Spotlight on Stoke

Spotlight on Stoke-on-Trent

Stoke-on-Trent is proud of its heritage

A Mark IX 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.

(Photograph of the Spitfire taken by Chowells, Edited by Fir0002)

Tunstall Market’s Early History

13510852_1767361226841230_8194106140212701983_nTunstall’s heritage market celebrated its bicentenary on September 20, 2017.

In 1816, Tunstall’s chief constable, pottery manufacturer John Henry Clive, founded a company to build a Magistrates’ Courthouse and create a Market Place.

The company leased three-quarters of an acre of sloping ground called Stoney Croft from Walter Sneyd, the Lord of the Manor. It built a courthouse and laid out a market place, which later became Tower Square, on the site.

A two-storey stone building, the courthouse had a fire station with two fire engines and a market hall on the ground floor where eggs, butter, milk and cheese were sold when the market opened. The building faced eastwards. It was erected about half way up the slope. Steps led from the lower part of the Market Place, where stalls were set up on market day, to the market hall’s main entrance.

Beneath the market hall was the town lock up – a dark, foul-smelling dungeon where prisoners were held while awaiting trial. The stocks stood at the foot of the steps leading to the market hall. Six hours in the stocks or a fine of five shillings was the usual penalty for being drunk and disorderly.

The company placed an advertisement in the Staffordshire Advertiser on September 13, 1817, which read: “Notice is hereby given that henceforward a market will be held at Tunstall, in the Potteries, weekly on Saturdays in front of the Court-House. The first to be on Saturday, 20 September. Stalls and standings free.”

Tunstall Market was both a retail market and a wholesale market. Retailers sold fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and salt. Horse-drawn waggons brought dairy produce, fruit and vegetables to the wholesale market which attracted retailers from Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.

An Act of Parliament passed in 1840 created the Tunstall Market Company to manage the market. In 1847, the company sold the market for £6,500 to the town’s Improvement Commissioners. Shortly afterwards, the commissioners allowed dealers to sell hay and straw there. In 1855, the Improvement Commissioners were replaced by a Board of Health. The Board of Health managed the market until 1894 when Boards of Health were abolished, and Urban District Councils were created to replace them. Tunstall Urban District Council ran the market until 1910 when the “six towns amalgamated” to form the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent.

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Did you go to school in Tunstall?

tunstall-town-hallSpotlight on Stoke is researching the history of education in Tunstall for its new series Focus on Tunstall, and we shall be writing posts about all the schools in the town including:

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

Most of the schools that were built in Tunstall during the 19th century have been demolished.

If you were educated in Tunstall and have any photographs of the school you attended or would like to share memories of your school days with Spotlight email spotlightstoke@talktalk.net

Focus on Tunstall – William Scarratt

tunstall-town-hallIn his book “Old Times in the Potteries” which was published in 1906, William Scarratt recalls growing up in Tunstall and describes life in the town during the Victorian era.

The book is based on a series of features which he wrote for the Weekly Sentinel.

In an article introducing these features to Weekly Sentinel readers, R. W. Ship said that Scarratt would “have little need to introduce himself”. For over 50 years he had moved freely about four of the six Pottery towns and was well known in Tunstall. If anyone asked him to justify writing about The Potteries, Scarratt could say that during his childhood he was fascinated by “the stories” his parents told about events which had taken place in the latter part of the eighteenth century and that his interest in local history had “grown with the passing years”.

During 2018, Spotlight on Stoke will from time to time be posting edited extracts from “Old Times in the Potteries” in its new series Focus on Tunstall.

Make Stafford’s Shire Hall a Women’s History Museum

Spotlight on Stoke supports Stafford’s Shire Hall Forum’s campaign to re-open the town’s historic Shire Hall complex and transform it into a permanent Timeline Museum to Women’s History.

Heritage tourism is big business. It is a rapidly growing industry which brings in millions of pounds.

Economists estimate that a family visiting a major tourist attraction in a small market town like Stafford will spend between £70 and £90 in local shops and restaurants.

Creating a Timeline Museum to Women’s History in the Shire Hall would put Stafford on the international tourist map and regenerate the town centre.

A’ levels return to Stoke-on-Trent College

sot-college-logo

Spotlight on Stoke is delighted to learn that Stoke-on-Trent College will be running A’ level courses again after a gap of 18 years.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Elms and Stoke-on-Trent College of Commerce (two of the colleges that were amalgamated to create Cauldon College which later became Stoke-on-Trent College) started to run full and part-time GCE O’ and A’ level courses. These courses were successful and attracted students from Staffordshire, Cheshire and Shropshire.

Students who took A’ levels at colleges of further education in The Potteries continued their studies at Britain’s leading universities and became accountants, barristers, psychologists, solicitors, teachers and university lecturers.

We are sure that students following the new A’ level courses at Stoke-on-Trent College will be just as successful. Everyone at Spotlight wishes them well and will be following their progress with interest.

We hope the college will expand the range of A’ level subjects offered when the courses are established giving more local students the opportunity to go to university or to enter higher education.

You can help Tunstall keep its Co-Op Bank

If you care about Tunstall and want the town to have a future, please go to the market and help the stallholders’ campaign to stop the Co-Op Bank leaving.

You can support the campaign by signing the traders’ petition asking the bank to stay.

Barclays, Nat West and HSBC have already left. Tunstall can’t afford to lose another bank.

If the Co-Op Bank goes, there will be only one bank left in town. The number of people shopping in Tunstall will fall dramatically. More shops in High Street, Tower Square and The Boulevard will close. Tunstall will become a ghost town. 

You can help save Tunstall. All you have to do is visit the market and sign the petition.

The market is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can sign the petition at either J. Bryan’s stall or at The Market Grill.

Focus on Goldenhill: St. John’s Church

St John's Goldenhill 163488_db9ff3b2At the beginning of 1840, the Rev. Charles Wade, the curate in charge of St. Thomas’s Church in Kidsgrove, launched a public appeal to build a church at Goldenhill, a mining village on the North Staffordshire Coalfield.

Wade asked North Staffordshire’s leading philanthropist, Smith Child, to help him raise money to build the church.

Smith Child agreed to support the project and became chair of the appeal committee. He donated £200 to the building fund and gave £1,000 to endow the living.

Miss Sparrow and her sister, Mrs Moreton, gave the committee a site where Elgood Lane joins High Street to erect a church, build a school and lay out a cemetery. After four months, the committee had raised enough money to start building the church whose foundation stone was laid by Smith Child’s wife, Sarah, on August 3rd, 1840.

Dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, the church was a plain Norman-style brick building. Designed by Shelton architect Thomas Stanley, the church cost £2,000. St. Johns had a square tower that was surmounted by a stone spire. The church, which could accommodate more than 550 worshippers, was consecrated on August 11th, 1841 by James Bowstead, the Bishop of Lichfield.

The church closed in 2014. If you worshipped at St. John’s and have memories of the church which you would like to share with other Spotlight readers, please email us at spotlightstoke@talktalk.net   

Photograph of St. John’s © Copyright Steve Lewin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 

Focus on Fenton: Grove Road

Grove Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.

via Grove Road, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent. — Postcards from Stoke

Spotlight on Tunstall – First Primitive Methodist Chapel

Stoke-on-Trent.

via The first Primitive Methodist chapel, Tunstall. — Postcards from Stoke

Tunstall’s Town Hall and Market

tunstall-town-hallTunstall’s heritage market was 200 years old on September 20, 2017.

In 1816, Tunstall’s chief constable, pottery manufacturer John Henry Clive, founded a company to build a Magistrates’ Courthouse and create a Market Place.

The company leased three-quarters of an acre of sloping ground called Stoney Croft from Walter Sneyd, the Lord of the Manor. It built a courthouse and laid out a market place, which later became Tower Square, on the site.

A two-storey stone building, the courthouse had a fire station with two fire engines and a market hall on the ground floor where eggs, butter, milk and cheese were sold when the market opened. The building faced eastwards. It was erected about half way up the slope. Steps led from the lower part of the Market Place, where stalls were set up on market day, to the market hall’s main entrance.

Beneath the market hall was the town lock up – a dark, foul-smelling dungeon where prisoners were held while awaiting trial. The stocks stood at the foot of the steps leading to the market hall. Six hours in the stocks or a fine of five shillings was the usual penalty for being drunk and disorderly.

The company placed an advertisement in the Staffordshire Advertiser that was published on September 13, 1817, which read: “Notice is hereby given that henceforward a market will be held at Tunstall, in the Potteries, weekly on Saturdays in front of the Court-House. The first to be on Saturday, 20 September. Stalls and standings free.”

Tunstall Market was both a retail market and a wholesale market. Retailers sold fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and salt. Horse-drawn waggons brought dairy produce, fruit and vegetables to the wholesale market which attracted retailers from Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Longton and Fenton.

An Act of Parliament passed in 1840 created the Tunstall Market Company to manage the market. In 1847, the company sold the market for £6,500 to the town’s Improvement Commissioners. Shortly afterwards, the commissioners allowed dealers to sell hay and straw there. In 1855, the Improvement Commissioners were replaced by a Board of Health. The Board of Health managed the market until 1894 when Boards of Health were abolished and Urban District Councils were created to replace them. Tunstall Urban District Council ran the market until 1910 when the “six towns amalgamated” to form the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent.

A New Market Hall

During 1856, the Board of Health decided to build a new market hall and turn the courthouse into a town hall. George Thomas Robinson, the architect who designed Burslem’s Old Town Hall, was commissioned to transform the courthouse into a town hall and to build a new market hall.

Robinson enlarged the courthouse giving it a circular front where the steps had been. He redesigned the courtroom and turned the market hall into a boardroom and offices for the Board of Health.

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

The Market Hall 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 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.

The wholesale market that sold:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Fruit trees and bushes
  • Garden plants, seeds and shrubs
  • Hay and straw

remained in the Market Place which later became known as Market Square.

A New Town Hall

Although the courthouse had been enlarged and made into a town hall, the building was too small to meet the administrative needs of an expanding industrial town.

At the beginning of the 1880s, the front portion of the Market Hall and the main entrance in High Street, which had been built on the spring line that marks the geological boundary between Etruria Marl and the Blackband series of coal and ironstone measures, was collapsing due to subsidence. The Board of Health decided to reduce the size of the Market Hall by a third. The front part of the building was demolished and a new town hall was erected on the site. Designed by Absalom Reade Wood who was one of North Staffordshire’s leading architects, the town hall is a free “Renaissance Style” building that stands on a rusticated stone base. It was opened by John Nash Peake, the Chief Bailiff and Chairman of the Board of Health, on October 29, 1885.

While the town hall was being built, the remaining two-thirds of the Market Hall was being modernised. The building was reroofed, new gas lighting was installed, the floor was relaid and permanent stalls were erected.

The Wholesale Market in the 20th Century

The wholesale market, which closed before the end of the 19th century, was re-established in the Market Square in 1901. Shortly afterwards, a small retail market selling fish and rabbits was opened in the square. These markets declined after the First World War (1914-18). The retail market in the Market Hall became Tunstall’s primary market, although as late as the 1930s there were still a few stalls in the square selling fish and rabbits.

When children approached his stall one of the traders who sold rabbits started singing these words to the tune of the well known music hall song “If you want to know the time ask a policeman”:

“Does your mother want a rabbit?

“Sell you one for sixpence,

“Skin you one for ninepence.”

The Market Hall after 1940

Before the Second World War (1939-45), the Market Hall was open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In February 1940, the market was opened for the sale of meat on Fridays. During 1941, some of the stalls were taken down and a civic restaurant was established in the Market Hall.

After the war, market days were Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

During the 1950s and 60s, families could do their weekly shopping in the market where there were stalls that sold:

  • Bread and cakes
  • Eggs, butter, cheese, margarine and milk
  • First and Second World War memorabilia and military medals
  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Groceries
  • Handbags and purses
  • Hardware and household utensils
  • Ladies and children’s clothing
  • Meat and poultry, black pudding, boiled ham, brawn, corned beef, Cornish pasties, home-cured bacon, pork pies, sausages, savoury ducks and tripe
  • Pet food, cages for budgerigars and hampsters, fish tanks and goldfish bowls
  • Pottery
  • Oatcakes and Pikelets
  • Shoes and handbags
  • Second-hand books and magazines
  • Toys and games
  • Watches and jewellery

In 1992, the City Council’s architects and surveyors discovered that the Market Hall and the town hall were unsafe. The structures supporting the Market Hall’s roof were unstable and its east gable wall was likely to collapse. A temporary market was erected in Woodland Street. Both the town hall and the Market Hall were closed. Although the town hall is still closed, the Market Hall was regenerated and reopened at the beginning of the 21st century.

© Betty Cooper and David Martin (2017)

 

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