Memories of Stoke-on-Trent people -
Abbey Road (Leek Road), Hanley
Junction of Leek Road and Ivy House Road, Hanley, in the 1950's
"I was born in the Potteries at 118 Abbey
Road, Hanley, Stoke on Trent, on the 10th November 1941; it was wartime but my father was not yet in the army and off he trudged on a winters night to fetch the midwife, Nurse Boot, who delivered me at 2 am, and there being no cot ready to receive me, placed me in a drawer of the dressing table well padded with blankets. Shortly after, my father was drafted into the Royal Engineers, serving in France, Holland, Belgium and Germany, and apart from compassionate leave when I was 18 months old and almost died from pneumonia, I didn't see him again until I was five years old.
My grandparents rented house, 44 Bath Street near the town centre of Hanley, was a typical two up, two down terraced house, overlooked by a bottle oven from the small pottery factory in the next street -on days when ware was being fired you could reach over the garden wall and feel the heat from the oven walls!
The above photo shows the area I grew up in; the City Council in their wisdom changed the names of many streets in the Potteries in the 1950s and Abbey Road was one of them, 118 Abbey Road becoming 680 Leek Road which didn't have such a nice ring to it. Leek Road (A52) runs from Stoke towards Leek and is shown on the photo marked in dark blue, with Ivy House Road (marked red), running off it. My home is the 4th house from the left in the row starting opposite the junction, my best friend June lived next door but one in the next block of four. The short road curving to the left off Leek Road is Howard Crescent, and the house on the opposite corner was run as a general store, Mrs Baileys.
The Trent was a favourite playground, being in its infant stage narrow enough to jump over at some points if you had the nerve and could stand the wrath of your mother if you got a soaking; there was also a large patch of very marshy ground where we would cruelly send the unwary and from where they would emerge covered in mud and in some cases minus a shoe which had got stuck in the marsh.
Berry Hill also had many coal waste tips a little farther afield and if we were feeling particularly adventurous we sought these out and spent our energy running and sliding down the dangerously moving steep sides of the tip ! Yet I never remember anyone being injured from any of these activities. Fishing for tiddlers and newts and picking wildflowers were safer if tamer pursuits - we would spend all day in the fields and only go home when hunger drove us.
Crossing Causley Brook on the photo is the Biddulph Valley Railway line, (marked in yellow) and the line with carriages on is the Bucknall Branch line, in those days Bucknall Station was still in operation and we often set off on holiday from there, my mother once memorably getting locked in the loo on the station when the train was waiting to depart !
Between Leek Road and the canal, in the middle of the photo on the left, is the engineering works and foundry of R. Goodwin and Sons, the entrance to which opened on to a world of clanging metal, roaring fires and flying sparks. To the left of that can be seen Beech's haulage yard, which stretched to the Limekiln.
Bottom right is part of J. & G. Meakin's Eagle Pottery Works (now demolished) where ware could be seen being loaded onto barges on the canal up to the 1950s. On the other side of the canal is their staff recreation field, and behind that and fronting onto Leek Road opposite the houses was the shawdruck (waste tip for spoilt ware). This was another happy hunting ground for local kids; scrambling up the shawdruck we searched for cups, saucers and anything else that was not too damaged to use as "tea sets" for dolls parties - the odd cuts and grazes from broken ware were considered a light price to pay for the prize of finding a coveted teapot (usually without lid), and we never considered that there may be rats lurking among the debris (I never saw one).
Happy days ! If these pastimes palled as we got older there were always the tennis courts of Hanley Park, Northwood Park or Bucknall Park, all within walking distance, and the cinemas of Hanley with their Saturday matinees beckoned. Things changed, were replaced and Health and Safety became an issue, but I remember that above all my childhood was FUN and we were never bored."