Festival of Bottle Ovens

PROGRAMME and DIARY OF ACTIVITIES




It's been 40 YEARS since a BOTTLE OVEN was FIRED in THE POTTERIES. 

From these curious, huge, filthy and dangerous, brick-built and iron-strapped structures came the most exquisite, delicate and utterly beautiful pottery in the world. But a bottle oven will never be fired again. 

For the two months of August and September 2018 Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, will celebrate the rich heritage of The Potteries Bottle Oven. At their peak over 2000 bottle ovens dominated the skyline of the City of Stoke-on-Trent. They created the very character of The Potteries. Today only 29 biscuit and glost bottle ovens remain standing. And two thirds of those are within a short walk of Gladstone Pottery Museum.

Gladstone’s Festival of Bottle Ovens aims to bring to life the rich heritage of the Potteries Bottle Oven. 

  PROGRAMME  OF ACTIVITIES       

   AUGUST  2018   




A wide variety of activities has been arranged. There is something for everyone.

Wednesday 01 August
EXHIBITION OPENS - THE LAST BOTTLE OVEN FIRING
At Gladstone Pottery Museum - Tuesdays to Saturdays, during August and September 2018.
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the last time a bottle oven was fired in Stoke-on-Trent this display has been curated by those who took part in 1978. It gives an insight into the process of preparing, placing, firing and drawing an oven. It features examples of the pottery fired, promotional material and even clothes worn by the volunteers who made it happen. What happened? Where did it happen? Who made it happen? How did it happen? What were the results?

Wednesday 01 August
BOOK LAUNCH
'BOTTLE  OVENS and the Story of the FINAL FIRING'
Written and compiled by Terry Woolliscroft and Pam Woolliscroft

The Last Bottle Oven Firing was one of the most important cultural events in the City of Stoke-on-Trent during the 20th Century. A big assertion, perhaps. But over nine days in August 1978, almost 12,000 visitors squeezed through narrow passages in a tiny potbank in Longton to witness how a typical bottle oven was kindled and fired, controlled and cajoled, for the final time. 

This new book, compiled by two of the organisers of the final firing in 1978, tells the full story of the final firing. The details are drawn from contemporary audio and film recordings, photos taken by a Gladstone volunteer, committee meeting minutes, surviving notebooks, the event log book, media reports, management reports and remarkable recollections of some of the 72 volunteers involved.



Wednesday 01August
Toby Jugg
Travel back in time and meet ‘Toby Jugg’, our costumed storyteller. Hear his tales about what it was really like to work in our bottle ovens. Included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Thursday 2 August
Bottle Oven Circuits - Light up your Bottle Oven
Make a working paper circuit in the shape of a bottle oven and connect it to make it light up! Suitable for all ages and included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Friday 3 and Saturday 4 August
Willow Weaving - Potter's Ware baskets
See an expert willow weaver demonstrate their skill and create a replica of the baskets used to transport pottery around the factory. Included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Potter's ware baskets for the oven and warehouse


Wednesday 08 August
Historic Buildings of Longton
Join us for an illustrated talk which highlights some of the significant buildings in Longton and their history. 2pm, admission to this event is free and normal admission applies to the museum. Please call 01782 237777 to book your place.

Saturday 11 August
Oatcakes all Round!
11.30am. 
Celebrate Oatcake Day at Gladstone with ‘Baxstuns, Sprittles and Oats’, a historical review of the origins and development of the Staffordshire oatcake, from the Pennine moorlands to the Potteries by Dr. Pam Sambrook, historian and author of ‘The Staffordshire Oatcake – A History’. 
2.30pm 
Join Ray Johnson MBE to celebrate all things oatcake - the king of foods in Stoke-on-Trent. Witness the ancient ceremony of the Grand Order of Oatcake Tasters as performed down the centuries - ending with the immortal “Oatcake Anthem”. 

These events are free and normal admission applies to the rest of the museum, please call 01782 237777 to book.

The Oatcake Smile!

Tuesday 7 August
Summer Holiday Craft Activity - Bottle Oven Tiles
Be inspired by our beautiful ovens and make your own bottle oven tile out of clay to take home. 11am – 12.30pm and 1.15 – 3pm. £1 plus admission.

Friday 10 August
Silk Painted Bottle Oven Cards
Try painting on silk to create you very own bottle oven card to take home. 11.30am – 3.30pm, included with museum admission and suitable for all ages and abilities.

Wednesday 15 August
Summer Holiday Craft Activity - Print the Potteries
Use a variety of printing techniques to print your own Potteries skyline complete with bottle ovens in our drop-in workshop. Suitable for all ages and included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Wednesday 15 August
Walk the Ovens
Join us for a walk lasting approximately an hour to look at most of the remaining bottle-ovens in Longton, as well as a number of other interesting buildings. 2pm. This event is free, please call 01782 237777 to book a place.

Thursday 16 August
Go Wild at Gladstone
Take part in some adventurous activities with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts team.  Try fire-lighting in a safe and supervised environment and make a milk bottle birdfeeder in our drop-in craft workshop. 11am – 3pm, included with museum admission.

Saturday 18 August
Coiled Pot Making Workshop - Coil a Bottle Oven
Make your own decorative pot to take home with you by handbuilding and coiling clay. This hour and a half session includes help from our expert ceramicist,11am, £12 - includes museum admission. Please call 01782 237777 to book. It is possible to pay an additional £1.50 to have your pot fired.



Saturday 18 August
11am - Bottle Ovens – An Archaeologists View - Talk
Join Stoke-on-Trent City Archaeologist Jonathan Goodwin for an exploration of bottle ovens from the ground up. This event is free. 11am. Normal admission applies for entry to the rest of the museum. Please call 01782 237777 to book a place.
2pm - The Last Bottle Oven Firing - What happened? - Talk
Do you want to know what ousters, bungs, bonts and baitings are?  Kathy & Paul Niblett were members of the organising team for the last firing of a bottle oven, with coal, in 1978. Their fascinating talk covers the organisation behind this significant event and the challenges it involved. This event is free. 2pm. Normal admission applies for entry to the rest of the museum. Please call 01782 237777 to book a place.

Tuesday 21 August
Summer Holiday Craft Activity – Mini Bottle Ovens
Make your very own mini version of one of the famous Gladstone bottle ovens in our drop-in clay workshop. 11am – 12.20pm and 1.15pm – 3pm, £1 plus admission.

Wednesday 22 August
The Worst Jobs in Children’s History
Working in a potbank amongst the bottle ovens was a difficult job for children but was it the worst job in children’s history? Meet our costumed characters and find out some of the horrible and dangerous jobs children used to do. Included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Saturday 25 August
The Little Longton Bottle Oven Bus Tour
Join us on short tours to see most of the remaining bottle-ovens in Longton - and plenty of other interesting buildings in the town - on board a 1978 PMT double-decker bus. The bus will go past the bottle oven which was the last one ever to fired in The Potteries at Sutherland Works in Normacot Road, Longton. Information will be provided on-board by your 'conductor'. Tours are free and will leave Gladstone at 10.30am, 12noon, 2pm & 3.30pm.



Wednesday 29 August - POTTERIES BOTTLE OVEN DAY!

Potteries Bottle Oven Day - Every August 29th
During Annual Potteries Bottle Oven day some of the volunteers who made the final firing happen will be at Gladstone Pottery Museum to chat with visitors about their experiences during the unique event.




Wednesday 29 August
Summer Holiday Craft Activity - Bottle Oven Badge Making
Celebrate the Potteries Bottle Oven Day and create your own bottle oven badge to take home in our drop-in workshop. Suitable for all ages and included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Thursday 30 August
Bottle Oven Circuits - Light up your Bottle Oven
Make a working paper circuit in the shape of a bottle oven and connect it to make it light up! Suitable for all ages and included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Friday 31 August
Silk Painted Bottle Oven Cards
Try painting on silk to create you very own bottle oven card to take home. 11.30am – 3.30pm, included with museum admission and suitable for all ages and abilities.

   SEPTEMBER 2018    


Saturday 1 September
Raku Pottery Workshop - FIRING
Raku is a Japanese pottery firing process and in our hands-on sessions you can glaze and fire your own pot under the supervision of ceramicists from Labyrinth Arts.  Experience the excitement of an outdoor firing and produce your own ceramic masterpiece to take home with you. 10am – 12.30pm or 1 – 3.30pm, £25 per person (includes museum admission). Please call 01782 237777 to book.



Friday 7 September
Walking the local bottle ovens
Join Jane Corfield and Jon Goodwin for a walk of the ovens local to Gladstone Pottery Museum. - Details coming

Saturday 8 September
Gladstone Pottery Museum Heritage Open Day - Details coming

Monday 10 September - Friday 21 September
Oven Building  - Details coming

Wednesday 12 September
Walk the Ovens  Join us for a walk lasting approximately an hour - Details coming

Saturday 15 September
Incredible Women day- Details coming

Fortnight Commencing 10 September 
BOTTLE OVEN BUILDING
In Gladstone Pottery Museum car park

Friday and Saturday 21 - 22 September
CLAY, SMOKE and FIRE
For two never-to-be-repeated days, craft potters and firing experts together with and tutors and students from Clay College Stoke will work in the cobbled yard at Gladstone Pottery Museum to create CLAY SMOKE and FIRE, firing their gorgeous hand-crafted pottery. Bottle ovens cannot be used any more - their fragile condition prevents it - but our potters will show what they can do with pit fires, raku fires, paper fires and charcoal fires to turn crumbly clay into permanent pottery which is as hard as a rock. More details to come...

Raku firing in Gladstone's cobbled yard



Wednesday 26 September
Bottle Ovens on YouTube  - Details coming

Saturday 29 September
2pm - The Last Bottle Oven Firing - What happened - Talk
Your last chance to hear Kathy & Paul Niblett who were members of the organising team for the last firing of a bottle oven, with coal, in 1978. Their fascinating talk covers the organisation behind this significant event and the challenges it involved. 2pm, admission to this event is free and normal admission applies to the rest of the museum. To book your place please call 01782 237777.


   EXHIBITION CLOSES - THE LAST BOTTLE OVEN FIRING   


Clammins Down at the Last Bottle Oven Firing 1978