A Grade II listed building is earmarked for redevelopment by a charity run by Prince Charles, the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, Stoke on Trent is one of the city’s most historic buildings and could be secured as part of a £6.2 million regeneration plan by the charity.
Erected by R Edgar and John Lockwood Kipling (father of Rudyard), the striking edifice of the Wedgwood Institute took six years to complete. Built with funds raised by public subscription to make arts, science and literature available to all, the foundation stone was laid by future Prime Minister, William Gladstone on 26th October 1863. The building was designed as the main centre for arts activity in the six towns of the Potteries.
The Institute was highly successful and extended in to two new wings before the demand for art education necessitated the building of a new School of Art on the road opposite. The Institute continued as a successful seat of learning in its own right throughout the 20th century before becoming an annex for Staffordshire University and then Stoke on Trent college. The college ceased using the Institute in late 1993, leaving only the library in residence.
A Burslem council spokesperson commented, “The property has deteriorated to an exceptionally poor condition, resulting in a large catalogue of required emergency building & repairs to be carried out”.
The Prince’s Regeneration Trust’s vision is that redundant historic sites that are at risk of demolition or decay be rescued, regenerated and reused for the benefit of the surrounding community. They believe that to restore historic places in to active and relevant community assets is not only possible, it is the most sustainable approach to regeneration.
The charity works throughout the United Kingdom, focusing on projects mostly in socially and economically deprived areas, where the benefit of regeneration will be the greatest. Where possible, they also work with other charities from the Prince of Wales’ group of charities, in areas such as the built environment, education, creativity, business and the community.
The charity run by The Prince of Wales is also behind the current restoration at Middleport Pottery and Chief Executive of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, Ros Kerslake said, “We’ve been interested in finding a solution to the Wedgwood Institute for many years. We had actually started to look at it before we got involved with Middleport Pottery because we think it’s a very important site, right in the middle of town. It’s tragic to see a beautiful building like Wedgwood not being used”.
Historian Fred Hughes also added, “The Wedgwood Institute is one of the key historic buildings in Stoke on Trent. We need to find a way to get people using it as it has so much heritage attached to it”.
The Prince’s Regeneration Trust has worked on many sites in the past including Armagh Gaol, Cardigan Castle and Bletchley Park.