HLF will support the repair and renovation of the 11 red-brick Harper Street terrace houses which sit within the Trent and Mersey Canal Conservation Area. The Harper Street: Engagement in Heritage project will include seven new workshop spaces for creative businesses, an accessible archive and community centre.
The plans include a new heritage experience for visitors. The former ‘lodge-keepers’ cottage, the terrace nearest the factory’s historic entrance, will build upon Middleport Pottery’s heritage trail and retell the social history of a 1930’s family, living and working in the heart of ‘The Potteries’. The project also enables cataloguing and digitisation work to be undertaken on Middleport Pottery’s superb collection. The Collection comprises over a thousand pieces of Burleigh ware alongside nearly 150 years’ worth of archival documents, pattern books and correspondence relating to Burgess & Leigh and the Middleport Pottery site. Training and support for new staff, volunteers and students will enable them to work with the collection, making it accessible to the public for the first time, from a new archive space on the first floor of Harper Street.
The local Middleport and wider community will benefit from a self-contained community hub. Managed by local action group, ‘Middleport Matters’, the hub will provide a safe and easily accessible space for regular community events, homework clubs, baby and toddler groups, plus educational and recreational activities.
Aiming to commence works in 2019, the charity still needs to fundraise £245,000 to fully realise the project’s £1.7m renovation costs. Clare Wood, Director, UKHBPT said, “The charity is delighted to have been awarded this significant contribution. The announcement is the result of years of development and planning from numerous stakeholders, all of whom are dedicated in realising what will be a huge asset for the area and a tremendous improvement in access to ceramic heritage. We are conscious that Lottery funds are under great pressure, which makes this major investment from the National Lottery all the more meaningful. The £974,500 grant also attracts and secures investment from other private funders, which, in combination, make this project possible. At Middleport Pottery, we have seen how a mixed-use approach, the bringing together of business, community and the visitor economy is a highly sustainable model, one which helps to maintain, share and celebrate these heritage assets for the benefit of everyone; and in doing so, preserves the area’s unique identity for generations to come”.
Sir Peter Luff, HLF’s Chair, said: “They may look like a row of humble Victorian terraced houses but Harper Street represents an exceptionally important piece of our social history. At risk of being lost, this project will ensure their survival and enable the story of Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent and the UK’s industrial heritage and global prominence to be told fully.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Deputy Leader Abi Brown said, “This funding is fantastic news and continues the success story of Middleport’s heritage-led regeneration. It builds on the sensitively restored properties in Port Street and Burgess Street, and the incredibly successful Poppies: Weeping Window sculpture which brought 110,000 visitors to Middleport Pottery and the surrounding area over the summer.
The funding success is a great example of how partners have come together to lead a scheme that is focused on the community and will support local residents.”
Amelia Bilson, Executive Director, Middleport Matters adds, “I am absolutely thrilled that this latest bid has been successful and that we are one step closer to seeing Harper Street brought back to life. It will not only bring the derelict properties back into use, it will also restore and celebrate the heritage of the area, help to rebuild our community spirit and provide a much-needed community space to bring local people together.”
FourMarkers at No. 5 is one of the small businesses based at the Pottery. Its owner Libby Ward set up the business four years ago after leaving Staffordshire University. She adds, “It’s really important for us to be at Middleport as makers, we add another string to the bow. People visit from all over the world – they come into our workshops to see what we do, they’re always fascinated by the skills on show. Harper Street can only add to this, further developing our creative community and creating places where people want to visit”.
UKHBPT welcomes donations from individuals or organisations who can help support the Harper Street project. Donations can be made online at, ukhbpt.org/harper-street/support. For major donors or corporate giving please contact Clare Wood, UKHBPT Director on 01782 499766.