Monthly Archives: February 2018

Focus on Kidsgrove: St. Saviour’s the heritage church demolished by the Church of England



St. Saviour’s the historic tin church in The Rookery, near Kidsgrove, was demolished by the Church of England in 2013. Spotlight on Stoke has been asked to re-post the articles that our historical geographer Betty Cooper wrote about the church before it was demolished.

Spotlight has agreed to re-post Betty’s articles which will be posted on this site in March.

Betty Cooper and David Martin agree with the comments made by the Phoenix Trust when it heard that St. Saviour’s was going to be demolished. The Phoenix Trust said it was:

“A miners’ church, built by miners for miners, which helped to bring Christianity to an industrial village on the North Staffordshire Coalfield.

“One of the oldest tin churches in the world, its unique character and atmosphere were destroyed when the interior, shown in the photograph, was gutted.

“When St. Saviour’s is demolished North Staffordshire will lose a major heritage asset.

“An asset that could have been used to help create a heritage based tourist industry which would bring millions of pounds into our region and help to regenerate it.”

Photograph Copyright David Martin

Tunstall has one of the best markets in England and Wales


Tunstall has one of the best covered markets in England and Wales.

Tucked away behind the town hall in High Street, the market is Stoke-on-Trent’s hidden gem.

The market is a “warm-hearted place” where friendly, welcoming traders sell high-quality produce, and household goods at reasonable prices to local people and to regular customers who come from Alsager, Crewe, Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton.

Founded in 1817, the market, which celebrated its bicentennial in 2017, moved into the market hall in 1858.

Outraged teachers threatened to resign



Stoke-on-Trent teachers were shocked when they learned that Henry Dibden, the director of education, wanted to abolish the city’s grammar schools.

When Henry became director of education in 1951, the Potteries was a deprived area. It had only four grammar schools, and most children left school at 15 without any qualifications. Less than 10% took O’ Levels and plans to build nine new grammar schools were abandoned when the city ran out of money.

The education committee estimated that between 25% and 30% of the school population could obtain five or more O’ Levels but only one secondary modern school (Goldenhill Secondary Modern) was entering pupils for these examinations. Realising the city needed a new education policy, the education committee told Henry to draw up plans to go comprehensive and as an interim measure introduced selected entry O’ Level streams into six secondary moderns.

Henry’s scheme for secondary school reorganisation was published on January 20th, 1959. He proposed replacing the grammar schools and the secondary moderns with 24 neighbourhood comprehensives and a sixth form college for A’ Level students. Accepted by the Labour Party controlled city council, the plan was attacked by the Conservative Party, the Workers Educational Association and Keele University. Outraged teachers held public meetings and threatened to resign unless the scheme was withdrawn. When the council refused to back down, some teachers sold their homes in the city and went to live in South Cheshire to ensure that their children received a grammar school education.

Wanting to go comprehensive in the early 1960s, the education committee renamed the six secondary moderns that had selected entry 0’ Level streams junior high schools. An experimental sixth form college was opened at Longton High School, but the Conservative government refused to allow the committee to turn its grammar and secondary modern schools into comprehensives.

In 1964, the Labour Party won the general election, and Stoke-on-Trent hoped the new government would accept its proposals. Harold Wilson, the Prime Minister, who had been educated at Wirral Grammar School, opposed the scheme saying that grammar schools would be abolished over his dead body. The city council responded by threatening to go comprehensive without government approval and a bitter row developed within the Labour Party.

To prevent the dispute being made public the city council and the government reached a compromise, which involved reorganising both primary and secondary education. Stoke-on-Trent agreed to make its infants’ schools first schools taking pupils aged five to eight and establish middle schools for children from eight to twelve. In return, the government allowed the city to replace grammar and secondary modern schools with comprehensives and build a new sixth form college.

Erected at Fenton Manor, the college cost £500,000. It was opened by Harold Wilson on April 10th, 1970 and had accommodation for 750 A’ Level students aged 16 to 19.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust, September 2010

Scarratt’s Tunstall – King Street Schools

victorian schoolroom


William Scarratt’s book “Old Times in the Potteries” is a collection of facts and reminiscences of life in “the six towns” from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th.

Published in 1906, the book is based on a series of articles William wrote for the Weekly Sentinel.

Born at Tunstall in the early 1840s, he was educated at a Dame School, King Street National Schools and Newchapel Grammar School.

In his book, William says there were several dame schools and three elementary schools in Tunstall when he was growing up. One of the elementary schools was the Church of England National School in King Street (Madison Street). The school, which was built with money raised by Christ Church, was housed in a “clean, lofty, airy, well-ventilated building”.

The other two elementary schools were British Schools founded by the Methodist Church.

The National School in King Street, which William attended, was opened in 1839, and by 1841, it had 333 pupils (125 boys and 208 girls).

In those days, parents had to pay school pence for their children’s education. The parents of children attending King Street were charged 2d a week for each child’s schooling.

By the time William went there, a good-natured rebellion known as barring-out had become a school tradition. On barring-out day, the boys came to school early. They locked the headmaster and the teachers out of the building and refused to let them in until the headmaster agreed to give all the pupils a holiday.

When recalling his school days, William wrote about the barring-out day ceremony he saw during his first year at King Street.

In this edited extract from “Old Times in the Potteries” he says:

I was one of the little ones and of no consequence in the eyes of the older boys and was an observer of the first barring-out day I experienced. The headmaster came to school at the usual hour, but he could not get in. Great was the excitement inside the schoolroom. The big boys went to the open windows. Some of them put the keys on a long pole which was held out so high that the headmaster could not reach them. The headmaster and the teachers had been barred-out.

Parleying of a bantering nature began between the boys and the headmaster which continued until he agreed to give the whole school a holiday.

Great was the triumph of the victors who said they would have kept the doors locked all afternoon if he had refused to give them their annual holiday.

Can You Help Spotlight?

Like most of the schools built in Tunstall during the Victorian era, King Street has been demolished.

Spotlight on North Staffordshire is researching the history of education in Stoke-on-Trent. If you went to school in Tunstall and would like to share your memories of your school days with us please email

Tunstall Market’s Early History


Tunstall’s heritage market, which is now one of the best indoor markets in the UK, 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 halfway 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.

Focus on Tunstall – William Scarratt

tunstall-town-hallIn 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.