U5 Design & Technology students toured the Midlands last week on a two day visit which included the Middleport pottery factory in Stoke on Trent where the world’s first production line was created. Known at the time as ‘flow-production’ the factory was purpose built and was state of the art, it pre-dated Henry Ford’s celebrated production-line by some forty years. The factory still operates and manages to accommodate tours and, at the time of our visit, a film crew was shooting a new Netflix series. This was an interesting comparison to the newer production procedures we study within the current GCSE syllabus.
Our trip then progressed to the 21st century with a guided tour of production at JCB headquarters in Uttoxeter, if you have ever driven passed this factory you’ll have been impressed by its scale, but there is much more behind the motorway embankment, with some 5000 employees on this site alone, it’s vast! Students were able to see first-hand the factory and design office layout, along with multiple manufacturing techniques. Photography was strictly forbidden as they are constantly developing new patents!
Students then attended a seminar on park design and management at Alton Towers where of course we just had to try out a few rides to test their ideas before heading to St Giles’ Catholic Church in Cheadle to see “Pugin’s Gem” - the church designed by architect Augustus Pugin and paid for by the Earl of Shrewsbury, the then occupant and owner of Alton Towers. Charles Barry, Pugin designed the Houses of Parliament, also in the Gothic revival style.
It was a very successful and rewarding trip; we witnessed 19th century manufacturing techniques in Stoke and a 21st century manufacturing goliath at JCB - we also managed to squeeze in a bit of the 20th century on the way home as Mannanan limped into Douglas harbour a few hours late!