Spotlight on Stoke-on-Trent
People from Stoke-on-Trent are proud of their city’s heritage.
History records the achievements of men and women from our city and tells us the role they played on the world stage.
Stoke-on-Trent’s city council was one of the pioneers of comprehensive education. It defied both Conservative and Labour governments and replaced grammar and secondary modern schools with neighbourhood comprehensive schools and a sixth form college.
Local art schools, technical schools and colleges of further education were progressive centres of excellence. Reginald Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire, turned down a place at Birmingham University. He wanted to serve an apprenticeship with a firm in Fenton and to study engineering at technical schools in the city.
By the beginning of the 1930s, the North Staffordshire Technical College was a university in everything but name. The college had an international reputation and attracted overseas students. It possessed the world’s leading ceramic research centre and had Europe’s best mining school.
There are those who say the past is dead. They are wrong. The past lives in our collective memory. It makes us what we are today. Stoke-on-Trent has a proud heritage – a heritage which must not be forgotten. A city that forgets its past is a city without a future.
In his book, the “History of the Staffordshire Potteries” published in 1829, Simeon Shaw describes Tunstall as it was in the 1820s.
In this edited* extract from the book Simeon writes:
“Tunstall is pleasantly situated on a declivity of considerable eminence, allowing most of it to be seen (at a distance of two miles) from the new turnpike road from Lawton to Newcastle-under-Lyme.
“The town is about four miles away from Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is on the high-road from Bosley to Newcastle and on the road from Burslem to Lawton.
“Tunstall is the chief liberty in the Parish of Wolstanton.
“There are many respectable tradespeople in the town, whose pottery manufacturers are both talented and opulent.
“Pottery manufacturers John Meir, Thomas Goodfellow and Ralph Hall have elegant mansions adjacent to large factories. It may be justly stated that Ralph Hall’s modesty and unaffected piety are exceeded only by his philanthropy.
“Other pottery manufacturers include S & J Rathbone, Breeze & Co and Burrows & Co.
“Smith Child has recently established a large chemical works at Clay Hills. The works overlook the Chatterley Valley where high-quality blue tiles, floor quarries and bricks are made.
“All three branches of Methodism have Chapels and Sunday Schools in Tunstall. These Chapels, which have libraries attached to them, promote the moral improvement of the people. The town possesses a very respectable Literary Society that is unassuming in character but assiduous in research.”
*Edited by David Martin (June 2018)
7-9 Upper Market Square, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs ST1 1PY In 1915, World War One did not stop Woolworth expanding and they opened their 55th store on Upper Market Square in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. As with many war-time stores, it had a similar design to Kingston-upon-Thames (Store 43), with an open pediment and a Venetian window. Source: […]
Memory Lane in Tunstall Market opens at 9.30am on Saturday, April 14th. It’s a place where you can remember the good old days and reminisce about years gone by. You will be able to play traditional pub games including table skittles, shove ha’penny and hoopla.
Between 10.00am and 11.00am on the 14th, Memory Lane will be showing a video The History of Tunstall.
Stay in Memory Lane after you have seen the video and view the exhibits and photographs on display. Before you leave the building explore Tunstall’s heritage market where you will find friendly traders who are selling a wide range of quality goods and services at reasonable prices,
In July 1750, the Rev. Richard Pococke visited Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries.
Richard who kept a journal of his travels described North Staffordshire as an area where pottery manufacturers used local clay to make unglazed earthenware, bricks, tiles water pipes and plant pots. Some manufacturers mixed white pipeclay from Poole in Dorset with calcinated flintstone from Lincolnshire and other places to make salt-glazed stoneware pottery and ornaments.
All the ware made in the district was baked “in kilns built in the shape of a cone” which Richard said gave the area “a pretty appearance”. He went on to say that there were “great numbers” of these kilns in the Pottery villages to the east of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
In this edited extract from his journal, Richard describes Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries as they were in 1750.
Newcastle and The Potteries in 1750
Newcastle is a small, well-built market town situated on the slope of a hill overlooking a lake. It has a handsome church and a market hall. Although Newcastle is the capital of the neighbouring Pottery villages, there are only a few potters working in the town.
I left Newcastle on July 6th went to see the Pottery villages. I rode two miles to Stoke where stoneware is made. On leaving Stoke, I visited Shelton where red chinaware is produced and then went to Hanley were all kinds of pottery are manufactured. I visited Burslem where the best white and other types of pottery are made. The last place I went to was Tunstall. Although all kinds of pottery are made there, Tunstall is famous for making the best bricks and tiles.
Memory Lane in Tunstall Market is showing a video about the history of Trentham Gardens. The video, which includes scenes of the ballroom and the open air swimming pool, will be shown between 2.00pm and 3.00pm on Saturday, April 14th.
Admission Free. Come and watch the video. Talk about your memories of Trentham Gardens and stay to explore Tunstall’s heritage market hall where you will find friendly traders who sell a wide range of high-quality products at reasonable prices.
Not many students and staff who attend Staffordshire University’s award ceremonies on the Trentham Estate know that Trentham Hall could have been home to a leading Russell Group university like Manchester or Birmingham.
On February 12th, 1890, Francis Elliot Kitchener, the headmaster of Newcastle High School, attended the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at the North Stafford Hotel.
While proposing the toast to “the staple trades of Staffordshire”, he suggested establishing a University College in Hanley which specialised in chemistry and engineering. Both the Sentinel and Thomas Turner (Staffordshire County Council’s director of technical education) supported the idea.
However, nothing was done until 1900 when a Council for the Extension of Higher Education in North Staffordshire was set up to help finance Oxford University’s Extension Courses in the district.
Taking up Kitchener’s idea, the council launched a public appeal to build a North Staffordshire College in The Potteries.
The proposed college, which would have had University status, was going to run full and part-time degree courses, train teachers and provide vocational training for men and women working in industry and commerce.
Although the estimated cost of the college was £20,000, there was widespread support for the project.
By the end of 1904 pottery manufacturers, colliery owners, professional bodies and local town councils had promised to give between £10,000 and £11,000 towards the cost.
Staffordshire County Council offered to give £12,500 if matching funding could be raised. The Council for the Extension of Higher Education in North Staffordshire made plans to launch a final appeal. Before it could be launched, the Duke of Sutherland stepped in and offered to give Trentham Hall to the county council if it agreed to establish the college there.
Believing it had achieved its objective, the Council for the Extension of Higher Education disbanded, and the county council made plans to transform the hall into a regional college.
While these plans were being made, a campaign to reform local government in The Potteries by replacing its six local authorities with a county borough council was gaining momentum.
Realising change was inevitable and that responsibility for education would be taken from it and given to the new county borough, Staffordshire County Council withdrew its support for the North Staffordshire College.
Hanley, which was already a county borough, refused to take over the project and the county council erected temporary buildings to house a mining school and a pottery school on land near Stoke Station.
At the end of the First World War, another attempt to give North Staffordshire a University College failed.
The mining school and the pottery school became the Central School of Science and Technology, one of the technical schools in The Potteries from which Staffordshire University can trace its descent.
Fenton’s Cenotaph in Albert Square was unveiled by Colonel John Vaughan Campbell V.C. on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1922.
The ceremony started at 2.30pm with a service in the town hall, where a Minton Hollins enamelled faience memorial panel had been fixed to the wall of the main staircase. Designed by Walter Brown, who had been a student at Fenton Art School, it contained the names of Fenton men who had been killed in action during the First World War (1914-1918).
When the service ended, the memorial panel was unveiled by Colonel John Ward, the Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent, who had commanded the 25th Middlesex Regiment during the war.
A detailed description of the memorial was given in the official programme which read:
“A panel containing a complete list of the names of the men of Fenton who fell in the Great War is erected on the wall of the main staircase of the town hall and is seen on entering the vestibule. This has been executed in richly enamelled faience and is architectural in character. The names are painted in scarlet letters and black capitals on a cream ground, and are preceded by the words, ‘In proud and glorious memory of the men of Fenton who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918,’ and surmounted by a floral wreath and shield worked in mosaic, with a background of vermilion. The moulded framework is coloured in a neutral green, the base having an inset of gold and black mosaic, and the inscription, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’.”
After Colonel Ward had unveiled the memorial, those who had attended the service made their way to the square where a large crowd was waiting to watch Colonel Campbell unveil the Cenotaph.
Standing on a reinforced concrete foundation 27 feet long, 27 feet wide and two feet thick, the Cenotaph was designed by architect Charles F. Simms who worked in the borough surveyor’s office in Stoke.
Constructed by Burslem sculptors W. & R. Mellor Ltd., the Cenotaph is a stone obelisk, 37 feet high. Supported by buttresses, it stands on a stone base eight feet wide and seven feet six inches high. The figure of a private soldier with arms reversed stands at the foot of the obelisk looking across the square towards Christchurch Street. Fenton’s coat of arms and its motto “Onward and Upward” is carved on the side of the Cenotaph facing the town hall. There are laurel wreaths and festoons on the other three sides with the words “Honour, Sacrifice and Courage” carved beneath them.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013
The French Revolution began on July 14th, 1789 when the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille, the most hated and feared prison in Europe. The citizen’s attack was successful. They captured the prison and released all the prisoners, many of whom had been detained without trial for several years.
Shortly afterwards, France became a republic. The deposed king Louis XVI asked Austria and Prussia to help him regain his throne. He was arrested, tried for treason and executed.
His execution shocked Europe, and the leading continental powers made plans to invade France and restore the monarchy. The French army attacked and occupied Belgium. When the British government protested about this violation of Belgian neutrality, France declared war on England. By the end of 1793, England, Spain, Holland, Prussia, Austria and Sardinia were at war with France.
At first, things went badly for the allies.
In 1794, Holland surrendered, and the House of Orange was forced to abdicate. The French made Holland a republic, and the new Dutch government declared war on England.
French forces defeated the armies of Prussia and Spain who made peace. The French imposed a puppet government on Spain which went to war with England in 1796.
The combined French, Dutch and Spanish fleets prepared to spearhead an invasion of England. A large French army assembled in Northern France where barges were being built to carry it across the Channel.
Abandoned by its allies, England stood alone. Forges and factories worked day and night to make the weapons needed to defend our island.
In towns and cities throughout Britain, men joined local volunteer corps to fight alongside the regular army and the militia. A troop of Volunteer Cavalry was raised in The Potteries by Sir John Edensor Heathcote. About 70 men joined the force. Each man had to provide his own horse and buy his own uniform and equipment. One of them had the following inscription engraved on his sword:“Leagu’d with my friends the glitt’ring sword I bear To guard from hostile arm my country dear; Not to oppress, devastate or enslave, But England’s soil from Gallie rage to save; Not to maintain those “Rights of Man” unjust, Which tend to treason, plunder, blood, and lust; But to preserve our altars, hearths and laws, And bleed or conquer in this holy cause.” Copyright – The Phoenix Trust 2013
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 email@example.com
A barrister whose attempts to pursue a political career in Parliament were unsuccessful, Harold Wright became The Potteries Stipendiary Magistrate in 1893.
A man who sympathised with the victims of domestic violence, Harold was determined to stamp out wife beating and child abuse in the six towns. Drunken men who had attacked their wives could expect no mercy when they appeared before his court. Even first offenders were sent to prison, and the sentences he imposed made him the most feared magistrate in the district.
Unlike the Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrates in London who sat alone, Harold sat with Justices of the Peace.
Sitting in Kidsgrove and The Potteries, his court committed indictable offences for trial to the Assizes or to Quarter Sessions. It heard matrimonial disputes and tried summary offences.
Burslem and Longton, which were boroughs, and Hanley, which was a county borough, had their own Magistrates’ Courts presided over by borough magistrates. The borough Magistrates’ Courts shared jurisdiction with the Stipendiary Magistrate’s Court, and local police decided whether summary cases were tried by borough magistrates or by the stipendiary court. Knowing that Harold would impose more severe sentences than the borough magistrates, the police always prosecuted professional criminals and habitual offenders before his court.
Harold lived at Aston Hall, a mansion near Stone. His hobbies included hunting, fishing, painting and drawing. Under the pseudonym Snuff, he drew caricatures for Vanity Fair and made sketches of the lawyers who argued cases before his court.
A man who liked animals, Harold supported the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He helped to organise Hanley’s Annual Horse Parade and launched a successful campaign against cruelty to animals in The Potteries – an area where every week between 30 and 40 people stood in the dock charged with ill-treating dogs and horses.