Festival of Bottle Ovens


For the 8 weeks of August and September 2018 the rich heritage of The Potteries Bottle Oven was celebrated with a wide variety of activities and events. There was something for everyone. 

   WHAT WENT ON IN AUGUST  2018   


Wednesday 01 August
FESTIVAL & EXHIBITION OPENS - THE LAST BOTTLE OVEN FIRING
Opening at 10:30 by Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Councillor Lilian Dodd

EXHIBITION: 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 little 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 and book signing at Gladstone Pottery Museum 
'BOTTLE  OVENS and the Story of the FINAL FIRING'
Written and compiled by Terry Woolliscroft and Pam Woolliscroft

The local evening paper, The Evening Sentinel, in its headline of 23 August 1978, described The Last Bottle Oven Firing as "AMONG THE CITY'S MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS" 

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

£12.99 from Gladstone Pottery Museum shop
More details here


The book was planned, researched, written, designed, printed, published and distributed entirely in Stoke-on-Trent. Produced with the generous support of the Friends of The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

Smokin' ...
Bottle ovens at Gladstone Pottery Museum
made to smoke again to celebrate the start of the 8-week Festival

Wednesday 1 August
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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum. Included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Wednesday 1 August
Bottle Oven Art
David Brammeld
Pop-up art exhibition presented by Trent Art Gallery in the Gladstone tunnel.
Original paintings by local artists. Paintings are for sale.
Art by @flowerboxorguk @DavidBrammeld @ian_mood among others
Gladstone Pottery Museum. Included with museum admission
10am – 4pm.

Thursday 2 August
Middleport Poppies Bottle Oven
A cascade of several thousand handmade ceramic poppies coming from the chimney of Middleport's bottle oven.
2 August – 16 September
FREE but booking essential

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, 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11am – 4pm.

Friday 3 and Saturday 4 August
Willow Weaving:
Apologies event postponed one week
Now : Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August ( see below)

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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11am – 12.30pm and 1.15 – 3pm. 
£1 plus admission.

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. Gladstone Pottery Museum 2pm
Admission to this event is free and normal admission applies to the museum. 
Please call 01782 237777 to book your place.

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

Friday 10 and Saturday 11 August
Willow Weaving: Potter's Ware baskets

Ware baskets were used in all departments in a pottery factory
to move pots from process to process.
See our expert willow weaver demonstrate her skills to create a replica of the baskets used to transport pottery around the factory. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 
Included with museum admission, 11am – 4pm.

Saturday 11 August
OATCAKES ALL ROUND! Double Bill

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. Words by Richard Howells, Anthem by Bob Wilson 1976. Performed by Stoke Original Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the late night show: Dr Music’s Special Mixture. Also on the LP  'A Souvenir From Stoke' and performed on BBC TV shows of Dr M in 1978. UNMISSABLE

Gladstone Pottery Museum 
These events are free and normal admission applies to the rest of the museum. 
Please call 01782 237777 to book.

The Oatcake Smile!

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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11am – 4pm
Suitable for all ages and included with museum admission.

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. 
Starts at Gladstone Pottery Museum 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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 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.
Gladstone Pottery Museum 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
BOTTLE OVEN TALKS : 
DOUBLE BILL :  
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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 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 oosters, 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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 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. Gladstone Pottery Museum, 11am – 4pm.
Included with museum admission

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', Phil Rowley
Tours are free and will leave Gladstone Pottery Museum at 10.30am, 12noon, 2pm & 3.30pm.



Wednesday 29 August
POTTERIES BOTTLE OVEN DAY!Every August 29th - The day the last bottle oven was kindled
Pam Bott kindles Firemouth No.1, 29 August 1978 
On 29 August 1978 a traditional Potteries bottle oven was kindled and fired, with coal, for the very last time. The event was organised by staff and 72 volunteers at Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent. The bottle oven in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, was filled with over 1000 saggars containing specially made commemorative pottery. The eight firemouths around the oven were then filled with rolled newspaper, dry wooden sticks and a 4cwt (200kgs) layer of coal. The date when the firemouths were kindled (set alight) was 29 August 1978 and this is now known as Potteries Bottle Oven day.

The firing was an outstanding success. The resulting pottery was fired to perfection. No exaggeration. The glazed surface was lustrous and bright. But a bottle oven will never kindled again. It would contravene the Clean Air Acts and now, all the remaining bottle ovens (there are fewer than 50) are just too fragile. The day the oven was kindled is so special for the people of The Potteries.

Wednesday 29 August
THE REUNION 
2pm - 4.30pm at Gladstone Pottery Museum
During Potteries Bottle Oven day some of the volunteers who made the final firing happen in 1978 will be at Gladstone Pottery Museum to chat with families of the original volunteers about their experiences during the unique event.




Wednesday 29 August
Summer Holiday Craft Activity:  Bottle Oven Badge Making


Celebrate Potteries Bottle Oven Day and create your own bottle oven badge, in our drop-in workshop, to take home
Gladstone Pottery Museum, 11am – 4pm.
Suitable for all ages and included with museum admission

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, 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11am – 4pm.

Friday 31 August
Silk Painting: Bottle Oven cards
Try painting on silk to create you very own bottle oven card to take home. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11.30am – 3.30pm
Included with museum admission and suitable for all ages and abilities.

   WHAT WENT ON IN SEPTEMBER 2018     

Bottle Oven Dictionary Trail

Tuesdays – Saturdays during September
Pottery production has a language of its own with lots of unusual words and phrases. In this trail you can learn about saggars, thimbles, bonts and more while you search for them around the museum. Free pencil and entry into a prize draw for everyone who takes part. £1 plus admission.


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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 10am – 12.30pm or 1 – 3.30pm
£25 per person (includes museum admission). 
Please call 01782 237777 to book.

Thursday 6 September
Gladstone's Heritage Film Double Bill
1) Echoes of a Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker
2) Potbank -  the Story of the Last Bottle Oven Firing
Watch two historic films about the pottery industry and the Last Bottle Oven Firing. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum. Showings at 11am and 2pm.
This event is free, normal admission applies to the rest of the museum.


Thursday 6 September
Visit the Bottle Ovens at the Enson Works
10am till 4pm, Core, Normacot Road, Longton Stoke-on-Trent ST3 1PR


Friday 7 September
Longton Heritage Walk the Ovens:  BOOKING ESSENTIAL 
Join Jane Corfield and Jon Goodwin of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Heritage Team for a walking tour of Longton Conservation Area. 

The tour will take in the key elements of the conservation area and outline its history and development. 
Participants will also have the opportunity to visit the Phoenix Works and CoRE facility at the Enson Works to see first-hand the results of heritage-led regeneration.  

Leaving the Gladstone Shop at 2pm. 
This event is free and normal admission charges apply to the rest of the museum. 
Please call 01782 237777 to book your place


Saturday 8 September
ENTIRELY FREE - Don't miss it!
Gladstone Pottery Museum flings open its doors for Heritage Open Day
As part of the national celebration of our heritage Gladstone Pottery Museum we will be waiving its admission fee and it will be free to visit our award winning museum. Visit the Last Bottle Oven Firing Exhibition - free
You can also browse craft stalls from local makers in our cobbled courtyard at our annual craft fair. 
Admission free.  


Saturday 8 September
Dudson Museum Bottle Oven Bonanza, Hanley
View the museum in a bottle oven and the Dudson Ceramics Collection during this special Saturday opening of  The Dudson Museum for Heritage Open Days. There will also be activities for children and the young at heart in our ‘Bottle Oven Bonanza’. 
10am - 3pm
The Dudson Museum, The Dudson Centre, Hope Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs. ST1 5DD

Sunday 9 September 
Biking to Bottle Ovens
9.30 start  BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Potteries Heritage Society event: www.potteries.org.uk
Join Potteries Heritage Society and our partners for a pleasant morning cycle taking in 20 bottle ovens in the north of the city.  Local experts and experienced cyclists will be on hand to guide you through the 12-mile route and to relate the history and heritage of these local icons.
Starting at 9.30 Central Forest Park, Hanley
Numbers are limited.  Booking essential: barr48@btopenworld.com

Thursday 13 September
Gladstone's Heritage Film Double Bill 
1) Echoes of a Saggar Makers Bottom Knocker 
2) Potbank -  the Story of the Last Bottle Oven Firing
Watch two amazing and important recently digitised historic films about the pottery industry and the Last Bottle Oven Firing. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum. 
Showings at 11am and 2pm.
This event is FREE, but normal admission applies to the rest of the museum.

Friday 14 September
Historic Walk of Longton with Phil Rowley
11am  BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Lasting around an hour and a half and taking in some of the remaining bottle ovens of Longton the walk is an ideal way of learning more about the history of the town, taking in landmarks along the way. The current buildings tell the industrial tale of the development of the area and the important role it played in the pottery industry. 
Beginning at the Gladstone Shop at 11am, the walk is free of charge. 
Please book by calling 01782 237777.


Friday 14 September
Salt, Pepper and Vinegar: Three Ovens in Fenton
Visit the James Kent Ceramic Materials Bottle Ovens. 
Opening only for heritage Open Day. Free.
1pm - 5pm 
James Kent, Fountain Street, Fenton, ST4 2HB

Saturday 15 September
Incredible Women of the Potteries
Join us for a special, themed guided tour of Gladstone Pottery Museum site exploring some of the incredible women who worked in the pottery industry. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11am
Normal museum admission applies. 
Please call us on 01782 237777 to book.


Monday 17 September and all week
How to Build a Bottle Oven!


See students and staff of Stoke-on-Trent College (Burslem) demonstrating the techniques of how these great structures were built. 

Typically around 60ft high (and some up to 70 ft) with a base diameter of 24ft, their construction relied on skills which are far less common today. Curved bricks, tapered bricks, insulating bricks, blue engineering bricks and fire bricks were used, and scaffolding, as we know it in a modern sense, was minimal. Large tapered structures like these required very skilled craftsmen and many unusual construction and building tools to create the bottle shapes required. 

Building will done on the Gladstone car park. FREE Normal admission applies to the rest of the museum.


Wednesday 19 September
THE LAST FIRING, EVER!
40th ANNIVERSARY FILM SHOW
Free screening at the Film Theatre

In the week of the last ever firing of a Bottle Oven in 1978, organised by the Gladstone Pottery Museum, this is a screening of newly digitised and restored original filming of the background, preparations and actual events of this marvellous achievement.
Film Theatre, College Rd, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2EF
7.45pm. Bar open from 7.00pm. 
Ticket-free – No booking required
Free parking adjacent to Film Theatre - enter from College Road opposite Queen Anne Street


Friday 21 September
Walk the Ovens
BOOKING ESSENTIAL  This walk was over subscribed when we did it in August
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. 
Gladstone Pottery Museum 2pm. 
This event is free, please call 01782 237777 to book a place.


Friday and Saturday 21 - 22 September
CLAY, SMOKE and FIRE
TWO FULL DAYS OF FESTIVAL FIRING EXTRAVAGANZA!

Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the last firing of a bottle oven with two days of spectacular and very special activities, including additional demonstrations of pottery skills and smoking ovens



In the Gladstone Pottery Museum yard and workshops. Including the Festival of Bottle Ovens Exhibition - see what went on at the final firing. Normal museum admission applies.


Saturday 22 September
Urban Sketchers and Bottle Ovens
The Urban Sketchers Stoke will be doing their thing and sketching at Gladstone Pottery Museum.
Join members of the local Urban Sketchers group to draw at Gladstone. 
Be inspired by the buildings, bottle ovens and courtyard and get sketching!  
Paper, pencils and clipboards provided.
Gladstone Pottery Museum
Normal admission applies.

Wednesday 26 September
Potbank and Firing Films
A chance to see films showing firing in traditional bottle-ovens in the Potteries, together with photos and other related information. With Phil Rowley
Gladstone Pottery Museum 11am.
This event is free, normal admission applies to the rest of the museum.

Saturday 29 September
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.
Gladstone Pottery Museum 2pm
Admission to this event is free but normal admission applies to the rest of the museum. 
To book your place please call 01782 237777.


The Festival of Bottle Ovens 2018 
With generous support from 
The Friends of The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
Stoke-on-Trent City Council 
and members of the organising team 


History of Hudson and Middleton, Sutherland Works, Longton

Hudson and Middleton's Factory, Longton, Stoke on Trent  was the site of The Last Bottle Oven Firing in 1978. This is a marketing film from 2014. See the history and processes of Hudsons of England, manufacturers of 100% British handmade fine bone china mugs since 1875.
Published on 11 Nov 2014