Burslem (/ˈbɜːrzləm/ BURZ-ləm) is one of the six towns that amalgamated to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.
Industrial scale pottery production has drastically declined since the 1970s; but specialist makers (Steelite) and smaller producers of high-value ceramics (Burleigh, Wade, Moorcroft) are thriving. Burslem is emerging as a centre for small, freelance creative businesses working in sectors such as fine art, animation and crafts as well as pottery.
The number of shops in the town centre have markedly declined, hit by the impact of nearby out-of-town retail parks that offer free parking. However, the evening economy is still active with a wide range of bars and restaurants mainly serving English and Indian food.
The Leopard Inn is a listed building in Burslem, it is steeped in history and the discovery of tunnels and 58 bedrooms that have been left exactly as they were when they were sealed between the 1930s and 1950s. The Leopard Inn dates from the early 1700s. Initially a coaching house and Inn, there has been a working pub on this site for 300 years or more. In 1878 a three-storey extension including 57 rooms were built. The ambition was to create in Burslem ‚The Savoy of the North‘. The rooms to the front of the Leopard are today in use as a pub and restaurant, and to the rear the hotel lies abandoned and purportedly haunted.
At Spring 2002 unemployment was 4.1% or 1,526 people in the Stoke-on-Trent North constituency; almost the same rate as the West Midlands as a whole. In Burslem at 2001 unemployment was 3.2% and declining.
In 2005, the building of business park units in the town. Further business parks are planned for 2006/7 just to the north in Chatterley Valley, and the south in Etruria Valley.
Around 5 million tourists visit Stoke-on-Trent each year, supporting around 4,400 direct jobs. Stoke shows its popularity through the number of repeat visits; around 80 percent of visitors have previously been here. Burslem has a variety of strong tourist attractions; Burleigh, Moorcroft, Festival Park, its many pubs, and the Trent & Mersey Canal. Ceramica is one of the largest buildings in Burslem, and was once the town hall.
It also has the legacy of novelist Arnold Bennett, who refers to the town and many of its streets with thinly disguised names: e.g. Burslem/“Bursley“, Swan (Square and Pub)/“Duck“. It is the setting for one of his most famous works, the Clayhanger trilogy. Burslem’s centre benefits from having an almost-intact medieval street-plan and countless fine old buildings, and a townscape which almost-totally escaped re-development during the 1960s and 1970s.
After being under-used for years, the Burslem School of Art has been refurbished at a cost of £2.1m and offers several large free art galleries. The free Public Library is currently based in the School of Art, after the Venetian Gothic Wedgwood Institute closed for safety reasons early in 2009. Ceramica was a new award-winning ceramics family attraction, based in the imposing old Town Hall and funded by Millennium Lottery money but due to the loss of council funding has been closed. The Queen’s Theatre has regular concerts and an annual pantomime.