03/02/2021Harper Street regeneration project gets underway
Stoke-on-Trent has had a significant boost as regeneration charity Re-Form Heritage gets underway with works to transform Harper Street.
Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and many other supporters, the Harper Street: Engagement in Heritage project has recently broken ground. 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 project will see the eleven former pottery workers’ houses that make up Harper Street regenerated into 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 space to allow people to study archive items, 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 main construction contractor is B + K Building Services, part of the Derbyshire-based Bowmer + Kirkland construction and development group. B + K Building Services Managing Director, Adrian Grocock, said:
“We are delighted to have been entrusted with this project to transform this historic area of Stoke-on-Trent and bring these derelict properties up to date and back into use for the community. Our entire team is looking forward to working with Re-Form Heritage and other stakeholders to bring history back to life”.
The Harper Street terrace is located in front of Middleport Pottery, the Grade II* listed Victorian pottery, owned and operated by Re-Form Heritage and open to the public as a popular visitor attraction. The development of the Harper Street scheme will enhance the visitor appeal of Middleport Pottery and further develop the tourism offer in Stoke-on-Trent, allowing more people to understand and appreciate the engineering and creative skills of the people of the Potteries both past and present. The two sites share a strong link as the end-terrace of Harper Street was the former 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 looked in the 1930s. The content of the house will be created in collaboration with residents and volunteers, incorporating stories and memories of life in the Potteries. The work to bring the Lodge Keeper’s House to life is being led by heritage interpretation specialists Past Present. David Souden of Past Present speaking about the Lodge Keeper’s House said:
“In providing a forum for voices to be heard and memories to be captured, Past Present aims to help in giving back to Middleport and Burslem a sense of pride and place. We want the Lodge Keeper’s House, the related exhibition spaces and the oral history archive to give a sense of positivity for the future as well as being a reminder of the achievements and efforts of a century and more now past. Community, enterprise and co-operation are at the heart of this endeavour and the way we work”.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Regeneration and Heritage at Stoke-on-Trent City Council speaking about the regeneration said:
“Our city is steeped in history and heritage and it’s fantastic seeing part of it being brought back to life through this sensitive restoration project. We’ve invested millions of pounds in heritage assets across the city in recent years, including Town Hall restorations in Stoke, Longton and Tunstall and huge amounts of work on the Spode site, and we’re delighted to be supporting this project. The work will really breathe new life into the area and improve the already brilliant Middleport Pottery as a tourist attraction, and I can’t wait to visit when it is finished and safe to do so”.
Notes for Editors
Re-Form Heritage is a registered charity specialising in revitalising communities through the regeneration of their historic buildings. Re-Form Heritage transforms these historic buildings into local assets, creating job opportunities and catalysing wider social and economic benefit. Re-Form Heritage owns and operates Middleport Pottery and is currently campaigning to save and return modern foundry activity to the Whitechapel Bell Foundry site.
Registered charity number: 1059662
Harper Street: Engagement in Heritage
The Harper Street: Engagement in Heritage project will renovate eleven Victorian terraced houses adjacent to Middleport Pottery. The terrace, located in the Trent and Mersey Canal Conservation Area, will be transformed into a new heritage attraction, studio & workshop space, publicly accessible archive and community centre for Middleport's residents. The project will contribute significantly to growing Middleport Pottery and Stoke-on-Trent’s reputation as a heritage visitor destination.
Project architect: Buttress (www.buttress.net)
Project management and QS services: Greenwood Projects (www.greenwoodprojects.com)
Interpretation, exhibition and co-curation lead: Past Present (www.past-present.co.uk)
Harper Street Funders and Supporters
National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England, Architectural Heritage Fund, Bernard Sunley Foundation, Charles Hayward Foundation, Denise Coates Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Hazelhurst Trust, The Pilgrim Trust, Red Industries Landfill Communities Fund, Stoke-on-Trent City Council Community Investment Fund, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership Growing Places Fund and those funders that wished to remain anonymous.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council Community Investment Fund
The Stoke-on-Trent City Council Community Investment Fund is making available £2.7m in funding over the next three years for projects across Stoke-on-Trent. The Community Investment Fund provides support for on-going activities, funding to get new activities off the ground and provides opportunities for communities to become more resilient against the risks of Covid-19.
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