Category Archives: The Potteries

Tunstall in the 1830s

Between 1811 and 1831, the population of Tunstall rose from 1,677 to 3,673.

By the end of the 1820s, Tunstall was a prosperous industrial town with a weekly market where fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, household goods and dairy produce were sold.

At the beginning of the 19th century, there were only three factories making pottery in Tunstall. By the end of the 1830s, there were seventeen. Three manufactured both china and earthenware, twelve made earthenware and two produced hand-painted china figures.

Since the middle of the 18th century, Staffordshire blue brick and tiles were made in Tunstall. In the 1830s, there were five firms manufacturing bricks and tiles. The largest brick and tile maker was Thomas Peake whose works in Watergate Street also made ornamental plant holders and garden furniture. 

Although the Methodist New Connexion, the Primitive Methodists and the Wesleyan Methodists had churches in the town, members of the Church of England had to travel to Wolstanton to worship in the parish church, St. Margaret’s, or go to Newchapel to attend services at a chapel of ease.

There were Sunday Schools attached to all the Methodist Churches.

During the week, an infants’ school was held by the Primitive Methodists in a three-storey building in Calver Street. Writing about the school, John Ward in his book The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent, published in 1843, called it a “laudable and interesting institution” whose aim was:

To rescue children between the ages of two and six years, from the influence of bad example, and from vagrant habits; to imbue their minds with religious and moral sentiments, by imparting instruction adapted to their infant capacities, and to diminish the burden and care of their parents . . .

The parents of each child paid two pence a week for its education.

From 1831, the Wesleyan Methodists held evening classes where men and women were taught to read the bible. In 1838, the Wesleyans established an elementary school for boys and an elementary school for girls.

During 1829, the Church of England launched a public appeal to build Christ Church.

The appeal raised £1,000, and the government gave £3,000 towards the cost of the building. A site, where Furlong Road joins High Street, was purchased from Ralph Sneyd, the Lord of the Manor, for £400.

London-based architect, Francis Bedford was employed to design the church.

Built of Chell-Hollington stone, Christ Church was an Elizabethan style building. It was “an elegant structure with a neat tower surmounted by a spire at the west end”. The church was consecrated by Henry Ryder, the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, on August 14th, 1832.

Christ Church could accommodate 1,000 worshippers. It had a three-decker pulpit, and there were galleries on the north, south and west side of the nave.

Scenes From the Past: Shelton Bar (1873)

A drawing of Shelton Bar taken from Griffiths’ “Guide to the iron trade of Great Britain” which was published in 1873.

Spotlight on Hanley: “The Doctor and Parson” by Noah Heath

noah-heath- sneyd-green-the-potteries

“The Doctor and Parson” is a poem that was based on a true story. It was written by Noah Heath who was born at Sneyd Green towards the end of the 1770s or early in the 1780s. The doctor was Dr. Lane who lived in Saggar Row (now Parliament Row), Hanley. We believe that the parson was the Rev. John Middleton.

The Doctor and Parson

Verse One

The case was distressing when truly displayed,

On a languishing pillow the patient was laid,

The gossiping neighbours all had no doubt,

That the spark of existence was nearly run out;

When a grave, skilful doctor, renowned in fame,

To give some assistance, immediately came.

He feels the pulses and views him all o’er,

Refers to his judgement which way to explore,

Then turns himself round, to his treasure he hies,

And his life giving balsam then straightway applies.

Seems to have little doubt he can make a firm cure,

And the life of the patient pronounces secure.

Verse Two

In comes the parson, that sanctified man,

And declares that the doctor had took a wrong plan;

Then questions the patient again and again,

Whence arose all his sorrows, his anguish and pain,

“Your treatment is wrong, I have to say,

It’s as plain as the sun in the skies at mid-day;

Such wrong application must meet with disgrace,

For a mortification will shortly take place.”

“A mortification!” the doctor then cries;

“Yes, a mortification,” the parson replies.

“Pooh! pooh!” says the doctor, “such things I deny,

And tell you quite plainly, your reverence, you lie.

Tho’ we must all allow you’re a man of great parts,

And have a great knowledge of science and arts,

That the truth you expound, and peruse much in books,

You are a Jack-of-all-trades, we can see by your looks,

But in case like these ever silence pray keep,

And if you be the shepherd, preserve well your sheep;

Let us both mind our business, without more control,

For I’ll mind the body if you’ll mind the soul.”

Scenes From the Past: A view of Burslem from Bradwell Wood in 1865

burslem-bradwell-wood-potteries-1865

A view of Burslem, Longport and Middleport from Bradwell Wood in 1865.

Scenes From the Past – Is this the Bell Works in Burslem?

Bell Works, Pottery Industry

We think this sketch, which may have been made in the 18th century, shows the Bell Works in Burslem. If you can tell us more about the sketch and the factory it depicts please email Spotlight on North Staffordshire at spotlightstoke@talktalk.net

The Pottery Industry in the 1960s

In the 1960s, The Potteries was a hive of industrial activity. Skilled crafts-persons living and working in the six towns created the best pottery in the world.

About 90% of the bone china, earthenware, tiles, porcelain, bricks and sanitary ware made in the United Kingdom was produced in Stoke-on-Trent. Pottery workers employed by factories in Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton were proud of their skills and expertise. They took pride in their work and knew that the ware they made was exported all over the world.

The seeds of North Staffordshire’s industrial development were sown in the 14th century. Iron ore was mined in Tunstall and at Apedale. Small pot banks which used local clay to make earthenware were scattered in isolated villages and hamlets throughout the district. There were coal seams near the surface and coal miners risked their lives working in drift mines and bell pits to get the coal needed to fire the ware.

Industrialisation came to The Potteries in the 18th century when entrepreneurs like Josiah Wedgwood, William Adams, Josiah Spode and Thomas Whieldon built factories that produced good quality ware which was sold at prices people could afford to pay.

During the 19th century the pottery industry and the coal mining industry expanded rapidly. The population increased and the six towns which we know today were created. New factories were built and the smoke from numerous bottle ovens and kilns polluted the atmosphere.

As late as 1939, the pottery industry used 1,500,000 tons of coal to fire its ovens and kilns. After the Second World War, coal fired bottle ovens and kilns were replaced by electric or gas fired tunnel kilns. Between 1945 and 1966, many small firms closed and others amalgamated to form large companies. In 1966, there were about 66,000 people employed in the industry 48,000 of whom were women.

(The photograph was taken in the warehouse at the Gladstone Pottery Museum by J. Rutter and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Scenes From The Past: Shelton Bar (1873)

This illustration of the furnaces at Shelton Bar is taken from Griffiths’ “Guide to the iron trade of Great Britain” which was published in 1873.

Kidsgrove: The Legend of the Kidcrew Buggett

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the legend of the Kidsgrove Boggart was one of the best-known ghost stories in Staffordshire.

Known locally as the “Kidcrew Buggett”, the ghost lived in one of the two canal tunnels which took the Trent and Mersey Canal through Harecastle Hill between Kidsgrove and Chatterley.

People who claimed to have seen the boggart said it was a headless woman who wore a blood-stained white dress.

Although the boggart rarely left the tunnels, Kidsgrove miners and their families believed that when it was seen in Boathorse Lane, The Avenue or on the pit heaps overlooking Kidsgrove Bank “a tragedy was pending” at one of the collieries in the district.

Whenever a sighting of the boggart was reported, Kidsgrove prepared for news of a mining disaster.

The Story’s Origins

Writing about the Kidcrew Buggett in the City Times during the 1930s, a person who called himself the “Old Man of Mow” gave an account of the origin of the ghost story.

In this edited extract from his article, “The Old Man of Mow” says the legend began when a woman passenger on a canal-boat was murdered by a boatman in one of the tunnels.

Murder in the Harecastle Tunnel

“A few years before the railway was built in the 1840s, a Kidsgrove woman who wanted to travel to another part of the country had too much luggage to go by stagecoach.

“She decided to make the first part of her journey by canal-boat from Harecastle. Her luggage was her undoing. As soon as the boat entered the tunnel, the covetous boatman murdered her, cut off her head and buried her body at Gilbert’s Wharf (Gilbert’s Hole) where coal and ironstone were loaded into boats.

“When the woman was reported missing, the police traced her to the canal-boat. The boatman was arrested, tried for murder and executed.”

Before he died, the boatman admitted to killing the woman and told the police where they could find her body.

The “Old Man of Mow” ended his account of the murder by saying local people believed that the woman’s spirit haunted the place where she was killed.

Note: The Kidsgrove Boggart is sometimes called the Kitcrew Bugget.

The photograph shows the Kidsgrove end of the Harecastle Tunnels as they were in the 1950s.

Tunstall Camera Club’s Exhibition

Did you know there was a Camera Club in Tunstall at the beginning of the 20th century?

Called the Tunstall and District Photographic Society, the club held a photographic exhibition and a social event in the courtroom at the town hall on the afternoon of Thursday, February 13th, 1902.

As well as photographs, the exhibition contained lantern slides taken by four members who had been awarded medals in a recent competition. During the afternoon the four (Mr Capey, Mr Critchlow, Mr Walley and Mr Webster) were presented with their medals.

Before the exhibition closed, members held a concert party and were entertained by the a group called the Victorian Glee Party.

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