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The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent

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[IN PICTURES] Matthew Rice and Emma Bridgewater write the architectural and industrial history of this forgotten city.

The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent is an appreciation, a record, and a guide to the biggest ceramic producing city of the Industrial Revolution. It offers a hybrid of architectural and anthropological comment inspired by local history. Rice’s Stoke harks back to a time when the city was an internationally renowned. Now Stoke is a derelict place, with ‘the lowest quality of life in England’ (so the author describes…).

But this book is not a sentimental polemic on how to rescue Stoke. Instead, it places pottery as the foundation of buildings; narrating how the industry shaped Victorian architecture to how, by the 1950s, its lack thereof tore it down.

The Lost City makes buildings the face of history, and an urban regeneration is anticipated by presenting them as the raw materials to such a challenge.

Emma Bridgewater, Rice’s wife and an entrepreneur, writes a cheerful foreword setting her earthenware pottery business in parallel with those in Stoke’s Victorian era. Watercolours of pottery and architectural designs illustrate the story. These, rich in detail and character, are painted by Rice himself.

Matthew Rice is a painter, designer, and writer. He is the author of Village buildings of Britain, Rice’s Architectural Primer and Building Norfolk.

The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent Published by Frances Lincoln, October 7, 2010 £19.99 in hardback

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