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The news emerged early on Friday, October 3, as the Art Fund revealed that more than 7500 donors had made up the shortfall on the £15.75m needed by the end of November to prevent what it dubbed "one of the most important industrial archives in the world" from being split up and sold off.

They were able to raise the money so quickly - the appeal was only launched on September 1 - in part because of a deal struck that meant every pound raised publicly was matched by a private charitable foundation.

"Within two weeks we had raised £700,000, contributed by 4000 members of the public. A few days later, the campaign reached £1m from the public and £1m from major donors and grant-making foundations, propelling the total to £2m," said a spokesman. The final push was topped by major donations of £250,000 from the Bet365 Foundation and £100,000 from Staffordshire County Council.

The Wedgwood Collection contains over 80,000 works of art, ceramics, manuscripts, pattern books and photographs covering the 250-year history of Wedgwood.

The collection will be located at the heart of the new visitor experience at the museum, as part of Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton's (WWRD) £34m redevelopment of the factory site - set for completion in spring 2015.

The news brings to an end an uncertain period sparked by a High Court ruling in December 2011 that the Barlaston collection could be sold to help plug a £134m gap in the pension fund linked to the collapse of the Wedgwood manufacturing firm.

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."