Ceramic City Stories is focused on local, national and international shared stories relating to Stoke-on-Trent, England.
The Potteries is the home of ceramic giants Wedgwood, Minton and Spode as well as a many other large and small manufacturers. Their combined production spans more than four centuries and includes plates, cups, vases, tiles, bricks, sanitary ware and heavy clay products (bricks, chimneys and pipes) to be found across the globe.
'Potters' - people from Stoke-on-Trent - are proud of their unique federated city of six towns: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton, Langton. The heroic story of coal and clay has left an indelible mark on this place and the culture of craft and graft remains a huge influence on its contemporary identity.
The city has been hard hit by the decline of some of its traditional core industries - however, it is starting to find its feet again. Local grass roots activism, creative entrepreneurs and a number of flagship cultural projects are all important in this renewal. People make the city and their stories define this place.
Ceramic City Stories is proud to be working in partnership with the University of Leeds and the Pararchive (Yarn) research partnership. This unique project has encouraged and enabled local people to explore archives and tell digital stories. Volunteers have worked alongside academics and technologists during the last 18months to help design and test a new online resource to help everyone to create and share stories.
Each volunteer identified the story that they wished to research and tell. The stories are wide-ranging and diverse. They offer an interesting glimpse of the city and its history but a strong personal narrative underpins each one. They range from the snapshot of a mother and pottery 'gilder' in 1950s Longton to fifty years of urban greening in Stoke-on-Trent
Volunteers have been able to benefit from exploring a range of archival resources and collections not usually accessible to the wider public. They have enjoyed working closely with the technology team. Many individuals have gained valuable new skills and confidence using online and social media resources - some for the first time. Individuals have also received tailored support with individual plans and specific research tasks including the creation of digital assets from their own original material.
Finally - and perhaps most importantly - this project has provided the basis for new and sustained relationships both within and without Stoke-on-Trent. Volunteers have worked together, shared ideas and supported each other. The mutual respect and evolving team dynamic between volunteers, technologists and academics has been a joy to experience. It has been a privilege to be part of this project.