Historian Fred Hughes writes....
Cecil Wedgwood was born in 1863 and was 47 when he became the first mayor of the new Borough of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910. But why was he chosen – after all he seemed not to have much experience of civic office or even to have played a big part in the negotiations that led to federation.
“It was after his return that he became involved in civic work,” says Steve. “He was soon caught up in the federation movement and became president of a committee representing the united traders of the entire district. In this position he doubtlessly made contributions to the final Bill agreed by the House of Commons Committee. As a leading Wedgwood family member people looked upon him with high opinion. They liked his quiet approach.”
In 1888 Cecil married Lucie Gibson from Ireland. As Lucie Wedgwood she became one of Stoke-on-Trent’s first women magistrates; a board director of Wedgwood she was the first woman to be made a freeman of the City.
“When the time came to elect the first mayor of the new county borough there really were only two names to consider,” declares Steve. “Naturally Fred Geen was up there. But he had many detractors. Geen was forceful and was considered risky, after all it was a new ball game and nobody knew exactly how to play it. The other choice was steady Cecil Wedgwood. Here was a man at the head of an internationally renowned company; a war hero and a champion of trade and commerce. He was also a handsome young family man with a vivacious wife who was occupied with many charitable and health care projects. He was the most appropriate choice.”
And so it proved. In that first uncertain year Cecil was so popular he was elected unanimously for a second term. But the Great War was just around the corner. In 1914 along with many of his workers, he enlisted. He was second-in-command of the 8th North Staffordshire Regiment in France. However on the third day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 he was killed. Legend has it that his last words were, ‘Carry on the Potters!’
“Cecil was extremely proud of the Potteries. He was proud to be a potter, proud of his ancestry and proud of his military comrades from his hometown,” adds Kevin. “He was a chap who put others first; a man with a sense of duty to his family to his country and to his community.”
The celebration of his second term as mayor was amazing. The Sentinel reported on ‘the tremendous amount of spade work in setting the federation era on its feet and getting the huge council machine in working order through strength and courtesy.’
I guess that answers my question.
11 Feb 2009