This summer Middleport Pottery in Stoke on Trent will be host to the beautiful Weeping Window art instillation. This stunning emotive artwork is made up of 888,246 hand crafted ceramic poppies – one for every British or Colonial life lost during the fighting on the frontline during World War I.
If you're travelling to Middleport Pottery with your little ones in tow, then check out our Create Your Own Poppy template that they can cut out and wear on your day out.
What is the Weeping Window?
The piece was initially installed at the Tower of London, but Stoke-On-Trent has played a pivotal role since the inception of the display. The area provided the clay from which the poppies were created and approximately half of the blooms on display were created here. The artwork is returning to its spiritual home.
Now 11,000 of the poppies that made up the sculpture are due to go on display at Middleport Pottery. Designed by Tom Piper and created by artist Paul Cummins, this unique artwork is travelling as part of a UK-wide tour between 2014 and 2018 to celebrate the centenary of World War I.
Why Middleport Pottery?
Stoke-on-Trent is officially recognised as the ‘World Capital of Ceramics’, and Middleport Pottery is the perfect focal point for highlighting this.
Open since 1889, Middleport Pottery is still operational and during World War I its output greatly increased. Back then the area produced a large amount of tableware for hospitals, homes and the military, as well as propaganda ware. With the men signing up to help the war effort, women took on bigger roles in the pottery industry and they were recognised during the war as being key to the area’s efforts.
With the area, and Middleport in particular playing a pivotal role in the Great War, the site is the perfect place to contemplate this moving artwork and the exquisite craftsmanship.
Alongside the Weeping Window, there are plenty of ways you can learn about the history of ceramics at Middleport Pottery. When planning ahead, be sure to book a factory tour to discover the traditional craftsmanship used today to produce Burleigh. In the visitor centre you can see pottery that has been produced over the years and even step inside the iconic bottle kiln.
Afterwards, visit the tearoom, where you can sample delicious locally produced cakes overlooking the Trent and Mersey Canal, while you mull over all you have seen with a cup of tea.
Address: Port Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3PE
Price: Adults £5.50, Concessions £4, Children under 5 go free
How to Get There: Middleport Pottery is a 10-15-minute walk from Longport Station. In most cases you will need to change at Stoke-on-Trent Station
A day out in Stoke on Trent
While there’s plenty to do at Middleport Pottery, should you wish to make a day of it, we have some recommendations for things to do in Stoke-on-Trent too.
To keep with the pottery theme, we highly recommend a visit to The Potteries Museum & Arts Centre. This fascinating and welcoming museum has an impressive extensive ceramics collection, which helps to contextualise the ceramic production of the area. Take your time to explore some of the beautiful delicate pieces on display. You can also visit a real WWII Spitfire, which provides yet another historical connection.
If you’re looking to pick up a souvenir from your trip, there is a plethora of ceramic shops dotted around the city. The Emma Bridgewater Factory discount shop is a perennial favourite thanks to the whimsical designs. With household names like Wedgewood and Royal Stafford also in the area, you’re sure to find the perfect piece whichever style you prefer.
Sightseeing always builds up an appetite and when visiting Stoke-on-Trent there’s no better way to stave off hunger than with a traditional oatcake. These savoury pancakes have been sustaining the potters of Stoke since the 19th century and there’s a good reason they’re an enduring favourite. There’s plenty of oatcake shops strewn around the city, so make sure you drop by and taste this delicious local speciality.
Make it a weekend
The benefit of travelling by train is that you don’t have any car parking costs, so you may as well make a weekend of it, particularly if you’re travelling from further away. Stoke-on-Trent has plenty to keep tourists occupied for a couple of days.
Those visiting for a few days might want to take a bus to Trentham Gardens just outside the city. These tranquil gardens are the perfect place for a walk and to enjoy some flowers that aren’t ceramic, although there are plenty of sculptures to be found in the gardens as well, including the famous fairies.
If the weather is nice, a walk around the city to see the public artwork on display is called for. You’ll find plenty within the city centre, including a bust of Josiah Wedgewood who was Stoke-on-Trent’s most famous son, a stainless steel swan entitled “the Pace of Recovery” and more. One of our favourites is Emily Campbell’s Love Ties, which uses the community’s words and turns parts of local love letters into brushed stainless steel quotes.
As the evening draws in there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Theatre aficionados will enjoy a visit to the Regent Theatre, a painstakingly restored 1920s theatre, where you can enjoy an eclectic programme of local talent, touring West End productions, comedy, and dance.
Stoke-on-Trent is home to several great breweries, so the local pubs all serve plenty of locally brewed beer – and it’s delicious! The perfect refreshment after a long day of cultural excitement. The White Star in the city centre is one of our favourites – serving locally brewed Titanic beer, as well as a rotating menu of guest beers.
If you’re staying for the weekend, you’ll need to book a hotel and there’s plenty of great choices within the city! Potbank is one of the best with a great central location, and pared back charm, but there are loads to choose from.
There are plenty more amazing places to explore with CrossCountry, find out more with our helpful destination guides. Whichever destination you choose to explore, take advantage of great savings with CrossCountry Advance train tickets.