Stoke-on-Trent is proud of its heritage

A Mark IX Spitfire

Reginald Mitchell’s Spitfire 

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.

Spotlight on Hanley: “The Doctor and Parson” by Noah Heath

noah-heath- sneyd-green-the-potteries

“The Doctor and Parson” is a poem that was based on a true story. It was written by Noah Heath who was born at Sneyd Green towards the end of the 1770s or early in the 1780s. The doctor was Dr. Lane who lived in Saggar Row (now Parliament Row), Hanley. We believe that the parson was the Rev. John Middleton.

The Doctor and Parson

Verse One

The case was distressing when truly displayed,

On a languishing pillow the patient was laid,

The gossiping neighbours all had no doubt,

That the spark of existence was nearly run out;

When a grave, skilful doctor, renowned in fame,

To give some assistance, immediately came.

He feels the pulses and views him all o’er,

Refers to his judgement which way to explore,

Then turns himself round, to his treasure he hies,

And his life giving balsam then straightway applies.

Seems to have little doubt he can make a firm cure,

And the life of the patient pronounces secure.

Verse Two

In comes the parson, that sanctified man,

And declares that the doctor had took a wrong plan;

Then questions the patient again and again,

Whence arose all his sorrows, his anguish and pain,

“Your treatment is wrong, I have to say,

It’s as plain as the sun in the skies at mid-day;

Such wrong application must meet with disgrace,

For a mortification will shortly take place.”

“A mortification!” the doctor then cries;

“Yes, a mortification,” the parson replies.

“Pooh! pooh!” says the doctor, “such things I deny,

And tell you quite plainly, your reverence, you lie.

Tho’ we must all allow you’re a man of great parts,

And have a great knowledge of science and arts,

That the truth you expound, and peruse much in books,

You are a Jack-of-all-trades, we can see by your looks,

But in case like these ever silence pray keep,

And if you be the shepherd, preserve well your sheep;

Let us both mind our business, without more control,

For I’ll mind the body if you’ll mind the soul.”

Scenes From the Past: A view of Burslem from Bradwell Wood in 1865

burslem-bradwell-wood-potteries-1865

A view of Burslem, Longport and Middleport from Bradwell Wood in 1865.

Spotlight on Cheadle: A Pugin pilgrimage

Even if you’re not religious, the church of St Giles, Cheadle, will still likely leave you thinking heavenly thoughts. It’s considered one of the very finest, if not the finest, churches designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, one of the top architects and designers of the 19th Century. (He’s the bloke who made the Houses […]

A Pugin pilgrimage — 10,000 Miles & More

Spotlight on Stone: Family History Guide

Stone is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Staffordshire. Other places in the parish include: Normacot, Moddershall, Meaford, Kibblestone with Oulton, Kibbleston, Little Acton, Darlaston, Burston, Blurton, Beech, Walton, Tittensor, Stoke, Stallington, Oulton, and Normacott. Parish church: Parish registers begin: Parish registers: 1568 Bishop’s Transcripts: 1668 Nonconformists include: Church of […]

Stone Staffordshire Family History Guide — Parishmouse

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part One — Staffordshire’s Asylums

The experience of patients in an asylum differed from individual to individual. Daily routine, however, was essential to keep the asylum running and for patients to know what was expected of them. Different groups of patients had different routines, usually determined by their mental and physical condition and their age and sex. By the late […]

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part One — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part Two — Staffordshire’s Asylums

The day of a late Victorian asylum patient continued as a working day until lunchtime, which was the main interruption for most patients, and was served around 12-1 o’clock. It was the main meal of the day, and usually consisted of bread, potatoes, meat and vegetables. A fairly bland diet was considered suitable for patients, […]

Daily Routine of a Patient, Part Two — Staffordshire’s Asylums

Scenes From the Past – Is this the Bell Works in Burslem?

Bell Works, Pottery Industry

We think this sketch, which may have been made in the 18th century, shows the Bell Works in Burslem. If you can tell us more about the sketch and the factory it depicts please email Spotlight on North Staffordshire at spotlightstoke@talktalk.net

Scenes from the Past: Tower Hill Colliery (Harriseahead)

This photograph, taken by Malcolm Street at the beginning of the 21st century, shows the remains of Tower Hill Colliery in Biddulph Road, Harriseahead.

During the 19th Century, tramways carried coal from the colliery to a coal wharf in Congleton and to a wharf on the Macclesfield Canal at Kent Green in South Cheshire. The coal taken to Kent Green was loaded onto canal boats that took it to Goldendale Iron Works in the Chatterley Valley.

(Photograph: © Copyright Malcolm Street and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

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.)

Scenes From The Past: Shelton Bar (1873)

This illustration of the furnaces at Shelton Bar is taken from Griffiths’ “Guide to the iron trade of Great Britain” which was published in 1873.

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