If you want a proper cup of tea from a proper teapot, the place to go is Stoke-on-Trent – not so much for the tea itself as because the chances are it’ll be served in decent china.
Ceramics, after all, are what they do here – the six towns that came together in 1910 to form Stoke-on-Trent were known as The Potteries. Like most of the cities applying to be city of culture in 2021, Stoke’s bid makes the most of its heritage, but like its rival Paisley (famous for Paisley shawls and the Paisley pattern) that heritage has a distinctly artistic flavour.
Making pottery is a job that fuses art and technology, the creative with the scientific. In the industry’s heyday it employed thousands of artists – from designers and highly-skilled engravers to the humble folk who actually applied the decoration to Staffordshire tableware and ornaments. These days the big factories making cheap goods for the mass market have mostly gone – it’s much more cost-effective to manufacture in the Far East – but there are still plenty of potteries. Indeed the industry in Stoke has enjoyed a modest revival in the past few years, producing mainly high-end, luxury goods.