Category Archives: Stoke-on-Trent

Spotlight on Stafford – John Garrett, the first Superintendent of Stafford Asylum

Staffordshire's Asylums

Finding the right staff to supervise the new asylum was a
major task in 1818. After some debate, 28 year old John Garrett was appointed Superintendent
(full title House Surgeon, Apothecary & Superintendent). He had worked at
Bethlem Hospital, and so was not new to asylums. Another applicant was James
Bakewell, whose brother Thomas was a vociferous opponent of the new county
asylum, and who ran Spring Vale asylum at Tittensor. Edward Knight was
appointed physician to work alongside Garrett.

John Garrett was a qualified surgeon and remained in post
until 1841. He managed the asylum and reported annually to a committee of three
trustees and twelve visiting justices. In the asylum’s early days, John Garrett
fought back against Thomas Bakewell’s anti-Stafford campaign, which went on
into the 1820s. Garrett dismissed Bakewell’s claims that the asylum would be
viewed by the mentally ill and others alike as ‘an object of…

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Spotlight on Burslem – Molly Leigh

A poem dedicated to Molly Leigh: 

There dwelt as persons now alive depose,

Though death must soon their testimony close,

A maiden woman, born of gen’rous race,

But like a fury both in mind and face.

When at school instead of learning truth,

A wizard tutor practis’d on her youth;

Vile gains by arts unholy she acquired,

For none did dare withhold what she desired.

Her neighbours of her spells all stood in awe,

And made her every wish their bounden law;

Thus liv’d the creature, whether fiend or woman,

Till death in clemency saw fit to summon.

So when the Christian rites were duly paid,

The body in the churchyard pit was laid;

And back the cheerful mourners hied, intent

To share the feast bespoke before they went.

But who can the dire consternation paint,

Which seized the party, and made all grow faint;

For as the threshold door they pass’d,

Her apparition struck them quite aghast.

She whom but now to the calm grave they took,

Returned before them to the chimney nook;

All ghastly pale, but unconcerned was sitting,

Employed in her accustomed task of knitting.

Spotlight found this poem about Molly Leigh, the “Burslem Witch”, in Romance of Staffordshire by Henry Wedgwood published in 1877.

NEWS DESK: MPs want the government to save our banks

An influential committee of MPs has called on the government to save Britain’s high street banks. Members of the Treasury Committee have said that face to face banking must be preserved to prevent large sections of the community being cut off from vital financial services.

The committee wants banks to consider sharing premises and to operate mobile branches to meet the needs of customers throughout the country.

Many small towns and villages have already lost their banks, and the committee calls on the government to force banks to continue to provide face to face banking facilities service for their customers.

Britain’s banks seem determined to force all their customers to bank online. The demise of the high street bank has been dramatic. In 1988 there were 20,583 high street banks. By 2017 the number had fallen to 9,690.

Unless the government takes action and forces the banks to provide local services for local people, many more high street shops will close, and our town centres will become ghost towns.

Spotlight on The Potteries – Do You Remember Woolworths in Stoke?

6-8 Majestic Buildings, Campbell Place, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs Woolworths opened in Stoke-on-Trent in 1928. Two other Stoke-on-Trent stores already existed at Hanley and Longton. This third one opened at 6-8 Majestic Buildings, which we know thanks to Graham Soult‘s research. You can see the small store on the far right of this photo. The building on the far left […]

To read more visit Stoke-on-Trent – Store 324 — Woolies Buildings – Then and Now

Spotlight on The Potteries: Wedgwood and Women by Sophie Guiny

In May 1759, 260 years ago this month, 29-year old Josiah Wedgwood founded his own pottery works. Born in a family of potters in Burslem, Staffordshire, young Josiah was struck by smallpox and the resulting damage to his leg (which would eventually be amputated) left him unable to operate a potter’s wheel. He turned his attention to design and experimentation with new clays and glazes, improving on known techniques and creating new styles and ceramics bodies, including the now iconic jasperware, which Wedgwood perfected around 1775. In both pursuits, women played a critical role as patrons, artists and factory workers.

To read more visit: Artists, Workers and Tastemakers: Wedgwood and Women – a guest post by Sophie Guiny – All Things Georgian

Molly Albin – Hanley’s Formidable Town Crier

So far as we can ascertain no local artist made a sketch or painted a portrait of Molly Albin, the formidable lady who was Hanley’s town crier in the 1820s.

Molly lived in Tontine Street, which was still a country lane where there were a few cottages and a farm.

She was a well-built woman, who had a strong arm, a forceful personality and a mind of her own.

Molly despised married men who spent their wages getting drunk in public houses.

A man drinking in a public house, when he should have been at work or at home with his wife, was terrified when he heard Molly ringing her bell as she walked towards the tavern. He trembled with fear while waiting for her to call his name and tell the world about his misdemeanours.

Molly had no intention of letting the man off lightly, and men and women gathered outside the building to hear what she had to say about him. They knew that she would have no hesitation in humiliating and degrading “her victim” by telling them all about his “offences” and how he abused his wife and children when he came home in a drunken stupor.

Speaking in a loud voice to make sure they could all hear her, Molly told the people in the crowd everything she knew about him including where he worked, what his job was and how much money he earned. Nothing was held back. They heard how he spent his wages on drink when his wife needed money to pay the rent and buy food for the family. Molly did not care what she said about a man who neglected his family. However, there were times when she went too far and told the crowd how much money he owed to his creditors and how the debt had been incurred.

Sometimes, factory owners would pay Molly to “ring up their drunken idle workmen” and “persuade” them to return to work. After the employer had given her the man’s name, Molly walked through the town ringing her bell telling people in the streets that he was a man who refused to work and maintain his family.

The men who spent their time getting drunk in public houses came to hate her. From time to time, a drunkard about whom she was making scathing remarks threatened to assault her. Molly knew these were idle threats and laughed in the man’s face when they were made.

The Bylaws Governing Tunstall Market In 1848

Between 1847 and 1855, Tunstall was governed by 18 elected Improvement Commissioners, whose duties included managing the market that was held in the Market Place (Tower Square) on Mondays and Saturdays. In 1848, the commissioners made bylaws governing the conduct of market traders and the behaviour of customers who visited the market.

BYLAWS GOVERNING TUNSTALL MARKET

RULES, ORDERS, and BYELAWS, ordered and made by the COMMISSIONERS of this MARKET for the Government thereof on the 3rd  Day of May 1848.

  1. That the market shall be held henceforth on Monday and Saturday in every week, and shall open at ten o’clock in the morning and close at nine o’clock at night. The time of such opening and closing shall be announced by the ringing of the market bell; and no person shall buy, receive, sell, or deliver any provisions or goods within the limits of the market before or after those hours respectively; and all provisions or goods not then disposed of shall be cleared and taken away within 30 minutes from the ringing of the bell.
  2. That all the stations, stalls, standings, tressels, blocks, benches, carts, carriages, matters, and things in the market shall be appointed, placed, set out, and arranged, by and under the direction of the inspector or his deputy, and no person shall be allowed to hold, or occupy, or take possession, of any station, standing-place, or position in the market without the consent of the inspector or his deputy.
  3. No person shall hawk, cry, or carry about any articles whatever for sale in the market, and every article so hawked, carried about, or cried may be seized by the inspector or his deputy, and detained at the charge of the owner thereof until the penalty for such offence, and all costs of detaining the same, shall be paid and satisfied.
  4. That no person shall be allowed to underlet his stall or station to any other person, or give leave to another person to occupy it.
  5. That during the time of holding the market no person shall be allowed to go through the market place, or remain therein, with any horse, cart, or carriage, except for necessary access to the market or to some inn, house, shop, or premises; and no person shall set or place any empty cart or carriage, or suffer the same to remain in any other part of the market place than such as the inspector or his deputy shall appoint; and no person shall show any stallion, or commit any nuisance, or occasion any obstruction within the limits of the market during the holding thereof.
  6. That no person shall be allowed to loiter or remain unnecessarily and without lawful business in any part of the market, or who shall fight, shout, quarrel, or make any affray, clamour, or disturbance in the market or market place, or wantonly or wilfully overturn, remove, or displace any stall, standing-block, or tressel belonging to or used in the market, or shall whet any knife or tool upon any of the stonework of the market house or courthouse, or commit any offensive nuisance against the walls thereof, or write or make any mark thereon with chalk, paint, or otherwise, or post any bills or papers thereon, and any person offending against this byelaw may be immediately removed from the market by the inspector or his deputy.
  7. That no person shall break any window, or any lamp, or lantern, in the market or market place, or do any wilful damage whatever to any property of the Commissioners, and any person offending against this byelaw may be taken into custody by the inspector or his deputy, or a police officer, without warrant, and afterwards be conveyed before a justice to be fined for the offence.
  8. That any persons selling any provisions, or other articles or things, within the limits of the market, by weight or measure, and not giving full weight or full measure, shall be fined for each offence.
  9. That no person shall offer or expose for sale, or have in his or her possession within the limits of the market any veal or other flesh meat, fish, or other provisions that shall have been blown, coloured, or otherwise disguised, and any such articles shall be seized by the inspector or his deputy, and forfeited.
  10. No occupier of any stall, standing-block, or tressel, in the market, shall suffer any garbage or refuse to remain under or about the same, and all garbage, shells, or other refuse arising from the cleansing of fish, or otherwise produced or found at any fish stall, shall be removed by the occupier of such stall, standing-block, or tressel.
  11. No person occupying any stall, standing-block, or tressel, in the market shall be allowed to wash or clean any vegetables or other thing in the market after nine o’clock in the morning.
  12. No person shall bring or permit to remain in the market any cart, hand-cart, truck, or wheel-barrow, without the consent of the inspector or his deputy.
  13. That no person shall be allowed to have at large any bulldog, mastiff, or other ferocious dog, in any part of the market during the holding thereof.
  14. The market may be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, under the same regulations as to tolls and otherwise, as are ordered and made for Mondays and Saturdays.
  15. That every person liable to be fined as aforesaid, or who shall offend against or act in disobedience to any of the foregoing byelaws, shall for every such offence or act of disobedience incur and pay such penalty not exceeding five pounds, besides costs, as shall be ordered by the justice before whom the complaint shall be heard, and such justice before whom any penalty imposed hereby shall be sought to be recovered shall have power to order the whole or any part only of such penalty to be paid.

Signed: Joseph Heath (L.S.) and Thomas Lees (L.S.)

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.

High Street Stores Are Being Bashed By Business Rates

Economists say the Treasury could “rake in £166billion” from business rates over the next five years.

The Government estimates that business rates will bring in £31.8billion in 2020-2021, a figure which will rise to £34.9billion in 2023-24.

Business rates will rise on Monday, April 1st and over 47,000 struggling retailers with have cut costs and make staff redundant to find the money to pay the increase.

A large number of High Street stores in North Staffordshire and The Potteries closed last year, and every month our High Streets begin to look more and more like ghost towns.

Faced with competition from online rivals such as Amazon it is unlikely that Britain’s traditional High Street will survive.

As Seb James, the chief executive of Boots is reported to have said high street stores “are being bashed by business rates”.

Unless the government steps in to help High Street traders, experts predict that over 175,000 jobs in retail will be lost this year.

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