Archive for category Nile Street
Work is starting on three more retail units as figures for a Stoke-on-Trent town highlight a 27 per cent increase in businesses in the past four years.
A report by the Burslem Regeneration Company shows that there are now a total of 187 businesses in the town compared to 137 in 2006.
BURSLEM’ S HELLHOLE
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.”
With a new exhibition being put up around us, around 15 people gathered for this first experimental meeting. 10 ideas were presented with discussion inbetween. While some were ideas that fit the category of “would be great if enough people got behind it”, many more were already active pieces of work that can inspire other people.
All the ideas will be developed into individual posts and in the meantime here’s a brief summary of the discussion. We think we’ll get together again in a month to continue the discussions.
Many thanks to Rob and the Old Post Office for hosting. This space will be open all weekend for a sales exhibition of pottery and also hosts a Social Media Surgery on September 1st – this is a chance for anybody in the community to come and get free advice about helpful ways you can use the internet. More information here. Read the rest of this entry »
New units for artists set to be created in Burslem – The Sentinel
“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
by John Webbe
Have you seen the information boards around Burslem town centre? Maybe you have seen the bright-green leaflets which proudly shout “Welcome to Burslem, Mother Town of the Potteries”? They form Burslem’s heritage trail.
I decided to follow this route with my retired parents and my then nearly-two-year old daughter as we enjoyed the sun shining bright overhead. There are nine heritage trail boards in total – seven around Burslem town centre and one each at Moorcroft & Middleport Pottery. I am not going to repeat any of the information on the heritage trail boards or in the leaflet, I’ll leave that to you to find out, but believe me, it’s worth it – there’s some fascinating information for even the most hardened Boslemite to learn!
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