Category Archives: History and Heritage

Many happy returns to Tunstall’s indoor market – it’s 160 years old today

tunstall-market

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TUNSTALL’S INDOOR MARKET FROM THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM

Opened on December 2nd, 1858, Tunstall’s indoor market celebrates its 160th birthday today.

One of the best markets in England and Wales, the indoor market, which is tucked away behind the town hall in High Street, is Stoke-on-Trent’s hidden gem.

Tunstall market is a warm-hearted place where friendly, welcoming traders sell high-quality fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, household goods and luxury items at reasonable prices to local people and customers who have come from as far afield as Alsager, Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton to do their weekend shopping.

Despite wars and recessions, the market has served the community for 160 years. The Spotlight team is certain that the market will continue to serve the people of Tunstall and the surrounding area for another 160 years.

Tunstall’s indoor market is 160 years old this year

Tunstall’s indoor market hall, which opened in December 1858, celebrates its 160th birthday this year.

In 1856, Tunstall’s Board of Health decided to build a new market hall.

The board of health commissioned George Thomas Robinson, the architect who designed Burslem’s Old Town Hall, to build the market hall.

Constructed on a half acre site opposite the Market Place in High Street, the market hall cost £7,651.

It was opened by Thomas Peake, the Chief Bailiff and Chairman of the Board of Health, on December 2, 1858. In the evening a concert was held in the market hall. At 9.00 pm there was a firework display in the Market Place (Tower Square) which was followed by a ball in the market hall.

Trading commenced there two days later on December 4, 1858, when the retail market which sold:

  • Dairy produce
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, fish, poultry, game and rabbits
  • Manufactured goods and household utensils

left the Market Place and moved into the building.

Tucked away behind the town hall in High Street, the indoor market is Stoke-on-Trent’s hidden gem.

It’s a warm-hearted place where friendly, welcoming traders sell high-quality fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, household goods and luxury items at reasonable prices to local people and customers who have come from as far away as Alsager, Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton to do their weekend shopping.

Today, the market hall is home to one of the best indoor markets in England and Wales – a place where you and your family can do the weekend shopping under one roof.

A child murder in Kidsgrove

On Friday, July 31st, 1868, a 40-year-old furnaceman, William Hancock, stood in the dock at Stafford Assizes charged with the wilful murder of Mary Ann Whitehurst at Kidsgrove on June 10th, 1868.

The court heard that Mary, a little girl about ten years old, was the daughter of one of William’s neighbours.

On the evening of June 9th, she was playing with William’s children and obtained permission from her father to sleep at the accused’s house overnight.

Mary went to bed at about 9.30pm. In the early hours of the morning, the household was woken by William who being in a state of uncontrollable violence was shouting, cursing and attempting to attack his wife. Terror-stricken, William’s wife and children ran out of the house leaving Mary there.

William jumped out of his bedroom window into the street. Being unable to find his wife and children who had taken refuge with their next-door neighbour, William went back into the house where he saw Mary.

He caught hold of Mary and dragged her into the kitchen. He picked her up by the legs, held her upside down and battered her head on the kitchen floor until she was dead.

Medical evidence presented to the court showed that William was suffering from delirium tremens and did not know what he was doing when he killed Mary. The jury said he was insane and the judge ordered him to be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Scarratt’s Tunstall – A Country Town

Tunstall, which is one of Stoke-on-Trent’s six towns, was very much like a country town as late as 1854. The oak and other trees around Greengates House, the large house built by William Adams in the 18th century near where Furlong Road joins High Street, were quite leafy. Rooks built their nests in them, and there were wild ducks on the pond in front of the house. There were several large trees in the courtyard at the back of the house, and the cawing of the rooks was noisy enough in springtime. Little birds built their nests in the hedgerows below Christ Church – I have found them there. Nobody today would think that a pack of harriers or beagles were kept at Greengates House, but that is a fact, the then owner being fond of sport.  I should think the pack numbered 15 couples. I have met them when walking to the grammar school at Newchapel. Furlong Road which led to Greenfields was once narrow and overhung in some places with laburnum and other trees.

(An edited extract from “Old Times in the Potteries” by William Scarratt published in 1906)

A BOOK ABOUT TUNSTALL MARKET

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TUNSTALL INDOOR MARKET CELEBRATES ITS 160th ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR

Tunstall’s indoor market was opened in 1858. To celebrate the 160th anniversary of its opening, historical geographer, Betty Cooper and international heritage lawyer, David Martin are writing a book about the market.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

Tunstall’s historic Market Hall is one of the few remaining Victorian covered markets in the country.

The covered market cost £7,651 13s 1d. It was designed by Wolverhampton based architect George Thomas Robinson, who created Burslem’s old town hall. The market hall was opened by the chief bailiff, Thomas Peake on the 2 December 1858. Trading commenced there on the 4 December 1858 and customers could buy meat and fish, poultry and game, fruit and vegetables, groceries and dairy produce, clothing and manufactured goods.

In the early 1880s, one-third of the covered market, including its main entrance in High Street, was demolished to make way for a new town hall.

Built in the free Renaissance style, the town hall was designed by North Staffordshire’s leading architect, Absalom Reade Wood.

While the town hall was being constructed, Wood regenerated the remaining part of the market hall giving it a new glazed roof. New stalls were erected. The floor was relaid and the building was redecorated. Tunstall’s chief bailiff, John Nash Peake, opened the new town hall on the 29 October 1885. To celebrate its opening, a luncheon was held in the town hall. Afterwards, the band of the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards and the members of Burslem Prize Choir gave a Promenade Concert in the covered market. In the evening a football match took place in Phoenix Park and the day ended with a grand ball in the market hall.

BETTY AND DAVID NEED YOUR HELP

Many people who shop in the market today must remember the covered market before it closed for regeneration in the 1990s and the temporary market hall that was erected in Woodland Street.

If you were a child in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, your mother could have taken you to the market on Saturdays when she did the weekend shopping. You may even have had a part-time job working on one of the stalls when you were at school or college.

If you have memories or photographs of the market which you would like to share with Betty and David please contact them at daymar727@talktalk.net

Life was hard for Kidsgrove miners

During the first half of the 19th century, a coal miner’s life was hard. Wages were low. Men, women and children worked long hours in semi-darkness. The work was dangerous. Accidents were frequent. Human life was cheap, and colliery owners put profits before safety.

Half naked men and women worked together at the coalface mining coal and putting it into wagons. Young children were employed to open air doors on roadways leading from the coalface to the bottom of the mine shaft. They sat alone in the darkness and opened the air doors for boys and girls who were harnessed to wagons which they pulled along the roadway.

In the early 1840s, Samuel Scriven who was preparing a report on child labour for the government visited Kidsgrove. He interviewed several coal miners employed by colliery owner Thomas Kinnersley who lived in luxury at Clough Hall.

A Young Miner’s Working Conditions

Seventeen year old John Vickers who was interviewed by Mr Scriven said: 

“I have been working in the mines for about four years. Before that, I worked at a farm for about four years. My job is to attend at the pit’s mouth and haul away the coals that come up from the Delph. My wages are 11 shillings a week which I give to my mother. I am paid by the charter master. He gives me my wages in a public-house. I went to day school for a few months before going to work on a farm. Although I cannot read or write, I go to church pretty regularly. I start work at six in the morning and go home at about six {in the evening}. I am too tired to go to school in the evening. I would like to go if I could but, as I said before, I am always too tired.

“My father is dead. My mother keeps a dame school for young children. I have three sisters; two of them work in the silk factories at Congleton. The eldest is 18 years old. She earns five shillings and six pence a week. My other sister, who works in Congleton, is 14. She earns three shillings and six pence a week. My youngest sister goes to the National Day School at Mr Wade’s. 

“I have my first breakfast before I go to work and take my second breakfast to work with me. I go to dinner at twelve and have ‘tatees’ and bacon. I always take an hour for dinner and eat my second breakfast when I can. I never do any night work.”

The illustration shows a girl harnessed to a wagon in a coal mine.

Tunstall – An Anglo Saxon Village

Anglo-Saxon Village

An Artist’s Impression of an Anglo-Saxon Settlement

Tunstall is one of the oldest towns in The Potteries.

The town’s “Old English” name indicates that it dates from the late 6th or the early 7th century.

“Old English” place names are descriptive. They describe the settlement and tell us the main occupation of the people who lived there. The word “Tun” means an enclosed farmstead, hamlet or village, and “Stall” is derived from the “Old English” word “Steall” which means a place with pens or sheds where cattle were kept for fattening.

Anglo-Saxon Tunstall was built on a sandstone ridge overlooking the Chatterley Valley near the spot where Green Lane (Oldcourt Street and America Street) crossed the old drove road (Roundwell Street) from the Staffordshire Moorlands to Chester. Green Lane which ran from Leicester to Warrington was an important highway that linked the East Midlands with Merseyside. All traces of Anglo-Saxon Tunstall have disappeared although historians believe it was an enclosed settlement protected by a ditch and a wooden palisade.

Two old field names, Gods Croft and Church Field, which survived until the 19th century, support the local tradition that there was a church in Tunstall many centuries before the Wesleyan Methodists erected a church in America Street. Another old field named Cross Croft near where Madison Street joins America Street indicates that there could have been a wayside cross where markets were held. Calver Street, which runs between Forster Street and Oldcourt Street, takes its name from Calver Croft a place where there were cattle pens for calves born on the journey from the Staffordshire Moorlands to Chester.

Towards the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century, Tunstall became part of Staffordshire’s New Forest.

Today when we think of a forest, we picture a place covered by trees. In medieval times a forest was a large tract of land where the King and his friends hunted for deer and other beasts of the field.

Staffordshire’s New Forest, which extended from Tixall in the south to Mow Cop in the north, may have been founded by William the Conqueror. The forest was not an area of continuous woodland. It was the King’s hunting ground which included:

  • woods and grassland
  • hills and moorland
  • towns, villages and hamlets
  • farmland, open fields and rough pasture.

The forest had its own laws designed to protect the beasts of the field and the vegetation they ate. Offenders against Forest Laws were brought before special courts. The penalties imposed by these courts were brutal and savage. For killing a beast of the field, a poacher could be sent to the gallows, have his eyes torn out or have his hand cut off.

Trentham Hall could have been Staffordshire’s first University

Trentham Hall

TRENTHAM HALL

Not many students and staff who attend Staffordshire University’s award ceremonies on the Trentham Estate know that Trentham Hall could have been home to a leading Russell Group university like Manchester or Birmingham.

On February 12th, 1890, Francis Elliot Kitchener, the headmaster of Newcastle High School, attended the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at the North Stafford Hotel.

While proposing the toast to “the staple trades of Staffordshire”, he suggested establishing a University College in Hanley which specialised in chemistry and engineering. Both the Sentinel and Thomas Turner (Staffordshire County Council’s director of technical education) supported the idea.

However, nothing was done until 1900 when a Council for the Extension of Higher Education in North Staffordshire was set up to help finance Oxford University’s Extension Courses in the district.

Taking up Kitchener’s idea, the council launched a public appeal to build a North Staffordshire College in The Potteries.

The proposed college, which would have had University status, was going to run full and part-time degree courses, train teachers and provide vocational training for men and women working in industry and commerce.

Although the estimated cost of the college was £20,000, there was widespread support for the project.

By the end of 1904 pottery manufacturers, colliery owners, professional bodies and local town councils had promised to give between £10,000 and £11,000 towards the cost.

Staffordshire County Council offered to give £12,500 if matching funding could be raised. The Council for the Extension of Higher Education in North Staffordshire made plans to launch a final appeal. Before it could be launched, the Duke of Sutherland stepped in and offered to give Trentham Hall to the county council if it agreed to establish the college there.

Believing it had achieved its objective, the Council for the Extension of Higher Education disbanded, and the county council made plans to transform the hall into a regional college.

While these plans were being made, a campaign to reform local government in The Potteries by replacing its six local authorities with a county borough council was gaining momentum.

Realising change was inevitable and that responsibility for education would be taken from it and given to the new county borough, Staffordshire County Council withdrew its support for the North Staffordshire College.

Hanley, which was already a county borough, refused to take over the project and the county council erected temporary buildings to house a mining school and a pottery school on land near Stoke Station.

At the end of the First World War, another attempt to give North Staffordshire a University College failed.

The mining school and the pottery school became the Central School of Science and Technology, one of the technical schools in The Potteries from which Staffordshire University can trace its descent.

Focus on Fenton – Fenton’s Cenotaph and War Memorial

John Vaughan Campbell (412x577)

COLONEL JOHN VAUGHAN CAMPBELL V.C

Fenton’s Cenotaph in Albert Square was unveiled by Colonel John Vaughan Campbell V.C. on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1922.

The ceremony started at 2.30pm with a service in the town hall, where a Minton Hollins enamelled faience memorial panel had been fixed to the wall of the main staircase. Designed by Walter Brown, who had been a student at Fenton Art School, it contained the names of Fenton men who had been killed in action during the First World War (1914-1918).

When the service ended, the memorial panel was unveiled by Colonel John Ward, the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent, who had commanded the 25th Middlesex Regiment during the war.

A detailed description of the memorial was given in the official programme which read:

“A panel containing a complete list of the names of the men of Fenton who fell in the Great War is erected on the wall of the main staircase of the town hall and is seen on entering the vestibule. This has been executed in richly enamelled faience and is architectural in character. The names are painted in scarlet letters and black capitals on a cream ground, and are preceded by the words, ‘In proud and glorious memory of the men of Fenton who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918,’ and surmounted by a floral wreath and shield worked in mosaic, with a background of vermilion. The moulded framework is coloured in a neutral green, the base having an inset of gold and black mosaic, and the inscription, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’.”

After Colonel Ward had unveiled the memorial, those who had attended the service made their way to the square where a large crowd was waiting to watch Colonel Campbell unveil the Cenotaph.

Standing on a reinforced concrete foundation 27 feet long, 27 feet wide and two feet thick, the Cenotaph was designed by architect Charles F. Simms who worked in the borough surveyor’s office in Stoke.

Constructed by Burslem sculptors W. & R. Mellor Ltd., the Cenotaph is a stone obelisk, 37 feet high. Supported by buttresses, it stands on a stone base eight feet wide and seven feet six inches high. The figure of a private soldier with arms reversed stands at the foot of the obelisk looking across the square towards Christchurch Street. Fenton’s coat of arms and its motto “Onward and Upward” is carved on the side of the Cenotaph facing the town hall. There are laurel wreaths and festoons on the other three sides with the words “Honour, Sacrifice and Courage” carved beneath them.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013

A Patriot’s Sword

Invasionraft

AN ARTIST’S IMPRESSION OF A FRENCH INVASION BARGE 

The French Revolution began on July 14th, 1789 when the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille, the most hated and feared prison in Europe. The citizen’s attack was successful. They captured the prison and released all the prisoners, many of whom had been detained without trial for several years.

Shortly afterwards, France became a republic. The deposed king Louis XVI asked Austria and Prussia to help him regain his throne. He was arrested, tried for treason and executed.

His execution shocked Europe, and the leading continental powers made plans to invade France and restore the monarchy. The French army attacked and occupied Belgium. When the British government protested about this violation of Belgian neutrality, France declared war on England. By the end of 1793, England, Spain, Holland, Prussia, Austria and Sardinia were at war with France.

At first, things went badly for the allies.

In 1794, Holland surrendered, and the House of Orange was forced to abdicate. The French made Holland a republic, and the new Dutch government declared war on England.

French forces defeated the armies of Prussia and Spain who made peace. The French imposed a puppet government on Spain which went to war with England in 1796.

The combined French, Dutch and Spanish fleets prepared to spearhead an invasion of  England. A large French army assembled in Northern France where barges were being built to carry it across the Channel.

Abandoned by its allies, England stood alone. Forges and factories worked day and night to make the weapons needed to defend our island.

In towns and cities throughout Britain, men joined local volunteer corps to fight alongside the regular army and the militia. A troop of Volunteer Cavalry was raised in The Potteries by Sir John Edensor Heathcote. About 70 men joined the force. Each man had to provide his own horse and buy his own uniform and equipment.  One of them had the following inscription engraved on his sword:

“Leagu’d with my friends the glitt’ring sword I bear
To guard from hostile arm my country dear;
Not to oppress, devastate or enslave, 
But England’s soil from Gallie rage to save;
Not to maintain those “Rights of Man” unjust,
Which tend to treason, plunder, blood, and lust;
But to preserve our altars, hearths and laws,
And bleed or conquer in this holy cause.”
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