Category Archives: Goldenhill

Focus on Goldenhill: St. John’s Church

St John's Goldenhill 163488_db9ff3b2At the beginning of 1840, the Rev. Charles Wade, the curate in charge of St. Thomas’s Church in Kidsgrove, launched a public appeal to build a church at Goldenhill, a mining village on the North Staffordshire Coalfield.

Wade asked North Staffordshire’s leading philanthropist, Smith Child, to help him raise money to build the church.

Smith Child agreed to support the project and became chair of the appeal committee. He donated £200 to the building fund and gave £1,000 to endow the living.

Miss Sparrow and her sister, Mrs Moreton, gave the committee a site where Elgood Lane joins High Street to erect a church, build a school and lay out a cemetery. After four months, the committee had raised enough money to start building the church whose foundation stone was laid by Smith Child’s wife, Sarah, on August 3rd, 1840.

Dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, the church was a plain Norman-style brick building. Designed by Shelton architect Thomas Stanley, the church cost £2,000. St. Johns had a square tower that was surmounted by a stone spire. The church, which could accommodate more than 550 worshippers, was consecrated on August 11th, 1841 by James Bowstead, the Bishop of Lichfield.

The church closed in 2014. If you worshipped at St. John’s and have memories of the church which you would like to share with other Spotlight readers, please email us at   

Photograph of St. John’s © Copyright Steve Lewin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Spotlight on Kidsgrove – Frederick Tobias Wade (c.1809-1884)

Frederick Tobias Wade, the son of the Rev. Thomas Wade, was born in Ireland.

Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he graduated in 1833 and was ordained two years later. He started his ministry at Runcorn and came to Kidsgrove in 1837 when industrialist Thomas Kinnersley built St. Thomas’s Church in The Avenue.

Designed by Kinnersley’s wife Anna, the church was erected in six weeks. It had a tower which contained a clock and a peal of six bells. The building could accommodate 600 worshippers, and the first service was held there on May 7th, 1837.

Frederick’s personality quickly made an impact on Kidsgrove – an industrial town with a high crime rate whose constables were unable to maintain law and order. Colliers spent their wages on drink, turning to theft and poaching to feed their families.

A miner’s life was hard and dangerous. Semi-naked men and women worked together at the coalface. Boys and girls, who could neither read nor write, were harnessed to wagons which they hauled through narrow, rat infested tunnels.

Abandoned by the churches, the miners lived in filth and squalor. They enjoyed prizefighting and gambling. Many were semi-illiterate, and Frederick realised he would have an uphill struggle converting them to Christianity.

He persuaded Kinnersley, who owned Clough Hall Collieries and Iron Works, to build a school in The Avenue. Mission halls were opened at Mow Cop and Goldenhill. Appeals were launched to build schools and churches in the two villages. North Staffordshire’s most generous philanthropist, Smith Child, endowed the living at Goldenhill and gave it to Frederick, who retained his position at St. Thomas’s.

A recession hit Kidsgrove bringing short-time working and unemployment. To prevent the miners being forced to sell their homes and apply for poor relief, Frederick found them employment building a road from The Rookery to Mow Cop.

On February 17th, 1848, Frederick married Emma Cassons. The couple had four children – Henrietta, Ferdinand, Helen and Evelyn.

Kidsgrove was made a parish in 1852 and Frederick became the vicar.

The school in The Avenue was now too small to accommodate all the children who wanted to attend. Frederick asked Kinnersley for help, and he agreed to build new schools.

Designed by Hanley architect Henry Ward, whose other buildings include Bucknall Church and Stoke Town Hall, the new schools were erected in Liverpool Road. Opened in 1854, the single-storey Gothic style red brick building with stone facings, which was demolished a few years ago, contained three schools, a boys’ school, a girls’ school and an infants’ school. Each school had accommodation for 80 pupils, and there were covered playgrounds where the children could play when it rained.

Frederick remained Vicar of Kidsgrove until 1880 when he was appointed Rector of Tettenhall. He died there aged 75 on March 15th, 1884. His body was brought back to Kidsgrove and buried in the cemetery which overlooked the schools in Liverpool Road

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2012

Photograph of St. Thomas’s Church, Kidsgrove © Copyright Chris Brough and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.