Due to 'renewal' of the local
area, the surrounding terrace houses are being demolished to make
way for new housing - the Hole in the Wall oatcake shop is in the
photo: BBC web site
"Oatcakes are a type of pancake made with
oatmeal which has been a staple for the working classes in
Staffordshire for over 200 years.
Between six in the morning and two in the
afternoon from Thursday to Sunday every week hundreds of people
queue for their oatcakes. People have been coming to the Hole
in the Wall shop in Waterloo Street in Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, for
over 100 years.
"It's an institution, the Hole in the
Wall, they shouldn't get rid of it," says Keith Jones, a taxi
driver who has been buying his oatcakes here for longer than he
cares to remember. He describes the oatcake as the national dish
of the Potteries. "It's just a Stoke thing, it's North
Staffordshire, it's a tradition."
The Staffordshire oatcake looks nothing like
its Scottish cousin. It's made into a batter from oatmeal, flour,
milk and water, and then is ladled on to a griddle and made into a
circular pancake. Imagine a French crepe and you're not far
off. It's usually served for breakfast with cheese, bacon, sausage
photos: BBC web site
In the 19th Century they were sold from the
front rooms of Stoke's terraced houses. Some of these houses evolved
into more permanent shops, with a hatch through which the oatcakes
were sold on the street.
The Hole in the Wall is the last of a dying
breed. It sells about 2,500 every day.
"There were a lot of them. There were a
couple around the corner here, but as time's gone on they've
closed down and become houses," said the Hole in the Wall's owner,
Oatcakes are also popular in Cheshire,
Derbyshire and parts of north Wales but they have become synonymous
with Staffordshire and especially Stoke-on-Trent.
"It is possibly the last traditional
oatcake shop in the world," said Fred Hughes, a local historian
who hopes that the Hole in the Wall can be saved, even if it has
to be moved brick by brick
Unfortunately over the last five years we've
seen these important factories dismantle and move out of
Stoke-on-Trent, big names like Spode and Royal Doulton.
"They've all gone, and the oatcake shop
was part of that, because it was part of the community."
Most of the old terraced houses surrounding
the Hole in the Wall are already boarded up ready to be knocked
down. The Renew North Staffordshire scheme is spending £2.3 billion
on regenerating the area, and says it will consider moving it.
"The place has been here something like
100 years, so it takes a lot to destroy it," said Mr Fowler. He
and his customers want it to stay where it is, and hope that the
new buildings can be erected around it."