Category Archives: Tunstall

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: Tunstall Windmill

old-windmill-tunstall-stoke-on-trent
Tunstall Windmill

Tunstall Windmill was a corn mill.

It was built in 1813 on land that became known as Millfields which was on the northside of Roundwell Street between America Street and Dunning Street.

A track led from America Street to the mill which at one time was surrounded by a circular loading bay where carts were loaded and unloaded.

 The mill is mentioned by W. J. Harper in his book “By-Gone Tunstall” that was published in 1913.

In this edited extract from the book, Harper writes:

Of course, there were no houses near the mill in the earlier years of its history, save three one storey workmen’s cottages seen on the left of the drawing. In later years the mill yard was fenced in, and gardens were provided for the cottagers . . . When the mill went into disuse the corn room was used as a practice room by members of Tunstall’s drum and fife band.

Harper knew John Bickley, a member of the band, who remembered rehearsing in the corn room. John told him that a man and his wife lived at the mill. One evening the couple began to argue. During the row, the woman walked out. She didn’t come back, and her husband spent the night alone in the mill.

There was an old mine shaft nearby which was full of water. The next morning, her body was found in the shaft. She had committed suicide.

The mill was demolished in 1855. 

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.

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