Update & Next Steps

[video courtesy of the wonderful Bret Shah @bretshah or www.bretshah.com - many thanks Bret!]
More than 250 visitors have now attended two highly successful public events held at The Minton Free Library in Stoke. 'DIY Heritage Day' (27.6.15) and 'A Night on the Tiles' (11.7.15) have offered local people access to an amazing tiled basement space in this important historical building. Both events have actively encouraged local people to take part in the remedial conservation clean up. Local families, enthusiasts and heritage professionals have helped to remove wallpaper and wash down nearly 500 tiles. The tiles were all made in the 1870s at the famous Minton China Works that stood on the other side of London Road opposite. The wall displays feature an array of valuable block print tiles designed in the main by well known designer John Moyr Smith and some by C.O. Murray. The tiles reference a wide range of literary themes including Shakespeare Plays, The Bible, Tennyson's Idyll of the Kings, Nursery Rhymes and Aesop's Fables.
The atmosphere has been electric - There has been so much interest, passion, high profile national recognition and lots of local pride of course! The aim of the events was to highlight these important tiles, promote 'The Canteen' (basement space) and the importance of The Minton Free Library building itself. These opportunities have offered initial public access and a chance for visitors to get involved in the initial conservation clean up. We have also been able to gauge interest and evidence demand from both the local community and key potential partners. The overwhelming success of these first two events has offered a huge boost for our plans. Here is an outline of what will happen next:
In the short term, there is one more public event planned in July:
'TAKE THE TILES', 10:00am - 4:00pm, Saturday 25th July 2015 - The doors will be open again for a third time. This public open day will offer everyone a chance to see all of the tiles revealed for the first time. We want visitors to help us by taking and sharing photographs of the tiles and basement space. WE
This will help us with the conservation audit and create an online showcase that celebrates these exquisite tiles and this unique space.

In the medium term:
We are pleased to announce next step plans for The Minton Free Library in Stoke. Ceramic City Stories has been invited to extend our current residency and have agreed a longer term occupancy. Over the next 6 months - a programme of tile conservation work and public access events will turn the space into an independent resource and focus for creative heritage work. A range of exciting initiatives are planned to ensure everyone has an opportunity to get involved. These include hands-on conservation workshops, community research, digital archives and shared stories. The programme will also explore and promote exciting links with national and international partners.
Ceramic City Stories will continue to undertake work behind-the-scenes over the next two months in the Library's basement space. Although somewhat limited, there are opportunities for individuals and small groups to arrange a visit. Please get in touch to discuss an access request or partnership project idea.
Finally, these two events would not have been possible without the amazing team who worked so hard to make it a success - each and everyone of these dedicated volunteers brings knowledge, passion and a lot of Potteries' pride. These individuals make a lot of positive change happen in our great city - thank you all!
Contact: Danny Callaghan e: info@ceramiccitystories.org t: @potteriestiles m: 07999 350176
Thanks to The Sentinel + Laura James for their support and latest article (Click on the image to link):
Many thanks to BBCRadio Stoke, The Breakfast Show Team and John Acres for their great support leading up to the event - it gave us a major boost! Here's John's Facebook video post:

There's been a significant discovery at the old Minton library on London Road in Stoke. The tiles uncovered are around 150 years old, and have been covered with wallpaper for 50 years.

Posted by BBC Radio Stoke on Friday, 26 June 2015