Clarice Cliff Primary School (2006)
Clarice Cliff Primary School (2006)
The Rev. Frederick George Llewellin, the Vicar of Kidsgrove from 1922 until his death in 1941, wrote a book “The Lighter Side of a Parson’s Life” about his ministry in the town.
In this edited extract from the chapter which looks at the lives of the boat people who worked on the Trent & Mersey Canal, he tells the story of the Kitcrew Bugget – a ghost that haunts the Brindley Tunnel which runs under Harecastle Hill.
The Kitcrew Bugget
“Lor, bless yer, lad, don’t yer know? Did yer never hear tell o’ it? Well, gaffer, years ago, in the very middle o’ the tunnel right atween Tunstall on the one side and Kitcrew (Kidsgrove) junction on the other, two men murdered a woman and threw her body inter the tunnel and because it wor a deed o’ violence and her life wor taken from her before it wor asked for, that there ‘oman have never lain quiet.
“But years ago as it wor, she’d appear, sometimes in the form o’ a white horse, sometimes like a female without a head, but whenever her comes, trouble’s sure to foller. Never wor there an accident at the collieries but the Kitcrew Bugget wor sure to come to tell o’ it. Somebody ‘ll die, or be murdered or drowned in the cut (canal) or coal mine when that there ghost appears.”
Note: The Kitcrew Bugget is sometimes called the Kidsgrove Boggart or the Kidcrew Buggett.
The photograph taken in 2012 shows the Chatterley entrance to the Brindley Tunnel – the home of the Kitcrew Bugget
Although everyone had hoped that the day would be bright and sunny, it was pouring with rain on Monday, April 14th, 1924 when Alderman Frank Collis, the Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, came to Fenton to open the new park in Cemetery Road.
The County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent was created in 1910 by amalgamating Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.
Shortly afterwards, the new county borough decided to give Fenton a park. The council purchased a 17-acre site in Cemetery Road and made plans to turn it into a park. Work on the project was suspended when the First World War broke out in 1914.
Council workmen started laying out the park in the 1920s. Supervised by the borough surveyor and the parks’ superintendent, they planted more than 8,000 trees and shrubs, erected a bandstand, laid a bowling green, created a tennis court and constructed children’s playgrounds.
Before he opened the park, the Mayor attended a civic luncheon held in Fenton Town Hall. Inside the hall, the atmosphere was tense. Fentonians still resented losing their independence and being forced by the House of Lords to amalgamate with the other pottery towns to create the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent. Many believed the county borough was deliberately neglecting Fenton and allowing it to die.
The town’s pent up frustrations surfaced after the meal. While proposing the toast “Success to Fenton and its new Park and Parks Committee”, the Deputy Mayor Mr F.T.H. Goodwin said Fenton had the best and most efficient fire brigade in The Potteries.
Almost everyone in the room knew that the county borough council was planning to close Fenton fire station.
Responding to the toast, Alderman Warren said that since the county borough had come into existence, Fenton had gone completely dead and was now called the town of the long, long street.
Alderman Phillip Elliot, the Chairman of the Education Committee who owned two drapers shops in Fenton, pointed out that it had taken the county borough 14 years to give the town a park and electric light. He recalled being told by the House of Lords when it was considering amalgamation, that Fenton had nothing – no furnace for burning refuse, no swimming pool and no market. Alderman Elliot had no hesitation in saying things had not changed. He ended his attack on the county borough by accusing it of developing the larger centres and neglecting little places like Fenton.
It was still raining heavily when a procession led by the Mayor left the town hall. The procession made its way to the park gates in Cemetery Road where a large crowd had gathered to watch the opening ceremony. Alderman Elliot handed the Mayor a gold key. The mayor unlocked the park gates and declared the park open.
© David Martin 2013
The bed of the Burslem Branch Canal (March 2017)
Robert Scrivener, the architect who changed the face of Hanley, was born in Ipswich on March 29th, 1812.
In the late 1840s or early 1850s, Robert and his wife, Elizabeth, came to live in The Potteries. He established a practice in Shelton and quickly became one of North Staffordshire’s leading architects.
Robert and Elizabeth had eight children – four boys and four girls.
The Scriveners were members of the Methodist New Connexion. They worshipped at Bethesda Church in Hanley, where Robert was a Sunday school teacher. He played a major role in church affairs and was made a trustee of Bethesda Girls’ School. In 1856, he designed a new pulpit and a communion rail for the church.
Robert designed the new Mechanics Institution* in Pall Mall whose foundation stone was laid by the mayor, William Brownfield, on October 28th, 1859.
Towards the end of 1859, Robert regenerated Bethesda Church, replacing its old window panes with frosted glass, installing gas lighting and redecorating the interior. He gave the front elevation in Albion Street a Classical façade with Corinthian columns and a Venetian window surmounted by a cornice.
When pottery manufacturer John Ridgway died in December 1860, the Methodist New Connection in The Potteries lost its most generous benefactor. John who owned Cauldon Place Pottery in Shelton worshipped at Bethesda Church. He built a chapel for his employees and gave money to help build churches in Tunstall, Burslem and Fenton.
A radical local politician with progressive views, John refused a knighthood. He became Hanley’s first mayor when it was made a borough in 1857.
The Methodist New Connexion built a chapel to commemorate John’s life. Called the Ridgway Memorial Chapel, it was designed by Robert and erected in Havelock Place, Shelton. A white brick Gothic style building, the chapel cost £2,600. It was 60 feet long by 37 feet wide and had a tower with a spire 61 feet high.
Hanley’s finest building is the town hall in Albion Street. The building, which started life as the Queen’s Hotel, was designed by Robert. It cost over £20,000 and opened on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 1869.
Built to compete with the North Stafford Hotel, the Queen’s was a modified Italian Renaissance style building with white brick corners and Hollington stone dressings. Too far away from Stoke Station to attract visitors, the Queen’s never made a profit. The hotel closed and the borough council bought the premises for £10,800.
Workmen transformed the Queen’s into a town hall. They converted the commercial room into a council chamber and the smoke room became the town clerk’s office. The dining room became a Magistrates’ Court and the billiard room was made into a police station.
Robert died aged 67 on April 19th, 1878. He was buried in Bethesda churchyard.
*The illustration shows the Mechanics Institution in Pall Mall, Hanley, which has been demolished.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013.
When it was established in 1635, the Royal Mail used despatch riders, who were mounted on fast horses, to carry letters between major towns and cities.
Post offices were opened at Stafford, Stone, Leek, Lichfield and Newcastle-under-Lyme, which were on the main post routes from London to Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Carlisle.
By 1734, Newcastle’s post office was at the Swan Inn, and everyday post-boys delivered letters to The Potteries and the surrounding villages.
Black, maroon and red painted mail coaches, whose average speed was six or seven miles an hour, replaced despatch riders in 1784. Protected by scarlet-coated guards armed with blunderbusses, pistols and cutlasses, these coaches became familiar sights in Tunstall and Burslem, where the postmaster was the landlord of the Legs of Man Inn.
After the Grand Junction Railway opened in 1837, letters were brought by train to Whitmore and taken by horse-drawn waggon to a central post office at Newcastle for distribution throughout the district.
Mail coaches were phased out, and in 1854 a new central post office was opened at Stoke Station.
Until 1840, when the prepaid penny post was introduced by Rowland Hill, postal charges averaging sixpence a letter were paid by the recipient, not by the sender.
The penny post increased the number of messages sent, and the Post Office developed new services including a special cheap rate “book post”. Towards the end of the 1850s, pillar boxes where letters could be posted were erected in Hanley, Longton and Stoke.
Small sub-post offices were opened at Chell, Kidsgrove, Chesterton, Norton and Wolstanton.
At Silverdale, where Mr J. H. Wrench was the postmaster, the post office in Church Street was open between 9.00am and 8.00pm six days a week. It was closed on Sundays, although there was a telegraph service for two hours in the morning. When the post office was open, letters were delivered twice daily at 7.00am and 5.00pm, and the mail was collected three times a day at 9.45am, 7.00pm and 8.45pm.
Very few post offices were purpose built, and many postmasters had other occupations. Tunstall’s postmaster, Benjamin Griffiths was a watch and clock maker who had a shop in the Market Place (Tower Square). When he retired, newsagent Samuel Adams, who was also the parish registrar and the church clerk, became the postmaster.
Hanley whose population was 32,000 had a small post office in Fountain Square. When the borough council asked the government for a second post office, the Postmaster General said that it was not usual to have two post offices in a village.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013
The illustration shows an artist’s impression of a mail coach caught in a thunderstorm.