Archaeological dig to solve puzzle of Stoke-on-Trent pottery’s lost bottle ovens

Archaeologists are bidding to dig up two lost bottle ovens at one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most treasured potteries. Up to 10 volunteer residents at a time are being sought to work alongside staff and volunteers from Stoke-on-Trent City Council to look for two biscuit ovens, which were originally part of a row of three in the courtyard at Middleport Pottery.

Only one is still standing, while the two being excavated are thought to have been knocked down by 1974. It is hoped that the excavation will uncover the foundation levels of the two demolished biscuit ovens, revealing more about their construction and operation.

The excavation is taking place every week day until Friday, September 22. Volunteers – who must be over 18 – will help excavate an area, roughly 4.5 metres by 9 metres in size, of the courtyard at Middleport Pottery using hand tools and help to process and record any findings.

The work forms part of the Stoke-on-Trent Ceramic Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) project, which is a five-year-long heritage regeneration programme focused on the city’s bottle ovens and the Longton Town Centre Conservation Area.

READ: Bid to preserve Stoke-on-Trent’s last 47 bottle ovens – here’s the list

Councillor Duncan Walker, cabinet member for planning, climate change and regeneration, said: “This is a really exciting project. The findings from this dig will help us to understand more about the city’s heritage and our industrial past, which we are so widely known for.

“This is a community project and we are keen to involve our residents in this unique opportunity to uncover a piece of Stoke-on-Trent’s history.

“I would like to reassure residents that this excavation will be handled extremely sensitively. We want to ensure that we can preserve and maintain these remains for generations to come. I’d also like to extend my thanks to Middleport Pottery for enabling us to carry out this excavation and supporting with the logistics of it.”

Only 10 places are available per day and anyone wishing to volunteer should email Members of the public are welcome to come and watch the dig taking place in the courtyard.

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