Sharpe’s Pottery Museum in Swadlincote is set to undergo some exciting new developments after receiving £44,700 funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The Culture Recovery Fund has been introduced to make sure our most loved performing arts, heritage sites, independent cinemas, music venues and museums can weather the impact of coronavirus and come back even stronger.

The funding will help to future-proof the heritage site, which is housed in a former pottery, believed to be the last remaining example of its kind. The Grade II listed kiln hovel, curtilage and the museum collection make up the heritage asset. The collection consists of approximately 1500 objects, including domestic ceramics and sanitaryware, complemented by a large local history archive.

Not only will the funding give the museum financial support from the impact of the pandemic but it will also allow for new developments that will enhance the visitor experience, including a new layout to improve access and the safety of the buildings and collections. The Museum is working on an exciting events and activities programme that enhances the function of the building and ensures our collection remains accessible for all visitors. The changes to the permanent exhibition begins with an account of the origins of Sharpe’s Pottery and the local ceramics industry, based on the abundance and qualities of the local coal and clay – the origins of ‘The Earth Our Wealth’ story.

Sharpe’s and Swadlincote’s story are told in chronological order from this point on in a linear route over two floors. This includes how farmland in the 18th century, made way to the clay and coal underground. Barely is growing in the fields to supply the breweries in Burton, the manufacturing story continues through the later 19th century when Swadlincote was at its most industrial, and a world centre for the production of toilets and sanitary wares. Visitors will get a sense of the heavily industrialised and polluted conditions of the town, potentially through a CGI recreation of what the town looked like when it had with 60 potteries and 11 coal mines. As visitors re-enter the Kiln Hovel at first floor level the story comes full circle.

The land returns to nature and we hear bird song again. Families move into the town and enjoy the countryside. We meet walkers, cyclists, National Forest tree-planters and local artisans, promoting the message ‘The Earth Our Wealth’ in today’s context, reflecting the new heritage of the region through the National Forest ‘Greenprint’.

The museum, which is set to reopen to the public in Easter 2021, is also eager to engage with the local community during these unprecedented times. This includes appealing for people to offer their support through its Adopt an Object scheme, which gives individuals or businesses the opportunity to adopt a piece in the museum. Sponsors receive a range of benefits and can also be proud that they are supporting the funding of family activities in the museum, ensuring that Sharpe’s Pottery Museum continues to be an iconic place for everyone.

Kim Coe, Chair of Sharpe’s Pottery Museum Trust said: “The last few months have been tough on so many sectors and we’re delighted to have secured funding that will help to secure the future of our cherished heritage site. It’s so important for future generations to learn about our past and these exciting new developments will help secure our future for many years to come. We would like to thank the local community for their support during these challenging times.”