Past jobs make a modern profit: Humberside is attracting tourists by letting them see other people working in the old-fashioned way. Martin Whitfield reports

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The Independent Online
'THE processes of manufacturing, particularly traditional ways, are very attractive to people,' Andrew Barbour said, as he sat at his potter's wheel at the Hornsea Pottery in Humberside.

His terracotta workshop is worlds away from the industrialised mass production of the factory behind him. But he is there because his wheel, the clay and the hand decoration are what people expect potters to do. A former fine art student, he and his wife, Alison, were appointed by Peter Black Leisure, the company managing the site, after tours round the sterile factory production line were discontinued.

More than 1 million visitors are expected this year at the Hornsea Pottery Retail and Leisure Park. The complex of discounted seconds shops - Aquascutum, Wrangler, Laura Ashley, Austin Reed, and Hornsea Pottery itself - is mixed with playgrounds, baby bouncers, Butterfly World, Birds of Prey, Yorkshire Car Collection and a model village.

But without a working demonstration of pottery the experience would not be the same. The Barbours' workshop reinforces the theme on which the whole enterprise is based. A few miles up the coast, at Bridlington, Park Rose Pottery and Leisure Park repeats the formula. Along the Humber estuary at Blacktoft, South Farm Craft Gallery offers demonstrations and an exhibition of 'some of the finest British crafts and gifts'.

At Carnaby, near Bridlington, tours of a John Bull's World of Rock, allow visitors to watch sweets being made in the traditional way.

It is a business that the bigger potteries, such as Wedgwood and Spode in Staffordshire, have been pursuing for years but the limit of types of factories opening their doors to tourists seems to know no bounds.

A brief list compiled by Humberside County Council's tourism department came up with 16 attractions, while the English Tourist Board has more than 250 events listed in what is called Industrial Heritage year. Flour mills, boatyards, leather works, breweries, chalk pits, ropemakers, foundries and gasworks are trying to attract visitors.

Richard Enderby, partner in Alfred Enderby, a Grimsby specialist fish smoker, which began showing visitors around its factory for the first time this year, says people have always been curious about industrial methods. He can use the slack summer months to give people the opportunity to find out more about the mixture of fish and smoke smells emanating from his factory. 'The kids are fascinated by it. You always get a response. For older people it's almost nostalgia. They don't think something like this still exists.'

Tourism professionals are quick to exploit the public's interest. In Humberside, an area renowned for its traditional coastal holidays in Cleethorpes and Bridlington, the growth of attractions inland has meant that half of tourist visits are now to sites away from the sea. The county council predicts a 50 per cent rise in tourism revenue to pounds 300m by 1998. The number of jobs in the industry has doubled in the past decade to more than 20,000, about 7 per cent of the workforce.

As on most factory tours, visitors to Mr Barbour's pottery or the Enderby smoke house can buy the product. The link between manufacturing and retailing is strong. After the experience, it is an almost compulsive impulse to buy. 'Maybe it is something peculiarly British but they have got to have something to take away as souvenirs,' said Richard Doughty, manager of the National Fishing Heritage Centre and purveyor of maritime nick-nacks to the mantlepieces of England.

(Photographs omitted)

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