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Neville Malkin's "Grand Tour" of the Potteries

buildings of Cobridge

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previous:  Christ Church, Cobridge
contents: index of buildings outlying the town centres


No 55 -  Little Sisters of the Poor, Cobridge

"In 1822 Bridgettine nuns from Lisbon opened a convent at Cobridge Cottage situated off Elder Road between the present Grange Street and Mawdesley Street. They moved to Stone c. 1828.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, after two years at Druid's Hall, Albion Street, Hanley, moved in 1892 to Cobridge House in Cobridge Road, the home of the Hales family in the 18th and 19th centuries. The nuns bought the house in 1899 and replaced it by the present [1963] St. Augustine's Home, built in 1902–3 and extended in 1911 and later. There is now accommodation for about 100 old people at the home.

At first the Cobridge priest served a very wide area covering Leek, Crewe, Market Drayton, Ashley, and Newcastle as well as the Potteries with its rapidly growing population. The gradual establishment of new missions reduced his responsibilities, but in 1827 he could still describe his mission as 'one of the most extensive and in the greatest want . . . about 1,000 souls dispersed in 6 towns and above 20 villages' "

From: A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8 (1963)


Little Sisters of the Poor, Cobridge
Little Sisters of the Poor, Cobridge
pen drawing by Neville Malkin - July 1975


Top of Cobridge Road - at the cross roads leading over to Elder Road
- running left to right at the cross roads is Waterloo Road -
- picture Jan 2008 -

To the right is St. Augustine's Care Home which used to be the 'Little Sisters of the Poor' convent, it was approved to be used as a nursing home in January 1994 and from June 1999 used for a number of years as a hostel for refugees and asylum seekers.

It was demolished in 2008/9 and replaced with a 33 bedroom, purpose built care home.


other side of the St. Augustine's care home
on the opposite side of Cobridge Road can be seen the former Black Boy Inn
- picture Jan 2008 -


St. Augustine's nursing home
St. Augustine's nursing home
Photo - April 2000


"The origins of this large brick building at Cobridge, dedicated to St. Augustine, and occupied by the hardworking Little Sisters of the Poor, go back to the mid-19th century, a time that saw the beginning of continual development of Catholic life in England.

Hanley, a fairly typical town in the pattern of events, opened its first Catholic church in 1860, following a short period when Mass had been celebrated in a local carriage works. In 1861, a school was opened in the church. With growing attendances a second church was planned, but the poverty of the mission delayed its building until 1889-91, the first church continuing in occasional use until its sale in 1940.

The religious order was particularly concerned with education and the care of the aged, and during the late 1880s a convent was opened by the Little Sisters at the Druids' Hall, Albion Street. In 1891, at the request of Monsignor Hinsley, who was later to become Cardinal and head of the Catholic Church in England, the Little Sisters moved to a more suitable house in Cobridge. This stood on land that had, at one time, been farmed by Cistercian monks, not far from where the ancient Grange House Farm used to be. The Sisters rebuilt the house in 1902-3, extended it in 1911, and have since made many more alterations.

The Mother Superior and 17 dedicated Sisters care for about 100 aged and infirm people of all denominations in a building that has homely small wards, lounges, and dining rooms. There is also a large chapel with a balcony where, among dignified and peaceful surroundings, the residents and public can celebrate Mass."

Neville Malkin 30th
July 1975



artists impression of the new nursing home
- fronting onto Cobridge Road, the round 'turret' part is a gym and offices -




construction of the new nursing home
photos: Feb 2009



Hospital aims to build bridges with community
The Sentinel Newspaper - Friday, August 14, 2009

"A LANDMARK £5 million building has changed the skyline of a deprived Stoke-on-Trent community and will transform the care of scores of psychiatric patients in the city and beyond.

Directors at St Augustine’s Hospital have told health reporter Dave Blackhurst how they hope it will also help remove the stigma attached by many to mental illness.

RESIDENTS protested when plans were announced to create a rehabilitation hospital in a densely populated part of the city centre. There were concerns about the nature of the people the St Augustine's Hospital in Cobridge would treat.
But less than two years on, and with the structure now towering over a busy Potteries junction, most of those fears have vanished.

Bosses at the first privately-run complex of its type in North Staffordshire say it fills a gap in local NHS provision for those with a mental illness. The unit, with its 32 en suite bedrooms, has more of the feel of a plush hotel than a psychiatric setting. Yet its patients are all funded by the NHS.

St Augustine's caters for men aged between 18 and 65 who have completed their mainstream treatment in bigger state hospitals, such as the Harplands at Hartshill, and need between 18 months and two years of rehabilitation before resuming their normal independent lives in the community.

Ten people have already been admitted to the two-storey site, in Cobridge Road, where there is one nurse for every two patients. They are recovering from conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder and depression.Some will still be sectioned under the Mental Health Act, but have been brought into the low-risk category by treatment at their source hospital.

Director of operations Noel Tracey said: "Although we are a private hospital, we work hand-in-hand with the local NHS, and all our patients are paid for by primary care trusts.

"We have aimed for surroundings rivalling the best at any private hospital because we believe that will help take away the stigma which still surrounds mental illness.

"Government mental health policy of the 1990s was to empty the larger hospitals and move to community care, but that met only limited success. So you now get the revolving door syndrome where people can be continually discharged but then need re-admitting as their health deteriorates again.

"Our role is to fill that gap and, besides helping patients by equipping them with the proper skills to flourish in the community, the NHS will be saving money by not having to keep taking them back into hospital."

St Augustine's is the flagship of 12 hospitals opened over the last five years by Cambian Healthcare.

Bigger than the others, which span England and Wales, it has become the group's national training centre for clinical and support staff.

The facility, which has risen from the site of a former nursing home and refugee hostel, was chosen for North Staffordshire because significant patient numbers from the region were already being referred to its other hospitals in Wolverhampton and Manchester.

Bright and airy and costing more than £5 million, it has wide corridors, kitchens, lounges and other rooms, dominated by huge murals of natural scenes which are both relaxing and therapeutic.

Its 60-plus staff have been recruited from the local area, including some from the pottery industry.

The workforce has two consultant psychiatrists, two psychologists, two occupational therapists, 15 nurses, 30 healthcare assistants and support staff. Its kitchens prepare food on the premises and source locally.

St Augustine's has also made attempts to build bridges with the Cobridge community.

Hospital manager Victor Takadiwa, who, like Mr Tracey has a background as mental health nurse and manager in the NHS spanning many years, said: "I have been to a number of residents' meetings and found them very supportive. We also organised a tour for them.

"We are trying to link with nearby churches, businesses, sports clubs and other organisations, and are even sponsoring Wolstanton Football Club. We want to play a major part in Cobridge life and help in its regeneration."

Resident Bernard Wragg, of Elm Street, said: "St Augustine's is certainly an impressive building. Some people are still wary about who will be in there, but now it is here we should accept and welcome it as part of Cobridge....."




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previous:  Christ Church, Cobridge
contents: index of buildings outlying the town centres



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