On Thursday 11th February the volunteers were at the Wholly Inadequate, Etruria to launch Wincle Beer’s new full bodied, classic chestnut, English ale called Bone Crusher. Wincle’s beers are all based on a real life characters and Bone Crusher features Barry Job and a brief story of Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill on the pump clip. Barry was a member of the first working party formed in 1978 to restore and operate the mill and is still a very active volunteer. The launch of Bone Crusher celebrates the mill and the tireless work of the volunteer group to save what is now the last working steam powered, potters’ mill in the world. The beer will be listed in pubs throughout the Potteries and beyond, give it a try.
Volunteer Celebration at Stoke Minster
On Thursday 4th June Stoke Minster hosted a celebration as part of National Volunteer Week 2015. Various speakers including Revd Geoffrey Eze from the Minster and Cllr Andy Platt expressed their thanks to many volunteers who contribute their time to improve the district and support the community. Bernard Lovatt from the Etruria Industrial Museum explained how volunteers working since 1978 have ensured the survival of Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill, which is at the heart of the museum, and now operate this important part of North Staffordshire’s industrial heritage.
Etruria Boat Gathering
On 30th and 31st June 2015 a number of historic canal boats gathered at Etruria. Ilford, a 1914 boat moored on Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill wharf. With the mill in steam visitors were able to soak up the atmosphere of a manufactory of days gone by. Adults and children were able to have a go at traditional canal crafts such as rug ragging and try their hand at making pottery animals and creepy crawlies. A team of Morris dancers reminded us that this style of dance was performed by the navvies who dug the canals.
Visit by Masters Degree Students from Keele University
On Monday 9th March we hosted a party of masters degree students in Environmental Science and Geology from Keele University. After giving a talk on the preparation of bone and flint as ingredients for the manufacture of bone china they toured of the mill. We hope they enjoyed the visit; we enjoyed hosting them.
Visit to the Lord Mayor’s Parlour
On Thursday 19th February a group of Etruria volunteers, at the kind invitation of the Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent Cllr Majid Khan, visited the Lord Mayors Parlour in the Town Hall. The Lord Mayor and his sergeant give the party tour of the building including the Council Chamber, Kings and Jubilee Halls and adjoining rooms and explained the significance of various artefacts and memorabilia. Everyone was amazed at the beautiful the plasterwork and décor. The civic plate, including the ‘old’ mayoral chains of the towns that were amalgamated to form the City, is most impressive and reminded us of the proud history of Stoke-on-Trent. Departing after taking tea and biscuits the party thanked the Lord Mayor for his hospitality.
Support for North Shelton Community Shrove Tuesday Event
Volunteers from the Museum supported the North Shelton Community Centre Shrove Tuesday event by setting up a stand for the museum to include running a model steam engine and holding a ‘pin the smoke on the kiln’ competition. Dressed as a Victorian daughter of a pottery owner, Danielle Evans led the pancake race with her mother in support. The event was a great success and brought members of the local community together for a pleasant afternoon – and the sun shone!
What a Way to Spend Valentine’s Day!
On Saturday 14th February an intrepid group of volunteers spent an unusual Valentine’s Day getting very dirty cleaning the boiler flues in preparation for the annual inspection by the insurance company. Over 65 feet of flue have to be cleaned and the boiler and fire tube wire brushed so that an accurate visual inspection can be made. If passed a steam test follows prior to a certificate to operate our 112 year old boiler for the year being issued. What a way to spend Valentine’s day!
Successful Open Days at Bedford Street Lock
On Saturday 31st January and Sunday 1st February 2015 the Canal and River Trust allowed the public to go into the drained Bedford Street staircase lock on the Caldon Canal. Opened in 1778 to the design of James Brindley the general condition and brickwork is in excellent condition which surprised many. Repairs are being done to the lock gates which are expected to last for 25 years. During the weekend 361 visitors were recorded many of which moved into the museum for a cup of tea and oatcake, and to get warm. The Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent Cllr Majid Khan and the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Mr Ian Dudson,were among the visitors who enjoyed this unique opportunity to view our industrial past.
BBC Film Crew Use Museum in a New Series of Programs
On snowy Thursday morning on the 29th January a film crew from the BBC used Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill as a backdrop to record footage for a new BBC Four series called Treasures of Ancient Greece. One program will look at how Greek art influenced the designs of Wedgwood. The presenter, art historian Alastair Sooke, managed to dodge the snow showers and complete the assignment before moving on to the warmer Wedgwood Museum in the afternoon. They were a great crew and Danielle, Joe, Andrew from the Etruria Boat Group enjoyed hosting them and keeping them supplied with tea and biscuits.
Visit of Architecture Students and Staff from Nottingham University
On the cold afternoon of 27th January we were delighted to host a party of 25 architecture students and 2 staff from Nottingham University. They are using various interesting heritage sites around Stoke-on-Trent for project work in their second and third your degree courses. After visiting the Spode site in the morning they spend the afternoon look at and record the buildings at the museum, especially the bone and flint mill.
Death of Clive Hollinshead
On Friday 21st November 2014 a group from the museum attended the funeral of Clive Hollinshead who died suddenly on 8th November. Clive was a long serving volunteer who took charge of the pan room during steamings. A retired geography teacher he was very knowledgeable about the mill and the part it played in the manufacture of pottery. He delighted in passing on his extensive knowledge to visitors including HRH The Prince of Wales during his visit in June. Clive will be sadly missed by all who knew him and is a great loss to the museum and mill.
On Friday 14th November we hosted an intrepid group of ghost hunters from Ghosts R Us. During a starlit evening between 9.00pm and 2.00am Saturday they looked for spirits on the site of the 1804 hospital, the canal warehouse and the bone and flint mill. They enjoyed the experience!
Photo-shoot for Fashion Designer Paul Smith
On Wednesday 29th October we hosted Aboud Creative, a London based design and advertising agency, for a photo-shoot connected with the launch of the spring and summer range of the famous fashion house of Paul Smith. As well as a team from Aboud the chief design from Paul Smith was on site. After using the canals, locks and mill for location shots the Etruria Boat Group Volunteers transported the team to Middleport on the historic working canal boat Lindsey providing further opportunities for interesting shots. The production manager at Aboud and the designer from Paul Smith thanked the volunteers and staff for their help and said that they were looked after, “incredibly well.”
Green Door Walk Around the Museum and Canals
On Wednesday 1st October 2014 well know local historian, Mervyn Edwards lead a walk around the site of Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill and the Caldon and Trent and Mersey canals explaining the significance of the site to the industrial revolution and especially the development of the po ttery industry.
Potteries Omnibus Preservation So
ciety (POPS) Running Day to Etruria
On Sunday 28th September 2014 the Potteries Omnibus Preservation Society ran a shuttle service between the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton and the Etruria Industrial Museum. Passengers alighting at Etruria had the opportunity to visit the museum, have a guided tour of Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill and refresh themselves with a cup of tea and sticky bun before retuning to Gladstone. Traveling on these buses of yesteryear brought happy memories back to many of the passengers.
Etruria Mill Volunteers Win ‘Our Heroes’ Community Group of the Year Award
At the glittering ‘Our Heroes’ Awards evening on Thursday 25th October the Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill Volunteers won the Community Group of the Year award. They were very surprised to he honoured and look so different when not dressed in boiler suits. Many thanks to the sponsors, The Sentinel and the Aspire Group for organising a great event. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.
Classic Vehicle Rally a Great Success
The Classic Vehicle Rally held on the 14th September was a great success! Almost 100 vehicles were entered, the oldest being from 1925. Blessed with good weather there was an excellent turn out of visitors who expressed delight at the range of vehicles on show with some of the more mature individuals reminiscing about there first cars which they had seen examples of on the field. The Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Cllr Majid Khan honoured us with his presence and enjoyed looking at the colourful display of vehicles. He handed over a set of tankard mugs which artist blacksmith Charis Jones had commissioned from the Etruria Artists who provided a hands on clay experience. Working at the forge, Charis has a very hot job and drinks lots of tea and prefers to use a large mug of over 1 pt capacity.
Visit by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on Tuesday 24th June 2014
The volunteers and staff were delighted to welcome his Royal Highness The Prince of Wales when he visited the Etruria Industrial Museum and Jesse Shirley’s 1857 Bone and Flint Mill on Tuesday 24th June 2014. His Royal Highness was introduced to the volunteers who run and maintain the visitor centre and mill which was ‘in steam’ and operating illustrating factory life as it was in the 19th century. He showed great interest and spoke to everyone asking some pertinent questions about the production process, restoration and maintenance. Volunteers Tim Ludford and John McGirr shovelled coal into the 1903 locally made Cornish boiler that provided the steam, while Mike Walton took control and drove ‘Princess’ the 1820s steam powered beam engine which drives the mill. Twelve year-old Andrew Burgess from Kidsgrove, and eighteen year old Felicity Cook from Market Drayton are two of the museum’s younger volunteers. They demonstrated how Cornish stone was prepared using ‘Little Prince’, a 1930s horizontal steam engine driving the crusher. A presentation of specially produced in Stoke-on-Trent, English bone china ‘Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill’ mugs was made to His Royal Highness by twelve year old Jack Fowler-Evans who attends Wolstanton High School and is a regular volunteer. “Barry Job, a founding member of the volunteer group said, “This is our first royal visit and a significant occasion for the museum. This is a tremendous recognition of the all the work put in by the volunteers over the past thirty six years, without whom the engine and mill could not have run today. It has been a great opportunity to raise the profile of one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most important historic sites. It puts the museum on the tourism, education and industrial heritage map which will help to ensure its long term survival.” After completing the tour His Royal Highness was transported by historic canal boat ‘Lindsay’, which has been recently restored by the Etruria Boat Group Volunteers, along the Trent and Mersey canal to Middleport Pottery where he officially opened the new visitor centre. This year the Princes Regeneration Trust has completed a £9M restoration of this Victorian working pottery which still operates commercially.
Volunteers from the Etruria Museum set up and staffed a stand at the Hartshill International Festival, Stoke-on-Trent which took place at the Medical Institute on Saturday 3rd May. Opened by the Lord Mayor there were 46 stands, many with an international theme, and almost 500 visitors. The day was a great success and thanks must go to the organisers. The Museum stand was busy all day and many were interested in how English bone china was produced and the raw materials processed. Those that had not visited the museum said they would attend one of this years open weekends to see the mill ‘in steam’ and operating.
Visit by the Oswestry Twinning Association and Guests from Combs la Ville, France
On Friday 25th April 2014 the Museum hosted 52 guests from the Oswestry Twinning Association two thirds of which were from the French town of Combs la Ville, a commune 25.5km south-east from the centre of Paris. Following lunch at the nearby Moat House Hotel and visiting Josiah Wedgwood’s study in the adjoining Etruria Hall, they received a presentation on the origins of Etruria and the importance of bone, flint and Cornish stone in the production of English bone china. After splitting onto three groups a tour of Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill was conducted partly in French with some of the technical terms proving a challenge to the translators. After seeing a demonstration by Charis, our artistic blacksmith and following refreshments they departed at 5.00pm saying they had very much enjoyed the visit. Many complementary comments were written in the visitor’s book. The museum volunteers enjoyed hosting a very interesting group of guests and are delighted that Etruria is now better known in France.
Busy and Successful Spring Event
The Spring event on 5th and 6th April 2014 was very successful with plenty of visitors from various parts of the UK and abroad. Saturday was notable for the number of young children visiting, most of whom were fascinated by ‘Princess’ our 1820s beam engine and feeling the heat from the fire in the boiler furnace as well as our model engines. They also enjoyed the other activities which included seeing and handling reptiles with HD Reptiles from Stoke and bird box making with the Friends of Park Hall Country Park.
- Haley and Timmy from HD Reptiles
Leek High School
On Sunday 6th April a group of ten students and two staff from Saxony in Germany, who are on an exchange visit to Leek High School, were hosted. Accompanied by two staff from Leek, they travelled from Manchester airport directly to Etruria and after refreshments were given a guided tour of the mill and site. A number tried their hand at throwing a pot instructed by Ieva from the Etruria Artists. They said they had enjoyed the visit and learned a lot about ceramic materials, working with clay, steam engines and canals.
Friends of Pendle Heritage (Archaeology) from Barrowdale Lancashire Visit
A group from the Friends of the Pendle Heritage visited the museum on Saturday 15th March 2014 and enjoyed learning about the history of Etruria. They commented on the warm welcome they received. Having learnt about the preparation and production of bone and flint they moved on the Gladstone Museum to see how pottery is made. The Mandarin duck on the Caldon Canal caught our attention.
Miami University Students Visit the Museum
On Saturday 15th February 2014 a party of 30 students and staff were given a talk and guided tour of the museum site to learn about the part that North Staffordshire played in the Industrial Revolution and especially the involvement Josiah Wedgwood through his membership of the Lunar Society. The canals, beam engine, boiler and the processes carried out in Jesse Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill were used to give the students a real experience of some of the inventions and innovations that resulted from the ‘social networking’ of this group of 18th and 19th centuries friends. As part of their course the students are required to study the ‘the influence of social networking in European history. They are based at the Miami Universities John E Dolibois European Centre in Luxembourg and travel to many counties. Previous to traveling to Etruria they had visited Erasmus Darwin’s House in Lichfield and were travelling on to visit the coffee shops in London where the modern banking system started in the 1600s.
Boiler Flues Cleaned in Preparation for the 2014 Season
On Saturday 15th February 2014 a work party of 14 volunteers cleaned the flues of the 1903 Cornish boiler in preparation for the condition inspection later in the month. Every year the boiler inspector from the insurance company visually inspects the boiler inside and out to check for defects. If the visual is passed a pressure test is carried out by warming the boiler for 4 days and then increasing the pressure to 60 p.s.i. which is twice the pressure at which it operates during steamings. If the inspector is satisfied that the boiler is in good condition a public operating certificate will be issued allowing the engine and mill to be run during 2014.
During the weekend of 8th and 9th February 2014 student of archaeology at Sheffield University and volunteer at the Etruria Industrial Museum, Hannah Holdbrook continued her search for evidence of the Dispensary and House of Recovery built at Etruria in 1803 and the first public hospital in North Staffordshire. After two geophysical investigations in 2013 and by matching these to maps and plans she opened a test pit. After analysing the results she plans to open a second pit in the near future. We await the results of the investigation with baited breath.
Museum and the Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill Volunteer Group Support the Inland Waterways Association for a Canal Clean Up at Etruria
On Sunday 9th February 2014 the Inland Waterways Association North Staffordshire and South Cheshire Branch met at the Etruria Industrial Museum for a canal clean up. Working out from Etruria along the Trent & Mersey, north and south and the Caldon canals they collected over 20 bags of rubbish and well as some larger items, such as bicycles which had been thrown in the canal. The visitors centre was open and Shirley’s Bone and Flint Mill Volunteer Group provided copious amounts of tea, coffee and biscuits to fortify the clean up volunteers. Thanks go to all who helped to improve the environment around Etruria and make it more welcoming to the 5000 boats that travel through each year.
Successful Christmas Event and Steaming 7th and 8th December 2013
Visitors enjoyed a great Christmas and Steaming weekend. Beam engine ‘Princess’ and the mill operation well. Thanks to all the regular volunteers, Julie Roberts and the Clay Chorus for entertaining us, Etruria Artists and Middleport Pottery for the ‘hands on’ pottery making, Sylvia for the wool spinning and weaving, POPS for the vintage PMT bus, Tez for safely transporting Santa and most of all to Santa himself and his little helpers.
Ghost Tour – Phantoms of the Flint Mill 5th October 2013
Visitors enjoyed a terrifying and entertaining evening tour of one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most historical landmarks conducted by Chris Stokes. Commencing with a welcoming drink taken on the terrace followed by a fish and chip supper all were fortified for an interesting evening. Bernard Lovatt gave a talk on the history of the mill before Chris took over for the Ghost Tour. Guests said, “Very enjoyable evening, the staff were very friendly.” “An interesting way to present the history of the mill, enjoyed it.” “Thank you for a good night.” “Very fun evening.”
‘Princess’ to feature in BBC documentary
At the end of May KEO Films came to the Museum. Ant Palmer, their cameraman, was very impressed with “Princess” and the mill and spent some considerable time filming the Bateman and Sherrat engine and mill machinery in action. This will appear in “A Garden In Time”, a piece about the Biddulph Grange gardens and the Bateman family on BBC 4 in Spring 2014. Pics below by Barry Job.
Local and international flavours make the September vehicle rally a great success
The Classic Vehicle Event at Etruria over the weekend of 14th and 15th September was a great success. Particularly iimpressive amongst the military vehicles on the Saturday was a Reo ‘Deuce and a Half’, a lorry which is typical of all the American war films. A number of Classic Commercials, plus a large number of classic cars, turned out on the Sunday. Especially interesting was a local 1949 Leyland Titan double decker bus, this vehicle is a rare ‘low height’ version enabling it to safely pass under the many bridges in The Potteries. Pictures below by Barry Job.
Boiler flues cleaned as preparations begin for 2013 season
Volunteers old and new assembled again on Sat 23 Feb to begin the arduous process of cleaning and testing Etruria’s 1903 Cornish-type boiler in readiness for this year’s steaming weekends. This first stage involves a great deal of dirty work in the unforgiving confines of the boiler’s internal and external flues, removing the soot and debris accumulated during all of 2012’s fires. See Barry Job’s pictures below for the full ‘before and after’ effect. Tim, Tony, Chris G, Joe, Chris C, Andrew, Bernard and Danielle enjoy their last breath of fresh air for a while. Tim, Danielle, Bernard, John C, Chris C, Joe, Chris G and John Mc all escaped more or less unscathed.