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The Festival in a Factory 2018

Thursday 7 June–Saturday 9 June 2018

Emma Bridgewater Factory

From award winning authors to world-renowned experts, artists and entertainersThe Festival in a  Factory is an eclectic celebration of culture and creativity in the inspiring surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory, a Victorian pot bank where Emma has manufactured her iconic handmade and hand decorated pottery for more than twenty years.

Join us for three exciting days of author talks, panel discussionshands-on workshops and live performances all around the canal-side factory in surprising spaces from the old pottery warehouse to the cobbled courtyard.

Curated by trustees’ designer and pottery manufacturer Emma Bridgewater, designer Matthew Rice and Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum and former Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt, the Festival is now in its fifth year and brings together people of all ages for stimulating encounters in this most creative of cities.

To see the Festival’s full schedule please click here or see below…


THURSDAY 7 JUNE Emma Bridgewater Factory, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 3EJ.

MICHAEL MORPURGO at 12pm – The Meakin Room
One of Britain’s best loved writers for children, the nation’s favourite storyteller and author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo will open the Festival on Thursday 7th June to share his latest book In the Mouth of the Wolf, a dream collaboration of Michael’s wonderful story-telling and illustrations by award winning and critically acclaimed artist Barroux.

Michael has written over 100 books including Private Peacfeul, Why the Whales Came, The Butterfly Lion, Kensuke’s Kingdom and won many prizes, including the Smarties Prize and the Whitbread Award.

 In the Mouth of the Wolf is the true story of Michael’s uncle Francis Cammaerts as he experiences the devastating impact of WWII and the knife-edge danger of life in the Resistance and his family is changed for ever. Click here to book this event

PRUE LEITH at 2pm – The Meakin Room

Relish is a memoir of a woman whose refreshing charm, humour, energy and zest show her remarkable appetite for life. We are delighted to welcome novelist, presenter/broadcaster, businesswoman, journalist and cookery writer, Prue, to the Festival to share stories from her all aspects of her fascinating life revealed in her hugely successful and recently updated autobiography. Click here to book this event

FRED HUGHES Suffrage in Stoke – from the factory floor to Parliament – at 3pm – The Decorating Studio
Join local historian Fred Hughes to discover how the campaign for women’s franchise was illustrated in North Staffordshire with dynamic examples of women very much aware of their political inequality. Meet women including Gertrude Jarrett who joined the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) just before the Great War and regularly protested in Hanley Market Square to “spout a bit!” and trade union organiser Sarah Bennett (left) who found her cards marked as a troublemaker for bringing outside revolutionary influences to the factory floor and later campaigned alongside Christabel Pankhurst in the Staffordshire North West Division by-election. Click here to book this event

DAN JONES at 3.30pm – The Meakin Room
Bestselling historian, award-winning journalist and TV presenter Dan Jones shares his fascinating study of the wealthiest, most powerful – and most secretive – of the military orders that flourished in the crusading era. The Knights Templars’ story is a blistering journey through bitter conflict in the Middle East, a study of unrestrained financial power and a shocking lesson in the dangers of propaganda and political envy. Click here to book this event

SARAH SANDS Editor of BBC Radio 4 Today programme at 5pm – The Meakin Room
Sarah Sands was appointed in 2017 as the first person from outside of the BBC ever to run Radio 4’s Today in the year it marked it’s 60th anniversary and she is only the second woman to ever edit the programme. A former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, who also spent five years editing the Evening Standard, Sarah will be in conversation with festival trustee Tristram Hunt about her first year at the helm of the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme. Click here to book this event

H.B LYLE at 5pm – The Decorating Studio
Fast paced, action packed, full of twists and violent, sometimes poignant shocks, Lyle’s The Irregular: A Different Class of Spy is the debut novel of a brilliant new writer.

London, 1909: the British Empire seems invulnerable, but Captain Vernon Kell, head of counterintelligence at the War Office, knows better. As a boy, he spied for Sherlock Holmes, as a man he must save the empire.

In Russia, revolution; in Germany, an arms race; in London, the streets are alive with foreign terrorists. Kell wants to set up a Secret Service, but to convince his political masters, he needs proof of a threat – and to find that, he needs an agent he can trust. The playing fields of Eton may produce good officers but not men who can work undercover in a munitions factory that appears to be leaking secrets to the Germans. Kell needs Wiggins. Join Ben to hear more about his inspiration for his new novel and the origins of the Secret Service. Click here to book this event

JANE ROBINSON Suffragists at 6.30pm – The Meakin Room
In this centenary year of the point when some women first won the vote, we’re delighted to welcome author Jane Robinson to share her latest book, Hearts & Minds. Set against the colourful background of the entire campaign for women to win the vote and drawn from diaries, letters and unpublished accounts, Jane recounts the remarkable and inspiring story of the hundreds of non-militant campaigners the suffragists, and their astonishing six-week protest march to London. Click here to book this event

SOPHIE KINSELLA at 8pm – The Meakin Room
International best-selling writer and former financial journalist Sophie Kinsella has sold over 40 million copies of her books in more than 60 countries around the globe. Author of eleven number one bestselling novels, including the fabulously popular Shopaholic series – the first of which is now the hit Hollywood movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, we’re delighted to welcome Sophie to Stoke to discuss her phenomenally successful writing career and her latest novel, Surprise Me. Click here to book this event


FRIDAY 8 JUNE Emma Bridgewater Factory, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 3EJ

DR ANNA KEAY Monmouth Royal Rebel at 11am – The Meakin Room
The tumultuous life of James, Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, is the subject of this fascinating talk from historian, broadcaster and director of The Landmark Trust, Anna Keay.  Born in exile, Monmouth emerged from a childhood in the backstreets of Rotterdam to command the ballrooms of Paris, the brothels of Covent Garden and the battlefields of Flanders. Anna explores his glamorous life and tragic death and will reveal the important part Cheshire and Staffordshire played in his remarkable story. Click here to book this event

ARTHUR PARKINSON The Pottery Gardner at Emma Bridgewater at 12pm – The Decorating Studio
Arthur has transformed the walled garden here at the Emma Bridgewater Factory into a bold and beautifully planed oasis in the heart of the city. Join him in conversation with Emma about the changes he’s brought inspired by Emma’s designs and love of flowers, and a guided tour of the garden itself. Click here to book this event

SIMON THURLEY Tudor Houses of Power at 12.30pm – The Meakin Room
Leading architectural historian, former Museum director and former Chief Executive of English Heritage  English Heritage and curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Simon Thurley is our expert guide on a fascinating exploration of the most significant houses of Tudor England. Drawing on thirty years of research, Simon tells for the first time the story of the Tudor monarchs through what they built and where they lived as a way of understanding the complex machinations of the Tudor court. Click here to book this event

JAMES HAMILTON at 2pm – The Eastwood Room
Britain’s great regional museums and art galleries, their development over the past fifty years and their future – as far as we can see it – are the subjects explored in a fascinating talk from writer and historian James Hamilton. Drawing on his own experience as a regional curator since the 1970s and research from his forthcoming concise history of the British Musuem, we’re sure that in a city home to a world renowned collection and the wonderful Potteries Museum, there will be a great appetite for discussing the value and importance of museums outside of the country’s capital cities. Click here to book this event

JONATHAN DIMBLEBY The Battle of the Atlantic at 2pm – The Meakin Room
The Battle of the Atlantic was – though often overlooked – crucial to victory in the Second World War. If the German U-boats had prevailed, the maritime artery across the Atlantic would have been severed. Mass hunger would have consumed Britain, and the Allied armies would have been prevented from joining in the invasion of Europe. There would have been no D-Day.

Through fascinating contemporary diaries and letters, from the leaders and from the sailors on all sides, Jonathan Dimbleby creates a thrilling narrative that uniquely places the campaign in the context of the entire Second World War. Challenging conventional wisdom on the use of intelligence and on Churchill’s bombing campaign, The Battle of the Atlantic tells the epic story of the decisions that led to victory, and the horror and humanity of life on those perilous seas. Click here to book this event

The Festival is thrilled that the new Stoke-on-Trent’s official laureate will be announced on Friday 8 June.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stoke-on-Trent Libraries will announce the winner of the recent competition to become the city’s first Laureate. The new laureate will be appointed to the honorary post for an initial two-year tenure. with a role to write poems to commission, read and perform  poetry, initiate poetry events and work with local poetry and community group to promote poetry across Stoke-on-Trent.

Staffordshire Poet Laureate Emily Rose Galvin will be a special guest at the event with other poets to be announced shortly. Click here to book this event

PETER FRANKOPAN at 3.30pm – The Meakin Room
From the rise and fall of empires in China, Persia, and Rome to the spread of the great religions and the wars of the twentieth century, this epic work illuminates how the Silk Roads shaped global history, the axis of East and West. Join historian, author and Director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University Peter Frankopan, for a fascinating discussion about his magnificent, best-selling book The Silk Roads – a New History of the WorldClick here to book this event

POETRY PANEL 4pm – Decorating Studio
Join three acclaimed poets, with various West Midlands connections, for an hour of honest and powerful poetry.

This is poetry for our lives and times.
Poetry that says what needs to be said.
Poetry that doesn’t look away.
Poetry with a beating heart.

Come and be moved by Roz Goddard, Roy McFarlane and Degna Stone. Chaired by John Prebble from The Poetry Exchange
Click here to book this event

DECLAN MURPHY & AMI RAO at 5pm – The Meakin Room
One of the most brilliant jockeys of his generation, Declan Murphy’s world came crashing down at the final hurdle at Haydock Park in 1994. His skull shattered in twelve places, the last rites were read and the Racing Post prepared his obituary. Miraculously, he defied death and recovered to 18 months later, saddle up again and win one more race. In an extraordinary collaboration with British-American writer Ami Rao, Declan’s shares his story of hope, and of life, in “Centaur” shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Click here to book this event

DIRTY LAUNDRY at 5.30pm – The Pottery Warehouse
Reuben Moth is dying…His daughter, Nora, does her best to keep him clean and comfortable, but Stoke-on-Trent in the 1950s is not a clean or comfortable place – and Rueben Moth is not at peace. In his final fever he calls out the name Emmeline time and again. Nora wonders who this mystery woman could be. And why is Reuben suddenly receiving important visitors? What secret have they all been keeping for almost twenty years? And why must it never come to light?

Don’t miss this read-through version of Claybody Theatre‘s hit play Dirty Laundry set against the backdrop of the pottery industry in the 1950s. Click here to book this event

ADAM NICOLSON The Seabirds Cry at 6.30pm – The Meakin Room
The full story of seabirds from one of the greatest nature writers. Adam Nicolson joins us to share insights from his newly released book The Seabird’s Cry which looks at the pattern of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face and the passions they inspire. Click here to book this event

MATTHEW SWEET 200 years of Frankenstein and Gothic horror at 8pm – The Meakin Room
Friday Night Fright Night at the Factory with writer, broadcaster, author of Inventing the Victorians and presenter of the Sound of Cinema on BBC Radio 3 Matthew Sweet as we discuss the bi-centenary Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the impact one of the first gothic novels has had on film and fiction ever since. Adapted countless times for cinema, radio, television and theatre – join us for a thrilling exploration looking at why, 200 years after it was born, Mary Shelley’s nightmare creation is still very much alive and kicking… Click here to book this event

THE POETRY EXCHANGE  offers a distinctive approach to the exploration and presentation of poetry – a new space somewhere between literary reading, spoken word and performance poetry.

At the heart of the project is THE EXCHANGE – A special invitation for people to nominate a poem that has been a friend to them.
A poet and an actor from the team set up an informal ‘booth’ where people are invited to join us, have a cup of tea and talk about the poem that has been a friend to them.
In return they receive a gift, a unique recording of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation and their thoughts about the poem.

Slots are available at 10am, 11.15am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm, 3.45pm and 5pm Eastwood Room.
Please call the Box Office on 01782 381381 to book a one-to-one session.

*The Eastwood Room is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible (first floor, up steps) but we can run your session in another location if you would prefer.
Please let the Box Office know on booking.

BBC RADIO 4 Any Questions? at 8pm – Forum Theatre, Potteries Museum
Festival trustee Emma Bridgewater joins a panel of major figures and formidable host Jonathan Dimbleby, plus a public audience – which you can be part of for free – for a programme of topical and political debate as part of the Festival in a Factory, broadcast live from the Forum Theatre at the Potteries Museum.

First broadcast on 12 October 1948, Any Questions? has been an almost ever present on the airwaves since and current chairman Jonathan Dimbleby has been in the role since 1987. He has anchored ITV’s coverage of several General Elections and written numerous books on subjects as diverse as Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and travelling through Russia and is also hosting a talk at the Festival on his most recent book; The Battle of the Atlantic.

FREE tickets for Any Questions? must be booked in advance by clicking here (minimum age 14 years) or by calling the Festival Box Office at the New Vic Theatre on 01782 381381. You will receive an email booking confirmation from the  New Vic Theatre. Audience members will require a physical BBC ticket to gain entry to the event which is also your question card to submit a question to the panel. BBC tickets can be collected from:

  • the New Vic Box Office from Tuesday 1st May until Wednesday 6 June
  • the Festival Box Office at the Emma Bridgewater Factory on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 June (until 4pm)
  • from the foyer at the Potteries Museum from 6.15pm on Friday 8 June prior to the broadcast
  • doors open to the public at 6.30pm, audience members should be seated by 7.25pm with the live broadcast commencing at 8pm


SATURDAY 9 JUNE Emma Bridgewater Factory, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 3EJ

HOLLY WEBB  “The Princess and the Suffragette” – 10.30am Old Pottery Warehouse

The Festival is delighted to welcome hugely popular children’s author Holly Webb to Festival to share her wonderful book “The Princess and the Suffragette”
It is 1913, and young women are ready to change their lives. All across London, women are uniting in their desire for a voice, for a vote. But life at Miss Minchin’s school feels as dull as ever for Lottie, until she sneaks out one day to attend a Suffragette demonstration. Lottie is swept up in the women’s rights movement – celebrating the joy of friendship and female empowerment. And uncovering a secret about her own missing mother…

A sequel to much-loved classic A Little Princess, The Princess and the Suffragette is a heart-soaring story about standing up for what you believe in.
Holly will talk about and read from the book (and sequel), and also talk about the suffragette movement, particularly regarding how young girls were involved.

This will be followed by an activity to make crepe paper Suffragette rosettes.
Recommended 8+
Click here to book this event


RACHEL JOYCE at 12pm – The Meakin Room
Internationally bestselling author Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessey and a collection of interlinked short stories and visits the Festival to share her new novel The Music Shop. Click here to book this event

SIMON MAYO at 2pm – The Meakin Room
The award-winning presenter of BBC Radio 2’s Drive programme as well as the renowned the Radio 2 Book Club, visits the Festival to share his debut novel for adults Mad Blood Stirring. Inspired by real events and real characters the novel tells the story of the American sailors held prisoner in Dartmoor prison in the Second War of American Independence, Mad Blood Stirring tells of a few frantic months in the suffocating atmosphere of a prison awaiting liberation. Click here to book this event

SALLEY VICKERS at 3.30pm – The Meakin Room
Highly acclaimed novelist Salley Vickers returns home to her childhood home of The Potteries to share her brand new book, The Librarian.  The author of nine hugely successful novels, including Miss Garnet’s AngelThe Cleaner of Chartres and Cousins as well as two short story collections, Salley’s latest book is based on a children’s librarian who’s job becomes compromised by a network of local intrigue, a story inspired by a librarian who radically affected Salley’s own childhood and inspired her to become a writer. Click here to book this event.

DAME JENNI MURRAY – A History of Britain in 21 Women – at 5pm in The Meakin Room
The history of Britain has traditionally been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. It’s high time that it was defined by its women. In her most recent book, A History of Britain in 21 Women, BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter Dame  Jenni Murray tells the stories of women who refused to succumb to the established laws of society. From famous queens, forgotten visionaries, great artists and trailblazing politicians – each pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world – and have the power to inspire future generations.  Click here to book this event.

CALL THE MIDWIFE at 7pm – The Meakin Room
Call the Midwife, the BAFTA and NTA winning drama following the lives of a group of midwives working in the poverty-stricken East End of London during the 1950s, has become one of the BBC’s best loved dramas in recent years. Joining us for the final event of the Festival in a Factory 2018 will be Executive Producer Pippa Harris and actress Jennifer Kirby who plays Valerie Dyer to discuss this incredibly successful series which has recently finished its seventh season. The Festival is delighted to welcome BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour presenter Dame Jenni Murray as our host for the Festival Finale. Click here to book this event



The Festival is especially grateful for the longstanding support of the Bertarelli Foundation who’s ongoing commitment has ensured the success of the Festival, now in its fifth year. Through their support, the Festival is able to welcome schools and youth groups to all events free of charge and host events with successful and aspirational figures to encourage young people from Stoke-on-Trent to aim high, including guests of the Festival Cambridge University classist Professor Mary Beard, journalist and political spokesperson Alastair Campbell, award winning novelist Nick Hornby, historian Dan Jones, government speech writer and author Julian Glover and prize winning writer Meg Rossoff.


Thursday 7 June–Saturday 9 June 2018

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