Category Archives: Burslem

LLEWELLIN’S KIDSGROVE: First Impressions

Saint-Thomas's-The-Avenue-Kidsgrove

In 1922, the Rev Frederick George Llewellin, a graduate of Durham University, became the Vicar of Kidsgrove.

Frederick wrote a book “The Lighter Side of a Parson’s Life” about his ministry in the parish and the boat people he married in St. Thomas’s Church. In this edited extract from the book, he describes his first impressions of Kidsgrove and The Potteries:

Ignoring all prophesies that I would not stand the strain for more than three months, I accepted the benefice of Kidsgrove in autumn 1921.

The parish is six miles north-east of Stoke-upon-Trent and ten miles south-west of Crewe. Thus, we are outside The Potteries, and I am glad that we are. The pottery people are so terrible in their cynicism. Observing that I had “come from the country” one of them asked me if I would like a nice calendar. Naturally, I said “Yes” and thanked him most heartily for his generous offer.

But what diabolical plot was ever so cruelly played upon an unsuspecting yokel. My wife and I opened the envelope containing the calendar when the postman brought it.

Like most women, my wife hates spending money to replace broken crockery. You can imagine the look on her face when we saw he had sent us a calendar with a picture of a large black cat dancing a on a breakfast table and smashing all the best cups and saucers. Underneath the illustration, the villain had arranged for this inscription to be printed:

Good luck to the cat that breaks the crocks
In pieces very small,
For things like this they do us good
And benefit us all.

There are about 5,500 parishioners in Kidsgrove. Most of them are employed in the coal mining industry, in engineering, in the chemical industry or on the railway. Some work in the pottery industry and travel daily to factories in Tunstall and Burslem.

Last, but certainly not least, I have a small “moving population” of boat people known locally as the “Bargees”. People who have read the stories about these “Water Gipsies” by L. T. Meade already know something about my Kidsgrove Bargees, of whom I am intensely fond.

Post: Copyright 2020 North Staffordshire Heritage

(Photograph of St. Thomas’s Church, Kidsgrove © Copyright Galatas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.)

The Potteries in 1795

Bell Works, Pottery Industry

In 1795, a book called A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles Round Manchester was compiled by Dr John Aikin from information given to him by local historians.

The book describes Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Potteries which extended from Goldenhill to Longton.

Writing about The Potteries, the local historian, whom Aikin says was a very intelligent gentleman, writes:

About a mile from the borders of Cheshire, the Staffordshire Potteries commence at a village called Goldenhill and stretch for seven miles to Lane End (Longton) creating the impression that it is one town with several different names. Manufacturing pottery is the main business of this extensive area whose population has increased threefold in 20 years. The pottery towns and villages are Goldenhill, Newfield, Smithfield, Tunstall, Longport, Burslem, Cobridge, Etruria, Hanley, Shelton, Stoke, Lower Lane, Lane Delf and Lane End. In all probability, they will become so intermixed that they will soon form one town with one name. Already, people who live only a short distance away are calling these towns and villages The Pottery.

The drawing shows the Bell Works in Burslem

Extract Edited by David Martin (April 2020)

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North Staffordshire Merits World Heritage Site Status

Harecastle-Tunnel-Trent-and-Mersey-Canal

Betty Cooper’s researches prove there is no “historical reason” to prevent North Staffordshire’s Industrial Landscape becoming a World Heritage Site.

During the 18th century, North Staffordshire was at the cutting edge of England’s economic development and the growth of world trade. Historians have forgotten the role pottery manufacturers, like Wedgwood, Adams, Minton and Spode, played in transforming a collection of small towns and villages into an industrial area of international importance.

James Brindley’s Trent and Mersey Canal “kick-started” the Industrial Revolution, which made Britain the workshop of the world. The canal tunnels and the railway tunnels, between Kidsgrove and Chatterley, are one of the world’s most significant feats of civil engineering.

The Primitive Methodist Church was founded at Mow Cop. Primitive Methodism gave “the six towns” their unique culture and a way of life that was vividly described by Arnold Bennett.

Burslem’s heritage equals that of other places in Britain that have World Heritage Site status. Its “old town hall” is one of the best examples of Victorian civic architecture in England and Wales. The Wedgwood Institute’s terracotta facade is an inspiring tribute to the men, women and children who worked in local industries.

If North Staffordshire’s Industrial Landscape became a World Heritage Site, it would revitalise the local economy. World Heritage Site status would attract inward investment, create employment and halt Stoke-on-Trent’s economic decline.

The photograph shows the entrance to James Brindley’s Harecastle Tunnel, which was called the eighth wonder of the world when it was constructed in the 18th century.

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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.

Potteries criminals feared Wright’s Law

Law (Wright)

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, he 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 the first offenders were sent to prison.

Unlike the Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrates in London who sat alone, Harold sat with Justices of the Peace. His court sat in The Potteries and in Kidsgrove. It tried summary offences and sent people charged with serious crimes to stand trial at the Assizes or Quarter Sessions.

Burslem, Hanley, Stoke and Longton were boroughs that had their own Magistrates’ Courts. People arrested in these towns could be dealt with by the local court or by the Stipendiary Magistrate. The police decided where cases were heard. Knowing that Harold would impose more severe punishment than the borough magistrates, the police always prosecuted professional criminals and habitual offenders before his court. The deterrent sentences he imposed made him the most feared magistrate in The Potteries.

Harold lived at Aston Hall, a mansion near Stone. His hobbies included hunting, fishing, painting and drawing. He drew caricatures for Vanity Fair and made sketches of the lawyers who argued cases before him.

A man who liked animals, Harold helped to organise Hanley’s Annual Horse Parade. Cruelty to animals was an everyday occurrence in The Potteries. Each week between 30 and 40 people stood in the dock charged with ill-treating dogs or horses. Supported by the police, he launched a campaign to stop cruelty to animals in North Staffordshire.