A walk around Dresden, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent
Dresden & the Longton Freehold Land Society



The Longton Freehold Land Society acquired its first estate in the middle of 1850, when, for £5,000, it bought Spratslade Farm, situated half a mile or so to the south of the town, from T. Fenton-Boughey and L. Armistead. They announced the purchase by placing a notice in the Staffordshire Advertiser on 20 July 1850 stating that the society had about 200 members, holding 300 shares. 

Two months later they held their first annual meeting which was reported in the Staffordshire Advertiser on 17 August:

"The Longton Freehold Land Society held their first annual meeting in the new Town Hall, on Monday evening last. The party, which was numerous, and graced with a considerable sprinkling of the fair sex, took tea together. The secretary, Mr Joseph Knight, read a very interesting and encouraging report of the progress, present condition and future prospects of the society, including a satisfactory financial statement.
Several judicious speeches were delivered, explanatory of the political, moral and social influence the society would exercise upon the members, by conferring the elective franchise, by elevating their status among their fellow men, and by setting a good example of prudence, forethought, and self reliance in their respective families. 
The local and physical advantages attached to the Spratslade estate, which the society had just purchased, were also lucidly explained by Mr G L Robinson, their solicitor. 
The different resolutions, after being ably proposed and seconded by Messrs Carryer, Nixon, Jervis, Shepherd, Bullock, Amison, Cooper, Birks, &c., were unanimously passed, and the meeting separated, evidently much pleased with the proceedings."

Designs for the estate: 
Two weeks later the society placed a notice in the Staffordshire Advertiser (31 August) offering a premium of £10 for the best design “for dividing into streets the estate at Spratslade”. 

On the 5 October 1850 it was reported that the society had received four plans and had awarded the premium to a joint plan submitted by Mr Higginbottom, of Longton, and Mr Ralph Hales, of Cobridge. It was stated that “the execution of the plan is said to reflect much credit on Mr Hales by whom it was prepared.” 

However, the published plan on which the allocation of allotments was based was actually produced by Thomas Forrester, land surveyor, of Longton. His plan contained 11 streets. 
Apart from the obvious names for some of the streets (e.g. Queen, after Queen Victoria; Albert, after her consort; Taylor after Rev James Taylor of Birmingham), most were called after either prominent national Liberals — Richard Cobden M.P., founder of the Anti-Corn-Law League; Charles Pelham Villiers M.P. and John, 1st Earl Russell, M.P. and Prime Minister (1846-52) — or leading local Liberals: John Ayshford Wise, of Clayton Hall, M.P. for Stafford and John Lewis Ricardo, M.P. for Stoke-upon-Trent. 

Taylor Street (now Rowland Street)

Cobden Street

Villiers Street

Russell Street

Ricardo Street


When the society bought the land a footpath leading from Longton to Trentham ran across the land. This was incorporated into the building plan as a pedestrian road between Belgrave Road and Ricardo Street. 

Plots size and shape: 
The estate was divided into 190 plots which were principally between 500 and 600 square yards each, and undoubtedly 40 shilling freeholds. Because of the configuration of the site the streets on the southern and highest section of the estate were shorter than those of the middle and northern part of the estate. 

Many of the plots on the higher ground were also a different shape — square rather than rectangular - and could more easily accommodate a larger detached or semi-detached villa. This was also the case with the plots fronting onto Carlisle Street the main road running north-south across the estate. However the distinction between the areas designated for first class as opposed to second class houses was not so clear cut at Dresden as it was on some other freehold land societies in the area, as for example that at Basford. 

How the name "Dresden" arose: 
The minute books of the society have not survived so it is not possible to discover who proposed or when the name “Dresden” was first applied to the estate. All the earliest documents refer to the estate at “Spratslade”, the old name for the district. However in a letter written in on 16 January 1852 by the Rev John Hutchinson of Blurton to James Loch, the agent for the Duke of Sutherland, he referred to houses under construction at “Dresden” so the new name had been adopted within 18 months of site purchase. Loch’s response was “Dresden!!! What provoked such a name in such a place.” Dresden in Germany, was of course famous for its porcelain and there is little doubt that the promoters of the freehold land society adopted this name because they thought it would facilitate the sale of shares and building plots. 

Growth of the estate:
The lack of 19th century rate books for the area as well as the society minute books also means that it is not possible to easily discover who acquired the building plots. However the Report of the Factory Inspector of 1865 states that the 190 plots at Spratslade were taken by 101 members. By 1864, 505 houses had been built on this estate which were owned by 168 persons.

Other estates:
Shortly after the allocation the society bought a second estate, at East Vale, which was laid out into Melbourne, Hope, Ford, Howard, Goddard (after Thomas, or Samuel Goddard, both surgeons and building society luminaries), and Palmer (after Enoch Palmer) Streets, and Railway Terrace. Here there were 41 plots taken by 29 members. By 1864 there were 270 houses at East Vale owned by 100 persons. Finally, a third estate had been acquired by March 1855, which comprised two pieces of land near to Bridge Street, parts of which became Marsh Street, Brook Street, Edward Street and Arthur Street. Here, the plots were certainly not 40 shilling freeholds, having been typically 170 or 180 square yards in extent. The 98 plots on this estate were taken by 41 members and by 1864 95 houses had been constructed owned by 27 persons. In 1864 Enoch Palmer stated that the total cost of the three estates had been £10,456.