Monthly Archives: November 2018

A Georgian Christmas at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

Come and enjoy a Georgian Christmas at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery between 11.00am and 4.00pm on Saturday 8 December.

Discover the customs and traditions celebrated by the Georgians at Christmas before the advent of the Victorian Christmas tree, crackers and cards.

You will meet two costumed characters preparing for the Festive party by creating decorations from greenery and paper to adorn the house. They will also be making gingerbread, decorating the Christmas Cake and making kissing boughs. Throughout the day they will introduce visitors to a traditional Georgian Christmas and tell them how our ancestors made merry during the festive season.

Admission Free

Making a difference: Newcastle under Lyme and the 6 Potteries Towns

Waymarking The Sketchbook

Following on from October’s blog, I’ve recently been listening to a couple of podcasts addressing issues relating to towns:

Weekly Economics Podcast (from New Economics Foundation): Is it the end of the Road for the High Street?

& Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd’s Reason to be Cheerful Podcast: Won’t you take me to Funky Town: power and prosperity in towns, featuring Lisa Nandy (Wigan MP).

Both of these raise some interesting questions around how people living and working in a neighbourhood can take greater control over designing and building their local economy. I’ve been meeting with people who are testing out ways to tackle the challenges face by local communities trying to do this. Including the social and economic regeneration company Hometown Plus, who are working in partnership with a strong team of collaborators in Newcastle under Lyme and the 6 potteries towns of Stoke on Trent…

View original post 55 more words

Tunstall’s indoor market is 160 years old this year

Tunstall’s indoor market hall, which opened in December 1858, celebrates its 160th birthday this year.

In 1856, Tunstall’s Board of Health decided to build a new market hall.

The board of health commissioned George Thomas Robinson, the architect who designed Burslem’s Old Town Hall, to build the market hall.

Constructed on a half acre site opposite the Market Place in High Street, the market hall cost £7,651.

It 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 (Tower Square) 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.

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

It’s a warm-hearted place where friendly, welcoming traders sell high-quality fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, household goods and luxury items at reasonable prices to local people and customers who have come from as far away as Alsager, Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton to do their weekend shopping.

Today, the market hall is home to one of the best indoor markets in England and Wales – a place where you and your family can do the weekend shopping under one roof.

Things That Matter Most: Breakfast Cups

Francis Pryor - In the Long Run

A few years ago we made a Time Team film in an 1870s railway navvy camp high in the Yorkshire Dales, on the Settle-Carlisle railway. Navvies, like archaeologists, were known for their boozy lifestyle and we fully expected to find massive evidence for drinking. And we did! There were trayfuls of sherds, but they weren’t glass. No, they were mostly pieces of blue-on-white china, usually from teacups and saucers. Tea, it would appear, was the hard-bitten navvies’ tipple of choice. And I have to confess that as I get older I find tea and coffee are getting more and more inviting. Which is why I’m writing this rather unusual, for me, blog post. Time for another memory.

Sometime in the mid-1990s I went with English Heritage (now Historic England) on a trip to Stoke-on-Trent to look round a rare working pottery. During the late 20th century many manufacturers…

View original post 697 more words

Diary Date: The Moon at Christmas

The Moon at Christmas: The Epic Voyage of Apollo 8

Time and Place: Saturday 8 December at The Potteries Museum

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings. To celebrate there will be a special exhibition opening in March which tells the epic story of the Apollo programme.

To introduce you to the space race between the USA and the USSR,there is a talk at 2.00pm on Saturday, December 8th, 2018 by Andrew Lound who has organised the exhibition which opens in March 2019.

Diary Date: Christmas Crafts and Festive Campfire @ Westport Lake 

Date: 1st December 2018

Location: Westport Lake, Westport Lake Road, Longport, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 4RZ

Time: 13:00 – 15:00

Cost: £5 per child, £3 per additional child

Join us for a range of family Christmas crafts ending very festively with Christmas songs around the campfire.

Make some tree decorations to take home, clay reindeers, woolly robins, and sing some Christmas songs. Then, why not venture up into the cafe after where they will be selling mince pies and hot chocolate to help get the festive season off to the perfect start for you and your family? Booking essential. £5 per child, £3 per additional siblings. Children age nought to two can only attend with a paying sibling.

Source: Wildfamilies Explore Christmas Crafts and Festive Campfire @ Westport Lake | Stoke-on-Trent

Spotlight on Tunstall – Betty Wedgwood’s Dame School

Dame School

A DAME SCHOOL

In his autobiography “When I was a Child” published in 1903, Charles Shaw gives a graphic and horrifying description of working-class life in Tunstall during the 1830s and 40s.

One of Enoch Shaw and his wife Mary’s eight children, Charles was born in 1832. The Shaw family lived in a small terraced house in Piccadilly Street and from 1835/6 to 1839 Charles attended a local dame school until he started work in the pottery industry when he was seven years old.

In this edited extract from “When I was a Child”, he tells us about his school days at Betty Wedgwood’s dame school.

BETTY WEDGWOOD’S DAME SCHOOL

“My education was like that of thousands of other working-class children.

“I went to old Betty Wedgwood’s dame school, and as I had ‘finished my education’ when I was seven years old, I must have attended her school for three or four years.

“The school was housed in the only room on the ground floor of her little cottage. It was about four yards square, with a winding, narrow staircase leading to the cottage’s one bedroom above. The furniture was very scant, consisting of a small table, two chairs, and two or three little forms about eight inches high for the children to sit on. There were a few pictures on the walls of the usual garish sort, blazing with colour, and all the figures upon them were in strikingly dramatic attitudes.

“One small picture was reserved for special distinction, as it was supposed to be the portrait of old Betty’s deceased husband. He had been a soldier and must have attained the rank of colour-sergeant, his stripes and sword being well to the front. The children were duly impressed with the greatness of the personage represented by the little picture. To us, he was a greater warrior than either Wellington or Napoleon. He was more real than either of them because we had before us a visible hero, whose exploits were described by old Betty in tones of awe and in words of admiration. The children listened with wonder to the never-failing recitals of his courage and valour and deeds, and so it has come about that my first vivid impression of a soldier, and what soldiers did, was got by old Betty’s devotion to her husband’s memory, and by the aid of her husband’s portrait.

“The course of education given by the old lady was very simple and graded with almost scientific precision. There was an alphabet, with pictures, for beginners. There must have been something intensely vivid about these letters in the alphabet, for to this day when I see the letters Q and S as single capitals, I see them rather as when I first saw them in old Betty’s alphabet. I have often wondered whether other people carry the same weird impression of the capitals of their first alphabet. I have an impression, too, that the distinctness of that old alphabet had something to do with the success of old Betty’s teachings, for though she never taught writing, her scholars were generally noted for their ability to read while very young. I know I could read my Bible with remarkable ease when I left her school, when seven years old.

“Betty’s next grade, after the alphabet, was the reading-made-easy book, with black letters making words containing two, three and four letters.

“The next stage was spelling and reading the Bible. For those successful in these higher stages old Betty had peculiar honours. They were allowed to take the ashes from under the fire-grate to the ash-heap outside the house. This ash-heap was a common meeting-place, as everybody used it, and on its elevation, many doughty battles were fought. Whoever among the youngsters could get on the top of it and ‘hold the fort’ against all comers, was considered a Victor. Going to the ash-heap, then, meant a bit of sport, and possibly a victory to be talked of in the little school world.

“Another honour of old Betty’s was to allow a successful scholar to sit on the highest visible stair in the winding staircase leading to her bedroom. It was a rare joy to see and be seen by four fellow scholars from this vantage-point of honour. There was yet another distinction the old lady had to bestow. She taught both boys and girls who were successful in reading how to knit stockings. She was a remarkable knitter herself and could carry on this occupation with the regularity almost of a machine, while her eyes were everywhere in her school.

“Old Betty had another resource for pleasing all her scholars. On fine days the little forms were taken outside her cottage and placed under the windows. The children had their books or their knitting, and the old lady, knitting herself incessantly, marched backwards and forwards, hearing lessons and watching work. The joy of the children was that they could see the passers-by, and their mothers, for old Betty’s cottage was at ‘The Bottom’, a favourite resort for the dwellers in the neighbouring cottages.

“These were occasions when the old schoolmistress lapsed into continual smiles, and when her usual rigour, in the matter of lessons, disappeared.

“She was deeply respected by both children and parents. It would be too much to say she was beloved, for there was an air of stateliness and solitariness about her which precluded warm attachment. Whether her stateliness came through her military associations in past years, or whether it was a natural habit, I cannot now say. But for her, being a schoolmistress, it suited well. It impressed the children with a feeling of reverence, and it kept parents from intruding mischievously in the little world she ruled.

“Poor old Betty! She was, perhaps, above the average of her class who taught the children of England in those days for a mere pittance, when our rulers were squandering the resources of the nation in less useful ways and were blind to the wisdom of educating the children of the country.

“She and her class did two things – they made night schools possible for those who wanted to go further, say, to learn writing and arithmetic, and they made it possible for Sunday school teachers to have less elementary drudgery.”

A child murder in Kidsgrove

On Friday, July 31st, 1868, a 40-year-old furnaceman, William Hancock, stood in the dock at Stafford Assizes charged with the wilful murder of Mary Ann Whitehurst at Kidsgrove on June 10th, 1868.

The court heard that Mary, a little girl about ten years old, was the daughter of one of William’s neighbours.

On the evening of June 9th, she was playing with William’s children and obtained permission from her father to sleep at the accused’s house overnight.

Mary went to bed at about 9.30pm. In the early hours of the morning, the household was woken by William who being in a state of uncontrollable violence was shouting, cursing and attempting to attack his wife. Terror-stricken, William’s wife and children ran out of the house leaving Mary there.

William jumped out of his bedroom window into the street. Being unable to find his wife and children who had taken refuge with their next-door neighbour, William went back into the house where he saw Mary.

He caught hold of Mary and dragged her into the kitchen. He picked her up by the legs, held her upside down and battered her head on the kitchen floor until she was dead.

Medical evidence presented to the court showed that William was suffering from delirium tremens and did not know what he was doing when he killed Mary. The jury said he was insane and the judge ordered him to be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

STOKE-ON-TRENT-ART SCHOOL, 1919: "AN ATMOSPHERE OF DEPRESSION, FAILURE AND DISAPPOINTMENT"

MARSHALL COLMAN

Differences between teachers and school inspectors are not new.  The Stoke-on-Trent art schools got a pasting from government inspectors at the end of the First World War, but the principal, Stanley Thorogood, was proud of their achievements in difficult circumstances and was fizzing with ideas for the future.

Hanley, one of the six towns of the North Staffordshire Potteries, first opened its art school in 1847. Burslem opened in 1853. Smaller schools in the other towns amalgamated with Hanley and Burslem in 1910. They were part of the national system of art education, providing artisans with basic drawing and modelling skills. Only the most persistent student could follow its syllabus through its 22 levels; most went through only two or three. Originality and creativity were actively discouraged. At the pinnacle of this system was the National Art Training School in South Kensington, later the Royal College of Art (RCA)

Remarkably…

View original post 1,166 more words

« Older Entries