Descendants praise £9 million regeneration of historic English pottery firm

The great-great-grandaughters of William Leigh – who helped set up Burgess and Leigh in the mid-19th century to produce Burleigh ware – have praised the work undertaken at the historic Middleport Pottery.

And sisters Mary Babb and Virginia Palmer were taken on a special tour around the Port Street site yesterday to mark what would have been their father’s 100th birthday.

Their father Robert Leigh – who was known by his middle name Edmund – was the chairman of the company for more than 30 years until 1999.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust acquired Middleport Pottery in June 2011 when it was at risk of closure.

Now after completing a £9 million regeneration project, the factory continues to produce Burleigh ware and is home to a visitor centre and cafe.

Sister Virginia, who lives in Northamptonshire, said: “The trust has done wonders with this place and it is important that they preserve it for future generations because it represents an important part of the history of Stoke-on-Trent.

Funding for the £9 million project was secured from a variety of sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Regional Growth Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

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