Black clouds once hung over Stoke-on-Trent. This was due to the countless bottle kilns which darkened the heavens with their coal fires. Low wages and appalling living conditions made the town a nightmare for generations of industrial workers. All this was a stark contrast to the exquisite china and the luminous glazed pottery and the fine earthenware which was produced here. For in the 18th and 19th century Stoke-on-Trent was world-famous for its pottery manufacture. Nowadays potters are still at work in the Gladstone Pottery Museum, which is housed in an original old pottery factory. Here they model clay on the historic potters’ wheels, stack the items carefully and bake them in the traditional kilns, before painting and glazing begins. Creative visitors can try their hand at the pottery wheel. Everything is just as it was here. The soot-black walls of the building, the cramped conditions, the ceaseless pounding of a restored steam engine. The only thing missing is the heavily polluted air – one good reason to take a deep sigh of relief!