The Burslem School of art originated in 1853. In the nineteenth century each of the
towns making up the (future) city of Stoke-on-Trent founded its own art school, the
Burslem school moving into the Wedgwood Institute when it was completed in the 1860s. In
1905 the art school moved across the road to new purpose-built accommodation designed by
A.R. Wood, a local architect. The new building with its distinctive large windows helped
the art school become pre-eminent in the district.
The Burslem Art School was founded as part of the Wedgwood Memorial Institute in 1869. It
became a separate school with its own premises in February 1906. The building was
situated opposite the Wedgwood Institute.
This large, symmetrical, red brick and terracotta building in Queen Street, Burslem, is
the School of Art, designed by A. R. Wood and built during 1905-7. The decorative
terracotta embellishments that supplement the 107ft. frontage were contributed by
Doultons. The cost of the building was about £6,000, with an extra £1,500
spent on furnishing the spacious studies. The site had previously been occupied by an
old manufactory belonging to Wood and Baker, which, I think, was formerly the works of a
much earlier pottery owned by Cork and Condliffe. It was donated by Thomas Hulme in 1904
for the sole purpose of erecting a much-needed art school.
On Friday, February 9th, 1906, the foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Dartmouth,
who used a special engraved trowel. The trowel was silver with an ivory handle; it had
an inscription-the Burslem coat of arms, and the motto “Ready.” Deposited
beneath the stone was an earthenware jar containing copies of the
“Sentinel,” the “Staffordshire Advertiser,” a copy of the clays
programme, and several coins of the period. Accompanying the jar were several examples
of Burslem-made earthenware pots and ceramic tiles produced by the leading
manufacturers. The main contributors were Doultons, Maddocks, Malkins, Wood and Sons,
Wades, the Marden Tile Company, and Messrs. Boote.
The origins of the school can be traced back to a meeting in 1853 when representatives of
the Stoke and Hanley Schools of Design met in the Wesleyan Schoolroom, Burslem, to
discuss the possibility of creating a central art school that could be attended by
students from the Six Towns and Newcastle, but, like most good ideas, it did not
materialise overnight. In fact, it took more than 50 years before Burslem finally had an
art school of its own and over 100 years before all the local art schools in the city
were to unite as Stoke College of Art. This status was short-lived, however, because,
with the founding of the North Staffordshire Polytechnic in 1970, the College of Art
became the Faculty of Art and Design within this new system of tertiary education.
Neville Malkin 5th Feb 1975