‘Handsome’ heritage building in Burslem receives £300k boost

Work to safeguard one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most iconic heritage buildings is set to start later this year thanks to a £300,000 funding boost.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council successfully applied for £318,966 from Historic England for much-needed improvements to the Grade II* listed Wedgwood Institute in Burslem.

The funding will help to ensure the Queen Street building, built in 1865 as a place to run courses for the working men of Burslem on science, business and the arts and built in memory of Josiah Wedgwood, the 18th century potter and philanthropist whose statue is the centrepiece of the front elevation, is weather-tight and safe to access.

The works are due to take place from this summer onwards and are expected to be completed by the end of the year and in time for the city’s centenary celebrations to mark 100 years since King George V named Stoke-on-Trent an official city back in 1925.  

 It’s an exciting time for Burslem as plans to erect a statue of Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister in Burslem, where he was born, have recently been approved. The band are best known for the 1980 track Ace of Spades.

Councillor Jane Ashworth, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “From the moment we were elected in May last year we said we wanted to safeguard and protect our city’s heritage and that is exactly what we’re doing.

“Last year, we were named as one of the National Heritage Lottery Fund’s Heritage Places and have since received £250,000 in funding. We have also recently supported Re-Form Heritage with the launch of their Heritage Development Trust. Now we want to take our commitment further by using this money to preserve one of the city’s most well-known heritage buildings.

“The Wedgwood Institute is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register because it is in such poor condition, so this funding won’t solve all of the problems but it will help to bring us a step closer to getting it back on track for potential future development and eventually bring this beautiful building back into public use.”

A specification is now being prepared to allow the project to go out to tender in the near future. The city council is committed to working closely with Historic England to ensure the works are carried out sensitively and effectively at the Grade-II* listed Wedgwood Institute.

Louise Brennan, Regional Director (Midlands) at Historic England, said: "I can’t imagine Stoke-on-Trent without the Wedgwood Institute. Paid for by public subscription, it’s an extraordinarily handsome building that belongs to the people of the city.

“It’s no secret that finding the right use for the Wedgwood is taking some time, but we don’t want to see the building’s condition deteriorate any further. That’s why we are delighted to be working in partnership with the city council to carry out urgent repairs and stop any further decay with the grant announced today.”

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