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