If you read my Edinburgh post you will have seen that we were making a stop off at Stoke On Trent on our way home. This was for two reasons, firstly so we didn’t have to drive over eight hours in one go to get home and secondly (and most importantly) it was to make a stop a the Emma Bridgewater Factory! As you can imagine Dave was delighted at the idea! I however was very excited, if any of you know me well enough you will know I have an unhealthy obsession with pretty mugs so the trip was something I was very excited about.
We arrived in Stoke On Trent just before the rush hour traffic, good timing on our part and rocked up to our Premier Inn which we managed to find with ease.
We checked in and chucked our bags in our room, it seemed that we were staying in the hottest hotel ever, it was really hot outside and I assume the hotel was really well insulated, meaning we were melting! Rather than sweating it out in the sauna of our room we had quick showers and headed out the door for dinner. We ended up in the Intu Potteries Shopping Centre, there were several restaurants located upstairs on the terrace. We chose to eat in Pizza Express, it was nothing to shout about but we did have a 40% off voucher so it didn’t really matter, after a week of eating out we were craving a home cooked meal!
After a rather warm nights sleep we woke up and got ready to leave for the Emma Bridgewater Factory, it was a few minutes up the road and we were booked on the 10.00am tour. I booked our tickets online for £2.50, if you spend over £12.95 (easily done) you can redeem your voucher against your purchase, even better!
We were one of the first to arrive, whilst waiting for the others in our party to arrive we had a little look around the Seconds Store, but not too closely, I wanted to save it for the end.
Once our party had grown a little more in size we were asked to put on our tour lanyards and went on our way. The tour was to last about an hour, we were told we were aloud to take photos but would be told when we couldn’t as we would be taken to a room where staff were working on the new Christmas range which hadn’t been released yet. We went outside and walked down the long, historic factory driveway and taken through a side door.
From here I don’t really remember all the processes so I can’t go into too much detail (you’ll just have to do the tour yourself 🙂 ), I did however take a lot of pictures so maybe that might help!
We were taken into the first part of the factory where they make all of the moulds, the moulds don’t last too long so new ones are needed, they are made using blocks which I believe are reused to make new moulds. From here the moulds are filled to make which ever piece is being made and so it goes on from here. 35,000 pieces of pottery are made each week if I remember rightly (maybe don’t quote me on that) so you can imagine how big the factory is and how it needs to be run smoothly.
We moved on into another part of the factory where they make the different types of plates and cake stands etc. There is a man in there who is the only one in the factory who knows how to do this job. He also has a machine called Betsy that he uses to shape the plates, the machine is so old they no longer make them. She is starting to break down every now and the and parts are becoming very hard to come by!
I have always thought Emma Bridgewater Pottery to be on the pricey side but having seen how much love and attention goes into making each piece I can now understand why. There are a team of people who’s job is to solely make stamps for different designs, we were told that the spotty pieces, that have made the brand so famous, are the worst because they need to cut a perfect circle for each of the stamps, which are all done by hand, it’s amazing to watch! We weren’t aloud to take photos in this part so I can’t show you how amazing it was I’m afraid.
We carried on through the factory, getting towards the end of the tour. Our tour guide was very informative, she was training another lady to be a tour guide too who was also very good, it was her first week but she seemed very clued up, I’d imagine it’s hard to memorise all the facts, figures and processes but she was doing a great job. We were soon at the end of the tour and left to our own devices. The factory has two shops, one for firsts and one for seconds, we had a good look around the firsts shop and then had a cup of tea and cake. The coffee shop was full of lovely pieces and even had an Emma Bridgewater Aga!
After we filled ourselves with tea we made our way to the seconds shop to fill our basket! You can’t go to the Emma Bridgewater factory and leave without a basket full of goodies! It was so hard to choose what to buy without maxing ourselves out, there was so much to choose from! Eventually we decided on what we wanted and I left smiling and Dave left quivering at our bank balance.
We had a brilliant time on the tour and even Dave, who wasn’t massively looking forward to it, said it was very interesting and enjoyed it too. We left back down the long driveway and carefully stored our purchases in the car before our trip back home to Devon.
All that’s left for me to say is – Thanks for having us Emma Bridgewater!