Work will shortly commence on the Harper Street: Engagement in Heritage project after charity Re-Form Heritage received additional funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
In total, £2.5m will be invested into the transformation of the long-derelict terrace and a programme of activities delivered with the local community. The National Lottery funding sits alongside a recent grant from Historic England for £245,000 and grants and loans from other bodies including Architectural Heritage Fund, Bernard Sunley Foundation, Charles Hayward Foundation, Denise Coates Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Red Industries Landfill Communities Fund, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Community Investment Fund and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership Growing Places Fund.
The project involves the restoration and rejuvenation of the eleven former pottery workers’ houses which make up the Harper Street terrace. The project will create a new heritage attraction focusing on the domestic life of the early 20th century pottery worker, alongside workshop and retail space for seven creative businesses. The terrace will also contain a dedicated store for the Middleport Pottery collection and archive, and a public research room to allow people to study items from the archive, many of which will be digitised for the first time. A modern community centre will also be created, offering community activities and support services via Middleport Matters Community Trust and a Changing Places toilet facility will support visitors with additional needs.
The terrace sits directly in front of Middleport Pottery, the Grade II* listed Victorian pottery, and now popular heritage attraction owned and operated by Re-Form Heritage. The Harper Street scheme adds to the visitor appeal of Middleport Pottery, strengthening the tourism offer in Stoke-on-Trent and celebrating the craftsmanship and artistry of makers both past and present. There is a strong association between the two sites, with the end-terrace previously being home to the Middleport Pottery Lodge Keeper who was responsible for overseeing access to the pottery. The new heritage attraction will present the Lodge Keeper’s House as it might have been in the 1930s and will be formed in collaboration with residents and volunteers to incorporate stories and memories of life in the Potteries.
Buttress was appointed in 2017 to deliver the project and has been working with Re-Form Heritage to move forward with its plans.
Clare Wood, Re-Form Heritage Chief Executive said: “This is a great example of what is made possible by players of the National Lottery. We are extremely grateful for the additional funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the other generous supporters of the scheme. It is a point of real pride to be able to repair and restore this terrific piece of Victorian architecture, whilst also supporting 13 new jobs, collaborating with the community and bringing the collections and stories associated with Harper Street to life. With space for new businesses to flourish, the community to come together and facilities to support an enjoyable day out for those with profound and multiple disabilities, the project is a true blend of the historic and the modern and demonstrates the incredible potential of multi-layered, place-based regeneration.”
Neal Charlton, Director at Buttress, said: “The Harper Street terraces are an important part of Stoke-on-Trent’s industrial heritage. The additional backing from National Lottery Heritage Fund is great news for the project, and we look forward to working with Re-Form Heritage to bring the buildings back to life and give them a new role at the heart of the community.”