13 Apr 2021
January 5, 2012 - Filed under: Antiques News,History of Antiques — David

Take a peek in any glass-fronted Lancashire antique cabinet, and the chances are you will find at least one piece of Wedgwood porcelain on display.

However, until recently the Wedgwood Museum collection – worth an estimated £18m – was under threat of being auctioned off, following a high court ruling which demanded it be sold to meet crippling pension fund debts. That was until a “white knight” stepped forward in the unlikely guise of mobile phone entrepreneur John Cauldwell. The polish-born Phones4U billionaire has offered to buy the museum and its entire collection, which includes priceless porcelain donated by the Wedgwood family since the firm was first established.

A UNESCO-recognised site and a vital resource for porcelain collectors from across the globe, the Museum was set up as a charitable trust in 1962, on the understanding the collection could not be disposed of to pay off debts. However, it fell foul of recent changes to pension laws which saw the trust being held fully responsible for a £134m shortfall in the Waterford Wedgwood pension scheme, when the firm went into receivership in 2009. The problem was that five museum employees were members of the fund, and under new government legislation introduced in 2008 this meant firms with links to the scheme could be held liable for any shortfall. As the sole trading company with such a link, and the US Waterford Wedgwood buyer refusing to take on the debt (a pre-arranged agreement) the trust was forced to pick up the tab. Waterford Wedgwood did approach the Pension Protection Fund for help, but were turned down flat.

Wedgwood is as popular in Lancashire as Gillows antique cabinets and Victorian dining chairs . Preston has many antique dealers specialising in Wedgwood porcelain.

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