The first step in the restoration of what was one of England’s most endangered Victorian buildings, the Wedgwood Institute in Stoke-on-Trent, is now complete.
The Grade II* listed building in Burslem is being brought back to life by leading regeneration charity The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT) and Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
The initial stage of the project has been made possible thanks to £302,042 from the European Regional Development Fund and £233,798 in grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) under the Burslem Building Improvement Scheme (THI3)*. This £535,840 of funding, combined with contributions of £200,000 from English Heritage and £118,291 from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, sees a total of £854,131 made possible thanks to National Lottery players through the HLF’s Townscape Heritage Initiative programme.
The Wedgwood Institute was built in 1863 as a centre of education for local working people, with the money for its construction raised entirely through public subscription.
Initially home to Burslem School of Art and Science, the Institute was for many years a college run by Staffordshire University and was briefly Burslem’s public library before it closed in 2007.
Only eight months ago, the building, which is known for its ornate terracotta façade, was in a state of decay and dereliction and was rated by government advisory body Historic England as one of the top ten most at-risk heritage buildings in the region.
Building work started in February as part of the first phase of a landmark regeneration project to restore the whole building and bring it back into use as an enterprise hub and centre for start-up businesses.
The first phase of works, which has cost approximately £850,000, has opened up the Institute’s ground floor for temporary public use, such as office space, community events and exhibitions.
The initial stage of the project has been made possible thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England and Stoke Council.
PRT is now looking for potential tenants and short-term occupants for the interim use of the building.
The aim of the first phase works has been to safeguard the structure while a funding package is put together for the second, more extensive phase of the project.
 Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk Priority Sites 2014’, https://content.historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/priority-har-sites-2014/national-priority-sites-2014.pdf/, p122