Monthly Archives: July 2018

Potteries Morris Minor owners club – sketch.

Art by Christine Mallaband-Brown

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I went to a model train show last year and while my partner was looking at the model trains I decided to draw a Morris Minor that was parked outside. There were a few of them there and I had a chat with one of the owners. It turned out the people were from  the Potteries Morris Minor owners club. They love their cars and the Morris I drew was beautifully presented.

I decided to do the sketch before I realised I had not got anything to sketch with, I had a tiny sketch pad but no pencils… so I used what came to hand which was a black biro. The drawing was going well, but the biro ran out. Thats why part of it is blue. I could pretend it was reflected sky, but that is a lucky result if running out of ink!

Morris Minor cars are iconic…

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Life was hard for Kidsgrove’s miners

A GIRL PUTTERDuring the first half of the 19th century, the life of coal miners was hard. Wages were low. Men, women and children worked long hours in semi-darkness. The work was dangerous. Accidents were frequent. Human life was cheap, and colliery owners put profits before safety.

Half naked men and women worked together at the coalface mining coal and putting it into wagons. Young children were employed to open air doors on roadways leading from the coalface to the bottom of the mine shaft.  They sat alone in the darkness and opened these doors for boys and girls who were harnessed to the wagons which they pulled along the roadway.

In the early 1840s, Samuel Scriven who was preparing a report on child labour for the government visited Kidsgrove. He interviewed several coal miners employed by colliery owner Thomas Kinnersley who lived in luxury at Clough Hall.

One of the miners, 17 years old John Vickers said:

“I have been to work for about four years; first worked at a farm for about four years. My business is to attend at the pit’s mouth and haul away the coals that come up from Delph. I get 11 shillings (55p) a week for wages; mother gets it from me; I get it from the charter master. We work by the ton; I get paid at the public-house. I went to day school for a few months before I worked at the farm; I cannot read or write; I go to church pretty regularly. I come to work at six in the morning and go home about six {in the evening}. I am too tired after work to go to school in the evening; I would rather go if I could; but as I said before, I am always too tired. My father is dead. My mother keeps a child’s’ school. I have three sisters; two of them work in the silk factories at Congleton; the eldest is 18 years; she has 5s 6d (27.5p) a week; the other is 14; she has 3s 6d (17.5p) a week; the youngest goes to the National Day School at Mr Wade’s.  I get my breakfast before I come to work and bring my second breakfast with me; I go to dinner at twelve and have ‘tatees’ and bacon. I always take my hour for dinner and get my breakfast how I can. I never do any night work.”

Tunstall – An Anglo Saxon Village

Anglo-Saxon Village

An Artist’s Impression of an Anglo-Saxon Settlement

Tunstall is one of the oldest towns in The Potteries.

The town’s “Old English” name indicates that it dates from the late 6th or the early 7th century.

“Old English” place names are descriptive. They describe the settlement and tell us the main occupation of the people who lived there. The word “Tun” means an enclosed farmstead, hamlet or village, and “Stall” is derived from the “Old English” word “Steall” which means a place with pens or sheds where cattle were kept for fattening.

Anglo-Saxon Tunstall was built on a sandstone ridge overlooking the Chatterley Valley near the spot where Green Lane (Oldcourt Street and America Street) crossed the old drove road (Roundwell Street) from the Staffordshire Moorlands to Chester. Green Lane which ran from Leicester to Warrington was an important highway that linked the East Midlands with Merseyside. All traces of Anglo-Saxon Tunstall have disappeared although historians believe it was an enclosed settlement protected by a ditch and a wooden palisade.

Two old field names, Gods Croft and Church Field, which survived until the 19th century, support the local tradition that there was a church in Tunstall many centuries before the Wesleyan Methodists erected a church in America Street. Another old field named Cross Croft near where Madison Street joins America Street indicates that there could have been a wayside cross where markets were held. Calver Street, which runs between Forster Street and Oldcourt Street, takes its name from Calver Croft a place where there were cattle pens for calves born on the journey from the Staffordshire Moorlands to Chester.

Towards the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century, Tunstall became part of Staffordshire’s New Forest.

Today when we think of a forest, we picture a place covered by trees. In medieval times a forest was a large tract of land where the King and his friends hunted for deer and other beasts of the field.

Staffordshire’s New Forest, which extended from Tixall in the south to Mow Cop in the north, may have been founded by William the Conqueror. The forest was not an area of continuous woodland. It was the King’s hunting ground which included:

  • woods and grassland
  • hills and moorland
  • towns, villages and hamlets
  • farmland, open fields and rough pasture.

The forest had its own laws designed to protect the beasts of the field and the vegetation they ate. Offenders against Forest Laws were brought before special courts. The penalties imposed by these courts were brutal and savage. For killing a beast of the field, a poacher could be sent to the gallows, have his eyes torn out or have his hand cut off.

News from Hanley Park

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Take a walk to the Cauldon Grounds to see the amazing transformation

The first area of the park to be complete is the Cauldon Grounds next to Stoke-on-Trent College. The Hammersley Fountain is working and the flowerbeds are blooming. The gates have been fully restored, the paths replaced, the lodge painted and new benches installed to create a tranquil and beautiful place to sit and contemplate.


Constructing the bandstand

Restoration update

We are now really starting to see the amazing improvements taking place in the park.

 The boathouse is nearing completion with the finishing touches being made to the balcony overlooking the lake and work is due to start soon to raise the path up to the door to allow access for wheelchairs.

The restoration of the terracotta balustrade in the terrace garden overlooking the canal is nearing completion.

 The restored bandstand has returned to the park this week following restoration and is slowing being put back together on site piece by piece.

 After many months, the main pavilion roof covering is finally being put back on, and the foundations are being put in for the new veranda posts to create a lovely outdoor seating area around the building.

Become a Towpath Taskforce Volunteer

A Staffordshire Girl's Blog

There are many new comers to Stoke-on-Trent every year, whether as a University student, via a new job or a plain old relocation, but how do all those people learn more about the place where they now live?

According to worldpopulationreview.com between 2016 and 2018 Stoke-on-Trent’s population increased by just under 130,000. Many people who are new to an area struggle with finding a way to fit into their new community.

With volunteering programs such as Towpath Taskforce, it is a great way to socialise, make new friends, learn more about the area you live in and make a difference by helping people improve the community.

The Taskforce completes a variety of different maintenance tasks along the canal. These include lock painting, fencing, litter picking and general clean up to help ensure that the canals are safe and in a working condition.

Narrow boat owner Megan states “Making sure…

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Visiting Stoke-on-Trent

Love Travelling

Stoke-on-Trent doesn’t always spring to mind for a short break in the U.K. but reading about its industrial heritage as the world capital of ceramics tempted us to spend a few days exploring the city.  Stoke is located midway between Manchester and Birmingham and has direct rail services to London taking only 90 minutes.  In 1910 the six towns that came together to form Stoke were known collectively as The Potteries and comprise Hanley, Tunstall, Burslem, Longton, Fenton and Stoke.  Although one might expect Stoke to be the actual city centre it is usually regarded as Hanley.

Untitled The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

We made an early start and arrived in Hanley at 12.00 noon following brown tourist signs to its cultural quarter.  After finding a parking space we walked the short distance to the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery to learn about the history of ceramics in…

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Visiting The World of Wedgwood

Love Travelling

After a good night’s sleep, we set off after breakfast for a visit to the World of Wedgwood in nearby Barlaston.

Untitled Entrance to the World of Wedgwood

The Wedgwood estate stretches for 240 acres with ample free parking in its grounds.  The modern buildings have huge willow sculptures near the entrance in the shape of crockery.  We planned our arrival for 10.00 a.m. just as the visitor centre was opening and loved the train themed lobby adorned with flowers and Wedgwood tableware.

Untitled Railway station themed lobby at the World of Wedgwood

The helpful receptionists welcomed us to Wedgwood and explained where we needed to meet for the factory tour at 10.45 a.m. as well as arranging further activities for later in the day.  Tours cost £10 per person and are booked on the day on a first come, first served basis Monday to Friday, so at busy times it’s advisable…

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Following Stoke-on-Trent’s Ceramics Trail

Love Travelling

It was slightly overcast as we checked out of the Trentham Travelodge which had been an excellent base for touring The Potteries.  We drove into nearby Hanley for breakfast which we enjoyed in the Reginald Mitchell pub named after the inventor of the Spitfire.  The building was once a meat market and its glass roof can still be seen in the pub today.

Untitled Reginald Mitchell pub in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

Feeling energised after our bacon rolls and cappuccinos we returned to the car and fifteen minutes later arrived in Burslem to visit Middleport Pottery in good time for the 11.00 a.m. factory tour.  We collected our tickets from the visitor centre (adult tickets £9.50) including entrance to the heritage areas of this wonderfully preserved Victorian factory.

Untitled Middleport Pottery, Burslem

The factory was at risk of closure in 2012 due to the poor state of the buildings but later that year the…

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Royal Music Hall in the Theatre Royal

Memories of the Theatre Royal Hanley

The Royal Music Hall is opening in the auditorium area of the building that housed the Theatre Royal, Hanley. With a standing capacity of around 900 it plans to feature a wide range of events, including Sankeys club nights, live music from up-and-coming bands and indie student nights

There will be an exhibition of memorabilia from the Theatre Royal at the Royal Music Hall during July.

Royal Music Hall Facebook page

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Royal Doulton’s famous Bather figure.

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The liberating period of the 1920’s to 1930’s often seems incongruous to non-Doulton figure collectors who associate ladies in ballgowns with Doulton figures, but those in the know, recall that there are a small group of nude figures produced in the art deco period that encapsulate that movement perfectly. All the figures contained in this small band of lady figures were the brain child of Leslie Harradine, Doulton’s then principal figure modeler.

As if to prove their own artistic credentials, Doulton introduced over a 10 year period several nude studies that confirmed their artistic prowess.

The first we must all know was Harradine’s The Bather, modeled on this contemporary advert for Cyclax bath salts.

There were six different versions of this popular model, with this colourway proving to be the most popular.

The Bather HN687.

In the succeeding years there was a second version of The Bather introduced, shown here. Although a…

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