The barge was built at the Mersey Weaver and Ship Canal Carrying Company next door to the pottery and she spent her working life bringing clay from Cornwall to the Potteries. Now 70 years after starting her service on the Trent and Mersey Canal, Dane will be returning to her Middleport mooring during Heritage Open Days ready to become a permanent part of the working pottery’s story.
The 70-foot-long narrowboat will become a key part of the Middleport experience and plans are currently being drawn up to use her for educational activities, tours and even boat trips.
Marketing Manager Sarah Nadin said: “We are so excited to be bringing this really important piece of Staffordshire’s cultural history back home for all to see. The canals were an integral part of the pottery industry and Dane will become an important part of our unique story-telling at Middleport.”
The heritage attraction is also in contact with a local crate maker who made crates for barges such as Dane and is investigating the feasibility of restoring the Middleport loading crane. This would mean it may be possible to demonstrate loading her with crates exactly as would have been done just after World War II.
It seems that Dane was a working boat for various companies until the late 1950s before becoming a pleasure boat. In 2012 she was purchased as a rotting shell by the Narrowboat Heritage Foundation and moved from Middlesex to Alvecote Marina, near Tamworth. Enthusiasts at the charity have spent thousands of hours over the last five years expertly restoring the craft into what many now believe to be the most authentic rebuild of a wooden narrowboat for more than 30 years.
Sarah said: “The craftsmanship completed by the Narrowboat Heritage Foundation on this boat is breath-taking and we are absolutely delighted that the charity approached us to provide a long-term home for Dane. We appreciate that it has been a very personal project for them, and we’re honoured to be able to showcase her to the public.”
The arrival of Dane at Middleport Pottery coincides with an activity-packed weekend for Heritage Open Days, and the boat’s historic approach will be greeted with the sounding of the factory’s steam engine whistle.
The Middleport experience includes a visitor centre with original Victorian offices, an enormous bottle kiln – one of few remaining – and Europe’s largest collection of ceramic moulds, along with the Middleport Studios and Burleigh Factory Shop. The centre is open from 10am until 4pm daily. The Middleport factory tour gives visitors the unique opportunity to see pottery produced from start to finish using techniques dating back to the 1880s. Tours can be can be pre-booked via the website at www.middleportpottery.org
Heritage Open Days run on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September. To find out more visit www.middleportpottery.org/events
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Notes to editors:
Formerly The Princes Regeneration Trust, United Kingdom Buildings Preservation Trust, (UKHBPT) became an independent organisation in December 2016. HRH The Prince of Wales is UKHBPT’s Founding Patron.
UKHBPT is a registered charity – Charity number – 1059662.
All enquiries to: UKHBPT Marketing Manager Sarah Nadin – firstname.lastname@example.org