Tag Archives: urban decay

More on Oatcakes and Urban Decay

Stoke on Trent Part 2

By lunchtime it had been a moderate day. We had bought a few pots and photographed a bottle kiln, but the choice was poor and the cafes at two of the shops had closed down.

The success of the day trip was in the balance. Would we have to write it off as a wasted day, or could I, with the help of the trusty tourist map, pull something out of the bag?

Not far away was a group of potteries/shops that we hadn’t visited before, so now was obviously the time to change our habits. After all, we couldn’t make things worse and with satnav, what could possibly go wrong? (Note how I have swung from scepticism to over-confidence in just a few months).

The clue, I feel, is in my use of the word “over-confidence”.

Do you realise that there are still parts of the UK that aren’t accurately served by satnav. I do, because for several years navigating the new course of the A46 near the farm was as tricky as getting out of the Bermuda triangle.

If you ever enter  ST6 3PF into your satnav leave your diary free for a few days and take sandwiches. The route was populated by phantom roundabouts and one-way streets that had not been there when the satnav was programmed. I say that charitably, as the signs on the one way streets looked as if they had been there since before satnav was invented. Maybe it’s a hard life being a street sign in Stoke.

Finally, after photographing some bottle kilns, we found the William Edwards factory shop. This is a small shop on the edge of the factory. It specialises in high quality goods, and is a touch cramped for a fat man. We bought a few mugs for presents and spoke to the excellent lady who ran the shop, who told us that Middleton Pottery was just along the street, and that they had a tea room. See Pies and Prejudice for a fuller account of what happened there. Food was good, there are plenty of activities on site and I’d quite like to work there. However, the shop was even more cramped and pottery was unexciting.

We’ve been to the Gladstone Pottery Museum with the kids before. It was good, with exhibitions on toilets, a model sewer and drawers full of encaustic tiles. I’m not a great one for fine china (as if that’s a surprise to anyone who reads this blog) and if there are two things I love it’s historical toilets and encaustic tiles. I’m not sure if they are still there, and the website doesn’t seem to say, so check before visiting if that’s where your interests lie. The Middleton Pottery offers a factory tour and Victorian office but also has a few wildlife and sustainability tips. It also has a derelict factory at the end of the street.

Finally, thinking we could miss the traffic on the way home, we set off, found another deficiency in the satnav and found ourselves passing the Dudson shop. I nearly carried on, but Julia thought she’d like to look round a shop full of odds and ends of hotel ware. So, U-turn and waste time as traffic builds up…

I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s actually got loads of great (brightly coloured) stuff and it’s cheap. It also had plenty of room for fat people and a cheery woman on the till. I bought more there than we bought anywhere else (as you will see when I start photographing food seriously). No tea room, but they do have a museum on another site. They are also in sight of the Moorcroft shop (I managed to keep her out of that one!) and just round the corner from the Moorcroft museum.

The Moorcroft Museum used to be free, and I see from the website that it still is, which I find an admirable quality in a museum. We will be going back to Dudson, and will doubtless fit a Moorcroft visit in, despite the fact I needed oxygen and a bank loan last time we went to the shop.

All that and we still managed to sneak home before the traffic built up too badly.

 

Oatcakes and Urban Decay

Stoke on Trent Part 1

We’ve been meaning to go to Stoke on Trent for a while, as time is getting short for the 2016 visit.

We need more plates for our everyday service (the kids, on the few occasions they have washed up over the years have done so with heavy hands) and we often manage to find a few Christmas presents while we’re over there.

Additionally, I’ve been looking for some decent single plates for food photography on Pies and Prejudice and I haven’t had a Staffordshire oatcake for a while (about 20 years now I actually think about it). Now I have a food blog, today seemed like a good day to break the oatcake drought.

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Staffordshire oat cake

I also thought I might get some pictures of urban landscapes, as Stoke still has a great stock of old industrial sites.

For once, everything seemed to (almost) go according to plan.

Aynsley provided slim pickings, though we did replenish our everyday service. Portmeirion was also a bit flat, though we did get a few pictures of a bottle kiln.

That’s a bottle-shaped kiln, not one for making bottles, there are 47 still standing, and they are all listed buildings now, though they aren’t all actually bottle-shaped.

Our third call was also disappointing (so many places seem to be in decline or making their pots in China) so we looked at the map we’d picked up from Aynsley and typed a postcode into the satnav.

That was how we ended up at Middleport Pottery, and that’s a story for part 2.