News Blog for the Campaign to Save the Wedgwood Museum.

This Blog will feature news updates from September 2010 - for the news archive see:

For more information visit the campaign website:

Friday, 20 April 2012

International Academic appeal to Save the Museum

The following eminent academics from across the globe have signed an open letter in The Guardian newspaper:

Peter Scott Professor of international business history, Henley Business School at the University of Reading
Andrew Popp University of Liverpool Management School
Fred Anderson Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Bridie Andrews Bentley University, Massachusetts
Maria Ines Barbero Director, Centro de Estudios de Historia y Desarrollo de Empresas, Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo Professor of business history and bank management, Bangor University
Mark Billings University of Exeter
Alan Booth University of Exeter
Gordon Evelyn Boyce
Ludovic Cailluet Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale, Dunkerque
Angus Cameron Leicester University School of Management
Martin Campbell-Kelly University of Warwick
Ann M Carlos Professor of economics, University of Colorado, Boulder
D'Maris Coffman Director, Centre for Financial History, University of Cambridge
Stephanie Decker Aston Business School
Tolera Zelalem Desalegn University of Milan
Colin Divall Professor of Railway Studies, University of York
Linda Edgerly Director, The Winthrop Group Inc
Jari Eloranta Appalachian State University
Judy Faraday John Lewis Partnership Archives
Jeff Fear University of Redlands, California
Susanna Fellman Professor of Business History, University of Gothenburg
José Luis Fernández Fernández Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain
Dale L Flesher Arthur Andersen alumni professor and associate dean, Patterson School of Accountancy, University of Mississippi
Andrew Godley Professor of management & business history, Henley Business School at the University of Reading
Terry Gourvish (London School of Economics), President, Association of Business Historians
David Hancock Professor of History, University of Michigan
Daryl M Hafter (Eastern Michigan University), former president, Society for the History of Technology
Per H Hansen (Copenhagen Business School), President-elect, Business History Conference
Barbara Hahn Texas Tech University
Roger Horowitz (University of Michigan), Secretary-treasurer, Business History Conference
Jane Humphries (University of Oxford), President, Economic History Society
Karen Hunt Professor of Modern British History, Keele University
Richard R John Professor of journalism, Columbia University
Florent Le Bot ENS de Cachan, Paris
Luis de León Molina Bilbao, Spain
Yongdo Kim Hosei University, Tokyo
Nancy F Koehn James Robison professor of business administration, Harvard Business School
Berti Kolbow Institute of Economic and Social History, Goettingen University
Elisabeth Koll Harvard Business School
Theodore P Kovaleff Columbia University
Naomi R Lamoreaux Professor of economics and history, Yale University
Daniela La Penna University of Reading
Margaret Levenstein (University of Michigan), Past president, Business History Conference
Stephen Linstead Professor of critical management, University of York
Ken Lipartito (Florida International University), President, Business History Conference
Katey Logan Business Archives Council
Niall G MacKenzie Head of research, Institute for Innovation Studies, University of Wales Global Academy
John J McCusker Ewing Halsell distinguished professor of American history and professor of economics, Trinity University, Texas
José Miguel Martínez-Carrión Professor of economic history, University of Murcia
Anette Mikes Harvard Business School
Stephen Mihm University of Georgia
Elena Moran
Stephen L Morgan (University of Nottingham), Editor-in-chief, The Australian Economic History Review
Marina Moskowitz University of Glasgow
Alistair Mutch Professor of information and learning, Nottingham Trent University
Simon P Newman Sir Denis Brogan professor of American history, University of Glasgow
Shigehiro Nishimura London School of Economics
Richard Ovenden Bodleian Library, Oxford
Mary Quek University of Hertfordshire
Veronique Pouillard University of Oslo
Michael Rowlinson Professor of organization studies, Queen Mary, University of London
Mary Rose Lancaster University Management School
Elena Laruelo Rueda National Institute of Industry Historical Archive, Madrid
Thomas Max Safley Professor of early modern European history, University of Pennsylvania
Marianne Schmitz German Historical Institute, Washington
M Stephen Salmon Senior business archivist, Library and Archives Canada
Andrew Smith Coventry University
Merritt Roe Smith Cutten professor of the history of technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Anna Spadavecchia Henley Business School at the University of Reading
Uwe Spiekermann Deputy director, German Historical Institute, Washington, DC
Marc Stern Bentley University, Massachusetts
James Sumner University of Manchester
Stefan Schwarzkopf Copenhagen Business School
Kevin D Tennent University of York
Paul Thommes Aachen University
Steven Tolliday (University of Leeds), Past president, Business History Conference
James Walker Henley Business School at the University of Reading
Eugene N White Professor of economics, Rutgers University
Daniel A Wren David Ross Boyd professor emeritus, University of Oklahoma
Robert E Wright Nef Family chair of political economy, Augustana College, South Dakota

Monday, 19 March 2012

"Attorney General Upholds Wedgwood Ruling"

The Museums Journal reports:
"The attorney general announced this morning that he would uphold a high court judgement that the Wedgwood Museum’s collections could be sold to meet a £135m pension deficit inherited from the Wedgwood Pension Plan Trustee Limited, which went into administration in 2009.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said: "After careful consideration of the judgment in this case and after taking advice from specialist senior counsel, the attorney has decided not to appeal.

“The trial judge gave the issues before him careful consideration and the attorney does not believe his interpretation of the relevant law could be challenged. He has also taken account of the representations made by Alan Wedgwood."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been in talks with the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Art Fund, and Victoria and Albert Museum over ways to save the Wedgwood collection, estimated to be worth around £18m.

A DCMS spokesman said that although arts minister Ed Vaizey was determined to save the collection, the government was not in a position to pledge money to the museum. The next step, he said, was to have the collection valued and to continue to work towards a solution."
The Campaign will continue - please continue to lobby and join our supporters roll.

Friday, 9 March 2012

5th March - Minister responds to Oral Question from Dr Tristram Hunt

House of Commons: Monday 5 March 2012
Hansard record.

T3. [97715] Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab): As you know, Mr Speaker, the Wedgwood museum in Stoke-on-Trent is one of the greatest museums in the world and is facing the liquidation of its collection due to faulty pension legislation. The problem lies with the 2008 occupational pension schemes regulation and the last man standing principle, which leaves a solvent employer liable for the whole of the deficit in a multi-employer scheme. That was never meant to apply to charitable collections. Will the Minister review that legislation before we sacrifice more of our national heritage to the lawyers?

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): When any charity or other organisation joins a last man standing pension scheme, it is important that it take proper advice about the liabilities it is taking on. Obviously, that is a general observation. On this specific case, the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, the hon. Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey), has spoken to the chairman of the Pension Protection Fund about the Wedgwood museum, has explained the importance of the collection for the nation and has asked her whether she can find a way of preventing the collection from being broken up. That is something we all want to see.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Letter from the President of the Royal Academy

The President, Christopher Le Brun, and Members of the Council, the Royal Academy of Arts, have put their considerable weight behind the campaign to save the Wedgwood Museum collection. The letter was published in The Guardian on 16th February. The paper subsequently published, later the same day, a response by the Minister for Culture, Hon. Ed Vaizey, here.

RA Wedgwood Letter - 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Lord Flight's Oral Question - Hansard Record

The Hansard record for the exchanges that followed Lord flight of Worcester's Oral Question - 14th February 2012:

Wedgwood Museum


2.51 pm
Asked By Lord Flight
    To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to legislate, in the light of the Wedgwood Museum case, to prevent the "last man standing" rule applying to the assets of charitable museums and other charities.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, the Government have reviewed this case carefully and believe that it would be inappropriate not to apply this rule to charities. Charities should have the freedom to choose pension schemes that suit their needs. These arrangements can be a useful way of managing liabilities and we would not want to restrict this option for charities. We welcome this opportunity to emphasise that charities should seek appropriate advice before making pension arrangements.

Lord Flight: My Lords, when the Wedgwood collection has been shortlisted as one of the top 20 cultural assets in the UK, I suggest that it is inconceivable that it should be left to be sold off. What proposals do the Government have for rescuing the collection? Secondly, with regard to charities, the DWP had a consultation last year that recognised the problems with both Section 25 and the "last man standing" rule. A further consultation was promised for this year. When will it start?

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lord Flight that one hopes that the Wedgwood collection would not be sold off. I assure him that the Government have had several meetings with the honourable Member for Stoke, Mr Tristram Hunt, and several other people concerned to find the most effective way to save this very valuable collection, which has been nominated by UNESCO as one of the 20 most valuable sites in the UK. Regarding the final meeting, meetings are taking place at the moment, and I will update your Lordships' House as they go on.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, should we not be cautious about reaching conclusions until we have seen the full written judgment? We will then know whether the predicament of the Wedgwood Museum has arisen because pensions legislation was poorly drafted and scrutinised or, perhaps, because the trustees of the museum were poorly advised when they could have placed the collection securely in trust and beyond the reach of the Pension Protection Fund. Meanwhile, I express unreserved appreciation for the way in which the Minister, Ed Vaizey, has kept watch over the whole situation in regard to the Wedgwood Museum, and helped to bring people together so that they can develop plans for the museum's archive and collection to be properly preserved for the benefit of the nation. Finally, will the noble Baroness, who is playing such a valuable role in this, ensure that the Minton Archive is not overlooked?

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, has touched on very important points. One is right to be cautious until we get the written judgment, which should come through soon. A difficult situation applied when the trustees were advised. I totally agree with the noble Lord that the Minister, Ed Vaizey, has held several meetings on this matter and has become very involved. The Government have good will in all this and will do all that they possibly can. The Minton archive is very important and is arguably the greatest industrial archive of its kind. I can assure the noble Lord that it has certainly not been forgotten. It is now the property of WWRD UK, the new owners of the Wedgwood Group. The Minister for Culture has spoken to them about this matter. The archive is still safely in storage in Bonhams, which is awaiting a resolution on the future of the Wedgwood collection and the museum before taking any decision about its future.

The Earl of Clancarty: My Lords, does not the Minister agree that it is time that the Government took more control of the Wedgwood situation and, indeed, bought the collection? Appeal is in this sense irrelevant. It could be called the National Wedgwood Museum. As such, it would be a huge asset to Britain and a tremendous boost to Stoke-on-Trent. Surely for £14 million or thereabouts, this ought to be a no-brainer.

Baroness Rawlings: As the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, mentioned, this museum is terribly important for the Stoke area and the Potteries. As regards the valuation that he mentioned, DCMS is working on that with the protection fund but we still do not know what it will be. We hope that there will be a fundraising campaign and the collection will be saved sooner rather than later.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that besides the unique ceramics collections there is also a data archive dating back 250 years of the Wedgwood and Darwin letters, which have great scientific significance? Does she not agree that it is something of a quirk that a quirk of law relating to the financial sector should require us to sacrifice this icon of our industrial heritage?

Baroness Rawlings: My noble friend makes a very good point. The archives and the whole collection constitute a most remarkable collection that has been donated by the family over many years. It would be a disaster should it be sold. The protection fund is a very complicated fund which the Government are looking at in great detail. I will not go into all the details of the pension scheme now but I will write to her with those details.

Lord Cormack: My Lords-

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: My Lords, may I pursue the whole issue of the "last man standing" legislation with the noble Baroness? I understand that, following the DWP's review of this policy, it was agreed that there would be a further review. However, I gathered from what the noble Baroness was saying just now that this is not the case. Will she confirm whether this matter is under review, because it seems to noble Lords around the House that it is being used and implemented in a way that was never foreseen, is causing charities-not just the Wedgwood Museum but other charities-considerable concern and disquiet, and has consequences for unemployment in the area as well? Therefore, will the noble Baroness clarify the status of the "last man standing" legislation?

Baroness Rawlings: With pleasure, my Lords. We understand that the Wedgwood pension scheme operated on the basis that if any participating employers became insolvent or otherwise stopped sponsoring the scheme, responsibility for the pension scheme fell to the remaining employers. This is what is meant by the "last man standing" rule. As a result, the company of the Wedgwood pension scheme-the museum-became liable for its pensions shortfall. We are awaiting the judgment from the Attorney-General. Then it will be decided where we go to from there.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

"Museums at Night" initiative - Vote now!

The Wedgwood Museum has the opportunity to host renowned photographic artist Martin Parr as part of the Museums at Night initiative.

In order to be able to host Martin the museum would need to win the online vote at the Culture 24/Museums at Night website at:

The Wedgwood Museum is in competition with the Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington and the People's History Museum, Manchester. With Josiah Wedgwood's youngest son Tom being recognised as the 'Father of English Photography' we think that we would be the perfect hosts.

If you want to show The Wedgwood Museum some support at a time which has been particularly difficult for us then please vote  for us and encourage all your friends and colleagues to vote.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Campaign Update

Since the initial Court decision was announced just before Christmas there has been a huge amount of positive and constructive coverage and media interest in the plight of the Museum. Supporters have continued to lobby their MPs and our Supporters in Parliament have sponsored an Early Day Motion  - please ask your MP to sign it - and Lord Flight of Worcester has put down an Oral Question for the Minister in the House of Lords.
There has been wide coverage of John Caudwell’s incredibly generous offer to “Save the Collection” – he is a native of the Potteries and recognises the importance of the collection for Staffordshire and beyond. Any future offer would be conditional, of course and he has stated that he regards himself as a “lender of last resort” – a safety-net should all other efforts fail.
As reported in The Daily Telegraph on 11th January,  the campaign still awaits the decision of the Attorney-General as to whether he will seek leave to appeal – until this is determined, any necessary fundraising appeal cannot be launched. It remains the objective of the campaign to seek a legal or political solution that will safeguard the collection within an inalienable trust for the nation.
Thank you for your ongoing support – please continue to lobby your MP and Ministers.
Media Coverage round up:
· "Wedgwood Family fight for their Family History" Daily Telegraph, (11th January 2012)

· Letter from Dr Alan Wedgwood, Dr Janet Wedgwood and family, Daily Telegraph, (10th January 2012)

· Victoria Lambert article "John Caudwell: 'I can't stand by and see our Wedgwood heritage shattered'"in The Daily Telegraph (24th December 2011)

· Alison Wedgwood's letter to The Staffordshire Sentinel "Wedgwood Family React to news about Museum Collection" (23rd December 2011)

· BBC Midlands Today segment on the Court Case - watch the clip on our YouTube Channel. (19th December 2011).

Friday, 20 January 2012

In Parliament: House of Lords - Oral Question.

Lord Flight of Worcester has tabled an Oral Question in the Lords for 14th February 2012. The question reads: 

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government if they intend to legislate in the light of the Wedgwood Museum case to prevent “last man standing” rule applying to the assets of charitable museums or other charities.”

Lord Flight wishes to press the point that when the legislation establishing the PPF was passed, there was no intent by Parliament that the “last man standing” rule would be interpreted to result in seizing the Collection of a Museum established as a charity.

We will report the Hansard transcript when available.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

In Parliament: Wedgwood Museum Early Day Motion

Hon. Dr Tristram Hunt MP is the Primary Sponsor of an Early Day Motion in support of the Wedgwood Museum. Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. Whilst few are actually debated EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions.

Please ask you MP to support Early day motion 2585 "Wedgwood Museum Future" and click through to see who is already supporting it.

Please use this (MS Outlook) e-mail template if you wish or download example e-mail text and background narrative.