Public Monuments and Sculpture in Stoke-on-Trent & Newcastle-under-Lyme
Public Monuments and Sculpture in Stoke-on-Trent & Newcastle-under-Lyme

|  Index of all Stoke-on-Trent art |


Statue of Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) by Edward Davis.
at Barlaston

Location:  Outside the Wedgwood Visitor Centre 
Installed: 1957                        
Commissioned by:
  Josiah Wedgwood Ltd.


The Wedgwood Visitor Centre at the Barlaston pottery factory 
The Wedgwood Visitor Centre at the Barlaston pottery factory 


Josiah Wedgwood I, holding a replica of the Portland Vase
Josiah Wedgwood I, holding a replica of the Portland Vase

this was the second bronze taken from the mould, cast in 1957
the first bronze was installed in 1863 in Winton Square opposite the railway station in Stoke

photo: Salfordgareth -  Creative Commons Licence 



Alongside the statue is a notice which reads:


This replica statue was cast in the 1950s and depicts
the founder of Wedgwood, Josiah Wedgwood I, holding
his most famed production, the Portland Vase.
The first statue was sculpted by Edward Davies and
cast in bronze in 1860. In 1862 it was displayed at the
International Exhibition where it was seen by over six
million visitors. On 24th February 1863 it was erected
outside Stoke-on-Trent Railway station where it still
resides today welcoming visitors to the city.



Wedgwood is depicted wearing the formal dress of the period, including frock coat, buckled shoes, stockings, knee breeches and wig. In his left hand, he holds a copy of the Portland Vase, a Roman artefact in glass, of which his Burslem Manufactory made 50 reproductions in 1790.


Background to the sculpture:
In the mid 1950's an employee of Stoke on Trent Council noticed the plaster statue used for the original casting of the figure of Josiah Wedgwood outside Stoke on Trent Railway Station (installed 1863) in a storage depot. He mentioned this to his wife, Mrs Elsie Daley, who was an employee of the Wedgwood factory in Barlaston, and she in turn placed a note in the firm's suggestion box proposing that the statue be rescued and sited somewhere near the Barlaston factory site.

After extensive repairs by Wedgwood's chief modeller, Eric Owen, including the replacement of missing fingers, a broken arm and leg, and a damaged skirt to the jacket, the application of aluminium paint and coloured pigments, the pseudo-bronze was erected outside the factory offices in 1956. The Directors then decided on a more durable replacement which led to the plaster statue being sent to the Corinthian Bronze Company in Peckham within the year. The statue was recast, again in bronze, and by the autumn of 1957 the new bronze was in place in front of the Barlaston offices.

Originally the statue faced the building, but was later turned round to face the Factory Showrooms. In 1999 the decision was taken to relocate the bronze in the centre of the new piazza, where Sir Josiah now greets all visitors to the Wedgwood Story, an interpretive centre set up by the company.


About the subject:
Josiah Wedgwood I (1730-1795) was born in Burslem, now one of the six towns of 'the Potteries' or Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.

He belonged to the fourth generation of a family of potters. After completing an apprenticeship, he worked in the family business until about 1749 and then in partnership with other potters until the early 1760s. He set up as an independent potter in 1759, opening a successful manufactory in Burslem. In 1769 He set up another one near Hanley, which he called 'Etruria' in the incorrect belief that Greek vases were Etrusacan in origin. Etruria, which initially only manufactured his ornamental vases before his 'useful' ware was transferred there in 1771, included a model factory, workers' village and mansion.

He was outstanding throughout his life in his scientific approach to pottery making and research into materials, marketing, industrial design, labour relations and welfare. He became internationally known for his high-quality ceramics, including creamware and jasperware.

A relief in Stoke Church by John Flaxman (1755-1826) records that he, 'converted a rude and inconsiderable Manufactory into an elegant Art and An important part of the National Commerce'.




Part of work





2.4m high x 90cm wide x 85cm deep



70cm x 7cm x 2cm


Brick with granite edge

3m diameter x 10cm high

Lower plinth

Brick with granite edge

6.6m diameter x 11cm high



related pages.. 

Statue of Wedgwood at Winton Square, Stoke

Etruria today, Barlaston tommorrow