Category Archives: Tunstall

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.)

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.

Spotlight on Tunstall – The Victoria Institute Faces An Uncertain Future

Tunstall’s town centre is becoming more and more like a ghost town every day.

Spotlight on North Staffordshire would support a campaign by local people to prevent the city council “selling off” the Victoria Institute to a property developer when the library leaves the building and moves into the town hall which is now being regenerated after being closed for almost 30 years.

The proposal by at least one councillor that the Institute could be turned into luxury flats for high powered executives working in Manchester and Birmingham is ridiculous.

Local elections are being held in May, and the city’s political parties have already launched their campaigns to get your vote.

Even though it is non-political, Spotlight on North Staffordshire and The Potteries is concerned about the future of Tunstall, a town that reminded a group of American visitors of Skid Row in Los Angeles.

Before deciding to vote for a candidate, residents should ask all the candidates how they intend to halt the town centres decline.

Focus on Education – Did You Go To School In Tunstall?

victorian schoolroom

A TYPICAL  MID-20th CENTURY CLASSROOM

Spotlight on Stoke is researching the history of education in Tunstall.

We are hoping to write short posts about all the schools in the town including:

  • St. Mary’s
  • The Catholic School in Oldcourt Street
  • Summerbank Road Schools
  • Tunstall High School for Girls
  • Brownhills High School
  • High Street Schools
  • Forster Street Schools

Except for Forster Street, all the schools built in Tunstall during the 19th century have been demolished. Very few photographs of them survive. If you attended any of these schools and would like to share memories of your school days with us, please email spotlightstoke@talktalk.net

Bygone Tunstall – The Victoria Institute

In 1905, Tunstall Urban District Council produced a Year Book which gave details of the major buildings and places of interest in Tunstall including the Victoria Institute.

The edited account of the history of the Victoria Institute posted below is taken is taken from the Year Book.

THE VICTORIA INSTITUTE

“This building, the foundation stones of which were laid on the 16th May 1889, was erected by public subscription in commemoration of Her Majesty’s Jubilee and comprises a School of Science, Art and Technology and a Public Library…

“On the 24th October 1895, the foundation stone of an extension to the Institute was laid.

“The extension, which included a Museum, a Cookery School and Pottery Decorating Studios, was being erected by the Urban District Council with the help of a grant of £700 from Staffordshire County Council.”

Tunstall’s Technical Schools

Tunstall’s Technical Schools, which were housed in the Victoria Institute in Station Road (The Boulevard), opened in November 1890.

Subjects taught by the schools included Art, Science and General Subjects.

Most students attending classes at the schools worked during the day in industry or commerce and gave up their evenings to study for vocational qualifications.

The schools’ academic year started in September, and there were four ten-week terms, Students were given a week’s holiday at Christmas, another week at either Easter or Whitsun and a “long vacation” lasting two months during July and August. To ensure that students attended classes regularly during term time a register of attendance was kept which could be viewed by their parents or guardians and by their employers.

Tunstall’s Technical Schools entered their students for examinations set by the Board of Education. Students who passed were awarded certificates and the ones who gained the highest marks were given gold, silver or bronze medals.

Students who wanted to continue with their studies and become industrial designers or art teachers could apply for scholarships tenable at the Royal College of Art in London.

Speaking at Tunstall Technical Schools’ annual prizegiving ceremony in 1899, Staffordshire County Council’s director of technical education, Thomas Turner, said that North Staffordshire, like other leading industrial areas, should have its own University College.

The local newspaper, The Sentinel, supported Turner’s call for a University College to be established in North Staffordshire and asked one of the area’s leading educationalists to write about the scheme.

Published on May 27, 1899, the article that was written by an unnamed contributor said technical schools in The Potteries were too small to run scientific or academic courses for boys and girls who had been educated to matriculation standard.

To overcome this problem, the writer suggested creating a North Staffordshire College where students could read for degrees in academic subjects and receive degree level vocational training in engineering, ceramic technology, mining or metallurgy.

Spotlight on Tunstall – The Sir Smith Child Clock Tower

This extract from the Tunstall Year Book, which was published in 1905, gives an account of the Sir Smith Child Clock Tower in Tower Square which was built by public subscription and presented to the town in 1893.

THE SIR SMITH CHILD CLOCK TOWER

“On Thursday, the 23rd November 1893, the ceremony of unveiling and handing over to the town this Tower, which was erected during the lifetime of Sir Smith Child, as a permanent memorial to commemorate his unparalleled acts of benevolence to Tunstall, was performed by Mr Alfred Meakin, in the presence of Mr J G Child, and a numerous company.

“The Tower, which is erected at the west end of the Market Square (Tower Square), and is constructed of buff terra-cotta, stands some 50 feet high, is fitted with a striking clock with Cambridge chimes, having four dials, and at the base of the structure is a bronze bust of Sir Smith Child in a niche designed for that purpose.

“The cost of the Tower has been over £1,500, which amount was contributed by over 3,500 subscribers.”

Focus on Tunstall: Do you have memories of Tunstall town hall and market?

tunstall-town-hall

Do you have memories of Tunstall town hall and market?

Did you work in the market or did you go shopping there with your mother when you were growing up? Can you remember the stalls that were in the market hall and the things they sold before it was regenerated at the end of the 20th century?

Spotlight on North Staffordshire and The Potteries is writing a booklet about the history of the town hall and the market.

If you have memories or old photographs of the market or the town hall which you would be willing to share with us, please email David Martin at daymar727@talktalk.net

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