Category Archives: North Staffordshire

Market News – Halloween in Tunstall Market

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HALLOWEEN IN TUNSTALL MARKET

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.

The murdered woman….

Mallaband-Brown

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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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The Weeping Window comes to Stoke on Trent

On the road again


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 progress?

Mallaband-Brown

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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Potteries Morris Minor owners club – sketch.

Mallaband-Brown

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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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Tunstall in the 1820s

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)

Newcastle and The Potteries in 1750

 

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A SMALL POT BANK WITH A CONE SHAPED KILN

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.”

North Staffordshire was a hive of industry

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.

St. Saviour’s – Part One

 

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St. Saviour’s the “tin church” in The Rookery which was demolished in 2013

Until it was demolished by the Church of England in 2013, St. Saviour’s the “tin church” in The Rookery, a former mining village near to Kidsgrove, was one of the oldest surviving iron buildings in the world. A miners’ church built by miners for miners, St. Saviour’s was one of the churches that helped to bring Christianity to the North Staffordshire Coalfield. At the request of local people living in Butt Lane, Kidsgrove and Mow Cop, we are reposting three posts about the church written by historical geographer Betty Cooper in 2011.

St Saviour’s (Part One)

The first iron buildings were lock-keepers’ cottages erected by canal companies towards the end of the 18th century. Their walls were built of cast iron or iron blocks. They had iron window frames and wrought iron sheet roofs.

Wrought iron corrugated roofing sheets were invented in 1829 by civil engineer Henry Robinson Palmer who used them to roof the large warehouses he was building in the Port of London. Durable and corrosion resistant, the sheets were light and easy to transport by road or canal. Enterprising entrepreneurs soon discovered that they could use them to produce “factory made” prefabricated buildings which were assembled on site by semi-skilled workers.

One of the first to realise their potential was London based civil engineering contractor Richard Walker who built a factory in Bermondsey where he made corrugated iron roofs.

In 1831, Richard published an advertisement with an illustration of an open-ended warehouse with a corrugated iron barrel-vaulted roof which he could erect for his customers. Galvanised iron was produced from 1836 onwards, and Richard started to manufacture prefabricated buildings with galvanised corrugated iron walls and roofs which were exported to Australia.

By the end of the 1840s corrugated wrought iron sheets had been used to roof Liverpool’s Lime Street Station and New Street Station in Birmingham.

When the Californian Gold Rush began in 1849, a Manchester firm E.T. Bellhouse and Co. produced prefabricated iron warehouses and miners’ cottages which were shipped to California and erected on the goldfield.

A two roomed miner’s cottage, with a day-room and a bedroom, cost £100. For more affluent customers, the firm manufactured two storey houses whose price ranged from £450 to £500. The corrugated iron used to construct these buildings was coated with tin alloy to prevent rust. Some of them had four rooms on each floor and were described as being “equal to that of the most comfortable house” of the same size in England. Barrel-vaulted roofs were replaced by pitched roofs in 1849, and in 1850 a twelve-room lodging house was sent to California.

At the beginning of the 1850s, there were several firms producing a wide range of prefabricated iron buildings that included houses, village halls, sports pavilions, warehouses, hospitals and churches which were exported to the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

E.T. Bellhouse produced a “special emigrant’s cottage” which the emigrant could take with him when he and his family left England to find fame and fortune in a new country.

The firm exhibited an emigrant’s cottage at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Prince Albert was impressed by the building and the technical skill shown by its designers.

He ordered a large wrought iron building, 60 feet long by 24 feet wide, which could be used as a ballroom, a dining room and a theatre at Balmoral Castle.

When the exhibition closed the demand for iron buildings increased and in 1855 the United Kingdom’s first “tin church” was erected in the grounds of the vicarage at Kensington.

A report in The Builder (27th October 1855) said it was constructed of galvanised corrugated iron and observed that: “It would not be too difficult on a future occasion to give a more ecclesiastical character to such a structure…” A large number of “tin churches” were built in the second half of the 19th century. One of them was St. Saviour’s which was erected in Butt Lane in 1868 and moved to The Rookery in 1879.

Copyright Betty Cooper 2011

St. Saviour’s – Part Two

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ST. SAVIOUR’S THE HISTORIC “TIN CHURCH” IN THE ROOKERY

Until it was demolished in 2013 St. Saviour’s the “tin church” in The Rookery was one of the oldest corrugated iron buildings in the world. In this post, first posted in 2011, historical geographer Betty Cooper, who was born in The Rookery, writes about the local miners who built the church.

St. Saviour’s (Part Two)

A mission church, St. Saviour’s was constructed from a self-assembly kit manufactured in London by Messrs Vavasour. The kit was bought by the Parish of Talke in 1867 and erected in Congleton Road, Butt Lane on a site called the Hollins, which had been given by Mrs Marsh Caldwell who lived at Linley Hall.

Local landowners, including Mrs Marsh Caldwell and her daughters, subscribed to the building fund.

“Tin Churches” which the Victorians called “Tin Tabernacles” were easy to erect by volunteers. When the “self-assembly kit” arrived at Butt Lane it contained an instruction booklet and everything needed to construct the church including numbered corrugated iron sheets, pre-cut wooden strips, doors and windows.

Working in the evenings and at weekends, colliers from Butt Lane and Talke cleared the site, laid the foundations, erected the timber frame and bolted the prefabricated corrugated iron sheets, the doors and the windows to it.

St. Saviour’s cost less than £350 although an additional £300 had to be raised to pay a local builder who was employed to construct a wall round the site.

A single storey building, the church could accommodate 120 worshippers. The interior was lined with stained wood. There was an inscription over the chancel arch and a stained glass window above the altar which depicted “Christ the Saviour of the World”.

St. Saviour’s was opened by George Selwyn, the Bishop of Lichfield, on April 1st, 1868.

At 2.00pm a procession, containing the bishop and local clergymen, was formed at a nearby farmhouse. Led by Chesterton Church choir, the procession made its way to St. Saviour’s.

The bishop entered the church, and the service began. Admission to the service was by ticket only. Tickets cost £3 – a price the colliers, who had built the church, could not afford to pay.

A large number of colliers and their families had gathered outside the building. While the hymn before the sermon was being sung, the Bishop surprised everyone. Instead of making his way to the pulpit, he walked down the aisle to the main entrance. After the hymn, he stood in the porch and preached to the crowd standing outside.

During the service a collection was held which raised £12 to support church missions in New Zealand where George had been a bishop for ten years before coming to Lichfield.

St. Saviour’s served Butt Lane until 1879 when it was replaced by a mock Tudor timber-framed building. The redundant “tin church” was acquired by Mow Cop parish. The building was dismantled and taken to The Rookery where it was reassembled.

Copyright Betty Cooper 2011

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