Pottery museum company to be wound up


Ceramica, the museum in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, which explored the history of the area’s pottery industry, has been placed into creditors’ voluntary liquidation.

Bob Young and Steve Currie, of the Stoke-on-Trent office of corporate recovery group Begbies Traynor, were appointed at a meeting of creditors held on Tuesday, October 18, 2011.

The Museum was located in the Grade II* Listed former Burslem Town Hall. It was set up using National Lottery money from the Millennium Commission.

It closed in March after its Stoke-on-Trent City Council funding was withdrawn, due to government cuts. Some of the exhibits were transferred to other locations and the future of the Town Hall is being reviewed.

Mr Young said: “The demise of Ceramica is a terrible pity. Many people, particularly children, greatly enjoyed the exhibition and interactive products.

“Hopefully, this creditors’ voluntary liquidation will encourage ideas across the community about how something might be best salvaged and what alternative opportunities there may be for the use of the

Town Hall, one of Burslem’s iconic and historic buildings which deserves a new future.”

The hall was extensively refurbished at the time of the Ceramica launch.

Exhibits included displays about ceramics manufacturers Wade Ceramics, Royal Doulton, Sadlers, Dudson, Steelite, Royal Stafford, Moorland, Burleigh Pottery, Moorcroft and Colbridge Stoneware.

There were interactive displays and video presentations for children on ceramic history and local history. For example, kids were offered a ‘magic carpet ride’ over the ‘Mother Town’ of Burslem, discovered what clay is and where it comes from, and were able to have a go at throwing their own pot on a potter’s wheel.

Ceramica chairman Paul Sherratt gave the creditors’ meeting a statement of the company’s history and where things went wrong.

Initial funding from all sources to launch the project totalled £3.5 million, much of it from the Millennium Commission but also the council, regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, English Heritage, and The Weston Foundation.

The visitor attraction latterly charged £4.10 for a family and was operated by five full and part-time staff.

The statement noted: “It was always intended that Ceramica should be self-funding, but in practice it never attained the visitor numbers that were anticipated. The original funding aspirations were with hindsight entirely unrealistic. Once the deficit funding from the council was withdrawn, the organisation could no longer continue.

“Once it became clear that Ceramica would have to close, money that might otherwise have been set aside to meet staff redundancy and to pay creditors was used for day to day running. The building has to be insured and provided with heat and lighting and there is inevitably an on-going maintenance cost. These costs led to the shortfall.”

Begbies Traynor has appointed property agents Butters John Bee to assist them with the marketing of the property and contents. It is intended that Butters John Bee will be offering to the market the remainder of a 99 year lease which commenced in 1998.

The former museum could potentially be offered in two distinct parts by splitting the more recent new build element of the scheme, which was previously used as the retail element of the exhibition, from the former Old Town Hall.

Richard Peake, a partner at Butters John Bee, stated he believed the former museum would be suitable for a wide variety of potential future uses, subject to securing appropriate planning consent. Richard’s fellow partner at Butters John Bee, Rob Elliott, confirmed he expected the property to generate a significant amount of interest bearing in mind its unrivalled location within the town centre.