Stoke-on-Trent - photo of the week

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Junction of Leek Road and Ivy House Road, Hanley, in the  1950's
Junction of Leek Road and Ivy House Road, Hanley, in the  1950's

  • At the top left (marked in yellow) is the Biddulph Valley Railway line - the line joining it, with the carriages on is the Longton, Adderley Green and Bucknall Branch.

  • The waterway running centre left to top right is the River Trent, the waterway joining it is the Causley Brook which starts on Wetley Moor and joins the Trent at Ivy house.

  • The dark blue line is Leek Road, red line is Ivy House Road.

  • The light blue line is the Caldon Canal.

  • Just below centre is the works of R. Goodwin and Sons, Engineers and Ironfounders.

  • At the bottom right is the Eagle Pottery Works of J & G Meakin.

  • At the bottom left is Beech's haulage yard.


Contribution from Joan Salmon.......

"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.

This sounds an inauspicious start, but in fact my childhood was a very happy one; during the following war years my mother and I lived with my grandparents in Bath Street, Hanley; my mother making trips to our own home to check it was safe and on one of these trips with my granddad pushing me in the pram, the air raid sirens started to sound, they started to run and the wheel came off the pram ! Luckily my granddad fixed it, and they reached safety - Stoke on Trent however was not a prime target for bombing despite having the Shelton Bar steelworks and managed to largely escape the damage that other cities suffered, so I never had to use my Mickey mouse gas mask (though I still have the silver disc engraved with my name and address which I wore) and the years passed relatively peacefully.

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 house had no bathroom (the outside lavatory was at the end of the backyard) and was heated by coal fires with most of the cooking done in a range at the side of the fire. The scullery had a brownstone sink and a copper for washing clothes, and the odd mouse or two, but it was a cosy home and we enjoyed our time there - when my father returned home in 1946, they went back to the comparative luxury of Abbey Road with its bathroom and front and back gardens (but no central heating of course) where my parents lived for the rest of their lives. I was an only child, my mother thinking that after a five year gap she didn't want to start raising children again, and she had gone back to work in the pottery industry when I started school. Due I'm sure to the war years, there were a lot of families living near us with only one child.

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 next building and land to the left of the houses was the blacksmiths and light engineering shop of Salt and Cartlidge, where you could watch the blacksmiths hammering away at pieces of red hot metal, (Barry Cartlidge was to become my first husband in 1961), then Snows garage, then a firm which sold I think tyres, then the bungalow and land belonging to Freddie Lewis, scrap metal dealer; Mr Lewis kept two fierce Alsatian dogs which terrified us local kids but after negotiating safely past the dogs we gained the footpath which led to the fields of Berry Hill and the delights of the River Trent, which is the waterway snaking its way behind the houses joined at Ivy House by the Causley Brook which starts on Wetley Moor.

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 !

The line marked light blue on the photo is the Caldon Canal, which one crossed on Ivy House Road by means of a primitive wooden bridge, literally in those days just wooden planks with no side barriers, and raised for canal traffic by means of pulling or swinging on two wooden arms - this was a source of amusement to us kids and a favourite game was running across the bridge before two strong boys could raise it and deposit you in the canal ! Needless to say that the bridge was long ago replaced by an electrically operated one.

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."



contents: 2009 photos