Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Going Potty in England

A few years ago I was on a writers' familiarisation in England - the theme of the trip was Britain Home of Sport - and, it was a good year for Aussies, we had won the rugby and we visited the town of Rugby and two of my fellow (real fellows) ran around the original rugby field like kids. Next up was Trentbridge and we had just won the Ashes, so good times standing on the pitch there too. Then to the Manchester United Stadium, no joy for us here and I spent the morning talking to the man who devised the perfect 'grass' for the stadium grounds . . . All interesting, but I knew we were driving through Stoke-on-Trent and I had just finished reading an Arnold Bennett book . . Bennett (below)was a great realist writer of the 19th century. He lived in Hanley and wrote about day-to-day events in the
five towns. 

Stoke-on-Trent (often abbreviated to Stoke), also called The Potteries, is a city in Staffordshire, England.
The Potteries was formed by a federation of six separate towns and numerous villages in the early-20th century. The settlement from which the federated town (it was not a city until 1925) took its name was Stoke-upon-Trent, where the administration and chief railway station were located. After the union, Hanley emerged as the primary commercial centre in the city, despite the efforts of its rival, Burslem. The three other component towns are Tunstall, Longton and Fenton.
Stoke-on-Trent is considered to be the home of the pottery industry in England and is commonly known as The Potteries. Formerly a primarily industrial conurbation, it is now a centre for service industries and distribution centres.

That's the nuts and bolts of The Potteries. I was there for an hour and had become obsessed with the place. The home of the commercial ceramic industry of England and through its industry, a history of the development of table settings from gold china for royalty all over the world in the 'Empire'; items such as the everyday cups and saucers on table!  With the industry came a large number of notable ceramic artists including Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Charlotte Rhead, Frederick Hurten Rhead and Jabez Vodrey.

Since the 17th century, the area has been almost exclusively known for its industrial-scale pottery manufacturing. Companies such as Royal Doulton, Dudson Ltd, Spode (founded by Josiah Spode), Wedgwood (founded by Josiah Wedgwood) and Minton (founded by Thomas Minton) were established and based there. The local abundance of coal and clay suitable for earthenware production led to the early (initially limited) development of the local pottery industry. The construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal enabled the import of china clay from Cornwall together with other materials and facilitated the production of creamware and bone china.

Stoke-on-Trent is situated about half-way between Manchester and Birmingham (two cities that have had a face lift in the past decade and do display a beautiful array of industrial architecture) and adjoins the town and borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme.To the east is the magnificent Peak District which includes part of the Staffordshire Moorlands District, as well as parts of Derbyshire, Greater Manchester and West and South Yorkshire.
I have borrowed some material (above) from Wikipedia.)
So if you're driving around England and want a bit more history - head for Stoke, you'll be stoked.

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