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Barlaston Archive

The digitisation of the Barlaston manuscript accumulation and the opportunity to make this archive publically accessible on the Wedgwood museum’s website has been made possible through the generous support of English Heritage and the dedicated work of a team of volunteers from NADFAS, (The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies), who undertook the task of sorting and cataloguing the accumulation. The Wedgwood Museum’s Barlaston archive collection houses a unique record of the development and construction of a new ceramic manufactory built during the early years of World War II. The archive accumulation contains not only documentation relating to the construction of the new Wedgwood works but also an immense amount of material relating to the working conditions, war time restrictions and unrivalled details relating to both social and working conditions. The manuscripts provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the importance of the factory construction much of which was greatly influenced by the impending hostilities of World War II. This archive collection contains not only paper records but an extraordinary pictorial views, with watercolours and oil paintings, as well as an extensive photographic record of the development phases, of the entire factory construction and the ultimate equipping of the various manufacturing areas. A considerable number of plans and blue prints also survive providing an amazing insight into the human effort which went into creating this twentieth century, ‘Factory in a Garden’. The Barlaston papers relate specifically to the post 1930 period of Wedgwood management and production amid the dramatically changing industrial landscape of ‘The Potteries’. By the mid 1930’s the Wedgwood family, led by Josiah Wedgwood V, were forced to take the momentous decision to acquire a Greenfield site away from the main pottery conurbation. The old works at Etruria had become outmoded and obsolete and had suffered from significant land subsidence as well as contamination from the encroaching Shelton Iron and Steel Works. The 20th century archive documents the search for a suitable new location to build an ultra-modern, all electric factory, the first of its type in Britain. The concept of the new Barlaston works was the brain child of Josiah Wedgwood V, (1899- 1968), who played a crucial part in the new factory enterprise through his understanding of the artistic, technical and managerial requirements of such a factory. The surviving manuscripts clearly show the importance of the forward looking men who worked with him to assist in the building of the new factory and garden village at Barlaston. The foundation stone was laid on 10th September 1938 and the building progressed rapidly despite the crisis in Europe and the threat of war. This unique collection of manuscripts provide an unrivalled opportunity for research and those wishing to pursue specific aspects of the building, production and life styles during World War II are encouraged to visit the collection where the material not yet digitised may be examined.

  • Level: Sub-fonds
  • Extend and medium: 100,000 text records; 11,000 photogaphs; 200 architectural plans and drawings
  • Date: 1940 through to 1960; primarily 1947 through to 1957
  • Reference code: WM1/BF

Contains (5 records)