Tag Archives: Sir Smith Child

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.


“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.”

Scarratt’s Tunstall – Reflections

In this edited extract from Old Times in The Potteries by William Scarrat published in 1906, the author looks back and reflects on the changes which took place in Tunstall during the second half of the 19th century.


It would be well for some qualified person to estimate our losses and gains since the 1850s. We have lost the sweet fields and the green foliage which sheltered happy songbirds. Gone, too, are the wealthy townsmen, in search of health and quiet breathing. That grand old man, Sir Smith Child, Bart, removed his last oak tree from Newfield Hall in 1846. The advice and opinions of these cultured absentees are lost to a great degree. If the urbanity and the hospitality of the past were not over-refined, they were generous and hearty. Parks, however estimable, are not an equivalent to the free haunts of the past; for one thing, you did not see a notice “Keep off the grass” next to the pathway. The freedom of all grades and classes is unlimited in other respects, and working conditions are much better. But at the same time, we miss the patriarchal behaviour of a previous generation of master potters. One is aware that even in that state there were certain evils. The employer and the employee are now too frequently rivals. Up to the end of the 18th century, they often worked side by side. A good master would have a good man, and did not begrudge him good wages – he would just as soon have an empty cottage as an empty bench.

Tunstall’s Jubilee Buildings

Designed by the town’s surveyor, Absalom Reade Wood, the Jubilee Buildings, in the Boulevard and Greengates Street, gave Tunstall a public library, an art school, a technical college, a swimming pool and a fire station.

Built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, the complex was constructed in two stages. The main building, the Victoria Institute in The Boulevard, was opened by Sir Smith Child on October 29th, 1891. Still occupied by the library, the Victoria Institue cost £4,500. Apart from a small grant of £970 from the government, all the money was raised locally.

There were bazaars and fetes. Pottery manufacturers made donations and workers organised collections. Employees at Alfred Meakin’s pottery raised £50. Miner’s at Clanway Colliery gave £16 while workers at Booth’s Church Bank Pottery collected £12.50.

The three storey red brick and terracotta building, with Runcorn red sandstone facings, had wrought iron gates at the main entrance. When it opened, the library, which contained 2,000 books, was on the ground floor. The art school was on the first floor and the technical college was on the second. There were 100 students attending classes at the art school. It had scholarships for local elementary school pupils who wanted to become pottery designers. Student’s studied ceramic technology, painting drawing, modelling and design. The number of students increased and new courses including dress-making, embroidery, jewellery design and wood carving were introduced.

Smaller than the art school, the technical college trained students for careers in mining, engineering or commerce.

The Victoria Institute was extended in 1897. These extensions included a museum and art gallery, a domestic science school and pottery studios for the art school.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2011