Opening Times: Mon to Fri 9am – 5:30pm

The Burslem School of Art Trust is a self-financing, not for profit arts, community and creative industry development organisation.

We believe that art is for everyone

Since refurbishment in 2000 we developed and delivered many arts events, projects and activities, working with diverse communities and artists. We are doing this alongside preserving a sustainable social enterprise and a fantastic heritage asset – the beautiful building of Burslem School of Art, which once the motivating force in developing artistic talent within the ceramics industry, boasts a prestigious set of alumni, including internationally recognised ceramics designers, such as Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper,William Moorcroft and many more.




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



Gordon Forsyth, who had designed for Pilkington’s Lancastrian Pottery & Tiles, was principal of the Stoke-on-Trent Art Schools in the period 1920-44 and taught at Burslem School of Art.[4][5] Reginald George Haggar, who was Minton’s art director in the 1930s, was the Master-in-Charge of the Burslem School of Art from 1941 to 1945. Other notable staff members included Arthur Berry who featured in at least two television programmes in the Monitor series with Huw Weldon.

People who trained here include:

  • Jessie Tait ceramic designer
  • Clarice Cliff (Ceramicist, 1899 – 1972)
  • Charlotte Rhead (Ceramicist, 1885 – 1947)
  • Charles Tomlinson, CBE (Major poet & painter, born 1927)
  • Arnold Machin, OBE, RA (Sculptor & graphic designer, 1911 – 1999)
  • Peggy Davies (Ceramicist, 1920 – 1989)
  • Sidney Tushingham, ARE. (Portraitist, 1884 – 1968)
  • Susie Cooper (Ceramicist, 1902 – 1995)
  • William Bowyer, RA (Major artist, born 1926)
  • Arthur Berry (Artist & writer, 1925-1994)
  • Esther Barnish Turner (Artist)
  • John Cooke (Artist)
  • Derek Higginson (Artist)