Writing An American Tourist Guide To England a few months back set me thinking about how much many of us take for granted our own country, preferring to visit Notre Dame Cathedral instead of Salisbury, The Prado instead of The Tate, ignoring our wonderful Industrial Museums, and having no idea of the significance of Magna Carta, Mappa Mundi or even where to find them. I suppose it was this sort of ignorance or myopia that led the Labour MP for Wolverhampton Eleanor Smith to sound off about the flag representing The Black Country of the Industrial Midlands of England to be racist!
Thus was born The Two Doctors Tour of England, a personal list of things and places we want to see, divided into 5 geographical areas that will take us several months to visit.
Area #1: The Industrial Midlands, The Potteries
The Gladstone Pottery first opened in 1787 and continued production up to 1974 when it closed as a factory and opened as a Museum. We first visited with our children in the early 1980s having been inspired by Arnold Bennett’s classic Anna of The Five Towns set in a Victorian pottery factory in Industrial middle England. Longton is one of the five towns making up The Potteries, (Stoke is the 6th!) and the Museum with it’s carefully preserved bottle kilns is set right in the heart of the town.
As well as the bottle kilns you can walk through engine rooms, workshops for saggar making, see pots being thrown, and watch highly skilled painting of ornaments such as birds, flowers, plates, vases, bowls……
Probably the favourite of the younger visitor however is the Toilet Gallery proving that Thomas Crapper WAS a real person who revolutionised toilets and toilet humour too!