Prince Charles visitsed factories in Stoke on Trent and West Wales this week in support of textile and pottery makers
It was great to see that Prince Charles has paid a series of visits to UK factories over the past week to show his continuing commitment to the heritage of manufacturing in the UK.
On the 24th June the Prince of Wales paid a visit to Stoke on Trent to see the world-famous Burleigh Pottery to witness the results of a three year restoration programme that has ensured the future of the UK’s last remaining working Victorian ceramic factory.
In 2011 the factory looked set to close, with dozens of workers losing their jobs, until the Prince’s Regeneration Trust stepped in to save it. The building has now been restored and the working part of the pottery is now in one half, whilst the other half has been made into a visitor centre enabling people to learn about the processes that go into the production of Burleigh ware. The pottery still uses some of the same techniques that it has done for over 100 years.
Although the working factory now takes up less space in the original building than before, its rescuers are keen to point out that the manufacturing side of the pottery is still very much the main focus of the business.
“I take strong exception to the notion that Middleport is a working museum,” said Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust. “It’s not. People may be employing some of the same craft techniques as 100 years ago, but there are forklift trucks in constant operation. “This is, without question, a manufacturing site.”
In the four years since the PRT have owned the business sales of Burleigh pottery have doubled and 19 new employees have been added.
Following on from his visit to the pottery, Prince Charles visited a woollen mill in West Wales this week to celebrate the revival of the textile industry in that part of the British Isles. Of course, the heir in line to the throne already has an interest in all things woollen, being a patron of the Campaign for Wool, which aims to raise awareness amongst consumers of the benefits of buying wool. So it is a logical next step that he should also take an interest in where and how a lot of these woollen products are made.
The Prince’s visit to the Melin Tregwynt Woollen Mill in Castlemorris, West Wales, was organised by Creative Skillset Cymru, the industry skills body for the Creative Industries in Wales. Their ‘Making it in Wales’ event aimed to highlight the growth of the Welsh textile industry, and in particular the first Fashion and Textiles Apprenticeship Programme in Wales.
Prince Charles said of his visit to the mill:
“It is also wonderful to see a business with these remarkable skills and the products, because we have gone through a long period of not recognising just how easy it is to lose these skills, when generations become old and disappear,” said the Prince.
“We already face a crisis and black hole in terms of engineering skills in the country. It is so important to remember the textile sectors. I was particularly pleased to see a business reviving those skills.”
It is great to see that the heir to the throne is taking an interest in some of our oldest manufacturing industries. Let’s hope that this continues, and helps to raise awareness of the opportunities that are available within manufacturing for those considering a career within the industry.