Fenton Park, May 2017
Fenton Park, May 2017
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 […]
An 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.
Alexander Scrivener, the architect who designed Fenton town hall, was born in Shelton on April 19th, 1852.
His father, Robert, and his elder brother, Edward, were architects. During 1868, Robert and Edward went into partnership and formed Robert Scrivener and Son whose offices were in Howard Place, Shelton. The firm designed the Mechanics Institution in Pall Mall and the Queen’s Hotel in Albion Street which later became Hanley Town Hall.
Alexander was educated at Hanley Art School. He became an architect and joined the firm. When their father died in 1878, Edward and Alexander acquired the practice.
Alexander married Anne Twyford. They had five children. The family lived in Endon where they worshipped at the parish church.
Alexander’s hobbies were music and archaeology. He conducted the Endon Choral Society and was choirmaster at the parish church.
A member of the North Staffordshire Field Club, he took part in archaeological digs and led field trips to historic buildings. The club made him its president for the year 1895-96. He undertook historical research and wrote articles for its journal. In 1904, the Field Club awarded him the Garner Medal for services to archaeology and made him its president again a year later. During 1914, he excavated Castle Hill, at Audley proving conclusively that the de Audley family had built a castle there in the Middle Ages.
Politically, the Scriveners were Conservatives. They designed Hanley’s Conservative Club in Trinity Street which opened on February 25th, 1878.
Edward and Alexander were astute businessmen who used their professional skill and expertise to make Robert Scrivener and Son the area’s leading architects.
Sanitary ware manufacturer, Thomas Twyford employed the firm to design his Cliffe Vale factory. The practice built churches and schools throughout The Potteries and designed The Sentinel’s office in Foundry Street, Hanley. It designed numerous buildings in the town including the Roman Catholic Church in Jasper Street, the Higher Grade Elementary School, the Freemasons Hall in Cheapside and the telephone exchange in Marsh Street.
The buildings in Fenton which the firm designed included Queen Street Board Schools, the Cemetery Chapels and the Temperance Coffee Tavern in City Road. It built shops and offices in Christchurch Street, laid out Albert Square and designed the town hall.
Alexander designed St. Paul’s Church in Victoria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme whose foundation Stone was laid by Sir Lovelace Stamer, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, on June 15th, 1905. Edward died while the church was being constructed and Alexander became the senior partner in the firm.
Consecrated by the Bishop of Lichfield in 1908, St. Paul’s was built of stone. A perpendicular style building, the church cost almost £700. The building, which could accommodate over 500 worshippers, had an octagonal spire. It had central heating and was lit by gas lights.
Alexander remained in practice until his death. Taken ill suddenly, he died aged 69 on December 17th, 1921 and was buried in Endon churchyard.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013
Taken in 2013, this photograph from the Phoenix Trust’s collection shows Smith’s Pool at the beginning of spring.
Fenton is a settlement of Anglo-Saxon origin. The name Fenton means a farmstead or village situated in low-lying marshland, which indicates that the first Fentonians could have lived in the area where Smith’s Pool is today.
Vocational training in ceramic science for workers in North Staffordshire’s pottery industry began in 1870 when courses were started at The Mechanics Institution in Hanley and at The Athenaeum in Fenton.
During 1875, The Society of Arts (now The Royal Society of Arts) introduced examinations for industrial scientists and laboratory assistants employed in the industry.
In 1879, these examinations were taken over by The City and Guilds of London Institute. Classes to prepare students for City and Guilds examinations were held at the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem and at the Mechanics Institution. In 1880 four students from the Potteries took the examinations in pottery and porcelain manufacture. They all passed.
By the 1890s, courses in ceramic technology were being held in all “the six towns”.
The technical school in The Wedgwood Institute became the centre for advanced level training and preliminary courses were run by technical schools in Tunstall, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.
In 1899, William Jackson was put in charge of all the ceramic courses in the Potteries.
Advanced level courses were transferred from The Wedgwood Institute to The Victoria Institute in Station Road (The Boulevard), Tunstall where a Pottery School, with a research laboratory, had been established.
The laboratory was created to test the firmness, plasticity, tenacity, porosity and colour of any type of clay and at the beginning of the 20th century, it was the only laboratory in England undertaking original research for the pottery industry.
Most students who attended classes at The Victoria Institute were trainee managers, industrial chemists and laboratory assistants who were taking City and Guilds Preliminary (Stage One), Ordinary (Stage Two) and Honours (Stage Three) examinations in pottery and porcelain manufacture.
William encouraged his students to undertake research and ran a weekly “post-graduate” class for those who had passed their Stage Three examinations. Many had become works managers or ceramic scientists, who used the laboratory’s facilities to find practical solutions to scientific problems they faced at work.
In 1900, William formed a discussion group where research students and pottery manufacturers met to share scientific knowledge.
Originally called The North Staffordshire Ceramics Society, the group later changed its name to The British Ceramics Society.
Membership increased and the society grew in importance. Visits to factories and technical schools in Europe and North America were arranged and the society extended its activities to embrace the whole ceramics industry including refractory products and building materials.
(Copyright Betty Cooper and David Martin – The Phoenix Trust 2010)
In parts one two and three of our edited extracts from Aikin’s “A Description of the Country From Thirty to Forty Miles Round Manchester” we saw what Goldenhill, Newfield, Greenfield, Tunstall, Longport, Burslem, Cobridge, Etruria, Hanley and Shelton were like during the last decade of the 18th century. Part Four, the last article in the series describes Stoke, Fenton and Longton in 1795.
Stoke is a parish-town with a large, ancient, well-endowed church which has several chapels and churches under it. The town, like most other parts of The Pottery, has improved much since the Trent & Mersey Canal was cut. It contains some handsome buildings and from its closeness to a wharf on the canal is well situated for trade. There are many earthenware manufacturers some of whom own large factories. At this place, a gentleman by the name of Spode used the first steam engine to grind flint. The river Trent passes here, at times with rapidity although the brick arches which carry the canal over the river do not seem to have sustained much damage. J. Whieldon, Esq. has a pleasant rural residence here. A new road has lately been made from Stoke to join the main London Road between Newcastle and Trentham.
FENTON AND LONGTON
Fenton and Longton conclude the pottery beyond Stoke. Longton is much larger than Fenton. Part of Stoke parish it has a church, a Methodist Chapel and meeting houses for dissenters. These towns, particularly Longton, manufacture large quantities of earthenware; but it is said to be with less attention than in the other parts of the pottery, consequently, it is of inferior quality although there are a few factories whose ware is second to none. At Fenton, there is the residence of Charles Smith, Esq. and Sir John Edensor Heathcote lives at Longton Hall.
Some earthenware is also manufactured at Newchapel, Wolstanton, Red Street, Newcastle, Norton and a few other places.
The Potteries in 1795 (Part Four) – Edited by Betty Cooper
In 1795, Dr J. Aikin published “A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles Round Manchester”. This book describes Newcastle and The Potteries as they were at the end of the 18th century. During the next few weeks, we shall be publishing a series of edited extracts from Dr Aikin’s book. The first extracts look at Goldenhill, Newfield, Greenfield, Tunstall and Longport. Later extracts will describe Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.
About a mile from the borders of Cheshire, the Staffordshire Potteries commence at a village called Goldenhill, from whence to the other extremity of the pottery at Lane End (Longton), is something more than seven miles; a considerable part of which, by joining together, strikes the traveller as but one town, although under different names. The manufacturing of pottery wares is, the general and nearly sole business of this extensive and very populous area; and from the great increase in the number of inhabitants and houses in the last twenty years (it is assumed that for every inhabitant and house then, there are three now) in all probability, the various towns and villages of Goldenhill, Newfield, Smithfield (Greenfield), Tunstall, Longport, Burslem, Cobridge, Etruria, Hanley, Shelton, Stoke, Fenton and Longton will before long be so intermixed with buildings, as to form only one town with one name. People living a short distance away, already call them The Pottery.
THE VILLAGE OF GOLDENHILL
One should suppose this from its name to be a large and even splendid place, but on comparison, it is found to be the least so of any in The Pottery; however, its valuable mines of coal make ample amends for its other deficiencies, and from those mines, the name was given it. At the upper end of this village is Green Lane, which commands a most unbounded and beautiful prospect. On one side the greatest part of Cheshire shows itself with the Welsh Hills in the distance; and on the other, a complete and the best general view of The Pottery and the country beyond it.
Is well fitted for manufacturing purposes, having plenty of coal in its neighbourhood; but as the place belongs wholly to one individual, Admiral Smith Child, Esq. who has a handsome residence there, it is probable that he will not suffer himself to be inconvenienced by a consequence inevitable where there are a number of factories making earthenware together, the nuisance of the smoke and sulphur arising from them. It is therefore supposed that the number of factories will not be speedily increased here.
The situation of this place, in point of convenience for manufacturing earthenware, is not exceeded in The Pottery. It has several strata of coal and coarse clay, which the potters use much of close to its factories; but belonging solely to Theophilus Smith, Esq. this circumstance will doubtless prevent the erection of more works. The views it commands are very beautiful and extensive.
Tunstall including its environs is the pleasantest village in The Pottery. It stands on high ground and commands pleasing views. The manufacturers in it are respectable and do considerable business. There formerly was a church here, and various human bones have been dug up; but such is the effect of time, that not the least trace of either the one or the other remains now. A neat chapel has been lately built here. There are a considerable number of brick and tile works here, the clay being of a superior kind for such articles, so that with good management the tiles made from it are as blue, and look as well on the roof of a house as moderate slate. This place is four miles from Newcastle, and nine from Congleton, standing on the turnpike road from Lawton to Newcastle; another turnpike road also commences here and ends at Bosley in Cheshire.
Longport situated in a valley between Burslem and Newcastle; has some good buildings in it and several large factories; but its situation thereby is rendered at times disagreeable, if not unwholesome, by the smoke hanging over it longer than if it was on higher ground. The Trent & Mersey Canal passes through Longport where there is a public wharf. This place was formerly called Longbridge, from a kind of bridge that ran about 100 yards (91.44 metres) parallel with a stream; on the completion of the canal, there was a rapid increase in buildings and businesses and about 20 years ago the inhabitants changed its name to Longport.
The Potteries in 1795 (Part One) – Edited by Betty Cooper 2010
To be continued