The museum's collections have been valued at £18m

Wedgwood collection could be sold

Sharon Heal and Rebecca Atkinson, 20.12.2011
Benefactors sought to help keep collection in situ
The High Court has ruled that the Wedgwood Museum’s collection can be sold off to help plug the company’s £130m pension deficit.

The Stoke-on-Trent museum was put into administration last year after Waterford Wedgwood Potteries collapsed and its £134m pension debt was transferred to the museum.

Bob Young and Steve Currie from Begbies Traynor, the joint administrators of the Wedgwood Museum Trust, made an application to the High Court to determine whether the collection, estimated to be worth up to £18m, could be considered as asset and therefore sold to pay off creditors.

Following a three-day hearing in September, the High Court has now ruled that the collection can be considered an asset of Waterford Wedgwood Potteries.

As such, the administrators have now been given the go-ahead to dispose of the collection to help pay off the deficit.

But Young said they would look to raise funds to keep the collection in situ at the museum.

“We have already held discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Victoria and Albert Museum, certain members of the Wedgwood family and other potential benefactors about raising funds,” he added.

“We will spend the next few months in intensive discussions with potential benefactors and the museum trustees to try to come up with a proposal that is acceptable to creditors.”

Alan Rubenstein, chief executive of the Pension Protection Fund, the body established to provide a guaranteed minimum level of pension payments to members of eligible pension funds and one of the museum's main creditors, said: "Our priority is to look after the best interests of our members and levy payers.

"However, we would not want to see this unique collection needlessly sold off and will be talking to the company administrators and others to find the best way forward for all involved.”

Wedgwood Museum won the £100,000 Art Fund Prize for museums in 2009 and was later given permission by the trustees of the prize to spend some of the money to keep itself afloat.

Despite being separate from the parent company for nearly 50 years, it became liable for the pension shortfall because five members of the Wedgwood Group Pension Plan scheme were employees of the museum. 


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21.12.2011, 22:24
What an absolute disgrace that High Court judges have ruled to sell off the Country's heritage, especially as only 5 employees of the Museum have pensions with Waterford Wedgwood. Josiah will be turning in his grave. The Collection was not the Company's to sell as the Museum had been a separate organisation for 50 years. What price Cultural heritage? clearly not much valued by judges.
21.12.2011, 17:50
I hope that something can be done to save these precious works of art. They are a national treasure that belong to the public. It would be a shame to let them be sold into private hands.
MA Member
21.12.2011, 16:44
John Caudwell's offer, made public in the press today, to save the collection for Stoke-on-Trent is to be welcomed but how sad that its future may have to depend on such philanthropy in the first place. What other collections may there be at risk in this way?