'Urban explorers' snap life inside shutdown potbanks in Stoke and Burslem
THIS is the crumbling state of some of the region's once busy factories – years after production ended for the last time.
Photographers have gained access to both the JH Weatherby Falcon Works site in Stoke and Wade Ceramics former factory in Burslem to capturing a forgotten world of Potteries history.
But it is unclear how they got in and emergency services have warned the amateur snappers – who brand themselves 'urban explorers' – are putting themselves in danger and potentially breaking the law.
Scores of photographs taken of the two factories have appeared on the website 28DaysLater.co.uk, which bills itself as a forum for 'UK Urban Exploration'.
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And users have been keen to unearth the current state of the city's pottery factories in a series of startling pictures.
A number of the explorers have visited the Falcon site over the last number of years, with each one capturing rows of pottery left untouched along with the machinery charged with producing the factory's wares.
The historic plot, off Sturgess Street, which boasts a Grade II-listed building along with a pair of traditional kilns, was sold to Portmeirion in 1961 before being bought by a developer. Despite once being touted as a potential visitor centre to highlight the region's pottery industry, the site has become further dilapidated.
Another popular destination for the photographers has been Wade's Hill Works factory in Burslem. The 200-year-old site – which is owned by developer St Modwen – has stood empty since the company moved to a purpose-built factory at Etruria Valley. Animal-theme pottery the business was famous for have been captured along with old photographs, uniforms and newspaper cuttings left at the building.
One, 28DaysLater user 'Dweeb', who captured some of the images, wrote on the forum: "Not really that trashed, just a little jumbled up!"
A disclaimer on the website states: "28dayslater.co.uk is a digital meeting place for like-minded people to share their experiences, reports and photographs.
"It is not a club or organisation and has no representatives, members or physical presence.
"This website does not condone or encourage breaking the law and unsafe behaviour."
However fire chiefs have raised concerns over the dangers associated with accessing derelict buildings.
Fire Safety Manager, Kelvin Knappe said: "While we can appreciate this is a fun, interesting hobby for some people, entering derelict buildings is not only potentially committing a crime it's also putting your life at risk.
"Many derelict buildings are structurally unstable and if disturbed by people entering and walking on floorboards could collapse. This may then mean that you're trapped in there or worse and firefighters need to enter, putting their own lives at risk, to find and help you."
He added: "If we're called to incidents at derelict buildings, we have to search the entire building and we don't know how structurally stable any area of the building is going to be. "There is also the possibility of asbestos being present in the building which poses a health risk as well as unguarded drops and many other trip hazards.
"Our advice is not to take this risk and, if you're pursuing such a hobby, speak with the building owner to first establish if it is safe."
If permission is granted, Mr Knapper recommends visitors wear a hard hat, high visibility vest and are aware of all exit points.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police added: "People should always seek the landowner's permission before entering private premises.
"It is a criminal offence to trespass onto private property. We would also urge people to consider their own safety when entering derelict premises."