, as that seems to be how you’re supposed to arrive everywhere these days!) The wicker tea service outside the museum will look amazing once the plants grow through!
Sadly, once inside, photographs were forbidden!
Wedgwood has had a factory on the site since 1940 and it has recently moved into a new building on the site with the old factory now being demolished with areas of the original Estate being sold off for housing. The new complex opened in April 2015.
We’d read the Stoke on Trent Tour Visitor Guide for 2015 which states:
“The World of Wedgwood is a brand new £34m development at the Wedgwood Estate. The inspirational new complex combines a modern factory tour, the Wedgwood Museum, a state of the art Visitor Experience including design workshops, and a flagship retail store with a signature restaurant championing local produce.”
We paid for the Factory Tour & Museum Experience.
The guided factory tour lasted an hour and was very informative. We watched both bone china and Jasper pottery being made, glazed and decorated by all manner of means. We were quite surprised at just how many of the processes are still done by hand although the workforce has reduced from thousands to hundreds since the 1980’s.
Whether you like Wedgwood or not, it is worth visiting to study their business model and to find out why the company is still so successful today despite an ever changing market place. There are some very lavish designs in their ‘flagship retail store” where you can pay several thousand pounds for a teapot decorated with gold leaf.
If you fancy working at Wedgwood then you had better apply now as their staff turnover is extremely low and most of the people we’ve spoken to today have been there over 25 years.
Apparently Wedgwood tried moving part of its pottery operation to Indonesia but brought it back to the UK as sales fell dramatically when it was no longer ‘Made in England’.
The Wedgwood archive is vast and the museum covers the history of the Wedgwood family and the company’s designs over four centuries. There was too much information for us to take in in just one afternoon.
We would recommend visitors take the factory tour and look round the store, and if you want to know more about the family or the pottery, then buy one or more of the many books available and study them at your leisure. We did suggest they introduce a ticket that is valid for a year, rather than just a day, as there was too far too much to see.