Wedgwood Museum in £34m redevelopment

Patrick Steel, 11.09.2013
But future of collection still in doubt
Stoke-on-Trent City Council last week granted planning permission to a £34m redevelopment of Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton’s (WWRD) factory complex at Barlaston, which will also see a new visitor centre and retail space and new front-of-house facilities and viewing galleries at the Wedgwood Museum, which shares the site with the factory.

The proposals will also see improved archive store facilities providing permanent visitor access to the reserve collection, and access to temporary exhibition space.

Anthony Jones, WWRD’s chief financial officer, told Museums Journal that the museum would remain a separate legal entity, and that the proposals were additional to the existing facilities which opened in 2008 with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

But the museum’s collection remains under threat of sale to meet a £135m pension deficit, inherited from the Wedgwood Pension Plan Trustee Limited which went into administration in 2009.

Jones said: “Whilst our plans do not address the complex issue of the future of the collection, we remain confident that it will remain at Barlaston. We recognise the importance of the collection and are working closely with the administrator to play our part in securing its future.”

Bob Young, the administrator at Begbies Traynor, said: “The case is still with lawyers. There is no further action at the moment.”

Work is expected to start next month with the new visitor experience fully operational by Easter 2015.