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Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Old Industry of Stoke-On-Trent

At the weekend, “Miss Amateur Casual” and I took a trip to her hometown of Stoke-On-Trent. It was the first time I had been there, but was cutely aware (mostly from her) of the industrial heritage of the area thanks to its pottery (which you can read about here if you wish) 
Getting off the coach and into the town I had the same feeling as when I was passing through Sheffield five years or so ago.

Bottle Kiln
The place was a wonderful blend of old and new, with dark bricks, slate roofs and carvings of old town halls, houses and shops going hand in hand with concrete blocks of the sixties, and the “flat pack” style corrugated sheet buildings the like of which we seem to be keen these days.

Walking around I saw many buildings that caught my eye as the ghosts of industry past watched over the town, reminding everyone about what put the place on the map. The most fascinating sight were the last remaining bottle kilns dotted about, such as the one pictured on the left.
Greenfield Pottery

Miss Amateur Casual tells me this is where the newly made pottery was fired up, and in its heyday, the Stoke skyline was dominated by over three thousand of these. A quick foray onto Google images and her knowledge is conformed with this wonderful picture of the Greenfield Pottery that was in Tunstall, built in 1834, date of photo unknown:

There are many places in England where the fingernails of old industry still cling onto the cliff-face of modern life, the other one that springs to mind is Manchester.
Can anyone recommend any other places of interest (other than London) where these ghosts of our past can still be seen and would be worth a visit?

Anybody interested in pottery who wishes to visit Stoke-On-Trent should probably start with the Gladstone Pottery Museum here and I can recommend a most excellent guest house which is opposite the wonderful Hanley Park. Click on this sentence for the site.

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