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  • EHP Ltd

Burslem Port Trust

Ellis Hillman Partnership Ltd are delighted to be working with The Burslem Port Trust to undertake a feasibility of the potential refurbishment of the former Wharf Warehouse in Burslem.

The Trust seeks to reopen the Burslem Branch Canal, creating new waterside facilities to deliver sustainable leisure and tourism.

The completed project will deliver the re-opened Canal Branch and recreational/community facilities in the heritage buildings on the historic wharf.

The building itself is a large substantial two storey brick building with a footprint the equivalent of two end to end tennis courts. The ground and first floor are generally open with the ground floor being split lengthways by a central run of columns and featuring a pair of brick crane hoist bases. The first floor is a heavy timber floor that is completely open with a full width spanning timber trussed and slate tiled roof.

Burslem Port Trust’s initial brief was to convert the warehouse into a community hub, and this was further defined following their Peoples Port of Burslem Event, where attendees were asked to suggest facilities, accommodation and features that they felt the refurbished building should include, with the following being considered the most important:

• Space for Training and Apprenticeships

• A Cafe and shop

• Event space and small business hire

• Flexible Exhibitions Spaces

• Recycling and Upcycling Workshops

• Showcasing the history of the building

At ground floor, we have proposed the main entrance is located under the original and restored canopy, where you will enter a large lobby/foyer space, which will act as the main circulation core with stair and lift access to the first floor as well as toilet facilities, ensuring the building is accessible to all.

To the left we have located a shop with new shopfront glazing fronting onto the reinstated canal basin, with an information and reception hub as well as the facility for a small exhibition space, possibly showcasing the history of the site. This location will benefit from good natural surveillance of the wider site.

Opposite the shop will be an internal street, with craft and workshop spaces to one side – these spaces will have movable partitions giving maximum flexibility to their use.

At the southern end of the building will be a café, with a kitchen and servery. In this location the Café will benefit from views of the canal and basin, with internal seating and options for external seating under the canopy or on the south facing canal side terrace.

This location will also give those arriving on foot along the canal easy access to the café.

The terrace will connect the building with a large open area that will be used as a recreation space for external exhibitions and some craft pods.

At first floor we have largely retained the open plan layout and envisage this area having a very flexible use – for larger exhibitions, craft fairs, markets, music and arts events to name but a few. To facilitate this, we have shown a large storage space which is essential for storage of all the seating, staging and exhibition stands, amongst other things with the lift being large enough to hold any larger items.

There is also a separate stair access from the ground floor kitchen, giving further opportunities and uses for this impressive space.

Looking at the building itself we wanted, wherever possible to retain or reinstate the original window and door openings. However, we will look to introduce larger area of glazing to the shopfront and within the café. The first floor will be naturally lit by installing rooflights with the existing structure.

Externally, in addition to the canal side café terrace, the external seating under the canopy and the large open exhibition space, there will also be visitor parking, an enclosed service yard and space overlooking the canal basin, which could be used for additional parking spaces or as an area for outdoor markets.

Ellis Hillman Architects feel privileged to assist The Burslem Port Trust with this project. Buildings of this nature, that were once an integral part of Burslem and Stoke on Trent’s unique character, are few and far between and it is now more important then ever that they are restored and returned to their former glory.


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