Archive for category History

Arnold Bennett Society Christmas Musical Soiree

The Arnold Bennett Suite, The Leopard, Burslem

Tuesday 7 December 2010, 7.30 pm

A quartet from the North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra

Young musicians from Sandon High School

Readings from the works of Arnold Bennett

Tickets £10 each including a light supperAvailable from 01782 641337/611185/720874

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Notices from the Burslem History Club

Burslem History Club will be holding an unveiling of a memorial plaque to signify Josiah Wedgwood’s birthplace and baptism at St Johns Church in Burslem. Date: Friday 12th November at 12 noon. Please contact me if anyone would like anymore information.

The next guest speaker will be Hilda Sheldon giving a talk about Greenway Bank Country Park. DATE: Wed Nov 10th, starting 8pm at The Leopard

via Facebook | Burslem.

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Writing Competition 1 – Remembrance Stories – Prize Potteries At War DVD | Stoke-on-Trent – Tunstall

Writing Competition 1 – Remembrance Stories – Prize Potteries At War DVD | Stoke-on-Trent – Tunstall.

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Sunday read with Mervyn Edwards – the ‘hell hole’


Since this article was first posted, the buildings referred to in the first paragraph have been beautifully refurbished.

The view from the bottom of Holecroft Street, looking at the backs of ageing properties, is somewhat grim. Ageing brickwork and boarded
windows create a picture of decay that would have been ripe for the paintbrush of Arthur Berry. However, even this dereliction and apparent neglect cannot compare with what we would have found in this pocket of Burslem 150 years ago. This was the “ Hell Hole” described by Charles Shaw in “ When I Was A Child” . Shaw grew up in the 1830s and 1840s and wrote in vivid terms about this poverty-stricken area near the junction of Nile Street and Waterloo Road.

What was this area like in Shaw’ s time? Well, the 1851 Ordnance Survey map shows several licensed premises near to the George Hotel, near the
back of which was an open space called Mayer’ s Bank. These are the Blue Ball (its neighbour in Nile Street), the Union beerhouse and the
Church Tavern beerhouse, and on the other side of Nile Street, near the junction withWaterloo Road, the Miners Arms, the British Flag and the
White Lion beerhouses. This area of Nile Street, then, had an abundance of drinking outlets serving a working class area. Beerhouses were often
to be found in abundance where poverty was rife, and the “ Hell Hole” area was no exception. Shaw would have been familiar with many of
these twopenny ha’ penny drinking shops.

The “ Hell Hole” area was demolished in the 1890s, at the time when Shaw’ s recollections first appeared in print. Shaw had worked nearby
and saw at first hand the dilapidated cottages, half-dressed and half-starved women and children. He also heard the swearing and obscenity
which was the accepted verbal currency in these nether regions of the town.

The “ Hell Hole” was a reminder that in Burslem as in many large towns, industrial prosperity marched pari passu with social squalor. Shaw tells
us that bullies lived here and that in his opinion, Burslem’ s “ Hell Hole” “ could not have been surpassed in all of England” . This is clearly
exaggeration as we know that the bigger industrial towns such as Manchester knew both wealth AND poverty on a larger scale. Even in
the Potteries, there were other impoverished areas, where poverty, starvation and drunkenness formed an axis of existence for the
impecunious souls who lived in them. Elsewhere in Burslem, there was Massey’ s Square, between Chapel Lane and Moorland Road, which in
1886 was noted for having sanitary arrangements “ of the most objectionable order.” Here, a collection of old courts containing 90
houses was cleared away in the early 1920s. This was the first slum-clearance project in Stoke-on-Trent, and families were re-housed in
Macclesfield Street where the Corporation built new houses. There was Bostock’ s Square in Hanley, where there were regular fights between
drunken women and prostitutes; and the notorious John Street in Longton.

However, there is no question that parts of Burslem reeked of filth. In Burslem in 1894, there were still 60 houses through whose front doors all waste matter had to be carried; and in 1897, there were 13 Rochdale pails still in use in the town, these being pans that were emptied each week. To the vexation of many Burslem residents, the night-soil carts operated during daytime.

The proximity of Holy Trinity church, built in the 1850s, may be significant. It served an indigent neighbourhood and would have offered
comfort and salvation for some. In describing the insalubrious living conditions of the “ Hell Hole” , Shaw mentions the improvements in 19th
century sanitation brought about by the likes of Edwin Chadwick. It was Chadwick who persuaded Henry Doulton to enter the field of sanitary
production in the 1840s, convincing him of the profit that would be made from producing stoneware sanitary pipes. Ironically, Doulton, one of the great champions of the sanitary revolution in England, came to trade in Burslem – directly adjacent Charles Shaw’ s “ Hell Hole.”


Echoes Of Pain – Paperback and E-Book

The Burslem School of Art, Queen Street, Bursl...

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A collection of short stories from a childhood of heart break and domestic violence.The setting is Burslem in Stoke on Trent in the seventies and eighties, and is the very real biography of the author.

It is written from the perspective of a child and the memories of the nightmare he was living at the time. The tales can be extremely brutal on occasions, but can just as quickly shift to a full on ‘belly laugh’ with a very strange a but true life view of the situation that the children often found themselves plunged into.

This is the real story of Burslem and the six towns that Arnold Bennett had written about in 1902, but with the added realism of children living their everyday life in Thatcher’s Britain in the eighties

The book has lots of fantastic references to the history of the area. This includes the pot banks and the people who worked in them and lots of references to the history of the area. Burslem baths, Staffordshire tableware, Burslem School Of Art and Royal Doulton.

Purchase ONLINE here:

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Heritage Open Days – town hall tour in Burslem this Friday

The old town hall of Burslem...

Image by Hєคשєภlא Pђ๏t๏ﻮгคקђא© via Flickr

Thursday 9 to Sunday 12 September 2010

Free events held throughout Stoke-on-Trent

Heritage Open Days annually celebrates England’s fantasticarchitecture and culture by offering free access to properties thatare usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.Co-ordinated nationally by English Heritage, the event thrives on theenthusiasm and expertise of local people. Organised by volunteers -usually property owners or managers – for local people, HeritageOpen Days is England’s biggest and most popular voluntarycultural event.

Explore and discover inspiring places, spaces, architecture, historyand culture throughout Stoke-on-Trent these with free events,guided tours and walks that will bring our local heritage to life:

Town Tours – ‘The past shaping the future’

9 and 10 September
See our rich built heritage and how plans for its re-use aim tobreathe new life into our city. Urban Vision will be running freeguided tours around the Potteries towns:

Stoke and Hanley (City Centre) – Thursday 9 September
Burslem and Longton – Friday 10 September

1pm Historical tours of the town centres
See the key buildings and places that define their history and hearabout plans for their future and how they aim to deliver sustainableregeneration. Wet weather clothing and sensible footwearrecommended

2.15pm Tours of the town halls
Explore their heritage and role in the civic life of the Potteries.
3pm Refreshments
3.15pm Creative arts workshops

There are also free guided walks for Fenton and Tunstall on 8September. All tours leave from the respective town halls. For moreinformation or to book your place, contact Urban Vision NorthStaffordshire on 01782 790595 or email

Chatterley Whitfield Colliery Tour

Saturday 11 September
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery is the most comprehensive survival of adeep mine in England and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It doesnot usually open to the general public but there will be a specialseries of free guided tours. Pre-booking essential as this is a ticketonly event. Call 01782 827142 for more details.

Free admission to the city’s museums

11 and 12 September Etruria Industrial Museum – Saturday 11September, 12pm – 4.30pm
Gladstone Pottery Museum – Sunday 12 September, 10am – 5pm
Ford Green Hall – Sunday 12 September, 1pm – 4pm
For more information, go to

Historic Walk of Longton

Sunday 12 September, 2pm
Free guided walk to see Longton’s historic sites and hear about thetown in days gone by. Walk start from Gladstone Pottery Museum,call 01782 237777 to book.

Fenton and Tunstall self guided walks

9-12 September Self-guided walking tour leaflets will be availablefrom city council local centres and libraries. There are also freeguided walks for both towns on 8 September. For information,contact Urban Vision North Staffordshire on 01782 790595 or

For further information visit or download the leaflet.

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North Staffordshire Coalfield « Proposed World Hertage Site.. Bringing North Staffordshire Together

North Staffordshire Coalfield « Proposed World Heritage Site.. Bringing North Staffordshire Together.

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Find out all about Burslem's coat of arms on

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The Summerhouse Club

In the Sentinel, Rupert Scott remembers the Summerhouse Club, one of Stoke-on-Trent’s earliest multi-cultural venues.

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Then and Now

“If we walk through Burslem today we still have this magical, reachable history which very, very few towns have”

Fred Hughes takes a look back at how Burslem has changed since the 1960s. By peoplesarchive