About Us

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, Stoke-on-Trent, a Victorian pot bank where Emma has manufactured her iconic handmade and hand decorated pottery for more than twenty years. See the 2019 progamme here

Curated by trustees’ designer and pottery manufacturer Emma Bridgewater and Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum and former Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt, the UK’s only festival in a working, manufacturing environment takes place over three exciting days in June and features author talks, panel discussionshands-on workshops and live performances in surprising spaces all around the canal-side factory from the old pottery warehouse to the cobbled courtyard.

2019 Highlights included:

  • Retail queen Mary Portas on why women are the future of how we work, Viv Groskop inspired us to learn How to Own the Room and Elizabeth Day encouraged us all to embrace How to Fail
  • UK Children’s laureate Lauren Child enthralled Stoke school children with how to write and draw your dreams with free tickets for all Stoke-on-Trent schools
  • Stoke born historian and biographer AN Wilson discussed the real Queen Victoria in her bicentennial year, historian Tom Holland revealed Aethelflaed, England’s forgotten Anglo Saxon queen and acclaimed author Ben Macintyre shared the most astonishing real life spy story of the the Cold War and Andrew Roberts revealed Churchill’s true genius
  • MP Rachel Reeves explored the dynamic lives and vital contribution the of the Women of Westminster, former BBC economics editor Kamal Ahmed shared his experience of race and identity in Britain and political communications director and journalist Tom Baldwin asked if politics and the media have killed democracy
  • Greepeace UK’s Head of Oceans campaign Will McCallum shared how to give up plastic and reduce our impact on our the planet’s natural resources
  • Acclaimed biographer Jenny Uglow shared the surprising and nonsense life of Edward Lear and the National Trust’s Head of Research Nino Strachey explored the rooms and spaces so important to the Bloomsbury Set
  • The hottest tickets in town were for our sell-out Meet the V&A Curator events with Oriole Cullen and Claire Wilcox on the museum’s recent Christian Dior and Frida Kahlo exhibitions
  • Novelist and screen writer Deborah Moggach entertained our finale audience with a hilarious and entertaining discussion about her outstanding career
  • Poets packed out the factory with pop up sessions in the courtyard and studio and festival goers also enjoyed free factory tours to see how we make 35,000 handmade and hand decorated pieces of Emma Bridgewater pottery every week, plus screen printing workshops, children’s authors and clay crafts too

Emma Bridgewater says, “From our first festival in 2014, our aim has been to bring the very best writers, commentators and thinkers to Stoke-on-Trent where there has always been a great appetite for debate, but also with the hope that we might inspire people to explore ideas, provide stimulating encounters with award winning authors, poets and playwrights and foster the joy of books and reading. From a small conversation Tristram Hunt and I had several years ago we now have a truly established, very warmly received and joyful festival, busy with book lovers of all ages that attracts friends old and new to Stoke-on-Trent. We look forward to welcoming you to the best weekend of the summer!”

The Festival is especially grateful for the longstanding support of the Bertarelli Foundation who’s ongoing commitment has ensured the Festival’s success. Through the Foundation’s support, the Festival is able to welcome schools and youth groups to events free of charge and host events with successful and inspirational figures to encourage young people from Stoke-on-Trent to aim high.

Tickets for all events are £8 and available from the www.newvictheatre.org.uk, at the Box Office or by phone or the Festival website. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @SOTLitFestival for news and updates.


Registered Address: 

Emma Bridgewater Factory, Lichfield Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 3 EJ.