A collection of Wedgwood artefacts that was under threat of being sold to pay for the now-defunct organisation’s pension deficit, has been saved thanks to a public appeal by the Art Fund.
Waterford Wedgwood plc went bust in 2009, prompting the transfer of the company's 7,000-member pension scheme’s £134m debt to the Wedgwood Museum’s trust which in turn was placed into administration.
In December 2011, the High Court ruled that the Wedgwood Museum assets would be transferred to the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) to help pay for the pension deficit, placing the future of the collection in doubt.
An appeal was launched by national art charity, the Art Fund, and a total of £15.74m was raised to save the collection. Thousands of individuals, several businesses, and a number of grantmaking foundations donated to the appeal.
Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund said: “This amazing show of public support for the Wedgwood Collection has made this the fastest fundraising campaign in the Art Fund’s 111-year history. It demonstrates nothing less than a national passion for Wedgwood - its history, its quality, its brand, its continuity - bringing about a potent combination of donations big and small, ranging from £10 gifts via text to six-figure cheques.
“Britain united to save this collection. Huge thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and their ticket buyers too. Together we've ensured that one of the most important collections in the world can continue to be enjoyed by all.”
The sale of the collection follows years of negotiations between administrator Begbies Traynor and creditors, government ministers and national art organisations.
The collection features 80,000 works of art, ceramics, manuscripts, letters and photographs, some dating back 250 years.
The collection will be gifted by the Art Fund to the V&A Museum but will remain on display at the Wedgwood factory site in Barlaston, Staffordshire.
More than 7,000 people donated to the Art Fund appeal to save the collection and almost a third of those who donated were from the Midlands where the company's factory was based.
James Leavesley, lead on the Staffordshire Fundraising Committee, said: “The public response has been truly humbling and it demonstrates that the Wedgwood collection means so much to so many people. As a representative of the Staffordshire Fundraising Committee, I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring together such a wide collection of local foundations, businesses and people to save a collection that plays a vital role in the community.”