Stoke-on-Trent is most commonly known for its contribution to the pottery industry, and is very fittingly nicknamed ‘The Potteries’, but that tends to be seen as Stoke’s only ‘selling point.’ Yet, in recent years Stoke has become a great location to see live music and has been shortlisted to host UK City of Culture 2021. […]
Funny how waiting in a queue is now something I enjoy. There’s always something to draw. I started with one foot, then a bit of leg then another… Back to this month. I’ve had a great time sketching in Burslem, the mother town of the Potteries, starting with this one of Market Place, one of […]
Tunstall’s heritage market will be 200 years old on September 20, 2017.
In 1816, Tunstall’s chief constable, pottery manufacturer John Henry Clive, founded a company to build a Magistrates’ Courthouse and create a Market Place.
The company leased three-quarters of an acre of sloping ground called Stoney Croft from Walter Sneyd, the Lord of the Manor. It built a courthouse and laid out a market place, which later became Tower Square, on the site.
A two-storey stone building, the courthouse had a fire station with two fire engines and a market hall on the ground floor where eggs, butter, milk and cheese were sold when the market opened. The building faced eastwards. It was erected about half way up the slope. Steps led from the lower part of the Market Place, where stalls were set up on market day, to the market hall’s main entrance.
Beneath the market hall was the town lock up – a dark, foul smelling dungeon where prisoners were held while awaiting trial. The stocks stood at the foot of the steps leading to the market hall. Six hours in the stocks or a fine of five shillings was the usual penalty for being drunk and disorderly.
The company placed an advertisement in the Staffordshire Advertiser that was published on September 13, 1817, which read: “Notice is hereby given that henceforward a market will be held at Tunstall, in the Potteries, weekly on Saturdays in front of the Court-House. The first to be on Saturday, 20 September. Stalls and standings free.”
Tunstall Market was both a retail market and a wholesale market. Retailers sold fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and salt. Horse drawn waggons brought dairy produce, fruit and vegetables to the wholesale market which attracted retailers from Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.
An Act of Parliament passed in 1840 created the Tunstall Market Company to manage the market. In 1847, the company sold the market for £6,500 to the town’s Improvement Commissioners. Shortly afterwards, the commissioners allowed dealers to sell hay and straw there. In 1855, the Improvement Commissioners were replaced by a Board of Health. The Board of Health managed the market until 1894 when Boards of Health were abolished and Urban District Councils were created to replace them. Tunstall Urban District Council ran the market until 1910 when the “six towns amalgamated” to form the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent.
A New Market Hall
During 1856, the Board of Health decided to build a new market hall and turn the courthouse into a town hall. George Thomas Robinson, the architect who designed Burslem’s Old Town Hall, was commissioned to transform the courthouse into a town hall and to build a new market hall.
Robinson enlarged the courthouse giving it a circular front where the steps had been. He redesigned the courtroom and turned the market hall into a boardroom and offices for the Board of Health.
Constructed on a half acre site opposite the Market Place in High Street, the new Market Hall cost £7,651.
The Market Hall was opened by Thomas Peake, the Chief Bailiff and Chairman of the Board of Health, on December 2, 1858. In the evening a concert was held in the Market Hall. At 9.00 pm there was a firework display in the Market Place which was followed by a ball in the Market Hall.
Trading commenced there two days later on December 4, 1858, when the retail market which sold:
- Dairy produce
- Fruit and vegetables
- Meat, fish, poultry, game and rabbits
- Manufactured goods and household utensils
left the Market Place and moved into the building.
The wholesale market that sold:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Fruit trees and bushes
- Garden plants, seeds and shrubs
- Hay and straw
remained in the Market Place which later became known as Market Square.
A New Town Hall
Although the courthouse had been enlarged and made into a town hall, the building was too small to meet the administrative needs of an expanding industrial town.
At the beginning of the 1880s, the front portion of the Market Hall and the main entrance in High Street, which had been built on the spring line that marks the geological boundary between Etruria Marl and the Blackband series of coal and ironstone measures, was collapsing due to subsidence. The Board of Health decided to reduce the size of the Market Hall by a third. The front part of the building was demolished and a new town hall was erected on the site. Designed by Absalom Reade Wood who was one of North Staffordshire’s leading architects, the town hall is a free “Renaissance Style” building that stands on a rusticated stone base. It was opened by John Nash Peake, the Chief Bailiff and Chairman of the Board of Health, on October 29, 1885.
While the town hall was being built, the remaining two-thirds of the Market Hall was being modernised. The building was reroofed, new gas lighting was installed, the floor was relaid and permanent stalls were erected.
The Wholesale Market in the 20th Century
The wholesale market, which closed before the end of the 19th century, was re-established in the Market Square in 1901. Shortly afterwards, a small retail market selling fish and rabbits was opened in the square. These markets declined after the First World War (1914-18). The retail market in the Market Hall became Tunstall’s main market, although as late as the 1930s there were still a few stalls in the square selling fish and rabbits.
When children approached his stall one of the traders who sold rabbits started singing these words to the tune of the popular music hall song “If you want to know the time ask a policeman”:
“Does your mother want a rabbit?
“Sell you one for sixpence,
“Skin you one for ninepence.”
The Market Hall after 1940
Before the Second World War (1939-45), the Market Hall was open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In February 1940, the market was opened for the sale of meat on Fridays. During 1941, some of the stalls were taken down and a civic restaurant was established in the Market Hall.
After the war, market days were Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
During the 1950s and 60s, families could do their weekly shopping in the market where there were stalls that sold:
- Bread and cakes
- Eggs, butter, cheese, margarine and milk
- First and Second World War memorabilia and military medals
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Handbags and purses
- Hardware and household utensils
- Ladies and children’s clothing
- Meat and poultry, black pudding, boiled ham, brawn, corned beef, Cornish pasties, home cured bacon, pork pies, sausages, savoury ducks and tripe
- Pet food, cages for budgerigars and hampsters, fish tanks and goldfish bowls
- Oatcakes and Pikelets
- Shoes and handbags
- Second-hand books and magazines
- Toys and games
- Watches and jewellery
In 1992, the City Council’s architects and surveyors discovered that the Market Hall and the town hall were unsafe. The structures supporting the Market Hall’s roof were unstable and its east gable wall was likely to collapse. A temporary market was erected in Woodland Street. Both the town hall and the Market Hall were closed. Although the town hall is still closed, the Market Hall was regenerated and reopened at the beginning of the 21st century.
© Betty Cooper and David Martin (2017)
Two new workshops at Gladstone Pottery Museum
(1) Bone China Flower Making Workshop, at 11 am on Saturday 2nd September
Find out how beautiful china blooms are made from an expert flower-maker and make your own to take home with you in this hour and a half session that costs £12, which includes museum admission.
(2) Raku Pottery Workshop on Saturday 14th October
Raku is a Japanese pottery firing process, and in the museum’s hands-on sessions you can glaze and fire your own pot under the supervision of ceramicists from Labyrinth Arts.
Experience the excitement of an outdoor firing and produce your own ceramic masterpiece to take home with you.
There are two workshops to choose from. The first workshop starts at 10 am and lasts until 12.30 pm. The second starts at 1.00 pm and lasts until 3.30 pm.
The cost is £20 per person which includes museum admission.
To book a place on these workshops, please call 01782 237777.
The Bowling Green at Tunstall Park, Stoke-on-Trent.
I’ve been really enjoying exploring recently. We moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme (in the Midlands, not the Newcastle in North East England that most people know!) in December 2015 and although it’s not far from where I grew up in the Staffordshire Moorlands it’s not an area I knew well. We live walking distance from the town […]
Boating in Hanley Park, on a misty spring day
On Friday 25 August you can enjoy an evening of Soul and Motown classics at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery with local singer Charmaine Baines and her live band
With an immense repertoire from Classic and Soulful House Music to Jazz, Neo-Soul, Motown, Blues, RnB and Reggae, Charmaine Baines is a unique soulful performer. This year saw her support Ruby Turner for the 2017 Nantwich Jazz and Blues Festival and also debut at The Monteflavio Jazz Festival in Rome, performing with the brilliant Anima Band.
Charmaine will be paying tribute to some of the Soul and Motown classics with her amazing band. Admission is free. The concert starts at 7 pm and ends at 10 pm.
Heritage tourism is big business. More than 4.7 million tourists visit Stoke-on-Trent each year.
Tunstall’s heritage market will be celebrating its 200th birthday on September 23rd, 2017.
Spotlight on Stoke believes that everyone who cares about Tunstall’s future should back the market’s bi-centennial celebrations and help to make them a success.
Tourists spend a lot of money when they visit a town.
The bi-centennial celebrations will put Tunstall on Stoke-on-Trent’s tourist trail and help to regenerate the town centre.
Over the next five years, British Telecom is going to get rid of nearly 50% of its 40,000 public phone booths, including the classic red telephone kiosks designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.
According to British Telecom, only 7,000 of the 33,000 calls made each day from its public pay phones are made from the traditional red kiosks, which have been familiar landmarks in towns and villages throughout Britain for many years.