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Get inspired by summer time and the Great British holiday. Below you can find links to themed craft activities and discover some holiday souvenirs of years-gone-by.

Summer in the Collections

Summer in the Collections

Holiday and summer-themed objects in our collection
Outings and Holidays

Outings and Holidays

Photographs of the trips of yesteryear from Exploring the Potteries
Blog – “I do like to be beside the seaside…”

Blog – “I do like to be beside the seaside…”

Exploring the history of some of our seaside habits
The Art of the Seaside

The Art of the Seaside

Enjoy a range of seaside-inspired paintings from our collections via Art UK.
Design a Kite

Design a Kite

Design your own kite - print, colour and cut-out
Seaside Mobile

Seaside Mobile

Make and hang around your house for a reminder of summer all year round.
Summer Sunglasses

Summer Sunglasses

Make your own cool summer shades!
Punch and Judy Finger Puppets

Punch and Judy Finger Puppets

Print, colour, and cut-out your very own seaside puppet show!

CSI: Stoke

CSI: The Staffordshire Hoard | 2011 & 2013

CSI: The Staffordshire Hoard | 2011 & 2013

Discover more about our CSI event held in 2011 and 2013.
CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2015

CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2015

Find out more about our 2015 CSI event
CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2017

CSI: The Science of the Great War | 2017

Discover more about our CSI event in 2017.
CSI: The Scientific Legacy of WWI | 2018

CSI: The Scientific Legacy of WWI | 2018

Discover more about our 2018 event.


Stoke-on-Trent Young Archaeologists’ Club

PLEASE NOTE – our membership is fully subscribed, but get in touch if your child would like to be put on our waiting list.

We are looking for Volunteer Assistants to join us in running Stoke-on-Trent YAC. Find out more.

Stoke-on-Trent YAC is open to everyone aged 8–16 years. YAC clubs get involved in all sorts of activities, including visiting and investigating archaeological sites and historic places, trying out traditional crafts, taking part in excavations, and lots more.

Stoke-on-Trent YAC is based at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The club usually meets once a month. It is an affiliated club of the YAC network, and is run by staff and volunteers at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, which is run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Membership currently costs £24.00 per year and renews each January.

If you’d like to get involved with Stoke-on-Trent YAC, or find out more about how the club is run, get in touch with the team using the details below:

Contact: Joe Perry (Curator of Local History)
Tel: 01782 232539

You can find out more about Stoke-on-Trent YAC, and other branches, on the YAC website.

Stoke Museums launches new Website

Noticed a few changes around here? Stoke-on-Trent Museums has just launched its new and improved website. The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Gladstone Pottery Museum each has a new dedicated site in which you can find information about all of our upcoming events, exhibitions and blog stories from behind-the-scenes.

Please take the time to look around and be sure to let us know if you have any comments or questions about the new website.

“Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!”

The school holidays have officially started and while we may not be going abroad on holiday, many of us are looking forward to short breaks or days out in this country. The concept of a fortnight away in the sun is quite a modern one. It was not until 1938 that the Holidays with Pay Act introduced the right for certain groups of workers to have one week’s paid holiday per year. The outbreak of war the following year, with its interruption to travel within the UK, and many beaches out of bounds for fear of invasion, meant that family holidays were largely on hold until the late 1940s. It was only in the later 1960s, with the advent of affordable package holidays and cheap flights, that the majority of British families could even consider a foreign holiday.

However, from the late 18th century onwards, many towns had held annual holiday periods when an entire local industry closed down for a week or more. Often known as ‘Wakes Weeks’, in Stoke-on-Trent the holiday was known as “Potters’ Holiday” or just “Potters”. With the spread of the railway network across Britain local people, who could afford to do so, decamped en masse to popular seaside resorts in Lancashire or North Wales. There, for the duration of the Potters’ Holiday period it was possible to buy imported copies of the local Staffordshire paper – and, for those who were self-catering, the all-important Staffordshire oatcakes.

“Summer” tile panel, painted by Albert Slater, Minton Hollins & Co., Stoke-upon-TRent, Staffordshire, 1880s

“Oh I do like to walk along the Prom, Prom, Prom” The popularity of these holiday resorts with their safe seaside bathing beaches can be seen in this tile panel of “Summer” made by the firm of Minton Hollins & Co. One of a set of four, depicting the Seasons, it shows a scene at the seaside, probably Llandudno, which was a becoming a popular holiday destination in the 19th century for Staffordshire holiday makers. In the foreground a street musician carries a Welsh triple harp, a bather wrings out a towel and another man stands looking out to sea. In the background bathing machines have been pulled down to the sea to protect the modesty of the (male) bathers as they change and enter the water. Sea bathing in England was segregated by gender until 1901, after which the use of bathing machines rapidly declined, bathing costumes became compulsory, and mixed bathing became popular.

Punch & Judy figures by William Kent. Burslem, Staffordshire, early 20th century

That’s The Way to Do It!” Once at the seaside, holiday makers wanted entertaining and Mr Punch has been part of the British seaside since the 19th century but his roots go back much further. In 1662 the diarist Samuel Pepys recorded seeing a puppet show featuring the character ‘Pulcinello’ – whose name was subsequently anglicised to ‘Punch’ and by the late 18th century there were many such shows to be seen in London and other large towns. These early shows featured marionettes – puppets suspended from strings – rather than the more familiar glove puppets of today and a fixed performance area, but by the early 18th century glove puppets and a portable cloth covered booth had become the norm. 

At first Punch, like his Italian namesake Pulcinello, wore white, but he soon developed his distinctive striped costume and hat, adapted from a traditional English jester’s outfit. His wife was originally called Joan, not Judy, and his main adversary was the Devil, rather than the Crocodile. These early shows were most commonly seen in the streets of towns and villages and many travelled from fair to fair around the country. With the development of seaside resorts in the mid-19th century Mr Punch moved to the beaches, promenades and piers to entertain the crowds of holiday makers and all the elements of a traditional Punch and Judy show were in place – including the Policeman, the baby, the Crocodile and his sausages.

Despite being criticised over the years for their violence and anarchy, Punch and Judy shows remain popular with both children and adults and a few years ago they were listed as one of the twelve most important British icons, alongside Stonehenge, Routemaster buses and Alice in Wonderland.  Despite their well-publicised marital difficulties Punch and his wife are still together 350 years after they first came to England.

Detail from an advertisement for Arcadian Ware china novelty figures, c.1924

“By the Sea, by the Sea, by the Beautiful Sea!” What would the seaside be without bathing – whether sea bathing or sun bathing? Despite their popularity, both are comparatively new activities. Sea bathing to benefit health was prescribed by doctors from the late 18th century. It was regarded as a dangerous activity only to be undertaken under careful supervision by professional bathing women who would guide the bather into and out of the water from bathing machines that were drawn into the water and from which the bathers emerged without endangering their modesty. By the mid-19th century affordable train travel meant that far more people could visit the seaside. Sea bathing became more accessible and started to be seen as a pleasurable activity, rather than a medical recommendation. The advent of mixed bathing from the early 20th century and the gradual abandonment of bathing machines meant that the importance of practical – and attractive – bathing costumes became more important. At a period when women’s clothing covered them from neck to ankle, bathing costumes, which clearly revealed the figure, were regarded as daring. This detail from an advertisement from the firm of Arkinstall & Co, makers of Arcadian china novelty wares, illustrates their range of bathing beauties figures in the latest costumes suitable for the beach, and dates to around 1924.

“The Sunshine Girl”, modelled by Lesie Harradine, c.1929 Royal Doulton, Burselm, Staffordshire,

A slightly more upmarket version of the same idea is this lovely figure of the “Sunshine Girl”, designed by Leslie Harradine for Royal Doulton in 1929 and in production until 1938. In this instance the figure is protecting her pale complexion from the sun by sheltering under a Japanese paper parasol. Within a few years of this figure going into production sun-bathing and tanned skin were to become highly fashionable, something which has only recently started to change.

Potty Gardening Club: Dandelion – Friend or Foe?

Dandelions are one of the most successful plants in the world, they seem to grow anywhere! In the cracks of the pavement, in your lawn and flower bed, at the side of the road – in fact anywhere they can set roots down. We are all familiar with dandelion clocks, like the one in my photograph:

It’s the fluffy seed ball that separates into lots of tiny parachutes carried on the wind. If the tiny parachute seeds can land in a small crack a dandelion will grow. Dandelions are in the same plant family as the Daisy and the Sunflower. They are perennials, which means they will survive over winter and grow again. Their long taproots go deep into the ground where they are protected against the winter weather. The roots store food to provide the energy the plants need to sprout in early Spring the next year. It’s the very deep root of the dandelion which can grow up to 1.5 meters deep that make it so difficult for gardeners to pull the plants out of soil. Strangely these deep roots benefit other plants by mining nutrients deep in the soil, bringing them up closer to the surface where other shallower-rooted plants can make use of them. So, before we class the poor old dandelion as a weed let’s take a closer look.

There is a lot to be discovered about the dandelion. Let’s start with the name. If you hold a dandelion leaf horizontally and have a good look or look at the picture below it may resemble a row of teeth . Well it did to someone in the past, who called it the dent-de-lion which is French for ‘lion’s tooth’. And did you know dandelions can be used as a green salad food? Dandelions used to be praised as a food crop. The entire plant, leaves, stems, flowers, and roots are all edible. Dandelion greens contain important vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese so are a good food source. They can be eaten fresh or cooked. The flowers can also be used to make tea, wine and pop. During World War 2, dried, roasted roots were ground up and used to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

And that’s not all, yellow dye can be made from the flowers and the roots. Dandelions are an important plant for bees and other pollinators that rely on this early flowering plant when no other flowers are blooming as a source of nectar. The dandelion plant was well known and used by the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and the Anglo Saxons. Dandelions were prescribed for every ailment from warts and upset stomach to the plague. How can such a marvellous plant with so many beneficial properties be classed as a weed? What do think? The Dandelion, Friend or Foe, Weed it or Grow?

This week we have two colouring pictures – you can download the first sheet here. We also have this dandelion flower with its sunshine dye removed – why don’t you see if you can put the colour back and make it shine again?

Written by Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer

Spitfire Progress – Dispersed Production

The Coronavirus outbreak halted much of the work on Spitfire RW388 for a number of weeks. Several members have been working on new or refurbished parts away from the main workshop. There are many pieces of the Spitfire which were missing when it came to the city. Replacing these with replicas or authentic spares has been an important part of the overall restoration.

As work to make or restore these smaller components has spread out, it has reminded the team of the ‘Dispersed Production’ programmes of the Second World War, albeit for very different reasons.

During the war, it was feared that bombing raids on factories could severely affect the production of weapons and equipment for the war effort. ‘Shadow Factories’ were established to spread production out – reducing the impact that a single, damaged factory could have.

Local shadow factories included the Rootes Securities site at Blythe Bridge, producing parts for various Bristol aeroplanes, and the Birmingham Small Arms Company factory in Newcastle-under-Lyme producing Hispano cannon.

Here’s a selection of replica or refurbished parts the team have been working on:

Wheel chocks
Oxygen valve
Hydraulic hoses
Generator mounting bracket

Painting Continues

The second colour in the Spitfire’s camoflague scheme has been applied to the fuselage. This dark green and grey scheme was the preferred choice for late-war fighters as it offered better camoflague against a mixture of land and sea. Internally, the cockpit area has been painted with primer following a careful clean-up.

Dark sea green camoflague applied to the fuselage. You can also see one of the refitted armour plates at the back of the cockpit area.
Cockpit area after priming

Building models

For parts that still need to be manufactured, the team have been producing a series of cardboard templates from which accurate drawings can be made for various attachment and support items. 

‘Flight to Ground’ switch resting on a cardboard template for its mounting bracket.

In a first for MAPSL, 3D printing is being employed to make a replica front panel for the radio select controller – having a scanned an original panel kindly loaned by the Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger. A low quality test-print has been done to test the scan – and a second, higher quality print using ABS material will follow soon.

Radio select controller, loaned by the Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger for 3D scanning
Low-quality test print of the radio select controller front panel

Building the seat

Another major assembly that is taking much time and attention is the pilot’s seat.  The seat assembly that is on loan from Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger has been returned to MAPSL from R Lane Engineers.  Using the genuine seat for reference, this company has produced the complicated height adjuster and its associated ratchet and support tubes.

Seat assembly with height adjuster

The numerous brackets attached to the rear of the seat that hold the seat harness in place and the amour plate are in progress too.  It is planned to start manufacture of the actual seat soon.

Wheels and Wings

Since the last report all three wheel and tyre combinations have returned from foam filling at Vaclug and the undercarriage doors have been painted in medium sea grey.

Undercarriage door, painted in medium sea grey

For the wings, fibre glass cannon cowlings are due to be manufactured by Replica Aircraft Fabrications in Cornwall, temporarily on hold due to the lockdown. However, the two brake flaps have been painted in medium sea grey and the rear wing to fuselage fairings have been painted in medium sea grey and ocean grey.

Rear wing-to-fuselage fairing, painted in medium sea grey and ocean grey

The aluminum frame of the gun camera support that fits in the starboard wing root has been thoroughly cleaned, rebuilt, and painted silver.  The bakelite material has been cleaned and lacquered.

Gun camera support cleaned, rebuilt and painted.

That’s all for this Spitfire blog, but as ever there’ll be more to come soon! Including some updates on the construction work on RW388’s new home. I’ll leave you with this image of MAPSL’s ‘Battle Bear’, who has been rebranded in light of recent events. A lighthearted reminder of the continued importance of staying safe wherever you live and work.

Potty Gardening Club: Moths and Butterflies

Hello Potty Gardeners, welcome to another session of your Gardening Club.

This week we will be looking at butterflies and moths. We have all seen butterflies, and sometimes moths, fluttering about our gardens and I am sure we have all seen the caterpillars as they munch their way through different plants. Did you know there are about 2500 species of moth in the UK? Most of them are small or tiny little creatures that you may not see unless you hunt for them. But there are only about 60 species of butterflies. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth is by looking at the antennae. A butterfly’s antennae are club shaped, long and with a bulb head at the end. Moths have feathery or saw-edged antennae. Butterflies also fold their wings vertically up over their backs. Moths wings are horizontal over their back.

Orange-tip butterfly

Butterflies tend to be larger and more colourful than most moths which are generally smaller with drab dull coloured wings but there are some exceptions. Butterflies are diurnal, which means flying in daytime but some are crepuscular that fly in the twilight of dawn and dusk. Moths are generally nocturnal, flying at night. But again there are exceptions and some moths are active during the day, some of these have some brighter colour such as the Cinnabar moth and the Yellow Shell moth (pictured below).

Yellow Shell moth

Another difference between butterflies and moths shows in the cocoons and chrysalides which are protective coverings for the pupa. The pupa is the intermediate stage between the larva and adult. A moth makes a silky covered cocoon and a butterfly makes a chrysalis, which is a hard, smooth case or covering with no silk.

The importance of butterflies and moths is not always obvious but as well as being pollinators, they and their caterpillars are an important part of the food chain, providing tasty snacks for birds other animals, caterpillars may be munching their way through your flowers and vegetables but they are important food source and attract other wildlife into your garden.
They are fragile, wonderful creatures that environmental changes impact on quickly, this makes them important indicators to the health of our natural environment. Climate change and the destruction of habitat can result in a reduction and possibly the ultimate loss of these wonderful and beautiful beasties.

Peacock butterfly

Amazingly butterflies and moths have been around for at least 50 million years and possibly evolved 150 million years ago, it’s hard to image a world without them. You have seen some pictures of butterflies and moths I have found. Why not look around your own garden and see what you can find?

You can also colour in this butterfly picture:

Until next week Potty Gardeners, happy hunting.

Written by Rob Gagliano, Casual Learning Development Leader and Natural Science Collections Volunteer

Behind the Scenes – Beside the Seaside

The sun is shining, we’ve completed our gardening and now our thoughts turn to summer holidays.

Our summer holidays may be a bit different this year, we may stay at home or holiday in the UK when we may usually venture abroad. Whatever we chose to do, we can still have lots of fun. Put your sun cream on and let’s sit and take a look back behind-the-scenes of another of our popular summer shows – Beside the Seaside…

Do you know the song that the title of the exhibition was taken from?

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside, I do like to be beside the sea! I do like to stroll upon the Prom, Prom, Prom! Where the brass bands play: “Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”

Our aim for the exhibition was to take a look at the simple pleasures of a British seaside holiday – sand, sea, Punch and Judy, sitting in deckchairs and eating ice-creams on the promenade.

Now my first thought was to have a huge sandpit in the middle of the gallery, flanked by the large columns, made to look like sandcastle turrets, but for practical reasons this wasn’t really possible, but I did manage to introduce some sand in to the exhibition for visitors to play with, which I will tell you about later.

We took the colour scheme for the exhibition from the vibrant colours of beach huts, beach balls and windbreaks, sand and sea. The main colours of the walls and case interiors as a bright yellow and a wavy shoreline painted in blue and white and the poplar song ‘oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ danced around the top of the walls.

We had four themes to explore – beachwear, nature, entertainment and souvenirs, so we used a screen and case combination to divide the areas up and painted the screens to match the stripes you would find on windbreaks. We needed larger cases to house the beachwear, so transformed the front of some of our large cases into a row of beach huts.

No trip to the seaside would be complete without playing in the sand, as I mentioned earlier, plans had to be scaled back, but I still managed to create a bespoke area for paying in the sand complete with a wavy ‘sea’ edge…

Alongside the nature section which was about all of the wildlife you could discover on the seashore and all of the wonderful creatures to find in rockpools, we had seagull sounds, and plastic seagulls suspended, waiting to swoop down and pinch the plastic play ice-creams…

Although the main attractions of a seaside holiday were the beach and sea, on the promenade or pier children enjoyed watching Punch and Judy shows.  We recreated an area in the gallery where visitors could put on their own Punch and Judy show, compete with little deckchairs for their audience to sit in.

Perhaps you can put on your own show for your family or friends.

No trip to the seaside would be complete without purchasing a souvenir or writing a postcard to send back home. Visitors could colour in a postcard as a souvenir of their visit and take it home or post it to a friend.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look back behind the scenes of the ‘Beside the Seaside’ exhibition – you can see more in our Beside the Seaside image gallery, part of our Past Exhibitions section. I’ll leave you with a popular summer tongue twister from the exhibition – see how quickly you can say it…

She sells seashells on the seashore.
The shells that she sells are seashells for sure!

Helen Cann,
Design Services Officer, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Children’s Art Week