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North Staffordshire’s Forgotten Heritage

Wedgwood Institute (Burslem)

The Wedgwood Institute

Betty Cooper’s comprehensive researches into North Staffordshire’s socio-economic history and architectural heritage prove there is no “historical reason” to stop North Staffordshire’s Industrial Landscape, an area that includes The Potteries, Newcastle-under-Lyme and all the towns on the former North Staffordshire Coalfield, from becoming a World Heritage Site.

During the 18th century, North Staffordshire was at the cutting edge of world economic development. Economic historians have forgotten the role pottery manufacturers, like Wedgwood, Adams, Minton and Spode, played in transforming a collection of small towns and villages into an industrial area of international importance. James Brindley’s Trent and Mersey Canal “kick-started” the Industrial Revolution that made Britain the workshop of the world. The Harecastle Tunnel complex between Kidsgrove and Chatterley is one of the world’s greatest civil engineering feats, surpassing the Pontcysylite Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal which is a World Heritage Site.

As well as having a world famous industrial heritage, North Staffordshire was the birthplace of Primitive Methodism whose influence gave the six towns their unique culture and a way of life that was so vividly described by Arnold Bennett.

Like all the towns on the former coalfield, Burslem’s heritage equals that of other places in Britain that have been made World Heritage Sites.

Burslem’s master potters brought the Industrial Revolution to North Staffordshire. Its “old town hall” is one of the best examples of Victorian civic architecture and the Wedgwood Institute’s unique terracotta facade is an inspiring tribute to the men, women and children who worked in local industries.

Making North Staffordshire’s Industrial Landscape a World Heritage site would revitalise local industry, attract inward investment, create employment and halt Stoke-on-Trent’s economic decline.

Do you think North Staffordshire’s Industrial Landscape should be made a World Heritage Site? Leave a Reply and tell us what you think.

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