Category Archives: Trent & Mersey Canal

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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Focus on Kidsgrove – The Kitcrew Bugget

Brindley's Harecastle Tunnel (Chatterley)

The Rev. Frederick George  Llewellin, who was the Vicar of Kidsgrove from 1922 until his death in 1941, wrote a book “The Lighter Side of a Parson’s Life” about his ministry in the town.

In this edited extract from the chapter which looks at the lives of the boat people who worked on the Trent & Mersey Canal, he tells the story of the Kitcrew Bugget – a ghost that haunts the Brindley Tunnel which runs under Harecastle Hill.

The Kitcrew Bugget 

“Lor, bless yer, lad, don’t yer know? Did yer never hear tell o’ it? Well, gaffer, years ago, in the very middle o’ the tunnel right atween Tunstall on the one side and Kitcrew (Kidsgrove) junction on the other, two men murdered a woman and threw her body inter the tunnel and because it wor a deed o’ violence and her life wor taken from her before it wor asked for, that there ‘oman have never lain quiet.

“But years ago as it wor, she’d appear, sometimes in the form o’ a white horse, sometimes like a female without a head, but whenever her comes, trouble’s sure to foller. Never wor there an accident at the collieries but the Kitcrew Bugget wor sure to come to tell o’ it. Somebody ‘ll die, or be murdered or drowned in the cut (canal) or coal mine when that there ghost appears.”

Edited by Betty Cooper and David Martin

The photograph taken in 2012 shows the Chatterley entrance to the Brindley Tunnel – the home of the Kitcrew Bugget

Stoke-on-Trent: Westport Lake

I went for a walk at Westport Lake as it has been a beautiful clear chilly early spring day. Westport Lake is just over a mile away set in the middle of housing and industry, it was built to keep the water levels up in the Trent and Mersey Canal and sits between the canal […]

(Posted March 6th, 2017)

To read more visit Westport Lake — Tim Diggles

Thieves were not deterred by whipping and transportation

The Swan Inn

During the 18th century, Hanley and Shelton became the most important towns in The Potteries.

Between 1762 and 1801 their populations grew from 2,000 to 7,940. Hanley’s first church, St. John’s, erected in 1738 was enlarged during the 1760s. Stagecoaches called at The Swan, an old inn in the town centre. Pack horses and wagons carried ware from Hanley and Shelton to the Weaver Navigation’s wharves at Winsford and brought back ball clay and household goods. A covered market designed by architect James Trubshaw was built in Town Road during 1776.

The Trent & Mersey and the Caldon Canal stimulated economic expansion and population growth.

Entrepreneurs opened factories and iron works. People from the surrounding countryside came to Hanley looking for work and new houses were constructed.

In 1791, a trust was formed to acquire the market hall and build a town hall. The trustees leased land in Market Square from John Bagnall, the Lord of the Manor, where they erected a town hall.

Markets were held in the square on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A fortnightly cattle market was established at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1813, Parliament gave the trustees power to regulate the market place and make by-laws. The trustees demolished the old town hall and built a poultry market and a stone lockup where prisoners were held until they were brought before the Magistrates’ Court which sat in a room at the Swan Inn.

Punishments in the 18th century were severe and intended to deter the offender by degrading and humiliating him.

Men found guilty of being drunk and disorderly were put in the stocks and pelted with bad eggs, rotten tomatoes and potato peelings by jeering crowds. Women convicted of street fighting or brawling were placed on the ducking stool and dipped in Clementson’s Pool until they begged for mercy. Men and women caught stealing from market stalls were tried at the county Quarter Sessions and received a public whipping or were transported to Australia for seven years.

Despite these draconian penalties, law and order broke down. The annual wakes turned into a drunken orgy which was followed by rioting and looting.

Fearing for their own safety, Hanley’s unpaid constables turned a blind eye when serious crimes were committed. In the evenings, robbers lurked in doorways waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims walking home through narrow unlit streets.

Having no confidence in the constables, residents employed watchmen to patrol the streets and protect their property. A society for the prosecution of felons was formed and in 1825 a professional police force was created.

Copyright Betty Cooper and David Martin 2013

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