In retrospect, my time at university has given me incredible opportunities for discovery. Living off campus in my second year, I have been able to truly experience the delights of moving somewhere and discovering the beauty surrounding my new everyday life and commute – with the help of sunshine of course. The quiet town of […]
Category Archives: North Staffordshire
Our MP of the Month has a special significance for the History of Parliament Trust, being the great-grandfather (and namesake) of our founder, Josiah Wedgwood MP. This year the History of Parliament is marking the 75th anniversary of the death of its founder, Josiah Clement Wedgwood (1872-1943), with events including a touring exhibition in Staffordshire. […]
This years theme for Halloween in Tunstall Market will be based on MGM’s popular, evergreen film the “Wizard Of Oz”.
Lots of characters from this classic 1930s movie are coming to visit the market, and today’s children will meet Dorothy and her friends whose activities delighted their parents, their grandparents and their great-grandparents.
In 2007 I did a series of murals in The Leopard Hotel, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
One image was based on a story of a woman in the 18th or 19th century who had been murdered in the back rooms of the hotel. Stabbed to death, in one of the small “snug” rooms which the back room was divided into.
In the painting the woman is slumped in an old high backed arm chair, her glass of red wine lying on its side on the floor. At first she just looks like she is asleep, but the pool of wine is slowly mingling with another red liquid. The woman sits in front of a raging fire. But her skin is pale. Almost white. She wears a mob cap and a low cut blue dress. Is she a maid in the hotel, a pottery worker, or a lady of the night plying her…
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Paul Cummins’ ceramic poppies were first seen as part of Tom Piper’s installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ at the Tower of London in 2014. This comprised of over 800,000 poppies. Since then, they have toured around the country from Southend on Sea to Orkney and many places in between. For some reason I had not managed to coincide with them at any point so when I heard that The Weeping Window would be nearer home, we decided to visit. The car park is on the site of a demolished factory and nearby there are derelict buildings along the Trent & Mersey Canal.
You can also get your supply of Staffordshire oatcakes at a nearby narrow boat.
Walking along the path to Middleport Pottery where the installation was sited, we passed a wall with ceramic mosaics.
Middleport is still a working pottery, making Burleigh ware and glimpses of…
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Spode site in Stoke is continuing to change, the area up by the new hotel and visitor centre remain the same and work is almost completed on the hotel itself which is housed in one of the old Spode buildings.
Half of the site has been sold to a developer, this is the side closest to the A500 road. You can see the civic centre in Stoke across the cleared land.
The other half which is nearest stoke town centre will soon have more (larger) units for artists and creative’s to rent from Acava and the City council. The China halls that have been used for putting on the British Ceramic Biennial and also performances of plays, is still there but some of the more modern ancillary buildings have been demolished. As a studio holder its a strange experience walking through the site. It’s a bit of an excuse not…
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I went to a model train show last year and while my partner was looking at the model trains I decided to draw a Morris Minor that was parked outside. There were a few of them there and I had a chat with one of the owners. It turned out the people were from the Potteries Morris Minor owners club. They love their cars and the Morris I drew was beautifully presented.
I decided to do the sketch before I realised I had not got anything to sketch with, I had a tiny sketch pad but no pencils… so I used what came to hand which was a black biro. The drawing was going well, but the biro ran out. Thats why part of it is blue. I could pretend it was reflected sky, but that is a lucky result if running out of ink!
Morris Minor cars are iconic…
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In his book, the “History of the Staffordshire Potteries” published in 1829, Simeon Shaw describes Tunstall as it was in the 1820s.
In this edited* extract from the book Simeon writes:
“Tunstall is pleasantly situated on a declivity of considerable eminence, allowing most of it to be seen (at a distance of two miles) from the new turnpike road from Lawton to Newcastle-under-Lyme.
“The town is about four miles away from Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is on the high-road from Bosley to Newcastle and on the road from Burslem to Lawton.
“Tunstall is the chief liberty in the Parish of Wolstanton.
“There are many respectable tradespeople in the town, whose pottery manufacturers are both talented and opulent.
“Pottery manufacturers John Meir, Thomas Goodfellow and Ralph Hall have elegant mansions adjacent to large factories. It may be justly stated that Ralph Hall’s modesty and unaffected piety are exceeded only by his philanthropy.
“Other pottery manufacturers include S & J Rathbone, Breeze & Co and Burrows & Co.
“Smith Child has recently established a large chemical works at Clay Hills. The works overlook the Chatterley Valley where high-quality blue tiles, floor quarries and bricks are made.
“All three branches of Methodism have Chapels and Sunday Schools in Tunstall. These Chapels, which have libraries attached to them, promote the moral improvement of the people. The town possesses a very respectable Literary Society that is unassuming in character but assiduous in research.”
*Edited by David Martin (June 2018)
In July 1750, the Rev. Richard Pococke visited Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries.
Richard who kept a journal of his travels described North Staffordshire as an area where pottery manufacturers used local clay to make unglazed earthenware, bricks, tiles water pipes and plant pots. Some manufacturers mixed white pipeclay from Poole in Dorset with calcinated flintstone from Lincolnshire and other places to make salt-glazed stoneware pottery and ornaments.
All the ware made in the district was baked “in kilns built in the shape of a cone” which Richard said gave the area “a pretty appearance”. He went on to say that there were “great numbers” of these kilns in the Pottery villages to the east of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
In this edited extract from his journal, Richard describes Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries as they were in 1750. He wrote:
“Newcastle is a small, well-built market town situated on the slope of a hill overlooking a lake. It has a handsome church and a market hall. Although Newcastle is the capital of the neighbouring Pottery villages, there are only a few potters working in the town.
“I left Newcastle on July 6th went to see the Pottery villages. I rode two miles to Stoke where stoneware is made. On leaving Stoke, I visited Shelton where red chinaware is produced and then went to Hanley were all kinds of pottery are manufactured. I visited Burslem where the best white and other types of pottery are made. The last place I went to was Tunstall. Although all kinds of pottery are made there, Tunstall is famous for making the best bricks and tiles.”
In 1921, North Staffordshire was a hive of industry.
There were over 250 firms making pottery and tiles. Iron and steel were made at Shelton Bar, and there were ironworks at Apedale, Goldendale, Norton and Biddulph where pig iron was produced.
The district’s primary industry was the pottery industry which provided work for 54,200 men and women. There were 70 collieries which employed 37,000 coal miners. Three thousand six hundred people worked in the iron and steel industry. The numerous small engineering firms in Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries gave employment to more than 3,000 men.