Category Archives: North Staffordshire

Spotlight on Cheadle: A Pugin pilgrimage

Even if you’re not religious, the church of St Giles, Cheadle, will still likely leave you thinking heavenly thoughts. It’s considered one of the very finest, if not the finest, churches designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, one of the top architects and designers of the 19th Century. (He’s the bloke who made the Houses […]

A Pugin pilgrimage — 10,000 Miles & More

Spotlight on Stone: Family History Guide

Stone is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Staffordshire. Other places in the parish include: Normacot, Moddershall, Meaford, Kibblestone with Oulton, Kibbleston, Little Acton, Darlaston, Burston, Blurton, Beech, Walton, Tittensor, Stoke, Stallington, Oulton, and Normacott. Parish church: Parish registers begin: Parish registers: 1568 Bishop’s Transcripts: 1668 Nonconformists include: Church of […]

Stone Staffordshire Family History Guide — Parishmouse

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part One — Staffordshire’s Asylums

The experience of patients in an asylum differed from individual to individual. Daily routine, however, was essential to keep the asylum running and for patients to know what was expected of them. Different groups of patients had different routines, usually determined by their mental and physical condition and their age and sex. By the late […]

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part One — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part Two — Staffordshire’s Asylums

The day of a late Victorian asylum patient continued as a working day until lunchtime, which was the main interruption for most patients, and was served around 12-1 o’clock. It was the main meal of the day, and usually consisted of bread, potatoes, meat and vegetables. A fairly bland diet was considered suitable for patients, […]

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part Two — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Scenes From the Past – Is this the Bell Works in Burslem?

Bell Works, Pottery Industry

We think this sketch, which may have been made in the 18th century, shows the Bell Works in Burslem. If you can tell us more about the sketch and the factory it depicts please email Spotlight on North Staffordshire at spotlightstoke@talktalk.net

Scenes from the Past: Tower Hill Colliery (Harriseahead)

This photograph, taken by Malcolm Street at the beginning of the 21st century, shows the remains of Tower Hill Colliery in Biddulph Road, Harriseahead.

During the 19th Century, tramways carried coal from the colliery to a coal wharf in Congleton and to a wharf on the Macclesfield Canal at Kent Green in South Cheshire. The coal taken to Kent Green was loaded onto canal boats that took it to Goldendale Iron Works in the Chatterley Valley.

(Photograph: © Copyright Malcolm Street and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

The Pottery Industry in the 1960s

In the 1960s, The Potteries was a hive of industrial activity. Skilled crafts-persons living and working in the six towns created the best pottery in the world.

About 90% of the bone china, earthenware, tiles, porcelain, bricks and sanitary ware made in the United Kingdom was produced in Stoke-on-Trent. Pottery workers employed by factories in Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton were proud of their skills and expertise. They took pride in their work and knew that the ware they made was exported all over the world.

The seeds of North Staffordshire’s industrial development were sown in the 14th century. Iron ore was mined in Tunstall and at Apedale. Small pot banks which used local clay to make earthenware were scattered in isolated villages and hamlets throughout the district. There were coal seams near the surface and coal miners risked their lives working in drift mines and bell pits to get the coal needed to fire the ware.

Industrialisation came to The Potteries in the 18th century when entrepreneurs like Josiah Wedgwood, William Adams, Josiah Spode and Thomas Whieldon built factories that produced good quality ware which was sold at prices people could afford to pay.

During the 19th century the pottery industry and the coal mining industry expanded rapidly. The population increased and the six towns which we know today were created. New factories were built and the smoke from numerous bottle ovens and kilns polluted the atmosphere.

As late as 1939, the pottery industry used 1,500,000 tons of coal to fire its ovens and kilns. After the Second World War, coal fired bottle ovens and kilns were replaced by electric or gas fired tunnel kilns. Between 1945 and 1966, many small firms closed while others amalgamated to form large companies. In 1966, there were about 66,000 people employed in the industry 48,000 of whom were women.

(The photograph was taken in the warehouse at the Gladstone Pottery Museum by J. Rutter and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Kidsgrove: The Legend of the Kidcrew Buggett

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the legend of the Kidsgrove Boggart was one of the best-known ghost stories in Staffordshire.

Known locally as the “Kidcrew Buggett”, the ghost lived in one of the two canal tunnels which took the Trent and Mersey Canal through Harecastle Hill between Kidsgrove and Chatterley.

People who claimed to have seen the boggart said it was a headless woman who wore a blood-stained white dress.

Although the boggart rarely left the tunnels, Kidsgrove miners and their families believed that when it was seen in Boathorse Lane, The Avenue or on the pit heaps overlooking Kidsgrove Bank “a tragedy was pending” at one of the collieries in the district.

Whenever a sighting of the boggart was reported, Kidsgrove prepared for news of a mining disaster.

The Story’s Origins

Writing about the Kidcrew Buggett in the City Times during the 1930s, a person who called himself the “Old Man of Mow” gave an account of the origin of the ghost story.

In this edited extract from his article, “The Old Man of Mow” says the legend began when a woman passenger on a canal-boat was murdered by a boatman in one of the tunnels.

Murder in the Harecastle Tunnel

“A few years before the railway was built in the 1840s, a Kidsgrove woman who wanted to travel to another part of the country had too much luggage to go by stagecoach.

“She decided to make the first part of her journey by canal-boat from Harecastle. Her luggage was her undoing. As soon as the boat entered the tunnel, the covetous boatman murdered her, cut off her head and buried her body at Gilbert’s Wharf (Gilbert’s Hole) where coal and ironstone were loaded into boats.

“When the woman was reported missing, the police traced her to the canal-boat. The boatman was arrested, tried for murder and executed.”

Before he died, the boatman admitted to killing the woman and told the police where they could find her body.

The “Old Man of Mow” ended his account of the murder by saying local people believed that the woman’s spirit haunted the place where she was killed.

Note: The Kidsgrove Boggart is sometimes called the Kitcrew Bugget.

The photograph shows the Kidsgrove end of the Harecastle Tunnels as they were in the 1950s.

Tunstall Camera Club’s Exhibition

Did you know there was a Camera Club in Tunstall at the beginning of the 20th century?

Called the Tunstall and District Photographic Society, the club held a photographic exhibition and a social event in the courtroom at the town hall on the afternoon of Thursday, February 13th, 1902.

As well as photographs, the exhibition contained lantern slides taken by four members who had been awarded medals in a recent competition. During the afternoon the four (Mr Capey, Mr Critchlow, Mr Walley and Mr Webster) were presented with their medals.

Before the exhibition closed, members held a concert party and were entertained by the a group called the Victorian Glee Party.

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