Category Archives: History and Heritage

Spotlight on Stafford: Mary Ann Turner, Matron of Stafford Asylum (1832-53)

Staffordshire's Asylums

The senior female member of staff at the new Stafford
asylum was the Matron. This role did not need any medical or nursing training,
but the occupant was expected to set a good example to her staff and also to be
a good bookkeeper and submit monthly accounts. The welfare of all the female
staff, domestics as well as attendants, was her other main responsibility. In
the early 1830s the Matron had about six female attendants working under her,
which although a paltry number to deal with around ninety female patients, was
actually an improvement on the three female attendants employed when the asylum
opened.

The first Matron had been the Medical Superintendent John
Garrett’s mother, and by the early 1830s a Mrs Lockley had taken over. Ill
health forced her to retire, and a replacement was needed urgently. No
application letters survive from 1832, and so it seems that…

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Spotlight on Stafford – John Garrett, the first Superintendent of 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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Spotlight on Burslem – Molly Leigh

A poem dedicated to Molly Leigh: 

There dwelt as persons now alive depose,

Though death must soon their testimony close,

A maiden woman, born of gen’rous race,

But like a fury both in mind and face.

When at school instead of learning truth,

A wizard tutor practis’d on her youth;

Vile gains by arts unholy she acquired,

For none did dare withhold what she desired.

Her neighbours of her spells all stood in awe,

And made her every wish their bounden law;

Thus liv’d the creature, whether fiend or woman,

Till death in clemency saw fit to summon.

So when the Christian rites were duly paid,

The body in the churchyard pit was laid;

And back the cheerful mourners hied, intent

To share the feast bespoke before they went.

But who can the dire consternation paint,

Which seized the party, and made all grow faint;

For as the threshold door they pass’d,

Her apparition struck them quite aghast.

She whom but now to the calm grave they took,

Returned before them to the chimney nook;

All ghastly pale, but unconcerned was sitting,

Employed in her accustomed task of knitting.

Spotlight found this poem about Molly Leigh, the “Burslem Witch”, in Romance of Staffordshire by Henry Wedgwood published in 1877.

Spotlight on The Potteries – Do You Remember Woolworths in Stoke?

6-8 Majestic Buildings, Campbell Place, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs Woolworths opened in Stoke-on-Trent in 1928. Two other Stoke-on-Trent stores already existed at Hanley and Longton. This third one opened at 6-8 Majestic Buildings, which we know thanks to Graham Soult‘s research. You can see the small store on the far right of this photo. The building on the far left […]

To read more visit Stoke-on-Trent – Store 324 — Woolies Buildings – Then and Now

Spotlight on The Potteries: Wedgwood and Women by Sophie Guiny

In May 1759, 260 years ago this month, 29-year old Josiah Wedgwood founded his own pottery works. Born in a family of potters in Burslem, Staffordshire, young Josiah was struck by smallpox and the resulting damage to his leg (which would eventually be amputated) left him unable to operate a potter’s wheel. He turned his attention to design and experimentation with new clays and glazes, improving on known techniques and creating new styles and ceramics bodies, including the now iconic jasperware, which Wedgwood perfected around 1775. In both pursuits, women played a critical role as patrons, artists and factory workers.

To read more visit: Artists, Workers and Tastemakers: Wedgwood and Women – a guest post by Sophie Guiny – All Things Georgian

Spotlight on Stafford – Do You Remember Woolworths?

Woolies Buildings - Then and Now

18 Market Square, Stafford

Woolworths opened their 320th store  in Stafford on 23rd June 1928. It was at 18 Market Square, in a building full of character. You can see the store on the right here, next to the building works.

Stafford Woolworths 1934 Stafford Woolworths 1934

Source: Staffordshire Past Track

In 1962, it was intended for Woolworths to move to a bigger purpose-built store at Gaolgate Street and for the Market Square store to close. (Source: Soult’s Retail View)

The store number of 320 was transferred to the new store. But for some reason Woolworths decided to keep the old store open. With the store number given to the new branch, the Market Square store had to be assigned a new number, and that was store number 1067. You can see the original store open in this 1972 photo.

Stafford Woolworths (Market Square) 1972

Stafford Woolworths (Market Square) 1972

Source: Stoke on Trent Live

The Market…

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Molly Albin – Hanley’s Formidable Town Crier

So far as we can ascertain no local artist made a sketch or painted a portrait of Molly Albin, the formidable lady who was Hanley’s town crier in the 1820s.

Molly lived in Tontine Street, which was still a country lane where there were a few cottages and a farm.

She was a well-built woman, who had a strong arm, a forceful personality and a mind of her own.

Molly despised married men who spent their wages getting drunk in public houses.

A man drinking in a public house, when he should have been at work or at home with his wife, was terrified when he heard Molly ringing her bell as she walked towards the tavern. He trembled with fear while waiting for her to call his name and tell the world about his misdemeanours.

Molly had no intention of letting the man off lightly, and men and women gathered outside the building to hear what she had to say about him. They knew that she would have no hesitation in humiliating and degrading “her victim” by telling them all about his “offences” and how he abused his wife and children when he came home in a drunken stupor.

Speaking in a loud voice to make sure they could all hear her, Molly told the people in the crowd everything she knew about him including where he worked, what his job was and how much money he earned. Nothing was held back. They heard how he spent his wages on drink when his wife needed money to pay the rent and buy food for the family. Molly did not care what she said about a man who neglected his family. However, there were times when she went too far and told the crowd how much money he owed to his creditors and how the debt had been incurred.

Sometimes, factory owners would pay Molly to “ring up their drunken idle workmen” and “persuade” them to return to work. After the employer had given her the man’s name, Molly walked through the town ringing her bell telling people in the streets that he was a man who refused to work and maintain his family.

The men who spent their time getting drunk in public houses came to hate her. From time to time, a drunkard about whom she was making scathing remarks threatened to assault her. Molly knew these were idle threats and laughed in the man’s face when they were made.

The Bylaws Governing Tunstall Market In 1848

Between 1847 and 1855, Tunstall was governed by 18 elected Improvement Commissioners, whose duties included managing the market that was held in the Market Place (Tower Square) on Mondays and Saturdays. In 1848, the commissioners made bylaws governing the conduct of market traders and the behaviour of customers who visited the market.

BYLAWS GOVERNING TUNSTALL MARKET

RULES, ORDERS, and BYELAWS, ordered and made by the COMMISSIONERS of this MARKET for the Government thereof on the 3rd  Day of May 1848.

  1. That the market shall be held henceforth on Monday and Saturday in every week, and shall open at ten o’clock in the morning and close at nine o’clock at night. The time of such opening and closing shall be announced by the ringing of the market bell; and no person shall buy, receive, sell, or deliver any provisions or goods within the limits of the market before or after those hours respectively; and all provisions or goods not then disposed of shall be cleared and taken away within 30 minutes from the ringing of the bell.
  2. That all the stations, stalls, standings, tressels, blocks, benches, carts, carriages, matters, and things in the market shall be appointed, placed, set out, and arranged, by and under the direction of the inspector or his deputy, and no person shall be allowed to hold, or occupy, or take possession, of any station, standing-place, or position in the market without the consent of the inspector or his deputy.
  3. No person shall hawk, cry, or carry about any articles whatever for sale in the market, and every article so hawked, carried about, or cried may be seized by the inspector or his deputy, and detained at the charge of the owner thereof until the penalty for such offence, and all costs of detaining the same, shall be paid and satisfied.
  4. That no person shall be allowed to underlet his stall or station to any other person, or give leave to another person to occupy it.
  5. That during the time of holding the market no person shall be allowed to go through the market place, or remain therein, with any horse, cart, or carriage, except for necessary access to the market or to some inn, house, shop, or premises; and no person shall set or place any empty cart or carriage, or suffer the same to remain in any other part of the market place than such as the inspector or his deputy shall appoint; and no person shall show any stallion, or commit any nuisance, or occasion any obstruction within the limits of the market during the holding thereof.
  6. That no person shall be allowed to loiter or remain unnecessarily and without lawful business in any part of the market, or who shall fight, shout, quarrel, or make any affray, clamour, or disturbance in the market or market place, or wantonly or wilfully overturn, remove, or displace any stall, standing-block, or tressel belonging to or used in the market, or shall whet any knife or tool upon any of the stonework of the market house or courthouse, or commit any offensive nuisance against the walls thereof, or write or make any mark thereon with chalk, paint, or otherwise, or post any bills or papers thereon, and any person offending against this byelaw may be immediately removed from the market by the inspector or his deputy.
  7. That no person shall break any window, or any lamp, or lantern, in the market or market place, or do any wilful damage whatever to any property of the Commissioners, and any person offending against this byelaw may be taken into custody by the inspector or his deputy, or a police officer, without warrant, and afterwards be conveyed before a justice to be fined for the offence.
  8. That any persons selling any provisions, or other articles or things, within the limits of the market, by weight or measure, and not giving full weight or full measure, shall be fined for each offence.
  9. That no person shall offer or expose for sale, or have in his or her possession within the limits of the market any veal or other flesh meat, fish, or other provisions that shall have been blown, coloured, or otherwise disguised, and any such articles shall be seized by the inspector or his deputy, and forfeited.
  10. No occupier of any stall, standing-block, or tressel, in the market, shall suffer any garbage or refuse to remain under or about the same, and all garbage, shells, or other refuse arising from the cleansing of fish, or otherwise produced or found at any fish stall, shall be removed by the occupier of such stall, standing-block, or tressel.
  11. No person occupying any stall, standing-block, or tressel, in the market shall be allowed to wash or clean any vegetables or other thing in the market after nine o’clock in the morning.
  12. No person shall bring or permit to remain in the market any cart, hand-cart, truck, or wheel-barrow, without the consent of the inspector or his deputy.
  13. That no person shall be allowed to have at large any bulldog, mastiff, or other ferocious dog, in any part of the market during the holding thereof.
  14. The market may be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, under the same regulations as to tolls and otherwise, as are ordered and made for Mondays and Saturdays.
  15. That every person liable to be fined as aforesaid, or who shall offend against or act in disobedience to any of the foregoing byelaws, shall for every such offence or act of disobedience incur and pay such penalty not exceeding five pounds, besides costs, as shall be ordered by the justice before whom the complaint shall be heard, and such justice before whom any penalty imposed hereby shall be sought to be recovered shall have power to order the whole or any part only of such penalty to be paid.

Signed: Joseph Heath (L.S.) and Thomas Lees (L.S.)

A US Navy Pilot’s Comments on the Spitfire and the Seafire

supermarine_seafire

A SUPERMARINE SEAFIRE

Flown from the decks of aircraft carriers during the Second World War and the Korean War, the Seafire was the Royal Navy’s version of the Spitfire.

Over 2,300 Seafires were produced for the Fleet Air Arm, and in 1943 United States Navy pilot Corky Meyer had the chance to fly one of them.

Describing the aircraft’s performance Corky wrote: “Without argument, the Spitfire/Seafire configuration is probably the most beautiful fighter ever to emerge from a drawing board. Its elliptical wing and long slim fuselage are visually most delightful, and its flight characteristics equal its aerodynamic beauty.

“The Seafire had such delightful upright flying qualities that knowing it had an inverted fuel and oil system, I decided to try inverted figure 8s. They were as easy as pie… I have never enjoyed a flight more. It was clear to see how a few exhausted, hastily trained Battle of Britain pilots flying Spitfires were able to fight off Hitler’s hordes for so long and so successfully.”

He concluded by saying that while the carrier based Wildcat, Hellcat and Corsair fighters were workhorses “the Seafire was a dashing stallion”. 

Photograph: Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

A Visit To The City Archives – Minton Tiles

Mallaband-Brown

_20190326_185602

I had the pleasure of being invited to a behind the scenes visit to our city archive today. I had been asked if I wanted to go along by a friend who is doing an art project about the pottery manufacturer.

We went up to the third floor of the city library and were shown round the back of the reception desk into the staff only section. There the city archivist showed us some of the fading pages in the ledgers. They were images of pots that various pot banks made in the history of Stoke-on-Trent.

There were pattern books for tableware and tiles  ledgers with the cost of making the ware and details of workers. The old pottery firms did not collect a lot of details and a lot was thrown out when they closed down. But once we had been in the air conditioned archives we were allowed…

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