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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.
St. Saviour’s the historic tin church in The Rookery, near Kidsgrove, was demolished by the Church of England in 2013. Spotlight on Stoke has been asked to re-post the articles that our historical geographer Betty Cooper wrote about the church before it was demolished.
Spotlight has agreed to re-post Betty’s articles which will be posted on this site in March.
Betty Cooper and David Martin agree with the comments made by the Phoenix Trust when it heard that St. Saviour’s was going to be demolished. The Phoenix Trust said it was:
“A miners’ church, built by miners for miners, which helped to bring Christianity to an industrial village on the North Staffordshire Coalfield.
“One of the oldest tin churches in the world, its unique character and atmosphere were destroyed when the interior, shown in the photograph, was gutted.
“When St. Saviour’s is demolished North Staffordshire will lose a major heritage asset.
“An asset that could have been used to help create a heritage based tourist industry which would bring millions of pounds into our region and help to regenerate it.”
Photograph Copyright David Martin
Staffordshire County Council is giving you the chance to have your say on the future of your local library.
Until April 1, the council is running a series of consultations at libraries and travelling library stops throughout the county.
During these consultations, the possibility of using modern technology to maintain and extend library opening hours, ways of increasing the number of community managed libraries and the role of the travelling library service will be discussed.
Already over 700 people have taken part in the consultation.
Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said:
“We’ve spoken to the public a great deal in recent years about how best to keep all our libraries open and relevant to the communities they serve.
“We’re looking to take the next steps in that process and I’m delighted so many people have already been to find out more and contribute their thoughts to the process.”
“There are still plenty of meetings to go and I would urge people who are interested to have their say in person or in writing.”