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Focus on Fenton: Grove Road

Grove Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.

via Grove Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent. — Postcards from Stoke

Focus on Fenton: Fenton Library

Brief description The site was gifted to the town by William Meath Baker (the Baker family owned a large pottery business in Fenton, and the street the library is on, is called Baker Street). The architect was F.R. Lawson. Current status: Closed as a library in 2011, but see article linked below – plans are […]

First posted 6th August 2017. To read more visit Fenton library — The Carnegie legacy in England

Hitchman Street Conservation Area

Hitchman Street is located in Fenton, one of the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent. Hitchman Street Conservation Area consists of thirteen red brick terraced dwellings and a shop which hinges around the corner from Victoria Road. The buildings date from 1889 and there is a date stone of 1890 to mark their completion. Another terracotta […]

(First posted 4th July 2017)

To read more go to Fenton: Hitchman Street and Victoria Road — Drawing the Detail

Camera in the City – Fenton

Clarice Cliff Primary School (2006)

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Fenton Park’s opening was marred by rain and controversy

DSC00781, Fenton, Fenton Park copyAlthough everyone had hoped that the day would be bright and sunny, it was pouring with rain on Monday, April 14th, 1924 when Alderman Frank Collis, the Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, came to Fenton to open the new park in Cemetery Road.

The County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent was created in 1910 by amalgamating Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.

Shortly afterwards, the new county borough decided to give Fenton a park. The council purchased a 17-acre site in Cemetery Road and made plans to turn it into a park. Work on the project was suspended when the First World War broke out in 1914.

Council workmen started laying out the park in the 1920s. Supervised by the borough surveyor and the parks’ superintendent, they planted more than 8,000 trees and shrubs, erected a bandstand, laid a bowling green, created a tennis court and constructed children’s playgrounds.

Before he opened the park, the Mayor attended a civic luncheon held in Fenton Town Hall. Inside the hall, the atmosphere was tense. Fentonians still resented losing their independence and being forced by the House of Lords to amalgamate with the other pottery towns to create the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent.  Many believed the county borough was deliberately neglecting Fenton and allowing it to die.

The town’s pent up frustrations surfaced after the meal. While proposing the toast “Success to Fenton and its new Park and Parks Committee”, the Deputy Mayor Mr F.T.H. Goodwin said Fenton had the best and most efficient fire brigade in The Potteries.

Almost everyone in the room knew that the county borough council was planning to close Fenton fire station.

Responding to the toast, Alderman Warren said that since the county borough had come into existence, Fenton had gone completely dead and was now called the town of the long, long street.

Alderman Phillip Elliot, the Chairman of the Education Committee who owned two drapers shops in Fenton, pointed out that it had taken the county borough 14 years to give the town a park and electric light. He recalled being told by the House of Lords when it was considering amalgamation, that Fenton had nothing – no furnace for burning refuse, no swimming pool and no market. Alderman Elliot had no hesitation in saying things had not changed. He ended his attack on the county borough by accusing it of developing the larger centres and neglecting little places like Fenton.

It was still raining heavily when a procession led by the Mayor left the town hall. The procession made its way to the park gates in Cemetery Road where a large crowd had gathered to watch the opening ceremony. Alderman Elliot handed the Mayor a gold key. The mayor unlocked the park gates and declared the park open.

© David Martin 2013

PH/FF

Fenton – The old library

dsc01115-426x640-e1373694424487.jpgStanding on the corner of Glebedale Road and Baker Street, the free English Renaissance style building that housed Fenton Library was designed by local architect F.R. Lawson.

At the end of the 19th century, Fenton was the only town in The Potteries without a library.

Earthenware manufacturer, John Shaw Goddard, who became chairman of the urban district council in April 1900 wanted to build one but the council did not have the money.

John asked wealthy landowner William Meath Baker for help, but William who had just given the town a new fire station could not afford to build a library.

However, he promised to give a site behind the town hall where a library could be erected if John could raise the money.

Discovering that a New York philanthropist, the self-made millionaire Andrew Carnegie, was building libraries in towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom, John asked him to build one in Fenton.

Andrew gave John £5,000 to build a library. William kept his word and donated the site behind the town hall. The urban district council adopted the Free Libraries Act and agreed to levy a penny rate on each householder to enable it to buy books.

William opened the library on March 7th, 1906.

Fenton’s new library was housed in a two storey Accrington red brick building with Hollington stone facings. The main entrance was in Baker Street. Revolving doors led into to the entrance hall whose mosaic floor was laid with Minton Hollins tiles depicting the town’s coat of arms. The archway over the door contained a mural showing children sitting at the feet of knowledge, painted by Gordon Forsythe who later became the principal of Stoke-on-Trent Art Schools.

On the ground floor were rooms containing an adult lending library, a reference library, a children’s library and a reading room. A stair case with a wrought iron balustrade, made in Tunstall by William Durose, led from the foyer to the upper floor where there was a lecture hall which could seat between 100 and 120 people. The room had an ornamental plaster ceiling and was heated by an iron grate in a faience surround.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013

Camera in the City – Fenton

Fenton Park, May 2017

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Fenton is Stoke-on-Trent’s sixth town

Fenton is one of the six towns of the Potteries, Stoke-on Trent. It’s the one that wasn’t included in the writing by Arnold Bennett. Many of you will know that Stoke is currently in the run up towards the bid for the City of Culture 2021 so I thought I could play a small part […]

(Posted on February 22nd, 2017)

To read the full post visit  And the Sixth town is Fenton — Drawing the Street

Focus on Fenton: The vicar who had friends in high places

Christ_Church,_Fenton,_from_south-eastAn establishment figure, the Reverend the Honourable Leonard Tyrwhitt, the Vicar of Fenton from 1895 to 1907, was a man with friends in high places.

Born on October 29th, 1863, Leonard was the son of Sir Henry Tyrwhitt and his wife Emma who inherited the title Baroness Berners when her uncle Lord Berners died.

Graduating from Magdalene College, Cambridge in 1886, he trained for the ministry at Wells Theological College and was admitted to the priesthood in 1888.

When he came to Fenton in 1895, Leonard found a parish deeply in debt and services were held in the new parish church (Christ Church) before the bell tower had been erected.

Designed by Stoke architect, Charles Lynam, the church could accommodate 1,900 worshippers. Built of red brick with stone dressings, the nave and chancel which cost over £6,000 had been consecrated by Dr Maclagan, the Archbishop of York, on October 3rd, 1891. Although nearly £5,400 had been donated towards the cost of building the nave and the chancel, over £800 was still owed to the builder, and about £2,000 had to be raised before the bell tower could be constructed.

Leonard moved into the vicarage in Glebedale Road and made plans to revitalise the parish. He established a church council, organised Bible classes and formed youth clubs.

Hoping it would bring in enough money to pay Christ Church’s debts and to erect a bell tower, Leonard decided to hold a three-day bazaar in the town hall to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. When he heard that the Prince and Princess of Wales were coming to The Potteries, he invited them to visit Fenton and open the bazaar.

The Royal couple accepted his invitation and arrived in Fenton on January 5th, 1897. During their visit to the town hall, the Princess, who later became Queen Alexandra, opened the bazaar which raised £3,250.

Leonard used the money to pay the church’s debts and to build a bell tower containing a peal of eight bells.

A man with a forceful personality, Leonard had unlimited self-confidence and was not afraid to speak his mind.

Early in December 1903, he began a well-publicised crusade against immorality in The Potteries which was widely reported in the national press.

In a series of outspoken, controversial sermons, Leonard condemned factory owners who failed to protect young workers from sexual harassment, bullying and intimidation. Supported by public opinion and leading non-conformist ministers, he attacked drunkenness, gambling, wife beating, child neglect, fornication and prostitution.

Photograph of Christ Church, Fenton licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Glebedale Park (2013)

 

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