Burslem Makes It In To The Top Ten Again

Another iconic Burslem building has been nationally recognised and made it in to a top ten listing.

Unfortunately, unlike Burslem Town Hall, which is classed in the top 10 ‘must see’ buildings architecturally, the Wedgwood Institute on Queen St in Burslem is listed in the top 10 buildings at risk in a report published by the Victorian Society.

Former Wedgwood Institute, Queen Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent
(1869, G.B. Nichols, John Lockwood Kipling, Robert Edgar, Grade II*)

Until recently the Wedgwood Institute was home to Burslem’s public library. In 2006 the council pledged money to restore this exceptional Grade II*-listed building but instead it closed down just two years later, without warning, due to structural problems. The library’s books have moved elsewhere and only small parts of the building are in temporary use. Outside its highly decorative façade is a homage to work; above the main entrance is a figure of Josiah Wedgwood and elsewhere terracotta panels depict the different processes in the manufacture of pottery – this is a building which is crying out for a real use. In the meantime the structural problems will only get worse if urgent repairs aren’t carried out.

Until recently the building was used to house the towns library but this was moved across the road in to the School of Art.

We are currently looking for expressions of interest from developers and partners who would be willing to bring forward a sustainable regeneration scheme for the Wedgwood Institute, as part of the Burslem Historic Quadrant Project.

Whilst the Victorian 1863 part of the building is acknowledged as the heritage asset, the subsequent additions to the building are regarded as of lower quality and in a poor condition. Advice has been sought from English Heritage and their proposals are being included with the development discussions. The building is still used for community events and exhibitions in the areas that are still open. To completely revamp the building and make it compliant with modern guidelines would require significant investment into the millions of pounds.

In light of that our discussions with English Heritage have centred on which parts of the building can be bought back into commercial use, and which could be removed. That would be of benefit to any developers who want to help us bring the institute back into full time use.

What would you like to see done with this iconic local building?

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