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In July 1750, the Rev. Richard Pococke visited Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries.
Richard who kept a journal of his travels described North Staffordshire as an area where pottery manufacturers used local clay to make unglazed earthenware, bricks, tiles water pipes and plant pots. Some manufacturers mixed white pipeclay from Poole in Dorset with calcinated flintstone from Lincolnshire and other places to make salt-glazed stoneware pottery and ornaments.
All the ware made in the district was baked “in kilns built in the shape of a cone” which Richard said gave the area “a pretty appearance”. He went on to say that there were “great numbers” of these kilns in the Pottery villages to the east of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
In this edited extract from his journal, Richard describes Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries as they were in 1750.
Newcastle and The Potteries in 1750
Newcastle is a small, well-built market town situated on the slope of a hill overlooking a lake. It has a handsome church and a market hall. Although Newcastle is the capital of the neighbouring Pottery villages, there are only a few potters working in the town.
I left Newcastle on July 6th went to see the Pottery villages. I rode two miles to Stoke where stoneware is made. On leaving Stoke, I visited Shelton where red chinaware is produced and then went to Hanley were all kinds of pottery are manufactured. I visited Burslem where the best white and other types of pottery are made. The last place I went to was Tunstall. Although all kinds of pottery are made there, Tunstall is famous for making the best bricks and tiles.
A barrister whose attempts to pursue a political career in Parliament were unsuccessful, Harold Wright became The Potteries Stipendiary Magistrate in 1893.
A man who sympathised with the victims of domestic violence, Harold was determined to stamp out wife beating and child abuse in the six towns. Drunken men who had attacked their wives could expect no mercy when they appeared before his court. Even first offenders were sent to prison, and the sentences he imposed made him the most feared magistrate in the district.
Unlike the Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrates in London who sat alone, Harold sat with Justices of the Peace.
Sitting in Kidsgrove and The Potteries, his court committed indictable offences for trial to the Assizes or to Quarter Sessions. It heard matrimonial disputes and tried summary offences.
Burslem and Longton, which were boroughs, and Hanley, which was a county borough, had their own Magistrates’ Courts presided over by borough magistrates. The borough Magistrates’ Courts shared jurisdiction with the Stipendiary Magistrate’s Court, and local police decided whether summary cases were tried by borough magistrates or by the stipendiary court. Knowing that Harold would impose more severe sentences than the borough magistrates, the police always prosecuted professional criminals and habitual offenders before his court.
Harold lived at Aston Hall, a mansion near Stone. His hobbies included hunting, fishing, painting and drawing. Under the pseudonym Snuff, he drew caricatures for Vanity Fair and made sketches of the lawyers who argued cases before his court.
A man who liked animals, Harold supported the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He helped to organise Hanley’s Annual Horse Parade and launched a successful campaign against cruelty to animals in The Potteries – an area where every week between 30 and 40 people stood in the dock charged with ill-treating dogs and horses.
Few designs have the followers of this particular Royal Doulton art nouveau design. Well over a century after its introduction in 1909, today collectors still compete for unusual items featuring this iconic design. Although it had a relatively long production period until sometime after the outbreak of WWII, examples of it, other than rack plates […]
First posted 13th August 2017. To read more visit Collecting Royal Doulton’s Poppies ‘B’ seriesware. — doultoncollectorsclub
Royal Doulton certainly knew how to capture the market and this seriesware design is another illustration of their timely delivery to a clamouring public. Today we associate this series with nurseryware but of course it does carry Royal Doulton’s famous D numbers from their ‘gift’ ware range (either D4686 or D4830). In total there are […]
(Posted June 18th, 2017)
To read the full post visit Royal Doulton’s rare seriesware design ‘Cock-a-doodle-do’. — doultoncollectorsclub
The bed of the Burslem Branch Canal (March 2017)
When it was established in 1635, the Royal Mail used despatch riders, who were mounted on fast horses, to carry letters between major towns and cities.
Post offices were opened at Stafford, Stone, Leek, Lichfield and Newcastle-under-Lyme, which were on the main post routes from London to Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston and Carlisle.
By 1734, Newcastle’s post office was at the Swan Inn, and everyday post-boys delivered letters to The Potteries and the surrounding villages.
Black, maroon and red painted mail coaches, whose average speed was six or seven miles an hour, replaced despatch riders in 1784. Protected by scarlet-coated guards armed with blunderbusses, pistols and cutlasses, these coaches became familiar sights in Tunstall and Burslem, where the postmaster was the landlord of the Legs of Man Inn.
After the Grand Junction Railway opened in 1837, letters were brought by train to Whitmore and taken by horse-drawn waggon to a central post office at Newcastle for distribution throughout the district.
Mail coaches were phased out, and in 1854 a new central post office was opened at Stoke Station.
Until 1840, when the prepaid penny post was introduced by Rowland Hill, postal charges averaging sixpence a letter were paid by the recipient, not by the sender.
The penny post increased the number of messages sent, and the Post Office developed new services including a special cheap rate “book post”. Towards the end of the 1850s, pillar boxes where letters could be posted were erected in Hanley, Longton and Stoke.
Small sub-post offices were opened at Chell, Kidsgrove, Chesterton, Norton and Wolstanton.
At Silverdale, where Mr J. H. Wrench was the postmaster, the post office in Church Street was open between 9.00am and 8.00pm six days a week. It was closed on Sundays, although there was a telegraph service for two hours in the morning. When the post office was open, letters were delivered twice daily at 7.00am and 5.00pm, and the mail was collected three times a day at 9.45am, 7.00pm and 8.45pm.
Very few post offices were purpose built, and many postmasters had other occupations. Tunstall’s postmaster, Benjamin Griffiths was a watch and clock maker who had a shop in the Market Place (Tower Square). When he retired, newsagent Samuel Adams, who was also the parish registrar and the church clerk, became the postmaster.
Hanley whose population was 32,000 had a small post office in Fountain Square. When the borough council asked the government for a second post office, the Postmaster General said that it was not usual to have two post offices in a village.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013
The illustration shows an artist’s impression of a mail coach caught in a thunderstorm.
Hispano Moresque was one of John Slater’s first successes at Doulton’s Nile Street works in the early 1880s. At the time Doulton at Nile Street only had an earthenware body to use as a medium, which fortunately suited Slater’s revival of the centuries old Hispano Moresque tradition of lustre painting. Often examples of this red […]
Like all the towns in our area, Burslem has a proud heritage.
In the 18th century, its master potters brought the Industrial Revolution to North Staffordshire.
The old town hall is one of the finest examples of civic architecture erected by a local board of health.
Burslem born architect, Absalom Reade Wood designed the Woodhall Memorial Chapel, the Drill Hall, the Art School, the Wycliffe Institute, Moorland Road Schools, Longport Methodist Church and Middleport Pottery.
Created by local craftspersons, the Wedgwood Institute has a unique terracotta façade which is an inspiring tribute to the skills of the men and women who worked in the pottery industry.
During its long history, the Wedgwood Institute has housed several schools and colleges whose alumni have played a significant role on the world stage in the fields of literature, science and technology.
- Oliver Lodge, the first principal of Birmingham University, who invented the spark plug and perfected radio telegraphy;
- Arnold Bennett whose novels vividly described life in North Staffordshire and immortalised The Potteries;
- Summers Hunter, one of the world’s leading maritime engineers, whose firm designed the engine that powered the Liberty Ships* which helped to keep the supply lines between Britain and North America open during the Second World War; and
- Reginald Mitchell, the 20th century’s leading aircraft designer, who created the Spitfire which saved the world from Nazi domination.
*The photograph shows a Liberty Ship which was powered by a marine engine designed by Summers Hunter.
There’s many a fine building in Bonny Burslem but none with an entrance quite like the one into the Wedgwood Institute. I recently finished the Wedgwood drawing which I began a few months ago. I picked up the pencil for this one having been influenced some time ago by a poster I bought of […]
(Posted on October 13th, 2016)
To read the full post visit An iconic kind of door — Drawing the Street