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Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

In 1972, the RAF gifted an MK.XVI Spitfire to the City of Stoke-on-Trent to commemorate the original designer of the Spitfire, Reginald Mitchell, who was born in Stoke. To celebrate its importance, the Council commissioned the delivery of a brand-new exhibition space to house the Spitfire.

The exhibition is not only to tell the story of Mitchell and the Spitfire, but to celebrate influential historical figures from the City and inspire future generations with respect to STEAM (science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths).

Key Stats

Social Value Stats
Delivered on time and budget

9/10 customer satisfaction

£950,000 social value

40% local labour

43/50 CCS Score

100% SME spend

30 charitable hours donated

6000 car miles saved on the project

Building Stats
3,800 sq ft extension

Glazed Spitfire exhibition gallery

Refurbishment to the existing Café

Upgrade to cladding rather than render to external seating area

Upgrading the tanking system to the external terrace

At a Glance


Stoke-On-Trent City Council




June 2021






Designed by Glancy Nicholls Architect, the team worked collaboratively through the SCAPE framework to design a 3,800 square foot extension. The facility includes bespoke structural glazing, which enables the Spitfire to be viewed from outside of the museum.

In addition, refurbishment works to the existing 4,200 square foot café, including internal improvements to the walls, ceilings, and floor finishes - including a new bar and servery counter - helped bring a fresh and engaging experience for visitors.

The building provides a naturally lit and airy indoor space through the structural glazing and ventilation. Outside, the museum includes high quality public realm areas with specialist stone coming from a Portuguese quarry, complimented by a soft landscaped area to allow for the public to relax or walk through and around the museum.

Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Wide angle external shot of the museum extension

Our Approach

Delivered on time and in budget, this project overcame many challenges. By working closely with the supply chain and the customer, we managed to find innovative, efficient, and cost-effective solutions to a variety of challenges highlighted by the ground investigations such as asbestos in the ground, coal seams grouted, district heat mains and services, contamination and diversion of major gas main. These unforeseen challenges were identified and overcome early, to avoid impact on the programme.

COVID-19 and Brexit caused a large challenge to the delivery of high-quality granite. Originally meant to be sourced from China, the team had to change to a Portuguese supplier. This guaranteed the materials would come on time without affecting programme. It also provided a smart and cost-effective solution as research showed that shipping costs went up by 300% from China, with delivery delays equally large.

The project design is economic as the team used flashing and cloaking techniques upon the external terraces of the building. This smart technique was used where there was a fall in the paving between the cladding and pavement and managed to save costs by using innovative 3D printing solutions as opposed to ordering a whole new panel from Italy.

Through carefully re-designing key features of the project, including elements such as the external lighting, reducing the size of the plant room and omitting the use of intumescent paint to roof steelwork, the team were able save the customer over 200k.

To cap off this landmark project, the team also provided assistance getting the re-conditioned spitfire into the building – a very careful and sensitive operation.

The Spitfire RW388 being loaded into the building

Social Impact

Working together as an integrated team, and through the implementation of a social value toolkit, the project delivered £950,000 in social value investment locally.

The team supported the local community by getting involved with many local community projects. We committed 27 hrs to the Men Unite - is a charity aimed at supporting mental health for men.

A total of 101 apprentice weeks were delivered on the project. Whether it’s our apprentices or potential apprentices, we ensure we are nurturing and inspiring the next generation. This included attending both Nottingham Trent University and Birmingham City University to deliver careers talks about the diversity of careers available in our industry.

In addition, the team also designed and installed bespoke mural hoardings during construction – the artwork depicted a timeline of RJ Mitchell’s life so that passers by could be inspired about the new building to come. These murals were then delivered to local schools to enable the story to live on.

Following the successful completion of this project, we developed a mini film “Operation Spitfire Film” which encapsulated the whole story and vision for the project.

The project will continue to inspire growth and celebrate the cultural heritage that is Stoke City way beyond the build.

Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
The bespoke mural which depicts the timeline of RJ Mitchell’s life
This world-class attraction is a stunning example of the regeneration happening across Stoke-on-Trent. It celebrates our past, but is also a huge part of our future as we power up Stoke-on-Trent and build back better from the pandemic. Our heritage-led regeneration is creating a quality environment where visitors, residents and people working here can come and spend time in amazing spaces. It’s changing the landscape of Stoke-on-Trent and the city centre for the better, providing a massive lift for the area and putting our city right on the international map where it belongs.

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage
We’re so excited for the opening of the new gallery and we can’t wait for visitors to come and see how special it is. The space has such a wow factor when you walk in and the incredible Spitfire RW388 and its story are truly inspiring. The restoration experts, designers, construction team, partners including Operation Spitfire and museum staff have all done such an amazing job making this incredible vision a reality. It’s going to be a first class visitor attraction that can bring so many people to the area, inspire a new generation of engineers and spark immense pride in our local history

Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for culture, leisure and public health

Video: Lambda Films


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