Ground work started this week on the £34million redevelopment, which will include the building of a new Wedgwood manufacturing plant and more than 200 homes on the 281-acre site.
The overhaul will also create 102 extra jobs, adding to Wedgwood’s existing 440-strong workforce, and its production will increase by 20 per cent when its new manufacturing plant opens next year. Company offices will be remodelled and there will be a significant expansion of the Wedgwood Visitor Centre, as well as a retail area, restaurant and tea room.
The Government’s Regional Growth Fund has contributed £5.1 million towards the redevelopment, which is expected to swell annual trips to the visitor centre from 60,000 175,000.
Anthony Jones, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Waterford-Wedgwood-Royal Doulton (WWRD), which owns the Wedgwood brand, said: “The new offices will put Barlaston at the heart of the company, while the manufacturing facility is vitally important for us to grow the Made in England ranges.
“Meanwhile the visitor experience will make this a first class destination for visitors from all over the world. It will be a true 3D representation of the Wedgwood brand, bringing the world of Wedgwood to life.”
WWRD expects to move into its new facilities in early 2015 and by Easter the visitor experience will be fully open.
Graeme Whitehead, Destination Staffordshire’s tourism manager said: “The Wedgwood redevelopment is great news, not only for the attraction itself but for the wider county.
“The investment and expansion of the visitor facilities at Barlaston will further enhance our cultural offer as the ‘home of the potteries’ but also keeps us front of mind as a leading UK short break destination.
“At present, almost 28,000 people work in tourism in Staffordshire and the sector generates more than £1.4 billion direct and indirect spend in the county.
“The Wedgwood brand is revered around the world and already attracts many visitors to the area, with this new development we look forward to an increase in footfall and a boost to the local economy.”