Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire 

 all about Stoke-on-Trent in 5 minutes...

Stoke-on-Trent the world's largest and most famous pottery producing city....

    Quick facts & figures

The city now named Stoke-on-Trent was officially born on the 31st March 1910, with the Federation of the Six Towns.

This brought together the boroughs of Hanley, Burslem, Longton and Stoke, together with the districts of Tunstall and Fenton.
Stoke was chosen as the seat of power, despite the fact that Hanley, and indeed Burslem, had been far better established since Edwardian times. The legacy of this union lives on undiminished, as locals will refer to 'the Potteries', meaning the various towns, rather than the official title of 'Stoke-on-Trent'.

Tourism is very strong in the Potteries:
Large recent developments include the Potteries Shopping Centre in Hanley, and the entertainment complex, Festival Park. 
The Art Deco Regent Theatre has reopened after renovation, 
 The Wedgwood Story, a £4.5 million interactive tour, new for 2000 is located at the Wedgwood site. 
The theme park Alton Towers is easily accessible from Stoke, while the Peak District National Park and the Staffordshire Moorlands are a short drive from the city.

Tourist information centre
The Potteries Shopping Centre
Alton Towers

Visiting the pottery factories:
The larger factories (see below) have visitor centres and factory shops.

Visiting the museums:
The world famous Potteries Museum in Hanley is well worth a visit and the Gladstone Pottery centre is a restored Victorian pottery in Longton. There is also Etruria Industrial Museum and Ford Green Hall a 17th C house and period garden.

The Museums of Stoke-on-Trent

 

where is it?

Stoke-on-Trent is located in the north of the county of Staffordshire, England.
Staffordshire map from GENUKI
Staffordshire
(map from GENUKI)

Short history of Stoke-on-Trent:
The city’s history is intimately bound up with that of the ceramics industry; the Stoke-on-Trent area is, in fact, generally known as the Staffordshire Potteries, or just the Potteries. 

The production of pottery dates back to at least the 17th century, and was founded on the area’s abundant supplies of clay; of salt and lead for glazing; and of coal, used to fire the kilns. By the time Josiah Wedgwood set up business for himself in 1759, the area was supplying a wide variety of earthenware and stoneware produced in and around the villages of the area. 
Pottery production was also in the process of changing from a cottage-based to a factory-based industry, a transformation that placed the Potteries at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. 

In 1769 Wedgwood himself built one of Britain’s first large factories, in Etruria, the village he established on the outskirts of Burslem, his birthplace. 

Wedgwood Factories

His work, and that of other famous 18th-century Staffordshire potters, such as Joseph Spode I, Thomas Minton, the Wood family, and Thomas Whieldon, helped make the area synonymous with ceramics. This position was confirmed when, in around 1800, Spode’s son, Josiah Spode II, developed a fine bone china (porcelain containing bone ash) that was cheap to produce and eminently marketable. His success ensured the Potteries domination in subsequent porcelain production. 

The industry’s growth was also aided by the opening, in 1777, of the Grand Trunk Canal (now the Trent and Mersey Canal), which provided an outlet to the ports at Hull and Liverpool in order to transport raw materials into the city and for the export of the finished ware.

Bottle Kilns



Nothing set the Potteries sky-line apart more than the weird bottle shaped brick buildings that looked for all the world like they had been borrowed from a fairytale scene.
 

Experts calculate that in the heyday there were up to 4,000 bottle kilns with as many as 2,000 still standing in the 1950's. The Clean Air Act sounded the death-knell for the smoky, coal fired oven. There are 46 still standing today - most are listed buildings.


Growth of the city:

By the 19th century the villages of the Potteries had grown into sizeable towns, of which Burslem was the largest. Calls for them to be amalgamated into one administrative unit began as early as 1817. Administrative rationalization began in 1857, when the towns of Hanley and Shelton were combined into the borough of Hanley. In 1865 Longton and Long End became the borough of Longton; and in 1874 the towns of Stoke, Penkhull, and Boothen were brought together as the borough of Stoke-upon-Trent (generally known as Stoke). Two other towns, Fenton and Tunstall, gained urban district status in the 1890s. 
In 1910 the rationalization process was completed when Burslem, Hanley, Longton, Stoke, Fenton, and Tunstall were brought together to form the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent, the largest such amalgamation ever to occur in Britain. In 1925 Stoke-on-Trent gained city status.


Today:

Stoke-on-Trent is still the centre of the British ceramic industry, and is the largest clayware producer in the world, other local industries include chemical works, rubber works and tyre manufacturing (Mitchelin Tyre Co.), engineering plants, paper mills, textile processing, and electronics. 

The site of an old colliery and other reclaimed land is being planted as the Central Forest Park. Stoke-on-Trent was the site of the first National Garden Festival in 1985; the site was subsequently developed into the Festival Park, a business area where some 3,000 jobs have been created.

Major pottery manufacturers include:
The Wedgwood Group (Wedgwood, Johnson Brothers, Coalport, Mason's Ironstone, Meakin)
The Royal Doulton Company (Royal Doulton, Beswick, Minton, Royal Albert)
Spode
Moorcroft
Portmeirion 
Johnson Tiles


People: 

The Potteries are particularly associated with the literary work of Arnold Bennett (born in Hanley, 1867), notably through his "Five Towns" novels; Bennett refused to acknowledge that Fenton, the sixth town of the Potteries, was a town at all.

Other notable people associated with Stoke-on-Trent include Captain E. J. Smith, the captain of the Titanic, who went down with his ship. 


Reginald Mitchell, the designer of the World War II fighter plane, the Spitfire; 
The footballer Sir Stanley Matthews, who began his career in the 1930s playing for Stoke City. 
Sir Oliver Lodge invented the spark plug. 
Robbie Williams the pop singer. 


Local Government:

Stoke-on-Trent a city and unitary authority in the west-central of England, for geographical purposes forming part of the county of Staffordshire, and located on the River Trent in the north-west of the county, near the border with Cheshire. Until April 1, 1997, Stoke-on-Trent was also administratively part of Staffordshire, with local government responsibilities divided between the county council and the city council. On that date, it was administratively separated from the rest of the county, becoming a unitary authority. Under the new arrangement, Stoke-on-Trent city council is responsible for all local government services, including those previously provided by the county council. However, the city remains part of Staffordshire geographically, and for ceremonial and related purposes.
In 2006 the population of Stoke-on-Trent is estimated at 240,000

Stoke-on-Trent Council web site

Quick facts & figures

  [ Questions / Comments / Contributions ? email: Steven Birks ]

updated: February 2008