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One of Derbyshire's newest and best attractions.


The museum and visitor centre at Swadlincote, tells the story of the South Derbyshire Pottery industry from the 16th to the 21st century. Ranked second only in status to that of Stoke-on-Trent for pottery manufacture. In the early part of the 19th century, the town exported vast quantities of household pottery to the USA.

In the mid-19th century, Sharpe's patented the 'box rim', a new way of flushing the toilet. Once, the new toilet flush was introduced, Swadlincote came into its own for dealing with flushed waste. It was found that the high aluminia content of the local clay made it especially suitable for 'salt glazing' giving the clay a tough, virtually indestructible finish, ideal for sewage pipes. Sewerage pipes made in the town are in use all over the world, including in the Houses of Parliament.


Sharpe's Pottery closed in 1967, after a working life of 146 years. Six years later a fire caused extensive damage and that seemed to be the beginning of the end for the factory. Fortunately despite the dereliction, the kiln and enough of the building survived to make rescue possible in the 1990s, as part of the regeneration of an area badly hit by the closure of the coal and clay works.

The exhibits and displays at the museum cover the period from the 16th century to the present day. The latest interactive technology enables visitors to discover the fascinating facts of South Derbyshire pottery, with video clips, old newsreels and photographs.


South Derbyshire clay was used to make all kinds of things from bricks to Bargeware teapots and the much acclaimed Bretby Art Pottery. Many fine examples are on display, together with an interesting collection of loos, from the plain and simple to the more bizarre. Sharpe's is a Charitable Trust (Charity Number 1077086), ran by volunteers, who state the following.

"We have rescued the Sharpe's Pottery buildings and created the Visitor Centre because we feel that South Derbyshire's industrial, social and cultural heritage is really special and worth celebrating and preserving for future generations."


 Swadlincote Feature

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The Visitor Centre is housed in a newly restored 19th century pottery works, in West Street Swadlincote. The latest interactive technology enables visitors to discover the fascinating facts of South Derbyshire pottery, with video clips, old newsreels and photographs.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday, from 10am. Last admissions 3.30pm. Check Christmas and new year opening. Admission Free. For more information telephone 01283 222600.



A wide range of events are held at the museum, including music, art, theatre and regular farmers' markets. For more information please ring the above number or check the website.




A TIC is located within Sharpe's Pottery Museum to help you plan your visit to South Derbyshire and The National Forest. Details are as follows:

Sharpes's Pottery Museum, West Street, Swadlincote, Derbyshire, DE11 9DG

Tel 01283 222848

Fax: 01283 222848


Website -



Located within the museum, holds a large archive of local and family history. For opening hours. Telephone.01283/218150



Provides a wide range of features  with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


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A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:

 Click below for details.

Discover Derby  


All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.