No, the title is not about boating. It’s about ceramics. China, porcelain, tableware, whatever you want to call it. And the bottle kiln, the ovens that produced the products.

Bottle Kilns

Bottle Kilns

Ever seen a 250 years history of  tableware? I do, and it is impressive. From cups and plates of 1760 via the dinner sets my friends used to have in the 1980’s to the modern tableware of this century. I see it in The Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston. And thanks to Josiah Wedgwood, the founder of the Wedgwood company, I am able to visit Barlaston by narrowboat. Because transporting finished pottery by horse and cart results in a lot more breakage than transport it by narrowboat. So Josiah made sure the Trent & Mersey Canal would run right to his factory.

I spend an entire day in The World of Wegdwood. First we see part of the museum. Then go on a factory tour to see how they make it nowadays, and, after lunch, when Lawrance decides he has seen enough cups and plates, I go back to the museum.
Definitely worth the visit.

Beautiful things

Beautiful things

Three days later I’m in another pottery museum, in Stoke-on-Trent: The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. And no, don’t stop in Stoke-on-Trent just to visit this museum, it’s NOT WORTH it. I only spend one hour inside, and most of that time I spend looking at the twenty worst pieces of the Staffordshire Hoard and walking around the Spitfire, a Mark XVI model, with number RW 388. Which can only be seen from a very great distance.

Mooring at Etruria

Mooring at Etruria

We’re actually moored very close to the Etruria Industrial Museum. Another museum in Stoke-on-Trent not worth stopping for: it’s not open for the public (except on Steaming Weekends, which are held only five times a year).

Etruria Industrial Museum

Etruria Industrial Museum

In fact, the most interesting thing here I only saw by accident: the Graving Dock, a dock used by the canal authorities to gauge new boats before they were allowed onto the canals. Boats were floated into the dock and circular weights were loaded onto them. The water level was then marked on the bow of the boat.

The Graving Dock

The Graving Dock

Other than that, it rains, the batteries are not charging properly (due to trees, hanging over the boat?), we went under a few VERY LOW bridges on our way to Stoke-on-Trent (with about an inch headroom to spare) and the Art Gallery of the Pottery Museum was not worth the visit either…

 

P.S. The bottle kilns remind me of a house called a trullo. We’ve seen them in Alberobello, on one of our trips to Southern Italy.

Bottle kiln, with garden and swimming pool?

Bottle kiln, with garden and swimming pool?

What I wrote then:
We’re nowhere near an industrial estate, we’re in the middle of an area full of very posh villas. Most of them of a typical shape. They remind us of kilns, but kilns usually don’t have large gardens with a swimming pool. Loading a 20″ container and a tea-handler (whatever that is) somewhere here? No way!

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