Author Archives: David Martin

Are heritage railways coming to the end of the line?

Churnet Valley Railway (2)

THE CHURNET VALLEY RAILWAY

The dwindling supply of British coal may force many heritage railways to close. Stocks are low and will run out in two years.

An all-party Parliamentary group on heritage rail blames the government. It says government plans to invest in alternative fuels and ban traditional coal-fired power stations will make coal mining in the UK uneconomic.

Most of Britain’s 158 heritage railways are run by volunteers. Many railways can’t afford to buy foreign coal and will be forced to close.

Heritage railways are a vital part of Britain’s tourism industry. They attract about 13million visitors a year and bring in an income of more than £400million.

Spotlight on Burslem – Woolworths

17-19 St John’s Square, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST6 3AN Woolworths opened in Burslem in September 1929 in a purpose-built two-storey building. According to the book Burslem Through Time by Mervyn Edwards, the first store manager was L.H. Hewitt. This branch of Woolworths stocked a range of locally manufactured china and pottery items. Source: […]

To read more visit Burslem – Store 371 — Woolies Buildings – Then and Now

Spotlight on Staffordshire’s Asylums – Charles Seymour, Highwayman?

Amongst the early cases at Stafford asylum, there are few with details as strange as that of Charles Thomas Seymour. Charles was 25 when he was admitted to Stafford in June 1823, but this new patient was unlike most others. Charles had been tried at Warwickshire Assizes for highway robbery and had been kept in […]

via Charles Seymour, Highwayman? — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Spotlight on the Staffordshire Hoard

Staffordshire Hoard (2)

Yes, I was one of those nutters who queued for almost 5 hours outside of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery around 10 years ago to see the Staffordshire Hoard soon after its discovery, and since then I’ve seen the display of elements of the hoard at Lichfield Cathedral. However, I haven’t visited Birmingham Museum since, nor […]

To read more visit The Staffordshire Hoard, Explored — Archaeo𝔡𝔢𝔞𝔱𝔥

Biddulph Grange Country Park — Photo-art gallery

Biddulph Grange Country Park

Biddulph is a town situated between Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and Congleton in Cheshire, England. It is famous for Biddulph Grange Gardens that have recently been restored to its former glory by the National Trust, and that visitors can pay to walk around. Just half a mile away from the Gardens is Biddulph Grange Country Park, […]

To read more visit Biddulph Grange Country Park — Photo-art gallery

Spotlight on Biddulph Grange

Last week’s post on the Geological Gallery at Biddulph was, I hope, something of an insight in to the mindset of James Bateman its creator in the mid-19thc. Today’s is designed to look at the gardens he created there, partly because both he and his wife were passionate about plants but partly as a reinforcement of […]

via A Walk Around the World — The Gardens Trust

Spotlight on Crime and Punishment – The Stocks

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On October 6th, 1680, Tunstall Court Leet ordered the High Constable of the Manor of Tunstall to repair the stocks in Burslem within six weeks or pay a penalty of six shillings and eight pence.

From Anglo-Saxon times until the middle of the 19th century, the stocks were used to punish minor offences.

The Stocks were designed to humiliate and degrade petty criminals by putting them on display in a public place where members of the public could impose their own punishments on them.

Stocks were erected on village greens, in market squares and at crossroads. Most were made of wood, although a few were made of iron. Offenders sat on a wooden bench with their ankles placed through holes in moveable boards. How long a person spent in the stocks depended on the gravity of the offence. Some were there for a few hours. Others were put in them for two or three days and fed on bread and water.

In 1350, the Second Statute of Labourers compelled every town and village to erect stocks in a public place.

Having its own set of stocks conferred status on small communities. A settlement that was too small to have a set was regarded as a hamlet and could not call itself a village.

Men and women in the stocks were a source of entertainment for the crowds that flocked to see them punished.

Members of the public could whip offenders until their backs were bloody and throw stones, broken pottery, dead dogs and cats, rotten fruit, bad eggs, mud and excrement at them.

Dishonest shopkeepers, innkeepers and market traders were put in the stocks.

Housewives poured the contents of chamber pots over the heads of traders who had given them “short weight.” Butchers who had sold rotten beef, lamb, pork or poultry had maggot-infested meat placed at their feet. Fishmongers who sold fish that had passed its sell-by date sat in the stocks with stinking fish hung around their necks. Customers who had been sold watered down beer by innkeepers and alewives poured jugs of stale ale over them.

Towards the end of the middle ages gangs of rogues and vagabonds made their way from town to town begging, robbing and stealing everywhere they went. To deal with these rogues and vagabonds the government brought in new laws with draconian penalties for those who infringed them.

In 1388 an Act of Parliament (12 Rich. 2) was passed making it illegal for labourers to give up their jobs and leave the hundred where they lived without the King’s permission. The statute gave borough mayors, manor stewards and town constables authority to put labourers who had run away from their employers in the stocks until they found sureties who guaranteed that they would go home and return to work.

A statute, passed during the reign of Henry VII, allowed constables to place vagrants in the stocks.

Passed in1494, the Vagabonds and Beggars Act gave the courts power to put “vagabonds, idle and suspected persons” in the stocks for three days and three nights

Under the provisions of a statute (22 Hen 8, c. 12) passed in 1530, magistrates could give “the impotent poor” permission to beg at specified places in the town or village where they lived. If they were found begging anywhere else, they were put in the stocks for two days and nights.

During 1605 a new law made the punishment for getting drunk six hours in the stocks and the penalty for being a drunkard four hours in the stocks or a fine of three shillings. Shortly afterwards, Parliament made the punishment for swearing one hour in the stocks or a fine of one shilling.

Spotlight on Biddulph Grange – Orchids, Ferns, Fossils and the Great Flood

biddulph-grange.jpeg

Biddulph Grange

We often hear that grand gardens cost money: it’s as true as the old cliché which says “money talks.” But there is a world of difference between a grand garden and a great one. Great gardens develop when that money meets vision, enthusiasm, knowledge – and a gardener. In the garden I’m going to talk about […]

To read more visit Orchids, Ferns, Fossils and the Great Flood — The Gardens Trust

Spotlight on Stafford – John Garrett, the first Superintendent of Stafford Asylum

stafford asylum

Stafford Asylum

Staffordshire's Asylums

Finding the right staff to supervise the new asylum was a
major task in 1818. After some debate, 28 year old John Garrett was appointed Superintendent
(full title House Surgeon, Apothecary & Superintendent). He had worked at
Bethlem Hospital, and so was not new to asylums. Another applicant was James
Bakewell, whose brother Thomas was a vociferous opponent of the new county
asylum, and who ran Spring Vale asylum at Tittensor. Edward Knight was
appointed physician to work alongside Garrett.

John Garrett was a qualified surgeon and remained in post
until 1841. He managed the asylum and reported annually to a committee of three
trustees and twelve visiting justices. In the asylum’s early days, John Garrett
fought back against Thomas Bakewell’s anti-Stafford campaign, which went on
into the 1820s. Garrett dismissed Bakewell’s claims that the asylum would be
viewed by the mentally ill and others alike as ‘an object of…

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