Category Archives: Newcastle-under-Lyme

High Street Shops Face An Uncertain Future

After the recent announcement that Debenhams in Hanley could close, retailers in North Staffordshire and The Potteries are asking if the traditional high street shop has a future.

Last year 475 high street stores in the West Midlands went out of business.

In Stoke-on-Trent 20 shops closed and only eight new stores were opened.

The number of banks in Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries fell dramatically while the number of cafes and fast food takeaways increased.

No one can deny that 2018 was a turbulent year for retailers.

The continued growth of online shopping and the ever-rising costs of running a high street business are having a devastating effect on town and city centres throughout the region.

Free Publicity For Local History Societies’ Activities

Did you know that our website has a Diary Date section which local history societies can use to publicise their activities?

All you have to do to gain widespread publicity for your event throughout North Staffordshire and The Potteries is email us at daymar727@talktalk.net and tell us about the event three weeks before it takes place.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about Diary Date and how it can help you to let more people about your activities and events.

Free Publicity For Your Group’s Activities

Did you know that our website has a Diary Date section which organisers of cultural activities and community groups can use to publicise their activities?

All you have to do to gain widespread publicity for your event throughout North Staffordshire and The Potteries is email us at daymar727@talktalk.net and tell us about the event three weeks before it takes place.

Please contact us if you would like to know more about Diary Date and how it can help you to let more people about your activities and events.

MPs call for business rate reform

MPs who are members of the housing, communities and local government select committee have called on the government to reform business rates.

Business rate reform could give local shops in Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries a lifeline enabling them to survive.

The MPs say that unfair business rates make it impossible for high street stores to compete with online retailers.

They have produced a report that calls for reforms which will revive dying town centres and bring them back to life. The report states that unless the government steps in to help, high street stores face a bleak future and shopping centres will start to look like ghost towns.

The committee wants the government to give small traders a chance to survive by taxing online sales and giving local authorities more money to spend on town-centre regeneration.

Comment: MPs Want Towns of Culture

MPs want Town of Culture competitions to be held in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to give each country its own town of culture.

During a debate on the proposal in the House of Commons, MPs from towns throughout the UK spoke about the cultural activities in their constituencies and the potential for cultural development. Members expressed their frustration that there had been hardly any discussion about the beneficial effect of culture on towns despite the long-term cultural and economic benefits the title UK City of Culture had brought to cities.

Spotlight on North Staffordshire and The Potteries believes there should be competitions in all parts of the UK to create national towns of culture. These competitions would give local towns like Congleton, Leek, Nantwich, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford the opportunity to bid to become England’s town of culture.

Making a difference: Newcastle under Lyme and the 6 Potteries Towns

Waymarking The Sketchbook

Following on from October’s blog, I’ve recently been listening to a couple of podcasts addressing issues relating to towns:

Weekly Economics Podcast (from New Economics Foundation): Is it the end of the Road for the High Street?

& Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd’s Reason to be Cheerful Podcast: Won’t you take me to Funky Town: power and prosperity in towns, featuring Lisa Nandy (Wigan MP).

Both of these raise some interesting questions around how people living and working in a neighbourhood can take greater control over designing and building their local economy. I’ve been meeting with people who are testing out ways to tackle the challenges face by local communities trying to do this. Including the social and economic regeneration company Hometown Plus, who are working in partnership with a strong team of collaborators in Newcastle under Lyme and the 6 potteries towns of Stoke on Trent…

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James Brindley’s Harecastle Tunnel

Brindley Tunnel (2)

THE CHATTERLEY ENTRANCE TO BRINDLEY’S HARECASTLE TUNNEL

The Trent and Mersey Canal, which runs from Preston Brook near Runcorn to Shardlow in Derbyshire, follows a route surveyed by James Brindley.

It took 600 men eleven years to construct the canal. Work began on July 26th, 1766 when Josiah Wedgwood cut the first sod near Tunstall Bridge at Brownhills in the Chatterley Valley.

Brindley’s Harecastle Tunnel that took the canal through Harecastle Hill between Chatterley and Kidsgrove, is a feat of civil engineering which merits World Heritage Site status in its own right.

Described as the eighth wonder of the world when it was opened, the tunnel’s historical importance has been ignored by both the City of Stoke-on-Trent and the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

One of the first canal tunnels to be built, it was 2,880 yards long and nine feet wide.

There were branch tunnels leading to underground loading bays in collieries and mines where small boats were loaded with coal or ironstone. These tunnels which ran directly from the main tunnel into the mine workings are the earliest known examples of true horizon mining.

Opened in 1777, the Trent and Mersey Canal was a commercial success and quickly became one of England’s major inland waterways.

By the beginning of the 19th century, Brindley’s Harecastle Tunnel could not cope with the number of narrowboats using the canal. The tunnel was too narrow to take boats going in both directions.

It took about two hours for a boat to pass through the tunnel. Bottlenecks developed at Kidsgrove and Chatterley where boatmen were forced to wait until they were allowed to enter.

The tunnel did not have a towpath. Narrowboats were “legged”  through the tunnel by men lying on their backs and moving the boat along by “walking” with their feet on the roof or on the side of the tunnel.

A second tunnel, designed by Thomas Telford, was constructed between 1824 and 1827 by civil engineering contractors Pritchard & Hoof. The firm specialised in building canal tunnels and Daniel Pritchard said that with the exception of the Brindley Tunnel the rock at Harecastle Hill  “was much harder than the rock any tunnel had ever been driven in before”. Brindley’s tunnel remained in use until 1914 when subsidence made it unsafe.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2010

Photograph © Copyright Robin Webster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.