England's Potteries area draws devotees of good china


October 23, 1994|By New York Times News Service

Q: Are there any tours of the Potteries area of England?

A: Most of the famous English potteries were established, and are still to be found, in the area of Stoke-on-Trent, 145 miles north of London. Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Minton and Spode are among the factories that were set up there in the 18th century and continue to thrive.

Next year marks the bicentenary of the death of probably the most well-known of the English pottery manufacturers, Josiah Wedgwood.

To mark the occasion, Stoke-on-Trent is organizing a series of exhibitions, trails, guided tours and other events as part of Britain's yearlong Festival of Arts and Culture, and Wedgwood will produce a range of commemorative ware.

Other major potteries, such as Royal Doulton and Spode, offer extended visiting hours for visitors. Most of the area's ceramics shops will be open seven days a week instead of the usual six.

In the last few years, the Potteries have been developed as a major tourist attraction with museums, factory tours, factory shops and visitor centers. There is a hop-on and hop-off bus service called the China Link, which operates between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday, with stops at all the area's places of interest. This year, it will operate until Nov. 26.

A tourist information center has been set up at Quadrant Road, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 1RZ, England; telephone (782) 284600. It is open Monday to Saturday from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

Seven factories run twice-daily tours for which reservations have to be made: Royal Doulton, (782) 292434; Royal Grafton China, (782) 599667; H. and R. Johnson Tiles, (782) 575575; Moorcroft, (782) 207943; Spode, (782) 744011; John Beswick, (782) 291237; and Wedgwood, (782) 204218. The factories will be closed from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1; next Easter for a week starting Easter Monday; from next June 22 to July 10; and from next Aug. 28 to Sept. 4. Not all factories admit children under 14.

Q: My husband and I will be traveling in January to Florida's Panhandle. Do you know of any organizations there that rent houseboats that we could live on for a few weeks?

A: According to the Florida Division of Tourism, safety concerns effectively prevent rental houseboats from being operated off the shores of the Panhandle. The Keys, in the far south of the state, is the only place in Florida where houseboats sail in open water, the division says.

The alternative is to rent a houseboat on an inland river.

The following operate on either the Suwannee or St. John's River.

* Miller's Marine, P.O. 280, Suwannee, Fla. 32692, (800) 458-2628. Furnished houseboats 44 feet long and 14 feet wide and accommodating up to eight people are available for $1,070 a week from March 1 to Nov. 30, and for $700 a week in December, January and February.

* Holley Bluff Marina, 2280 Hontoon Road, DeLand, Fla. 32720, (800) 237-5105, rents houseboats on the St. John's for four, eight or 10 people. Year-round rates are $625 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday ($700 for eight people, $725 for 10), and $700 for Monday to Friday ($800 for eight, $825 for 10).

* Hontoon Landing Resort and Marina, 2317 River Ridge Road, DeLand, Fla. 32720, (800) 248-2474, rents a variety of houseboats on the St. John's, with rates from $1,395 to $2,495 a week from April 1 to Sept. 30, and from $1,095 to $2,195 from Oct. 1 to March 30, depending on the size and degree of luxury.

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