Category Archives: The Potteries

Spotlight on Burslem – Woolworths

17-19 St John’s Square, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire ST6 3AN Woolworths opened in Burslem in September 1929 in a purpose-built two-storey building. According to the book Burslem Through Time by Mervyn Edwards, the first store manager was L.H. Hewitt. This branch of Woolworths stocked a range of locally manufactured china and pottery items. Source: […]

To read more visit Burslem – Store 371 — Woolies Buildings – Then and Now

Spotlight on Crime and Punishment – The Stocks

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On October 6th, 1680, Tunstall Court Leet ordered the High Constable of the Manor of Tunstall to repair the stocks in Burslem within six weeks or pay a penalty of six shillings and eight pence.

From Anglo-Saxon times until the middle of the 19th century, the stocks were used to punish minor offences.

The Stocks were designed to humiliate and degrade petty criminals by putting them on display in a public place where members of the public could impose their own punishments on them.

Stocks were erected on village greens, in market squares and at crossroads. Most were made of wood, although a few were made of iron. Offenders sat on a wooden bench with their ankles placed through holes in moveable boards. How long a person spent in the stocks depended on the gravity of the offence. Some were there for a few hours. Others were put in them for two or three days and fed on bread and water.

In 1350, the Second Statute of Labourers compelled every town and village to erect stocks in a public place.

Having its own set of stocks conferred status on small communities. A settlement that was too small to have a set was regarded as a hamlet and could not call itself a village.

Men and women in the stocks were a source of entertainment for the crowds that flocked to see them punished.

Members of the public could whip offenders until their backs were bloody and throw stones, broken pottery, dead dogs and cats, rotten fruit, bad eggs, mud and excrement at them.

Dishonest shopkeepers, innkeepers and market traders were put in the stocks.

Housewives poured the contents of chamber pots over the heads of traders who had given them “short weight.” Butchers who had sold rotten beef, lamb, pork or poultry had maggot-infested meat placed at their feet. Fishmongers who sold fish that had passed its sell-by date sat in the stocks with stinking fish hung around their necks. Customers who had been sold watered down beer by innkeepers and alewives poured jugs of stale ale over them.

Towards the end of the middle ages gangs of rogues and vagabonds made their way from town to town begging, robbing and stealing everywhere they went. To deal with these rogues and vagabonds the government brought in new laws with draconian penalties for those who infringed them.

In 1388 an Act of Parliament (12 Rich. 2) was passed making it illegal for labourers to give up their jobs and leave the hundred where they lived without the King’s permission. The statute gave borough mayors, manor stewards and town constables authority to put labourers who had run away from their employers in the stocks until they found sureties who guaranteed that they would go home and return to work.

A statute, passed during the reign of Henry VII, allowed constables to place vagrants in the stocks.

Passed in1494, the Vagabonds and Beggars Act gave the courts power to put “vagabonds, idle and suspected persons” in the stocks for three days and three nights

Under the provisions of a statute (22 Hen 8, c. 12) passed in 1530, magistrates could give “the impotent poor” permission to beg at specified places in the town or village where they lived. If they were found begging anywhere else, they were put in the stocks for two days and nights.

During 1605 a new law made the punishment for getting drunk six hours in the stocks and the penalty for being a drunkard four hours in the stocks or a fine of three shillings. Shortly afterwards, Parliament made the punishment for swearing one hour in the stocks or a fine of one shilling.

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.

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.

Spotlight on Hanley: The Old Swan Inn

 

Swan Inn

THE  SWAN INN

In volume two of his series Romance of Staffordshire, published in 1878, Henry Wedgwood describes the interior of the Swan Inn, an old coaching inn which was demolished in the 1840s.

The Swan Inn

“It is wonderful how soon public buildings pass from memory with all their associations, and, may be, usefulness. How completely the Old Swan Inn, Hanley is now buried in the past, and with it the memory of those who used to meet there.

“The old inn was a large building, with strange looking wings and gable ends. It had square built chimneys and gothic windows mullioned by heavy stonework. There were iron palisades at the front of the building and an extensive bowling green at the rear. Its front entrance was covered with a flat canopy supported by stone pillars. Inside there were queer, odd, little rooms with chimney nooks and ancient screens from bygone days. The one large room was used for social functions and town celebrations when speeches were made about ‘King, Country and the Pottery’ industry.

“One of the back rooms had a large bay window that looked out on to the bowling green. This was the room where Justices of the Peace held their petty sessions (Magistrates’ Court). The court tried summary offences and sent men, women and children who were accused of committing felonies to the Assize Court or Quarter Sessions for trial.”

A Visit To The City Archives – Minton Tiles

Mallaband-Brown

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I had the pleasure of being invited to a behind the scenes visit to our city archive today. I had been asked if I wanted to go along by a friend who is doing an art project about the pottery manufacturer.

We went up to the third floor of the city library and were shown round the back of the reception desk into the staff only section. There the city archivist showed us some of the fading pages in the ledgers. They were images of pots that various pot banks made in the history of Stoke-on-Trent.

There were pattern books for tableware and tiles  ledgers with the cost of making the ware and details of workers. The old pottery firms did not collect a lot of details and a lot was thrown out when they closed down. But once we had been in the air conditioned archives we were allowed…

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HULL, BIRMINGHAM, DUBLIN, LEEDS, MANCHESTER, NEWCASTLE, READING, AND STOKE ON TRENT IN FINAL VOTE TO DECIDE FUTURE TOUR LOCATIONS

HULL ECHO

A national poll for fans to decide the future tour locations for the magnificent ‘Wizarding World Wands supporting Lumos’  installation which illuminated the City of London last autumn, has revealed eight finalists, including Hull.

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