| Index of all listed buildings |


Burslem - The Wedgwood Institute
Burslem - The Wedgwood Institute
pen drawing by Neville Malkin - July 1974

-click picture for more-


Listed Buildings in Stoke-on-Trent and area

Wedgwood Institute, Queen Street, Burslem

Queen Street
Heritage No.
Date Listed
19 April 1972
Building: Former Wedgwood Institute (now public library)
Description:  1869 Venetian Gothic style, Red brick with Terracotta dressings.


Wedgwood Institute, Queen Street, Burslem
Wedgwood Institute, Queen Street, Burslem

photo: Steve Birks - Dec 1999

The striking edifice of the Wedgwood Institute was erected by R. Edgar and John Lockwood Kipling (father of Rudyard Kipling) and took six years to complete. 

Public Library, the former Wedgwood Institute, built as a library, art school etc in 1869.

Original plans prepared by G.B. Nichols of Wolverhampton, design modified by Robert Egar and J. Lockwood Kipling. Brick with terracotta dressings and plain tiled roof. 2 storeys, a richly ornamented facade with central doorway in slightly advanced gabled porch enriched with terracotta frieze and shafts to arched entry, flanked by busts in shallow niches, and with tiles around the archway. It is surmounted by a bust of Josiah Wedgwood.

Windows  form a continuous arcade on both storeys, and between the storeys, are 10 bass relief terracotta panels by M.H. Blanchard or Rowland Morris which depict processes in the manufacture of pottery.

Above the upper windows, a further series of terracotta panels set in arcading illustrate the months of the year, and over them, a further arcade with mosaic signs of the zodiac. Heavy eaves cornice carried on console brackets with a terracotta frieze of pierced quatrefoils above. The architectural ornamentation, though not the applied sculpture, continues round the side elevations for several bays.

 (The Buildings of England: N. Pevsner: Harmondsworth: The Victoria History of the Counties of England: RB Pugh: Staffordshire: Oxford).

  on the Wedgwood Institute Building

Queen Street is named after the pottery ware Wedgwood made for Queen Charlotte in 1765. 

The Institute stands on the site of the Brick House pottery works which was rented by Josiah Wedgwood from 1762 to 1770 - this was the second of his potworks in Burslem (the first being the Ivy House works).

The foundation stone was laid by future Prime Minister - William Gladstone on 26 October 1863. The frontage of the Institute contains twelve huge terracotta tiles depicting the months of the year. Also displayed are the carvings of the people of the Potteries performing their different skills, together with a statue of Josiah Wedgwood. 

The Institute was built with funds raised by public subscription to make arts, science and literature available to all, not just the rich who had previously had the only access. It was also designed to be the main centre for arts activity in the Six Towns of the Potteries. 

During the late nineteenth century the Institute played its part in producing ceramic artist, William Moorcroft; author, Arnold Bennett; and pioneer of radio, Oliver Lodge. The Institute also features regularly in the works of Arnold Bennett. 

The Institute continued as a successful seat of learning in its own right through most of the 20th Century before becoming an annex for Staffordshire University and most recently Stoke-on-Trent College. In 1993 the building was inspected in the light of new fire escape regulations and its use was consequently restricted to the ground floor. The College ceased using of the Institute later that year leaving only the Library in residence.

Statue of Josiah Wedgwood over the entrance to the Wedgwood Institute
Statue of Josiah Wedgwood over the entrance to the Wedgwood Institute
The statue of Josiah Wedgwood was not added until 1873
photo: Dec 1999

On the upper storey a series of twelve terracotta panels set in arcading illustrate the months of the year, and above them mosaic signs of the zodiac.

Between the storeys are ten relief terracotta panels which depict the processes involved in the manufacture of pottery.
The process panels depict crowded scenes in pottery workshops.

Signor Salviati executed the zodiac mosaics

on the month panels


Arnold Bennett's inclusion of the Wedgwood Institute in his novels.......

The side of the Wedgwood Institute is in 'Clayhanger Street' (after Arnold Bennett's novel of the same name).

In Bennett's novels the small passageway was called 'Buggs Gutter"

On the 1898 map this passage is named 'Baker Street' 

The Wedgwood Institute featured in Arnold Bennett's novels as 'The School of Art'

photos: Steve Birks - Dec 1999


next: School of Art, Queen Street, Burslem
previous: Shop Premises, Queen Street, Burslem

| Index of all listed buildings |
| Tunstall | Burslem | Hanley | Stoke | Fenton | Longton | Other areas |