16:49 Wednesday 09 January 2013

Ten years on... a Swad icon marks its landmark day

Written byTIM FLETCHER

AN ‘iconic’ South Derbyshire museum which brought new life to a derelict former industrial building is preparing to mark a landmark anniversary.

Sharpe’s Pottery Museum, in West Street, Swadlincote, is preparing a series of events to celebrate its 10th birthday next week.

The 19th century building was once the hub of an operation which exported toilets and sewage pipes around the world but stood derelict for more than 30 years.

After being transformed with the help of a £1 million lottery grant, it opened in its current format on January 18, 2003, and has since welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Tony Hurrell, chairman of the Sharpe’s Pottery Heritage and Arts Trust, said: “The original vision was to retain the building as an iconic pace for people to visit and to provide somewhere which shared the local history and heritage and preserved it for future generations.

“The last 10 years have been very successful, thorough a number of partnerships, not least with South Derbyshire District Council, which shared the vision and has been prepared to help not just financially but with guidance, advice and expertise.

“In addition to that, the place owes a significant debt to the friends and volunteers who give their time freely.”

As well as its exhibits and its role as a meeting place for businesses and organisations, the museum also provides a base for the Magic Attic history archives and Swadlincote Tourist Information Centre.

Last year, Sharpe’s opened a new coffee shop and outdoor play area, while future plans include a new gallery hosting an exhibition entitled ‘Toilet Story’, tracing the history of its links to the global sanitaryware industry.

The anniversary will be marked with a two-week exhibition on the site’s history, launching on Friday, January 18 and featuring the presence of other museums and heritage centres,, while a temporary exhibition on the famed Bretby Art Pottery will also be held.

On Saturday, February 19 from 11am to 3pm, children’s workshops will be held offering youngsters the chance to make model kilns from clay, along with a session of the young gardeners club.

More information is available online at www.sharpespotterymuseum.org.uk or by calling the museum on 01283 222600.

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