Search for the Old Roads of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
The intersection of Normacot Road by the A50 has created two different communities where one a close-knit one was formerly shared.
When Chris and Laura Probert moved home they only had to go to the other end of the street. Trouble is, the street they live in has been divided by a two-carriage motorway complete with a double-island intersection. If this sounds difficult to understand, it’s even harder to negotiate.
“It’s like two different towns,” says Chris, who recently moved from the Normacot Hotel to keep the Tam o’ Shanter. “Both pubs are in Normacot Road but the line has completely disappeared. The A50 has completely severed the community across the middle and I can assure you the two sides have very little in common these days.”
Tam ‘o Shanter regular Eric Rushton aged 70, agrees.
I recall my old friend Les Lockett of Edwardian China in Normacot Road reminiscing about his youth here. Les is 87 and was born a few yards from his factory gates. He tells me:
“Across the road was a coal yard where women used to weigh coal by the barrowful. Before I went to school and in my lunch break I delivered coal in those barrows. Three tons each day I weighed out and carried from that yard. Normacot Road was a dark and dirty place then.”
Les remembers looking out and seeing nothing but smoke polluting the Longton air 365 days a year. He’s still able to name a bewildering number of potteries that once stood between Edwardian China and St James Church, a distance of just 200 yards.
“The population was greater and people lived where they worked. When I was a boy there were 72 pubs from Normacot Road to Longton town centre. And they were all well-used to break the monotony of life,” he recalls. “The coal yard disappeared many years ago and just a tiny row of terraced houses remain out of hundreds.”
Opposite the Tam o’ Shanter is the factory of Walkers’ (Nonsuch) Toffee in Calverley Street where I meet marketing director Emma Walker.
Stoke on Trent’s world-famous confectioners began life as a tiny sweet shop at the back of a pottery.
Like most people I wonder about the quaint banner-name Nonsuch.
After the war Walkers’ moved to its present extended site.
Walkers’ Nonsuch continues its family traditions and original methods.
Ian, in his seventies, actively continues as head of the business and his
daughters, Kate and Emma are involved in sales and marketing with nephew
Edward Nicholas Walker responsible for production.
The A50 may have turned this old Longton thoroughfare into a cul-de-sac. But if you want to see the Potteries how it used to be you can still savour it here in Normacot Road.
23 June 2008
click the "contents" button to get back to the main index & map
previous: Etruria Road (Fowlea Bank)
next: Grove Road, Heron Cross