The United Kingdom Historic Building Preservation Trust (UKHBPT) and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT) are delighted to announce that plans to save and restore the Harper Street Houses in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent have moved a significant step nearer.
The project has been awarded a first-round pass*by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), including a development grant of £125,400 towards preparing a second round submission.
Harper Street is a terrace of eleven red-brick Victorian houses at risk of demolition located opposite the entrance to Middleport Pottery in the designated Trent & Mersey Canal conservation area in Stoke-on-Trent.
This conservation area has been described as being “of outstanding industrial archaeological importance, both nationally and locally”, due to the presence of early examples of England’s canal network and associated industrial buildings, which include Middleport Pottery.
The Harper Street Houses typify pottery workers’ houses built in Stoke-on-Trent in the late 1800s and are intrinsically linked to Middleport Pottery. It is likely that Harper Street was built at the same time or shortly after the construction of Middleport’s factory in 1888 and the corner house at one end of the row is known as the “Lodge Keeper’s House” of Middleport Pottery, as reportedly this was the home of Middleport’s lodge keeper and his family during the early twentieth century. The Lodge Keeper’s House retains much of its original layout.The houses are today the only row of terraced houses in the Trent & Mersey Canal Conservation Area not to have been either demolished or modernised for residential purposes.
The initial support from the HLF is evidence that the regeneration plans for Harper Street have the potential to deliver high-quality and lasting benefits to the local community and Stoke-on-Trent.
The restoration of the eleven Harper Street Houses by UKHBPT and PRT will create a community-focussed Heritage Centre and will contribute significantly to growing Middleport Pottery and Burslem’s reputation as a major visitor heritage destination.
The project will increase Middleport Pottery’s visitor offering by recreating the lodge keeper’s home in one of the terraced housesand provide a range of immersive activities for visitors to enjoy based on the daily experience of the lodge keeper’s family. An adjacent space will house regular exhibitions on home and work life.
A large purpose-finished Collections Research Centre will store and make accessible the growing archive and mixed collections of Middleport Pottery, including a unique set of privately-owned Burleighware, so far the largest known collection anywhere in the world. Within the Collections Research Centre, dedicated desk space will be installed for researchers and there will be numerous opportunities for student work placements and volunteer training in archive and collections management skills. An important part of the heritage interpretation of Harper Street will be researching and collecting together the social history of the local people who lived in Harper Street and Burslem through an oral history project. From a more practical point of view, the Heritage Centre will provide facilities for the local area that do not currently exist, including modern space for a range of community groups and four rentable workshop spaces strengthening Middleport Pottery’s role as a community hub.
UKHBPT and PRT now have up to two years to work on the development phase of the project prior to submitting a second-round application. The grant of £125,400 will help in the preparation of the conservation management plan, delivery plan, heritage interpretation, fundraising strategy and business plans for the site.
Vanessa Harbar, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said:
“We’re delighted that, with money raised by National Lottery players, we can support The Prince’s Regeneration Trust and UKHBPT in working towards the restoration of the Harper Street Houses, preserving the important industrial heritage of Stoke-on-Trent. We were impressed by the project’s exciting community-focused plans for the site and lookforward to working together on the next stage of the application.”