Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 15:44 UK

Pottery firm marks 250th birthday

Lord Wedgwood said the future is bright

The birth of the iconic pottery company Wedgwood exactly 250 years ago has been marked in Stoke-on-Trent.

Two hundred and fifty balloons were released at the Wedgwood Visitor Centre and museum at the factory in Barlaston.

Lord Wedgwood, a direct descendant of the company's founder, Josiah Wedgwood, officially opened the celebrations.

Waterford Wedgwood, which went into administration and was sold to KPS Capital Partners, has said almost 1,400 jobs in the UK will be saved.

Wedgwood merged with the well-known Irish brand Waterford Crystal in the 1980s to create Waterford Wedgwood.

'Inspirational figure'

The firm, which had been badly hit by the economic slowdown, had debts of about £400m when it went into administration in January.

KPS Capital Partners, a US private equity firm, sealed the deal to buy the company in March.

Lord Wedgwood said the past few months had been "very difficult" for everyone involved with the company.

He added: "But here we are today, not only celebrating the heritage of Wedgwood but also celebrating a new and exciting era of the company as we look forward and develop products for future generations."

Administrators Deloitte said in March there was an estimated deficit in Waterford Wedgwood's pension fund of £2.238m.

Wedgwood Visitor Centre manager Carole Hammersley said: "Josiah Wedgwood is such an inspirational figure not only to the company but within the region.

"We are thrilled to be celebrating his life's work."

The company was founded on 1 May 1759.

There is a special anniversary entry price of £2.50 per person, instead of the usual £9.50, from Friday until Bank Holiday Monday at the Wedgwood Visitor Centre and museum.

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