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The BIG Breakfast Show

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13.09.23 – Covid Booster Reminder, SOT Community Excavation Project

Written by on 14 September 2023

Staffordshire residents are being encouraged to get their autumn Covid booster and flu jab ahead of the colder months.

This year’s autumn flu and Covid-19 vaccination programme has been brought forward due to the discovery of a new variant of Covid. Vaccinations will be made available from 11 September as a precautionary measure intended to protect the most vulnerable ahead of winter.

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The remains of two former bottle ovens look set to be uncovered as part of a community excavation project in Stoke-on-Trent.

Staff and volunteers from Stoke-on-Trent City Council are carrying out the dig at Middleport Pottery this month.

The work forms part of the Stoke-on-Trent Ceramic Heritage Action Zone project, which is a five-year long heritage regeneration programme focused on the city’s bottle ovens and the Longton Town Centre Conservation Area. It is being delivered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Historic England and a number of other partners.

The excavation aims to uncover the remains of two bottle ovens which once stood in the courtyard at Middleport Pottery, which was established in 1888 by Burgess and Leigh and originally featured seven bottle ovens.

The ovens which are being excavated are believed to have been demolished by 1974. They originally formed a row of three biscuit ovens, only one of which is still standing today.

It is hoped that the excavation will uncover the foundation levels of the two demolished biscuit ovens, revealing more about their construction and operation.

Councillor Duncan Walker, cabinet member for planning, climate change and regeneration, said: “This is a really exciting project. The findings from this dig will help us to understand more about the city’s heritage and our industrial past which we are so widely known for.

“This is a community project and we are keen to involve our residents in this unique opportunity to uncover a piece of Stoke-on-Trent’s history.

“I would like to reassure residents that this excavation will be handled extremely sensitively. We want to ensure that we can preserve and maintain these remains for generations to come. I’d also like to extend my thanks to Middleport Pottery for enabling us to carry out this excavation and supporting with the logistics of it.”

The excavation will take place between Tuesday 12 September and Friday 15 September and again from Monday 18 September and Friday 22 September.

As part of the project, a number of volunteering opportunities are available for anyone over the age of 18.

Volunteers will be required to help excavate an area, roughly 4.5 metres by 9 metres in size, of the courtyard at Middleport Pottery using hand tools and help to process and record any findings.

Places are limited to 10 per day and anyone wishing to volunteer should email zoe.sutherland@stoke.gov.uk