The Wedgwood Museum, which entered administration in 2010, after the collapse of the iconic firm, has launched a public appeal to save the 80,000 piece Wedgwood pottery collection. The museum was lumbered with an £134m bill for pension debts, when they were transferred to the museum trust after Waterford Wedgwood Plc collapsed in January 2009. The pension debt was covered by (PPF), Pension Protection Fund however a high court judge ruled that the collection valued at £15m should be sold off to reimburse the insurers.
The Art Fund has now raised £13m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to buy the collection but still needs to raise a further £2.7m by 30 November or the collection will be sold off at auction. A public appeal has now been launched to save the Wedgwood collection held in the museum in Stoke-on-Trent.
Director Stephen Deuchar said it did not want to the collection “broken up and sold off on the open market”.He said: “If, with the public’s help, we can raise the remaining funds…[it will] enable us to keep it together and on display locally and ensuring it is never put at risk again.”
Carole Couter, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said it had contributed about £5m to the campaign. She said: “As well as being a breathtaking collection of ceramics and a wonderful archive it shows how Josiah Wedgwood interacted with his peers, the influence he had and how his thinking led to a completely different approach to industrial manufacturing.”
The Art Fund plans to lease the collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, if its bid is successful. The V&A would loan the collection to WWRD, the company that now makes Wedgwood. Members of the Wedgwood family said it would be “a relief” to have the collection kept together in Staffordshire. “It’s not just about pots it’s about 250 years of best of British,” said Alison Wedgwood. “It would make an absolute mockery of our industrial heritage if we let this collection get broken up and sold off. It is now up to the public to reach into their pockets, to save a rich part of England’s industrial history.