The Prince of Wales joined us this week as he boarded a restored working boat to learn more about how Stoke-on-Trent’s historic canals are cared for and to meet some of the dedicated volunteers working to protect and promote important features of the city’s industrial heritage.
The day saw His Royal Highness visit Etruria Industrial Museum to meet some of the volunteers involved in caring for the only operational steam-driven potters' mill in the world. The Prince who is our Patron later boarded historic working boat The Lindsay to see how the city’s 200-year old canals are looked after today.
Before taking to the water The Prince was invited to explore the museum, home to Jesse Shirley's 1857 Bone and Flint Mill which produced the raw materials to make English Bone China. After a tour of the museum and its historic workshops the outlook moved to the future and a number of canal related programmes for young people.
Firstly The Prince met pupils from St Dominic’s Priory School in Stone, who were taking part in an educational activity through our ‘Explorers’ schools programme. The programme teaches youngsters about the history, science, geography and wildlife of their local waterway.
Then the Royal party moved outside onto the towpath to meet a group of young volunteers who are taking part in a personal development programme which sees them working with us to improve the city’s canals. The six-month course gives 16 to 24 year olds the opportunity to take part in canal-based practical conservation work and team building activities. The programme is part of Step Up To Serve - a national campaign launched by The Prince to double the number of young people involved in social action by 2020.
From Etruria, The Prince boarded The Lindsay for a 30 minute cruise on the Trent & Mersey Canal to Middleport where he officially opened the Middleport Pottery following its £9m regeneration. Whilst on board our chairman Tony Hales and chief executive Richard Parry explained how the charity cares for the city’s canals and how canals can play an important part in future regeneration plans.
Tony said; “We were delighted to welcome The Prince and to introduce him to the many people who are all, in their own way, getting involved with their local waterways.
“Canals are, of course, ingrained in the history of Stoke-on-Trent, they helped to make the Potteries one of the nation’s great industrial centres, but it was fantastic to show that they remain an important part of daily life for the city and its people.
“Stoke-on-Trent is a great example of how waterways can really benefit communities and local industry and today was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate all the great work taking place on or beside the water here.”