Painting pottery: An Emma Bridgewater Tour
Emma Bridgewater is a favourite brand of mine. I adore the eclectic and colourful designs – as a foodie living in a farmhouse with a taste for the mismatched and interesting, it’s like her pieces were designed with me in mind. I also think the fact that she still manufactures her beautiful pottery creations at The Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke is admirable.
My kids are 6 and 4. We took them to the factory tour on a cold winter’s day. As we approached, the industrial location was immediately striking. This is a real, working factory; not just for tourists. There are lots of tours, leaving at regular intervals. We hopped on one and it lasted about 45 minutes – just the right length. There were about 10 people on the tour including us. The guide was a lovely lady who obviously had worked there for years. It was fascinating; we were shown every stage of the pottery creating process. From making the clay, to decorating the pieces (the most interesting part). I even had a go at throwing a plate onto a mould!
If your child is into ‘how things work’ they will enjoy seeing the process and machinery. Likewise, if they are artistic it’s really nice for them to watch the skilled artisans using sponges and paintbrushes to bring designs to life.
After the tour, it was lunchtime. We brought a packed lunch, but there isn’t an area to eat them. I was hoping the walled garden would be open and we could have them there, but it was closed. Still, the staff were adamant that it was fine, on this occasion, to eat our sandwiches in the café. Emma Bridgewater herself was having a meeting in there - I was very tempted to ask for a photo, but I kept my cool and left her alone. We enjoyed tea and cake from the café to finish. The cakes were delicious, as was the tea poured out of a humongous EB teapot. The café is so cosy, kept warm by an Emma Bridgwater spotty Aga, naturally…
Once lunch was over, we did pottery painting – by far the best part of the day. We each chose a mug (though you can choose anything you like, from an egg cup to a huge teapot if you like) and got to work with the sponges and paints on offer. An hour later we had each produced wonderful, unique creations. They fire them and send them in the post, or you can collect them if you live nearby. The kids - and adults - really, really enjoyed this part of the day. I was so happy to see how much they got into the artwork. We took about an hour to do this and they were totally engaged the whole time. I think 4 upwards would generally be suited to this activity.
We finished the day in the factory shop, buying mugs and egg cups. I could’ve spent a lot of money in here; so do come prepared to shop! The whole day, with all the activities and lunch included, took about 4 hours.
There is a really lovely feeling at the EB factory. The staff are very smiley and tolerant of the tours. I recommend the attraction to families with kids of the 4 plus age to be hands on. Younger kids might struggle as there is obviously a lot of pottery around which is, erm, breakable! That could be stressful for some parents. Babies and toddlers in prams would be fine though.
Our visit to the Emma Bridgewater Factory was a fantastic day out which we truly recommend!