Category Archives: Tunstall

Tunstall’s Technical Schools

jubilee-building-tunstall

THE VICTORIA INSTITUTE

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.

Photograph © Copyright Steve Lewin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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.”

Spotlight on Tunstall – Market Returns to Tower Square

Spotlight on North Staffordshire and the Potteries is delighted to learn that market traders have returned to Tower Square and that once again Tunstall has an outdoor market.

We hope that local people will support the new market which will help to regenerate Tower Square and halt the decline of High Street.

Spotlight sends its best wishes to the traders in Tower Square and hope that the outdoor market is a great success.

Reduced Fares Encouraged Families To Shop In Tunstall

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was a retail and a wholesale market in Tunstall.

Held in the Market Place (Tower Square), the wholesale market was open every day except Sunday. From Lady Day (March 25th) to Michaelmas (September 29th) it opened at 6.00am. Between Michaelmas and Lady Day the market opened two hours later at 8.00am.

The retail market in the Market Hall was open on Mondays and Saturdays. On Mondays, the market opened from 8.00am to 8.00pm. Saturday was a working day for many people, and on Saturdays, the retail market was open from 8.00am to 10.00pm.

To encourage families living in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire to shop in Tunstall Market, the North Staffordshire Railway Company issued Cheap Market Returns to Tunstall and Chatterley Train Stations from Kidsgrove, Halmerend, Audley, Talke, Alsager Road, Congleton, Mow Cop, Crewe, Radway Green, Alsager, Sandbach, Lawton, Keele and Leycett.

Scarratt’s Tunstall – A town with 50 Houses

In his book “Old Times In The Potteries” published in 1906, William Scarratt tells us there were 50 houses in Tunstall in 1740.

These houses, which Scarratt called cottages, were built of brick. Most had tiled roofs although a few were thatched. A house called The Cottage at Clay Hills was thatched as were cottages in America Street, a building at the Round Well (where Ladywell Road joins Roundwell Street) and six properties in Watergate Street.

Whether thatched or tiled, these two storey houses had four rooms. Known as “two up and two down”, they had two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. On the ground floor was a large front room behind which was a small back room. Upstairs there were two bedrooms.

There were some houses with tiled roofs at The Flash, near where High Street becomes Brownhills Road, and six more on the site of the former community centre built in the 1990s, which is now occupied by Tunstall Children’s Centre.

A group of buildings stood on the site where the town hall and the market hall were erected during the second half of the 19th century. There were houses in Mill Street (The Boulevard) and near the Swan Inn in High Street.

NewsDesk – Burslem has become a ghost town

According to research by the Local Data Company, a third of the shops in Burslem’s run-down town centre are unoccupied.

Shops and banks have moved out. Nothing has come in to replace them.

Some shops have been empty for over five years, and one resident claims that there isn’t even a greengrocer’s shop where a customer can buy an apple. Very few people shop in Burslem. The town has nothing to offer them.

Many buildings in Market Place and Queen Street are abandoned and derelict. Their windows are broken. Willowherb and buddleias grow out of the guttering and weeds of all kinds have made their home in cracks in the brickwork.

June Cartwright the founder of Our Burslem, a group campaigning to regenerate Burslem, is trying to persuade Stoke-on-Trent City Council to open a street market which she believes will ease the town’s reliance on traditional high street shops.

Burslem is not the only town in The Potteries which has been abandoned by both shopkeepers and customers. Although Longton seems relatively busy, very few people shop in Fenton and Stoke which, like Burslem, have become ghost towns.

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

Many happy returns to Tunstall’s indoor market – it’s 160 years old today

tunstall-market

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TUNSTALL’S INDOOR MARKET FROM THE SPOTLIGHT TEAM

Opened on December 2nd, 1858, Tunstall’s indoor market celebrates its 160th birthday today.

One of the best markets in England and Wales, the indoor market, which is tucked away behind the town hall in High Street, is Stoke-on-Trent’s hidden gem.

Tunstall market is a warm-hearted place where friendly, welcoming traders sell high-quality fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, household goods and luxury items at reasonable prices to local people and customers who have come from as far afield as Alsager, Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton to do their weekend shopping.

Despite wars and recessions, the market has served the community for 160 years. The Spotlight team is certain that the market will continue to serve the people of Tunstall and the surrounding area for another 160 years.

Tunstall’s indoor market is 160 years old this year

Tunstall’s indoor market hall, which opened in December 1858, celebrates its 160th birthday this year.

In 1856, Tunstall’s Board of Health decided to build a new market hall.

The board of health commissioned George Thomas Robinson, the architect who designed Burslem’s Old Town Hall, to build the market hall.

Constructed on a half acre site opposite the Market Place in High Street, the market hall cost £7,651.

It was opened by Thomas Peake, the Chief Bailiff and Chairman of the Board of Health, on December 2, 1858. In the evening a concert was held in the market hall. At 9.00 pm there was a firework display in the Market Place (Tower Square) which was followed by a ball in the market hall.

Trading commenced there two days later on December 4, 1858, when the retail market which sold:

  • Dairy produce
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat, fish, poultry, game and rabbits
  • Manufactured goods and household utensils

left the Market Place and moved into the building.

Tucked away behind the town hall in High Street, the indoor market is Stoke-on-Trent’s hidden gem.

It’s a warm-hearted place where friendly, welcoming traders sell high-quality fish and meat, fruit and vegetables, groceries, household goods and luxury items at reasonable prices to local people and customers who have come from as far away as Alsager, Biddulph, Mow Cop and Congleton to do their weekend shopping.

Today, the market hall is home to one of the best indoor markets in England and Wales – a place where you and your family can do the weekend shopping under one roof.

Spotlight on Tunstall – Betty Wedgwood’s Dame School

Dame School

A DAME SCHOOL

In his autobiography “When I was a Child” published in 1903, Charles Shaw gives a graphic and horrifying description of working-class life in Tunstall during the 1830s and 40s.

One of Enoch Shaw and his wife Mary’s eight children, Charles was born in 1832. The Shaw family lived in a small terraced house in Piccadilly Street and from 1835/6 to 1839 Charles attended a local dame school until he started work in the pottery industry when he was seven years old.

In this edited extract from “When I was a Child”, he tells us about his school days at Betty Wedgwood’s dame school.

BETTY WEDGWOOD’S DAME SCHOOL

“My education was like that of thousands of other working-class children.

“I went to old Betty Wedgwood’s dame school, and as I had ‘finished my education’ when I was seven years old, I must have attended her school for three or four years.

“The school was housed in the only room on the ground floor of her little cottage. It was about four yards square, with a winding, narrow staircase leading to the cottage’s one bedroom above. The furniture was very scant, consisting of a small table, two chairs, and two or three little forms about eight inches high for the children to sit on. There were a few pictures on the walls of the usual garish sort, blazing with colour, and all the figures upon them were in strikingly dramatic attitudes.

“One small picture was reserved for special distinction, as it was supposed to be the portrait of old Betty’s deceased husband. He had been a soldier and must have attained the rank of colour-sergeant, his stripes and sword being well to the front. The children were duly impressed with the greatness of the personage represented by the little picture. To us, he was a greater warrior than either Wellington or Napoleon. He was more real than either of them because we had before us a visible hero, whose exploits were described by old Betty in tones of awe and in words of admiration. The children listened with wonder to the never-failing recitals of his courage and valour and deeds, and so it has come about that my first vivid impression of a soldier, and what soldiers did, was got by old Betty’s devotion to her husband’s memory, and by the aid of her husband’s portrait.

“The course of education given by the old lady was very simple and graded with almost scientific precision. There was an alphabet, with pictures, for beginners. There must have been something intensely vivid about these letters in the alphabet, for to this day when I see the letters Q and S as single capitals, I see them rather as when I first saw them in old Betty’s alphabet. I have often wondered whether other people carry the same weird impression of the capitals of their first alphabet. I have an impression, too, that the distinctness of that old alphabet had something to do with the success of old Betty’s teachings, for though she never taught writing, her scholars were generally noted for their ability to read while very young. I know I could read my Bible with remarkable ease when I left her school, when seven years old.

“Betty’s next grade, after the alphabet, was the reading-made-easy book, with black letters making words containing two, three and four letters.

“The next stage was spelling and reading the Bible. For those successful in these higher stages old Betty had peculiar honours. They were allowed to take the ashes from under the fire-grate to the ash-heap outside the house. This ash-heap was a common meeting-place, as everybody used it, and on its elevation, many doughty battles were fought. Whoever among the youngsters could get on the top of it and ‘hold the fort’ against all comers, was considered a Victor. Going to the ash-heap, then, meant a bit of sport, and possibly a victory to be talked of in the little school world.

“Another honour of old Betty’s was to allow a successful scholar to sit on the highest visible stair in the winding staircase leading to her bedroom. It was a rare joy to see and be seen by four fellow scholars from this vantage-point of honour. There was yet another distinction the old lady had to bestow. She taught both boys and girls who were successful in reading how to knit stockings. She was a remarkable knitter herself and could carry on this occupation with the regularity almost of a machine, while her eyes were everywhere in her school.

“Old Betty had another resource for pleasing all her scholars. On fine days the little forms were taken outside her cottage and placed under the windows. The children had their books or their knitting, and the old lady, knitting herself incessantly, marched backwards and forwards, hearing lessons and watching work. The joy of the children was that they could see the passers-by, and their mothers, for old Betty’s cottage was at ‘The Bottom’, a favourite resort for the dwellers in the neighbouring cottages.

“These were occasions when the old schoolmistress lapsed into continual smiles, and when her usual rigour, in the matter of lessons, disappeared.

“She was deeply respected by both children and parents. It would be too much to say she was beloved, for there was an air of stateliness and solitariness about her which precluded warm attachment. Whether her stateliness came through her military associations in past years, or whether it was a natural habit, I cannot now say. But for her, being a schoolmistress, it suited well. It impressed the children with a feeling of reverence, and it kept parents from intruding mischievously in the little world she ruled.

“Poor old Betty! She was, perhaps, above the average of her class who taught the children of England in those days for a mere pittance, when our rulers were squandering the resources of the nation in less useful ways and were blind to the wisdom of educating the children of the country.

“She and her class did two things – they made night schools possible for those who wanted to go further, say, to learn writing and arithmetic, and they made it possible for Sunday school teachers to have less elementary drudgery.”

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