Tunstall’s heritage market celebrated its bicentenary 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 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.
Spotlight on Stoke is researching the history of education in Tunstall for its new series Focus on Tunstall, and we shall be writing posts about all the schools in the town including:
- St. Mary’s Schools
- The Catholic School in Oldcourt Street
- Summerbank Road Schools
- Tunstall High School for Girls
- Brownhills High School
- High Street Schools
- Forster Street Schools
Most of the schools that were built in Tunstall during the 19th century have been demolished.
If you were educated in Tunstall and have any photographs of the school you attended or would like to share memories of your school days with Spotlight email firstname.lastname@example.org
In his book “Old Times in the Potteries” which was published in 1906, William Scarratt recalls growing up in Tunstall and describes life in the town during the Victorian era.
The book is based on a series of features which he wrote for the Weekly Sentinel.
In an article introducing these features to Weekly Sentinel readers, R. W. Ship said that Scarratt would “have little need to introduce himself”. For over 50 years he had moved freely about four of the six Pottery towns and was well known in Tunstall. If anyone asked him to justify writing about The Potteries, Scarratt could say that during his childhood he was fascinated by “the stories” his parents told about events which had taken place in the latter part of the eighteenth century and that his interest in local history had “grown with the passing years”.
During 2018, Spotlight on Stoke will from time to time be posting edited extracts from “Old Times in the Potteries” in its new series Focus on Tunstall.