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The online catalogue does not include details of all our collections. Contact us for further information on collections not yet featured online.

The Thomas Twyford Bequest of Ceramics

Thomas William Twyford (1849-1921)

We are often asked what the stories are behind some of the ceramic pieces in our collections, but few people ask about who generously gave or bequeathed them to the museum. People donate items to us for all sorts of reasons, and most people only give one or two pieces, but we do have some large and important groups of pottery given to us by collectors who, in some cases, had spent years searching out special pieces to acquire.

Salt-glazed stoneware punch pot, painted with a portrait of Charles Edward Stuart – The Young Pretender – often called “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, Staffordshire, c.1750. Twyford Bequest

In the 19th and early 20th century many of our donors were well-known Staffordshire pottery manufacturers, local businessmen, or were simply wealthy collectors. They donated their collections because they wanted other people to enjoy them, as much as they themselves had enjoyed collecting them.

One of the most important ceramics collections at PMAG is the Thomas Twyford Collection of almost 600 pieces of English pottery from the 17th and 18th century, which was bequeathed to the Hanley Museum, precursor of the present-day Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, on his death in 1921.

Slipware dish with trailed and jewelled decoration of the Royal Coat of Arms and the name Thomas Toft, Staffordshire, c.1680. Twyford Bequest

The Twyford name is known world-wide today as one of the leading manufacturers of sanitary ware, toilets, washbasins, etc., but comparatively few people know about Thomas Twyford (1849-1921), whose energy and business acumen created the largest sanitary ware business in the world – and even fewer know about him as an important collector of 17th and 18th century Staffordshire ceramics.

Thomas Twyford was born in Shelton in 1849. His father was a pottery manufacturer who produced sanitary wares, advertising his firm as making “water-closet basins, plug basins, urinals, etc.”. In 1872 Thomas’s father died and his 23-year old son took over the business.

Under his management the firm expanded rapidly until Twyford’s was the largest sanitary ware producer in the world. Thomas introduced many improved models of water closets which won awards, but in 1884 he introduced and patented the ‘Unitas’ one-piece pedestal closet, which became a best-seller and for which he is best known.

By his 30s Thomas was a wealthy man. He moved to the countryside, commuting into work each day, and in 1887 he built a new model factory at Cliffe Vale, Shelton, chosen because for its good transport links as it lies between the Trent & Mersey Canal and the North Staffordshire. Although production there ceased in the 1990s, the façade of his factory survives to this day with the building converted into apartments.

Twyford’s Cliffe Vale factory, built in 1887 and now converted into apartments.

From the 1890s Twyford and his family lived at Whitmore Hall, Staffordshire, filling it with his collections of pictures, books – and pottery. He was involved in local politics and philanthropy, was a magistrate and became firstly, Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire, and then High Sheriff. From 1896 until his death he was Chairman of the local newspaper, the Staffordshire Evening Sentinel.

Slipware posset pot with trailed and jewelled decoration and the inscription “The Best Is Not Too Good For You 1696”, Staffordshire, 1696. Twyford Bequest

The Twyford family had been potters in Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, since the 17th century, and so Thomas collected 17th and 18th century pottery, buying the best pieces that he could. These ranged from slipwares, including a number of named and dated pieces, to salt-glazed stonewares, painted creamwares and figures.

Teapot and cover painted with the goddess Aurora in her chariot. William Greatbatch, Fenton, Staffordshire, c.1770. Twyford Bequest

Although, sadly, his collection does not include any pieces that that can be attributed to his Twyford ancestors, many of Stoke-on-Trent’s most famous potters are represented in his collection. On his death Thomas donated his collection to what was then Hanley Museum, so that local people could enjoy it as much as he had done.

Vlog: Meet Miranda Goodby, Ceramics Curator

What is your name and job title?

I’m Miranda Goodby and I am the Senior Curator of Ceramics.

What is in the Ceramics Collection and What do you do as a Curator?

Here at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery the Ceramics Collection includes pottery and porcelain from around the world, and it ranges in age from Ancient Egypt through to the present day.

In many museums, ceramics from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome would be included in archaeology or ethnography collections because of their age or country of origin, but here they are included in the Ceramic collection because of their material – clay. 

We also have ceramics from the Near & Far East, as well as from Europe, but great majority of our pieces are from England, especially Staffordshire. We have the largest collection of Staffordshire ceramics in the world – approximately 30,000 pieces–and that doesn’t include all the thousands of sherds of excavated pottery from Stoke-on-Trent that are cared for in the Archaeology collection.

There are several reasons that this museum has such an amazing collection of pottery. Firstly, we are based in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of the British pottery industry for over 300 years. Secondly, there have been museums in Stoke-on-Trent collecting pottery for nearly 200 years. You can do a lot of collecting in that time!

Many of the Victorian pottery manufacturers were also collectors of pottery. People such as Thomas Twyford, who owned the largest sanitary ware factory in the world, bequeathed his collection to what was then called Hanley Museum. Thomas Hulme, who is a less well-known manufacturer but who was responsible for the founding of the Wedgwood Memorial Institute, donated his collection during his lifetime. The Minton family of Stoke-upon-Trent gave examples of their “modern” productions – which are now over 150 years old – and so on. And of course, we have been given many, many other gifts and bequests over the years, including the Keiller family’s famous cow cream jug collection.

We continue to collect as well. The Museum has a Collecting Policy to help guide us in what to acquire, and we collect contemporary ceramics as well as historic pieces. After all, those ‘contemporary’ pieces will be historic themselves one day.

As a Curator my job is to care for the collections and to make them accessible for the public. This can be through exhibitions and displays here at PMAG, but we also lend piece to other museums in the UK – and around the world – for special exhibitions. And through social and traditional media we also make them accessible for an even wider audience

Our collections are also used for research. Researchers, writers, artists and students all use the collections for inspiration and education. An important part of my job therefore is to make sure that the information that we have about our pieces is correct and up-to-date, and that all the pieces not currently on display are carefully stored by type, date or manufacturer so that they can easily be located when needed.

How long have you worked at the museum?

I have been Ceramics Curator here at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery for nearly 25 years now!

What’s your favourite thing about working here?

It’s got to be the collection. With over 35,000 pieces in total to look after there is always something new to learn about them. The marvellous thing about working here in Stoke-on-Trent is that you are immersed in the subject. Not only do we have the pottery here, the pieces that people made and decorated, and that other people bought and used, but we also have information about how those things were made.

The archaeology of Stoke-on-Trent is the archaeology of the pottery industry and is primary evidence for how they were made, the technology that was used – and the things that went wrong in making pottery 1, 2, and 3 hundred years ago.

We also have masses of documentary and photographic evidence for the pottery industry, with factory records, pattern books, trade catalogues etc.  When you put all those together you can get a real sense of the importance of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent. It wasn’t just about pretty pots, it was about technological innovation, design, marketing, social and economic change, people lives and livelihoods – and pretty pots.

Now for some questions that have been sent in via Facebook.

Carl wants to know which piece of ceramics in the collection needed the most restoration.

Well, we don’t have any conservators or restorers here at the museum and so we try to not accept pottery that is going to need extensive restoration work as it can be quite expensive to have a lot of restoration work done – and over time the work tends to discolour and then has to be redone. We do however, have a number of pieces in the collection that came to us already restored. And a 17th century slipware dish that was given to us in 1944, is probably the most heavily restored piece that we have. It depicts a man smoking a pipe, has the name Thomas Toft on the rim and the inscription ‘Smoke your nose’. It was badly broken and restored before it was given to the museum and the restoration is so extensive that we can’t be sure which elements of the design are original and which are not.

Pat wants to know if we have any Beswick on display as she hasn’t spotted any when visiting.

Yes, we do have some Beswick on display at present – this cruet set with circus horses in the 1950s case and we have more pieces that aren’t currently on show, including some of the animal figures that Beswick is famous for. Although we have over 5,000 pieces on display in the main ceramics gallery we don’t have space to show everything that we have. So our temporary exhibitions are an opportunity for us to bring out pieces that aren’t usually on show.

And finally, Gary want to know what is my favourite museum object

It impossible to say. I’m afraid it changes depending on what I’m working on at the time. I do have some favourites though. The rolled clay figures made in the 1930s by William Ruscoe are incredibly engaging and charming because of their simplicity. The Green Tea teapot, made at William Greatbatch’s factory in the 1770s, is a favourite because we not only have the excavated material from his site, but because whoever did the inscription was almost certainly illiterate – each ‘e’ in ‘Green Tea’ is drawn differently: you would never do that it you could write, And the many tools that we have for making and shaping pottery. Throwers’ and plate makers’ tools are often inscribed with the name and date of their owner, and that is often the only record of their working lives that they have left. When you hold them in your hand you can’t help but wonder who they worked for, what their lives were like and if we have any of their pots here at the museum.

Ceramics

Our ceramic collections include the finest collection of Staffordshire ceramics anywhere in the world, reflecting the City’s heritage as the centre of the English ceramics industry. It also includes the most comprehensive collection of British 20th century studio ceramics. As well as British ceramics, we have significant collections of ceramics from all over the world and ranging from the Neolithic to the present day.

The collection is internationally renowned and includes a large collection of Staffordshire and salt-glazed stonewares. The 18th and 19th centuries are very well represented with collections of the major Staffordshire factories such as Wedgwood, Spode, Minton and less well known factories such as that of William Greatbatch. The museum also has significant collections of figures, including the Elizabeth Marianne Wood Collection of 18th and 19th century figures and the Pugh Collection of Victorian Staffordshire portrait figures.

Our Art Pottery collection is extensive, with masterpieces from Doulton, Bernard Moore, Ruskin, Pilkington and Bullers, amongst others.

Studio pottery is one of our greatest strengths, with superb collections of the pioneer studio potters Bernard Leach, Hamada Shoji and Michael Cardew amongst others. These collections are complemented by our collections of world ceramics, which include East Asian ceramics, Italian Renaissance maiolica and Islamic pottery.

Browse the ceramics collections

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

A range of links and resources to help answer some of our most frequently asked ceramics questions.
Ceramic Information Sheets

Ceramic Information Sheets

Information sheets compiled by the Ceramics Section of the museum and provide useful information on a variety of topics.
Ceramics Videos

Ceramics Videos

The story of the Willow Pattern. An animated video telling the story of one of the world's most well known ceramics designs. Produced for the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Supported by the Art Fund.

Ceramics

The gallery includes a technical section illustrating the production techniques of pottery and also includes more unusual collections, such as the Keiller collection of 667 cow creamer jugs and the Marjorie Davies collection of nearly 300 frog mugs.

Wartime Pottery

At the outbreak of war in September 1939 pottery production was being scaled back. Many pottery workers were being called up into the forces, or had volunteered, while others left to do war work at the local munition factories and engineering works. While export orders declined rapidly, the British government was placing large orders to supply its civilian and military canteens. These were usually stamped with the date of production and ‘GR VI’ to show that they were government property.

In 1942 official Utility restrictions were placed on what the pottery industry could make for the home market, including a complete ban on decorated ware, but until then factories were able to accept orders, and a small number produced some patriotic designs, usually only made in small numbers.

Nightlight in the form of an Anderson shelter Shorter & Son, Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, c.1940 Collection, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Among the pieces at PMAG we have a nightlight from the Stoke-upon-Trent firm of Shorter & Son. Made in cream earthenware in the form of a corrugated iron Anderson Shelter it has the letters A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) in the roof. In a period when many homes still did not have gas or electrical light, candle night lights were common, particularly in bedrooms. A tealight would have been placed inside the Anderson shelter and the light would have been filtered through the letters. At such a time of uncertainty there is an irony that a nightlight, intended to reassure, should have been produced in a shape associated with air raids.

The Preston firm of Dyson & Horsfall were a mail order firm that ran a very successful national Christmas Club scheme. In a period before the internet, local organisers would deliver the mail-order catalogues, take and forward the customers’ orders, and then collect the purchase money, in weekly instalments. The company gave presents to its successful local agents, usually a chrome-plated teapot but in 1940 Dyson & Horsfall commissioned the Tunstall firm of AG Richardson to produce this teapot for its organisers.

“Liberty and Freedom” teapot made for Dyson & Horsfall, Preston
A.G. Richardson, Tunstall, Staffordshire, 1940
Collection, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Printed and painted with the flags of the Allies it has, to one side ,“Liberty and Freedom”, and to the other “War against Hitlerism. This souvenir Teapot was made for Dyson & Horsfall of Preston to replace ALUMINIUM STOCKS taken over for ALLIED ARMAMENTS 1939. That Right Shall Prevail”
Despite the reference to 1939 in the inscription this piece was almost certainly made for distribution at Christmas 1940. The inscription refers to “France Western Colonies” and “France Eastern Colonies” but not to mainland France, which had fallen to the Germans in June 1940.

Reverse of the “Liberty and Freedom” teapot made for Dyson & Horsfall, Preston
A.G. Richardson, Tunstall, Staffordshire, 1940
Collection, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

In August 1939, in advance of the declaration of war, the London Clearing Banks moved their cheque-clearing operations to Trentham Hall, with most of its staff based in the Ballroom.

The Ballroom at Trentham Gardens, the wartime home of the London Clearing Banks
Collection, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Hundreds of bank staff were billeted with local families in and around Trentham, and many local people were recruited to work alongside them. The London staff, far from their homes and families, referred to themselves as “The Outcasts” and even started a staff magazine “The Outcasts Observer”.

“Outcasts” mug, made by T Lawrence, Longton, 1940
Collection, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

In August 1940, to mark the first anniversary of the evacuation from London, these mugs were commissioned from the firm of T Lawrence, Longton, and were presented to staff by the Controller of the Central Clearing House, Percy S. Quick.

Reverse of the “Outcasts” mug, made by T Lawrence, Longton, 1940
Collection, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

In 1941 the staff were given a commemorative Outcasts ashtray made by Crown Devon, Stoke, – but by 1942 the Utility restrictions on the production of decorative pottery meant that another commemorative piece could not be commissioned. Although we have a couple of Outcasts mugs we don’t have an ashtray. So, if you have one in good condition that you would like to donate, please contact us.

“Outcasts” ashtray
Made by S Fielding “Crown Devon” ware, Stoke-upon-Trent, 1941
Image: thepotteries.org

The Utility restrictions on what pottery could be made for the home market were gradually lifted after 1945, but the emphasis was on winning back export orders, and it was not until 1952 that production for the domestic market was back to normal. Consequently we do not have any ceramics made in 1945 to commemorate the end of the war – although many have been produced over subsequent decades to mark the significant anniversaries

The Potteries: The Clue is in the Crest.

Stoke-on-Trent is known far and wide as the ceramics capital of the world earning itself the title of ‘The Potteries’. To this day the name remains in use despite the huge changes in both the economy and landscape of the six towns that make up the City of Stoke-on-Trent. 

Few obvious signs of the locality’s celebrated industrial past remain, although, there are plenty of clues around the place that hint at the intrinsic importance of the ceramics industry as part of the city’s past.

One glorious example is that of the City of Stoke-on-Trent’s coat of arms.

County Borough/City of Stoke-on-Trent coat of arm

As with most coat of arms the design and imagery includes features synonymous with the family, organisation, profession, or locality they represent. In 1912 the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent was granted its coat of arms. Two years prior Stoke-on-Trent had been constituted as a County Borough on the Federation of six former local authorities: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton. The country borough was elevated to the status of city in 1925 and has kept the same coat of arms to this day.

Before the Federation of the six town in 1910 each of the towns existed as proudly independent authorities, each with their own crest. These crests represented the unique heritage of each of the towns, including important families, local dignitaries, and local industry. The central arms of the new County Borough looked to incorporate aspects from all six towns.

Starting at the top, the Stafford knot emblem is taken from the Tunstall arms. Tunstall are the only town to have adopted the knot which has been a widely used symbol throughout the county of Staffordshire for centuries. Additional imagery on the Tunstall arms is a clear nod to its pottery industry with three vases and two bottle ovens.

In between the two knots is a boars head taken from the Stoke-upon-Trent arms. The boars head is present on one of the three coats of arms that make up the right-hand side of the arms. The boars head is part of the Copeland family arms whilst the other two arms are that of the Keary and Minton families. The inclusion of the Copeland family arms, as part of the Stoke-upon-Trent arms, is not surprising and neither is that of the Minton arms; both of which represent the two most well-known and successful pottery companies in the town. The Keary arms relate to William Keary who, in 1874, became the first mayor of the newly incorporated Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent. As with the Tunstall arms, imagery relating to the towns main industry is on show with the inclusion of ceramic jugs, a bottle oven, and potters wheel.

Working clockwise, around the central shield section of the City’s arms, we start with the image of a camel. A peculiar image to be found on the arms of a city located in the middle of England; the camel is taken from the Hanley arms. The camel appears as the helm on the Hanley arms and is taken from the Ridgway family’s arms. The inclusion of the Ridgway insignia was perhaps an easy decision when it came to incorporating an aspect of the Hanley arms. The Ridgway family were the largest and most successful pottery dynasty across the Hanley and Shelton area throughout the 19th century. Furthermore, William Ridgway became the first Mayor after Hanley and Shelton were incorporated, becoming the Borough of Hanley in 1857. Again, the additional of jugs and bottle ovens allude to Hanley’s main industry.

Detail of S-O-T coat of arms showing scythe

Under the camel is the image of a scythe. Both the arms of Tunstall and Burslem contain the image of the scythe, and both for the same reason. The scythe is taken from the coat of arms of the Sneyd family. Landed gentry for over 500 years the Sneyd family owned large tracts of land in both the Burslem and Tunstall areas. The Sneyd family’s land was mined for both clay and coal and rented by generations of potting families.

Next is the image of an eagle, taken from the Longton arms. As with the camel of the Ridgway family the eagle is often present as the helm atop the Longton arms and relates to James Glover. In 1865 Longton and Lane End were incorporated as the borough of Longton and it was successful local mine and brewery owner, James Glover who became its first Mayor. Flanking the Longton arms are figures of a potter and a miner, representing the two main industries of the area.

Above the eagle is an image of, arguably, the most iconic piece of pottery to have ever come out of Stoke-on-Trent.  The image of the Portland Vase is taken from the Burslem arms and is a reference to Burslem’s most famous son: Josiah Wedgwood. Burslem became a borough in 1871 and in 1878 was granted a Charter of Incorporation and the right to display arms. Interestingly, the other five towns had and displayed ‘unofficial’ arms but only Burslem (as the ‘Mother’ town) received a grant.

Lastly, dividing the four images within the central aspect of the Stoke-on-Trent arms is a Fretty Cross. Taken from the most often forgotten of the six towns, Fenton, the cross appears on its arms dividing it into four quarters. As with Tunstall, Hanley, and Stoke, the pottery industry is represented by a vase and bottle ovens. Additionally, the coal industry is represented by a pit-head wheel whilst a sheaf of corn in front of a plough signifies agriculture. The Fenton arms have a goat’s head as the helm which is taken from the arms of William Baker, the Chief Bailiff of Fenton in 1840 and a successful local pottery manufacturer.

Detail of S-O-T coat of arms showing the Egyptian potter at his wheel

Sitting atop of the Stoke-on-Trent coat of arms is the image of an Egyptian Potter at his throwing wheel; a symbol of the rich and important heritage of pottery making.

Detail of S-O-T coat of arms [Latin motto translates to ‘United Strength is Stronger]

Back in 1912 the design of the county borough’s arms offered an opportunity to create new symbolism representing the areas new shared identity. I hope this closer study of the arms has provided a fascinating insight into the county borough’s bold new vision for itself as it moved into the 20th century. The new coat of arms was a symbolic bringing together of the six towns; a chance to reflection on what each of them had achieved in the past and the beginning of a future in which ‘United Strength is Stronger’. 

Meet Pierre

Bonjour! My name is Pierre, Pierre Peacock. I am also known as the Minton Peacock because I was made at the Minton pottery factory. I have a French name because the man who created me was from France. He was very talented, don’t you think? Look at the beautiful, bright colours in my feathers. The pattern in my tail looks like lots of big eyes to scare away predators. There is also a peacock butterfly who uses the same pattern on their wings.

I am a life-sized peacock and stand very tall so I get a good bird’s eye view around the Ceramics Gallery. From up here, I can keep my eyes on the Minton Monkey. He can be rather cheeky and likes to swing from the ceiling and hide from his friends. Have you ever spotted him hiding in the gallery?

I’d better fly now. It’s almost time for The Bunnykins Oompah Band rehearsal. I love to listen to their music and strut my stuff. Next time you watch our film, strut like a peacock and shake your tail feathers when you see me. Au revoir!

You can print and colour in your very own Pierre at home!

If you haven’t already seen Ozzy and friends in action, check them out below!

Figure – Christ on the Cross

The ceramics gallery at the Potteries Museum has over 5,000 pieces on display. Some of them are very flamboyant and impossible to miss. Others are much more unassuming but in many instances, just as intriguing. Among them is this little model of Christ on the cross. Made in white salt-glazed stoneware it is, despite being only 4 ¼ inches high, remarkably detailed. On the front is a simply modelled figure of Christ crucified with his facial features and the nail holes in his hands and feet picked out in brown slip. Above him is a banner with the letters ‘INRI’ representing the Latin inscription ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’. Beneath his feet are a skull and crossed bones, bell and an hourglass. The reverse of this model has 10 roundels, four plain and six moulded with imaginary coats of arms. The date 1732 is incised on the base. As far as we know this piece is unique yet it represents a great deal of work.

The model came to the museum in 1965. It had been passed down through members of the Wood family who had married into the branch of the Wedgwood family that built the Big House, Burslem, and cousins of Josiah Wedgwood. The date of 1732 incised into the base of the model is an early one for white salt-glazed stoneware and puts its production within the period when Aaron Wedgwood (1666-1743) was working with his sons, John and Thomas. Ornamental and overtly religious wares are rare at this period since most of the pottery made was utilitarian kitchen, dairy or table ware.  Its survival, in virtually perfect condition is remarkable but it was clearly always treasured.

Today Easter for many people is marked by buying and eating chocolate eggs but a few days after Easter Sunday nothing remains of all that confectionary. By contrast this small model of the crucifixion has survived for almost 300 years.

Meet Leo

Hulloh! Our friend Ozzy has asked me to come and introduce myself. My name is Leo. I am a lion. It is my job to guard the Ceramics Gallery at night – I take great ‘pride’ in my work ho-ho! As you can see, I like to look smart and take care of my appearance. You would never guess I am over 300 years old.

I was made by Thomas Toft, a famous Staffordshire potter. I’m very lucky to be one of his designs. His patterns show kings, queens and many beautiful creatures. You will even find mermaids and unicorns on some of his plates.

Thomas Toft dish, featuring a lion (Leo) and unicorn as part of the Royal Arms

When the museum closes at 5pm and everyone has gone home, I give a loud, booming roar to wake everyone up. There was a time when I roared so loud, Ozzy nearly toppled over. Watch our film again and when you see me, give your loudest, most fearsome ROAR! Time to go – the cow creamers have wandered off again and I have to count them all back in…one, two, three, four…Goodbye!…five, six…seven…

You can print and colour in your very own Leo at home!

If you haven’t already seen Ozzy and friends in action, check them out below!

Vlog: Meet Joe Perry, Local History Curator

Hello, welcome to the second of our Meet the Team video series where we quiz a member of the team and find out a bit more about their job and what makes the museum tick.

What is your name and job title?

My name is Joe Perry and I’m the Curator of Local History at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

What are Local History Collections and What do you do as a Curator?

So, our Local History collection comprises of archaeology and social history. So the archaeology collections are mainly the result of archaeological excavations but also chance finds and metal detected finds. We work very closely with the Portable Antiquities Scheme to acquire various items of treasure, such as the Staffordshire Hoard and Leekfrith Torcs.

The social history side of our collection, erm, really looks at the domestic and working lives of people in The Potteries, particularly from the nineteenth century onwards though we do have one or two objects that are a little bit older.

As a curator my job really is to look after our collections, is to help develop and grow them, and it’s also to help give people access to those collections. So you know, exhibitions, research requests, getting things online, using social media and doing things like this really. Anything to bring our collections out and connect them with the people who are interested in them, or that want to use them in some way, or anyone for whom, you know, interaction with our collections can enrich their lives in some way.

How long have you worked at the museum?

I’ve been in my current role since August 2018. But I’ve been working for Stoke-on-Trent museums, on and off, for just under ten years.

What’s your favourite thing about working here?

For me, the best part of my job is being so close to so many incredible objects and getting the chance to share those objects and their stories with a really, really diverse audience. And the other thing I really enjoy about my job is the diversity of the collections. I look after everything from hand axes which are two hundred, maybe even three hundred thousand years old, through to items which were made only a few years ago. So it’s a huge range in there, very, very challenging and of course you can’t know it all it’s such a huge erm array of time periods that you know I’m learning everyday and that’s something I really enjoy as well.

What’s your favourite museum object?

Oooh that’s erm, that’s always a really difficult question to answer and I don’t want to sound like a cop out but I honestly don’t have a err individual favourite object. I do have quite a soft spot for a broken Bronze Age sword in our archaeology gallery, with a really interesting story. Erm, so you could check out our blog to find out more about that.

And now for some questions from you guys that you sent through on social media

Joanne on Facebook asks, “Have we learnt anything from the Staffordshire Hoard that we didn’t know previously about the Anglo-Saxons? Does it have any unique features?”

The Staffordshire Hoard has two unique features. Its size, it is the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever discovered, and also its character. It is unique in that it is almost entirely comprised of precious fittings from war gear, erm so, sword pommels and other fittings from sword hilts, pieces of at least one really, really high status helmet and this is very, very unusual to find a hoard of just that character, buried together in the ground and nothing like it has ever been found, it clearly has a very, very unique, special story behind it. Unfortunately we don’t know what that story is.

In terms of learning new things, obviously I think we learnt a lot about how the Anglo-Saxons are making some of these incredibly detailed objects. What’s great about the Hoard is that it’s damaged. It’s been very violently taken apart, you know, in how some of these of objects have been dismantled and so we can actually see how some of these nice gold pommel caps are made and we know maybe a little more about the manufacture than we did before and things like the projects to build replica helmets have been a really interesting bit of experimental archaeology to try and relearn some of the skills of those Anglo-Saxon smiths and craftspeople.

Tina asks, “What words did Anglo-Saxons use which have now died out?”

That’s a really interesting question, it’s not an area I have a great deal of expertise in, but there is one Old English word that I do really like, it’s a really fun word to say, and that is FRUMBYRDLING. Frumbyrdling means a young boy who’s growing his first beard.

Garry asks, “Will you be able to look into the cockpit of the Spitfire?”

The short answer Garry is yes, you will. We’re going to build a mezzanine level inside the new Spitfire Gallery, so either by going up there via the steps or the lift, you then look down into the cockpit of the Spitfire which will be kitted out fully, either with real or replica parts for the first time ever since it was donated to the City in 1972.

Charlotte asks, “How big is the Spitfire and how does this compare to modern planes?”

So I think in general fighter planes have grown a little bit, so to give you an example of that, Spitfires are just over nine metres long and typically just over eleven metres in terms of their wingspan. Our Spitfire has got a slightly shorter wingspan because it has clipped wings which is quite common for some late-war Spitfires. So our wingspan for our Spitfire is about more like just under ten metres. And similarly with the height, so on a Spitfire when it’s on the floor, the end of the propeller is the highest point and depending on the size of the propeller , depending on what type of Spitfire it is, it’s between three and three-and-a-half metres tall.

If you compare that to modern RAF Typhoons they have a wingspan of about eleven metres but a length of sixteen, and I think they’re over five metres high, so I think fighter planes have grown a little bit since the Second World War.

Julie asks, “When the Spitfire returns, will there be information on other planes designed by Reginald Mitchell in the gallery?”

Yes there will Julie, so for anyone who’s watching and doesn’t know, between 1920 and 1936, Mitchell designed no less than 24 aircraft, so it wasn’t just all about the Spitfire, and in fact in his lifetime, because he died early, aged only 42 in 1937, in his lifetime Mitchell was really known his designs of racing seaplanes which were very, very successful.

Now, our collections don’t have a lot of objects to do with Mitchell’s earlier, earlier parts of his career so we’re thinking of all kinds of interesting ways we can use animations and interactives to try and bring that story to life.

Pheasantsagenda asks, “What’s the most locally and culturally significant piece in the collections you manage?”

Erm, that’s a difficult question to answer. I guess it could be very, very subjective, though I would say, if you’re thinking specifically about local significance in The Potteries, erm I’d have to suggest something like the thousands and thousands of archaeological ceramics we have the collection. The sherds of pottery excavated from factory sites and waste tips. These are all really, really key sites which have helped us understand the development of the Staffordshire Potteries from what was a cottage industry to a world centre for ceramics.

So that’s it for our second Meet the Team video. I hope that’s been interesting. If you have any further questions or comments on what we’ve discussed in this video or other parts of the collections, do get in touch in the comments section or through other social media channels, I’d be happy to answer your questions and I look forward to our next video where we’ll be interviewing our Curator of Ceramics, Miranda Goodby.