|A photo walk across Stoke Fields to Winton's Wood, Stoke-on-Trent
- the parish of St. Simon and St. Jude
St. Jude's 1900-1939
previous: parish life
Secular life in the Parish in the first three decades of the 20th Century is very much a matter of record and the personal memories of a few survivors from that era. Building development continued, although not at the same furious rate as in the preceding decades. Some large imposing houses were built on or near the corners of Victoria Road near the parks, a Congregational Church was built on Boughey Road / Cauldon Road below the park entrance, and a Baptist Church in Cauldon Road near Stoke Road. Weddell's ice factory operated at the Stoke Road end of Seaford Street, with Boyce Adams general grocery shop on the corner; Boyce Adams himself is recorded as living at Crescent Villa in Cemetery Road. There was a chain of such shops throughout the area; Princes was another name in that field.
As a small boy I believed the shops were called Boy Sadams, and wondered who the "Boy" was. I was also often sent to Snow Hill, below St Mark's Shelton, to pay the florist's bill at Lewis and Sprosons, which by the same childish logic was "Lewison Sprosons". Incidentally the shop, next door to the Bell and Bear Inn is still trading.
The Bell and Bear although off our patch, is a fine Edwardian pile, the latest of several to have stood on that site. The main Hanley road originally ran to the side of the florists shop, that portion being known as Cleveland Place, continuing round the back to emerge between Swynnerton's corner shop and Shelton Church. The inn faced the old road, but when it became a Turnpike and all the "kinks" were straightened out, the old building was demolished and rebuilt to face the newly re-aligned road known as Snow Hill, the old road now being named Cutts Street. The present building dates from 1902.
Back in St Jude's a new school had been built on land acquired from the estate of Sir Thomas Fenton-Boughey, bounded by Cauldon Road, Ford Street, Beresford Street and Victoria Road, and was named Cauldon Road Elementary School, with Senior Boys at the Ford Street end.
Between Leek Road and the river, on the remnants of Trent Hay Farm, were allotment gardens and Hanley Sewage Treatment Works (hidden behind a grassy bank). On Leek Road was a corrugated-iron Mission and Sunday School, known as the Railway Mission. At the top end of Victoria Road, once again just outside the Parish was the new imposing red brick Drill Hall, home to the 1st (Volunteer) Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment. The last remnants of Shelton Farm had been turned into allotment gardens fronting Wellesley Street, with an adjacent abattoir and holding field known as Mayer's Field.
A large pottery manufactory was built on
Stoke Road near the Railway, by Grimwades, Royal Winton, (the old
Glebe-land name being used once more). A doctor's practice was
established in St Jude's, when Dr Southwell set up in the Villa at the
end of Queen Anne Street, (he performed a hysterectomy on Ann Dale in
1910 at home in Watford Street). A self-contained community had been
created with a population exceeding the whole Potteries district in the
middle of the 18th Century, only 170 years before.
There were Outdoor Beer Shops or Off-Licences; Feazy's in later years, at the corner of Seaford Street/ Victoria Road, MacMillan's at the corner of Boughey Road and Cauldon Road and another at the corner of Ashford Street/ Guildford Street, but the nearest pubs or bars were at the Railway Station, the North Stafford Hotel, The Roebuck, The Terrace in Leek Road or the Norfolk in Norfolk Street beyond the canal near Howard Place. The reason for this may have been a restriction placed on the land at the time of sale, but the history is obscure. This was to remain unchanged until the late 1950's.
As a result of the Municipal Corporations Act some decades before, Stoke was now a modern Borough as were Burslem and Longton. Tunstall and Fenton being created Urban Districts; Hanley having the bulk of the population was a County Borough. All this was to change however, when an Act of Parliament in 1910 created the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent out of all the constituent Councils with a population in excess of 200,000. A proud day for the federalists - for it was known as Federation - but a matter of regret for the traditionalists. Stoke was to become the administrative centre, with Hanley being the business and commercial centre.( Stoke-on-Trent was elevated to City status by King George V in 1925).
The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 put a halt to all but essential building. Stoke Railway Station in St Jude's Parish was the principal station of the area, and must have seen many thousands of men on their way to join their regiments. It should not be forgotten however, that there were also railway stations in towns and villages all over North Staffordshire. The coal and steel industries were working to capacity.
Frank Dale, the eldest of the Dale children
joined the Kings Royal Rifles, while Leonard the eldest Alcock boy,
joined the North Staffordshire Regiment and later transferred to the
Royal Flying Corps. Both served in France, and when they could be
persuaded to speak about their experiences did so so in a self-
deprecating, slightly self-mocking way, and could always be prevailed on
to sing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" or a sanitised version of
"Mademoiselle from Armenteers". Edgar the younger of the Alcock boys,
went with his father on a visit to London in 1916 and was terrified to
see German Zeppelin airships fly over-head dropping bombs. He began his
working career at the Potteries Electric Traction tram company in 1920 -
and he from a railway family too!. Leonard went to London after the War
and worked in the Goods and Parcels Dept. at Kings Cross / St Pancras
until he retired.
In charting the progress of these two families during the "between the wars" period, it is probably a fair representation of the lives of many people in the area, indeed throughout the land. Far from wealthy, they would never have considered themselves poor or needy, but were fiercely independent, respectable and respected. For the girls in those days, the expectation was a run-of-the- mill job after leaving school, with marriage not too long afterwards. Woolworths for the oldest and youngest Dale girls, Esme and Vera, with Lucy in the middle, going to a bakery. Contrary to that expectation, but not uncommon amongst families of the period, Esme never married but stayed at home with her widowed mother. The eldest Alcock girl Hetty Louise married a railwayman and moved round the country to all points between Kings Lynn and Dagenham with her Stationmaster husband. Irene the youngest took a clerical position before she too married in the 1930's. In 1934 Edgar Wilne Alcock and Vera Dale were married at St Jude's Church, and after two years in Hartshill came to live in Seaford Street. Lucy Dale married George William Bates, a carpenter and joiner from the Tontine Inn, Hanley, and they settled in Boughey Road.
In the 1920's and 30's building in St Jude's continued. Cauldon Road was completed on the north side, although the style moved away from the traditional terraces, surburban semi-detached houses being in vogue, with a number of linked houses in blocks of four, in the modern style. More up-market were the new houses in Park Avenue, Avenue Road and Ridgway Road facing the parks. Small by today's standards, but then highly desirable; a Christian Science Church was built in Avenue Road. After the Great War an armoured tank was exhibited for some years on a triangular piece of land at the top end of Victoria Road above the park. The Cricket Ground near Station Road was bounded on its Victoria Road frontage by high advertisement hoardings, and an old railway carriage was installed as a Pavilion. A row of Co-op shops was built on Victoria Road opposite St Jude's Church. The North Staffordshire Technical College with its interesting sculpted frieze above the entrance had been built at the bottom end of Victoria Road, and round the corner in Station Road was the imposing Federation House, home to several ceramics related organisations.
The Potteries Electric Traction Co. Ltd became the Potteries Motor Traction in 1926, a motor bus service now operating over a wider area, no longer restricted by tram lines. Leek Road carried buses to Bucknall and beyond, Stoke Road lay on the main central route that ran the length of the City, while Victoria Road was on the route of the Riley Arms Circular. This was a circuitous route which covered Hartshill, Stoke, Shelton, Hanley, Sneyd Green, Smallthorne and High Lane, on which stood the eponymous Riley Arms Public House. Local people were known to take the round trip, just for the fun of it. Doctors Frank and James Yates took over the practice in Queen Anne Street, and were known by all as Dr Frank and Dr James.
Although it was an era of financial uncertainty, it was also an era of increased leisure, modest by modern standards and far more energetic. Walks to Trentham along the "New Road" or along the canal side to Barlaston, shopping in Stoke, better still Hanley, or even more exotic to Newcastle, still separate and aloof, with a slightly up-market atmosphere; dances at the King's Hall in Stoke, numerous cinemas within easy reach, outings to the recently established Repertory Theatre, outdoor events in Hanley Park and social activities at St Jude's. It is true if somewhat clichéd, to observe that soon this was to end as war approached.
John Alcock - (c) Copyright 2006