11 Oct 2019


The place has form

Although Stoke-on-Trent is right in the centre of England it is one of its least known cities. Frequently termed The Potteries for obvious reasons, Arnold Bennett's epithet for it was the Five Towns, as in The Grim Smile of the Five Towns. But actually there are six towns: Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent and Tunstall. They joined together as a Borough in 1910 and became the City of Stoke-on-Trent in 1925. Stoke has always struggled to be considered a real city. J.B. Priestley wrote in English Journey: ‘There is no city. There are six little towns… you will never be sure which of the six you are in'. Stoke is certainly difficult for outsiders to grasp, a polycentric city more like the Black Country or the Rhondda Valley than other Midland industrial cites of similar size, such as Derby. What is confusing is that Hanley, not Stoke-on-Trent, is the commercial centre and is officially referred to as ‘Stoke-on-Trent City Centre’. The Station and Staffordshire University are in Stoke-on-Trent Town Centre. Got that? And Newcastle-under-Lyme (which includes Keele University), whilst being part of the same conurbation, is defiantly not part of Stoke-on-Trent.

Arnold Bennett's grim smile

The Potteries are used to being slighted. The Minister Richard Crossman after a visit in the 1960s concluded that the city should be evacuated. Pevsner's Buildings of Staffordshire entry starts with 'the Five Towns are an urban tragedy'. Henry Thorold in the Shell Guide was rather more balanced in saying 'architecturally the six towns are disappointing, scenically they are interesting and atmospherically they are compelling'. A sympathetic view of the city is found in Matthew Rice's The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent which is beautifully illustrated with his watercolours revealing the architectural qualities of the place.


Priestley was right when he wrote ‘what distinguishes this district … is its universal littleness. Everything there is diminutive. Even the landscape fits in for although there are hills, they are little ones'. The Trent here is just a stream, not the broad river of Nottingham’s Trent Bridge. It scarcely impinges on the topography; the Trent and Mersey and Caldon canals make a much bigger impression. The transport arteries of the canal, railway and the A500 expressway (the infamous ‘D’ road which loops through the city from the M6) all run alongside each other through Stoke Town Centre cutting it in two. This massive road infrastructure together with the A50 expressway running east to the M1 make a daunting impact on the low-key townscape and landscape. The A50 is particularly brutal slicing through Longton and Meir, all dressed up with post-modern motifs to try and make it look jolly.

Look closer

Creativity among the ruins

The older arterial roads linking the six towns make a cat’s cradle for linear development. They are strung out with seemingly endless terraced houses, later semis and, in the now demolished industrial interstices, retail and warehouse sheds. This townscape can be dispiriting but it is more interesting than it initially appears. You can trace the enterprise and civic pride of The Potteries and its decline in this disjointed streetscape of jumbled up terraces, villas, factories, institutes, chapels, pubs, Co-ops, board schools and town halls. There are distinctly villagey places like Middleport and very regimented industrial housing in Fenton, for example. And despite Priestley the towns are not all the same. Burslem has a strong feeling of a hill town, and you are very conscious of the hills of Hanley and Longton too. The Trent and Mersey Canal forms a distinctive corridor and from the D road the conurbation looks very green following reclamation of former pits, claypits and steelworks – not the urban forest of Milton Keynes perhaps but a cheaper approximation.

Bottle kiln factories, ...

... urban decay, ...

... & conservation

Don't forget steel – Liz Lemon's 'Another Gift'

Bottle kilns were the distinctive feature of the Potteries townscape, looking positively exotic and, as Priestley said, almost oriental. But by the 70s these were disappearing rapidly. Pevsner writes ‘this is a great loss; for their odd shapes were one of the distinguishing features of the Five Towns and used to determine their character – kilns bottle shaped, kilns conical, kilns like chimneys with swollen bases. They have a way of turning up in views with parish churches and town halls as their neighbours. As for the surviving offices and warehouses, some are quite handsome’. Priestley was hugely impressed with the pottery and ceramics industry. ‘They are unique in their work, an industry which is still a craft, and one of the oldest in the world.’ Only a representative few of the thousands of bottle kilns survive but many more of the factories, warehouses and offices do. Often these buildings are relatively small and of quite elegant Georgian proportions. Some big structures date from as late as the 1950s. Although the pottery and ceramics industry has declined in the last 40 years, with most production outsourced to low-wage countries, the spirit of the Potteries survives in the many extant buildings. Some are now museums and factory shops which attract large numbers of tourists. But Stoke was also famous for its collieries and steelworks. These have been completely expunged, replaced by bog-standard sheds, retail parks, housing estates and parkland. So the city today is a fusion of the very distinctive and the extremely banal.

1840s rationalism

Welcome to Stoke

Stoke is only 90 minutes from London by Virgin Pendolino. Stoke-on-Trent station will surprise you. It is the original structure of the North Staffordshire Railway built in the 1840s and still with its fine overall roof. The red brick station buildings are in a thorough-going Elizabethan or possibly Jacobean style with black brick diapers, shaped gables, a Tuscan colonnade and eccentric chimneys. Across Winton Square is the North Staffordshire Hotel in a similar style. And with a statue of Wedgwood in front of it. Pevsner says this is ‘the finest piece of axial planning in the county.’ It provides a very picturesque introduction to Stoke, if highly atypical of its architecture and character.

The macho Science Centre

Not Rick Mather but could have fooled me

Staffordshire University Campus is just east of the Station on Station Road and Leek Road. The Uni advertises itself as being in the ‘top 40’ and certainly has a hugely positive impact on the place although the architecture is not much to write home about. The Cadman Building is long, low and competent interwar neo-Georgian. The adjacent Flaxman Building is quite gutsy modernist and has some interesting reliefs and geometry with a triangular film theatre auditorium at the rear. The new Science Centre on Leek Road designed by Sheppard Robson is big, four-square, clad in brown-gold panels and is - o.k. The adjacent Sixth Form College in Isokon or Rik Mather mode is, surprisingly, by Broadway Malyan.

Beautiful Stoke, Brook Street

Stoke Minster

Among the grandest town halls in the Midlands

An impressive set – Kings Hall behind the Town Hall

Stoke Town Centre is to the west of the station but you have to cross the formidable barriers of the railway line and the monstrous D road to get there. Few concessions are made to pedestrians. Stoke Minster, unusually dedicated to St Peter Ad Vincula, is set in a shady churchyard. There are medieval ruins but the Minster is a handsome 1820s Commissioners church. A nice feature is the Minton memorial tiles of the nave. Overlooking the churchyard on Brook Street is an elegant yellow brick early Victorian terrace with Elizabethan motifs. Together with the classical ashlar Town Hall opposite on Glebe St (1834) this makes a fine urban composition. Kings Hall, behind the Town Hall on Kingsway, is Edwardian and bombastic but undeniably grand. The War Memorial is unusual, designed in deco brick work. Tellingly each of the six towns has its own war memorial as well as town hall and many other public buildings.

Stoke-on-Ruhr – Spode

Uplifting – The British Ceramics Biennial

Told you this place had form

Next to the Kings Hall is the former Spode factory, now the ‘China Hall’ exhibition and gallery space. The Spode complex is vast and has only minimally been renovated and opened up for exhibitions, events etc. The main hall is a 50s corrugated concrete affair, very striking and the stripped-out spaces have tremendous character. When we were there the British Ceramics Biennial was on. This was ideal re-use and the exhibits were very lively and engaging. The Biennial extended over other parts of the complex (as well as other venues) and you can wander through the fascinating bleached-out carcass of the vast works to the Spode heritage centre which houses one of many fine collections of ceramic work to be found in Stoke-on-Trent.

The former Stoke market, Church Street

Bargain Zone, Church Street

Stoke town centre is more substantial than expected. Church Street has imposing commercial buildings, some evidently influenced by the Elizabethan style of the station. The Victorian Market has lovely decorative glazed tiles on its façade and has been converted and extended as a library. The 1970s market hall has been relegated to a car park at the rear. The friendly jumble of buildings on the main streets are however very run down. Many are empty and there are few people about. It seems archetypical of the ‘decline of the high street’. That the town centre streets are a one-way race track does not help, but this is symptomatic of a car-centric culture throughout the city.

Where the ring-road has futuristic form ...

... and where it is a pain in the arse for pedestrians

Hanley's disappointing town hall

Hanley, the City Centre, doesn’t feel much like the Potteries. It is far less distinctive, more like many other small Midland towns. And there is less obvious civic pride than in the other five towns where town halls and public buildings tend to be more prominent. Here the old town hall looks like, and was indeed, an hotel. There is not a lot of evidence of the pottery industry either, although a few bottle kilns are still seen at the Dudson Museum. The Emma Bridgewater factory is also found here.

Mini Manchester 

Hanley's former market building

Stately but out of scale – the former Hanley Post Office

Bethesda Chapel – high quality heritage

A dreadful inner ring road sunders Hanley’s residential terraces from the commercial centre. The ring road works better where it is part of a wholesale redevelopment with towers, overpasses and extensive landscaping. Within the ring road the streets are largely pedestrian. The commercial architecture is fairly haphazard and unassuming although not uninteresting. Some buildings are of metropolitan scale, like Manchester House which lives up to its name. The former Post Office looks like Buckingham Palace but this can’t really be appreciated in the narrow street. The classical former market is sadly now a Wetherspoons. On Bethesda Street the magnificent Round Chapel which could accommodate a congregation of 3,000, shows the power of C19th non-conformity. Streets around include a surprising amount of 30s ‘moderne’ including London style mansion flats and offices, as well as usual chain store motifs.

This bit is good – Nat West

This bit is not 

St Johns: integral to the history of Hanley ...

... but abused by its neighbours

There is no obvious centre to the place but the confluence of Town Road, Stafford Street and Piccadilly forms an irregular square. The 70s Nat West here is quite stylish with a good rhythm of narrow brick bays. It certainly shames the abysmal intu Potteries Centre opposite, crouching like a bloated mutant toad above Town Road. Its blank, mechanical brick and fake arch façade is not even trying to engage and is at its most uncouth in relation to the former St John’s Church (1788) which it blanks out completely. St John is now an antique flea market, so has some after-life at least.

Where the old bus station came down

At the southern end of town the Council are demolishing the East West Precinct and the 70s bus station, which Matthew Rice considered a contender for the grimmest building in the Midlands. However he thought the Precinct with its faintly Moorish concrete arches to be poignant and wanly light-hearted, but unloved and desperate. All rubble now as the regeneration plan is to ‘kick-start’ new mixed-use development with a tabula rasa. But the ‘knock it down and start again’ approach suggests little has been learnt from the mistakes of the 60s or from the failures of more recent commercial ‘regeneration’ let alone the need to save embodied energy and retrofit where possible in the face of the Climate Emergency.

The re-generation game

One cannot be optimistic about what may replace the ‘concrete eyesores’ given the Smithfield development currently taking shape nearby. This is a new ‘regeneration quarter’ to a masterplan which apparently involved Jan Gehl. The blurb says it is ‘designed to put people first’. So far this means a series of big blocks around some grass. The development was ‘kick-started’ with new civic offices, One Smithfield, designed by RHWL. This is a much cruder version of what they did in Doncaster, so crude in fact that it was a Carbuncle Cup finalist in 2016. Olly Wainwright in the Guardian wrote ‘It promised a dynamic new civic centre, business and leisure district but Stoke got a miserable box dressed in cheap harlequin costume, a so-bad-it-might-almost-be a fashionable fusion of 80s classic Blockbusters and Connect 4’.

Disjointed thinking

Somebody's been googling 'Hamburg expressionism'

Two Smithfield is much more restrained, well-proportioned with some quite nice a-la-mode sub expressionist brick detail. Amazingly this building is also by RHWL. It provides offices and well-intentioned ground floor shops but unfortunately these are all empty. Other buildings include a Hilton Garden Inn reminiscent of 1970s telephone exchange architecture. More flashy Trespa clad stuff is to come, according to the brochures. So far, so disappointing. Smithfield compares very poorly with, for example, Wakefield’s Merchant Gate which was developed with the English Cities Fund. The problem is that, in promoting town centre redevelopment in depressed places and depressed markets, nearly all the cards are in the hands of the developers not the local authority, especially since the demise of Regional Development Agencies.

Good architecture but poor planning

Ever decreasing seating and plastic barriers

The City Council has however commissioned an ambitious new bus station nearby which has won Civic Trust and RIBA awards. Designed by Grimshaw is has a nice swoosh with a sinuous form and curving roof. However as with Grimshaw’s Newport railway station, planning has let down architecture. Hanley’s bus station is inconveniently located for the main shopping streets. The passenger concourse feels insecure sitting perilously between the inner ring road and a big open bus park. Which is a pity as buses in Stoke-on-Trent certainly need a boost.

Victoria Hall

Form und Zweck – Central Libray

The Victoria Hall of 1888 is also curiously isolated, turning its back on the town. The 1999 extension by Levitt Bernstein does its best to remedy this with a terracotta and glass addition that is very well considered in relation to the rather dour original. Nearby is the Central Library, quite a stylish 60s slab with some nice abstract reliefs.

The Potteries Museum – a must see

Metropolitan quality

The Potteries Museum is certainly Hanley’s pièce-de-resistance. The original 1956 building was extensively remodelled in 1981 by local architects Wood, Goldstraw and Yorath. The projecting upper floor in concrete sits emphatically above lower floors clad in brick. There is a drawbridge-like entrance to the middle level. The main feature is the superb brick mural of Stoke-on-Trent’s industrial history by E.H. Downing, showing miners and a pithead, pottery workers and kilns etc with a large central motif of a half cartwheel and semicircle of hands. This is a brutalist building taking no prisoners. Matthew Rice called it 'perfectly frightful' but it has its admirers today like Owen Hatherley. Inside there is a fantastic collection of ceramics. It also displays part of the Staffordshire Hoard although sadly not to best effect. A definite ‘must see’.

Fenton Town Hall – no mean feat

Fenton municipal 


Staffordshire blue brick church – Fenton Christchurch

Fenton is the town that Arnold Bennett forgot with his epithet the ‘Five Towns’. You can see why. It is the smallest and least distinctive town strung out along the road between Stoke and Longton. It initially seems to lack any centre but there is one just off the main road – Albert Square. This was retro fitted in the late C19th. Thorold says somewhat harshly that it is 'both sad and funny'. Fenton seems to have aspired to grandeur late and never quite made the grade.’ Albert Square though is quite handsome with an imposing ensemble of buildings, at least on two sides. There is Christchurch, 1890-9, which Pevsner calls ‘the magnum opus of local architect Charles Lynam, but only in size’. The Gothic Town Hall of 1888 and the William and Mary Courts are of the same date and the same architect, Scrivener. There is a handsome Edwardian library too. In the centre of the square stands a poignant war memorial, as in all the towns, but this looks onto the backs of terraced streets and 60s low rise re-development.

Industrial factories similar to Birmingham & Sheffield

The rear of the Gladstone Pottery Museum

Longton is a real town and feels like a market town. It retains more of a feel of the Potteries than any of the other towns because more of the factories have survived. The Gladstone factory with its prominent bottle kilns was the first to be preserved, becoming a museum in the 1970s. Many other pottery offices and warehouses survive especially on Sutherland Street down the hill from the Gladstone Museum, although often empty and badly neglected. They show enduring Georgian influence in their style and proportions. Anywhere but in The Potteries they would today be renovated as very des-res apartments.

Longton's Town Hall – better than Hanley's

A jolly front ...

... and dignified rear – Longton Market Hall

Even Pevsner concedes that in Longton ‘here is urban pride and a sense of civic dignity’. The grand town Hall (1863 with Edwardian extensions) faces Times Square. It is currently being renovated to provide a local centre for Longton again, a very sensible policy of the Council. Times Square is dramatically slashed by a railway bridge which cuts off the parish church. Behind the town hall is an ambitious Victorian Market Hall but it was not market day when we visited.

A real sense of place (and economic decline)

The very modernist Bennett Centre

Market Street, which runs up the hill towards the Gladstone Museum, retains lots of interesting buildings from various periods but many are empty and in serious disrepair. You can still see the signs and shop fronts of ghosts like Woolworths and Martins Bank. It badly needs a concerted renovation project. The Strand also has some impressive commercial buildings but swathes of it have been blown away by demolition. Between the two streets is the Bennett Centre (1965) rightly praised by Pevsner. The shops are simple, elegant modular buildings around a pedestrian precinct but many are empty and in poor repair. Huge retail sheds behind the shopping centre make a nominal attempt at relating to the town but are a significant part of the problem. It doesn’t help that the bus station is inconveniently sited next to the town centre edge retail park. In any event there were no buses there. Traffic swirls everywhere and the pedestrian barriers are insane. Longton could be a lively and pleasant town but needs major interventions to reverse its downward spiral and preserve its character.

On high ground – Burslem and its Town Hall

An historic layout

Pottery moderne 

Pottery Victoriana – Overhouse 

Queen's Theatre and former post office, Wedgwood Street

A grit bin but no market for Burslem 

Burslem is the oldest of the six towns and is known as the ‘Mother Town’. In many ways it is the most impressive and with the most coherent townscape. There is a pronounced hill-town character, although the church is below in the valley. Burslem’s centre is the triangular market square where you will find not one, but two town halls. The old Town Hall of 1852 is certainly impressive and picturesquely sited at the apex of the triangular space. It displays giant pilasters and a portico with clustered giant columns and a baroque top. Recently renovated and extended it is now a sixth form college. The 1911 Town Hall facing the other side of the Market Place is, severely classical. It includes a concert hall and although no longer a Town Hall was converted as the Queen's Theatre. Today it stands empty, a shocking failure of the City Council. The delightful Neo-Georgian post office next door is disused too.

The Art of Burslem – The Wedgwood Institute

Queen Street: splendid, coherent but empty

The triangular Market Place has been expensively repaved in a rather heavy-handed way. It no longer hosts an open market and the indoor market is closed too. There is little activity in the buildings around the market place but a few green shoots are evident, like the art gallery and café. Queen Street has a wonderful array of buildings but many are empty. The fantastical 1860s Wedgwood Institute with its extraordinary terracotta façade is empty waiting for plans for a Business Enterprise Centre by the UKBPT to be underwritten. Nearby is the 1905 School of Art, one of five established in The Potteries at this time. The saddest sight is the amazing building on the street corner opposite the Wedgwood Institute possibly by Edgar Wood and certainly highly original fin-de-siècle, but just rotting into the street. Every shop on Swan Square is empty despite attractive re-paving. St John Square is also nicely paved and a bit livelier. It includes the Duke William pub of 1929 which was recently listed. All that remains of the Royal Doulton factory is the deco gatehouse. There is a statue to Doulton in the square. Burslem’s other famous son is Robbie Williams, who lived in a now empty 60s pub, the Red Lion.

Glasgow style (and disrepair)

Another good street – St John Square

How I learned to think about Robbie Williams

Burslem is a shadow of its former self. It is shameful that so many of its fine public buildings  are empty. But it still has tremendous potential. The Potteries was built on creativity and art and design skills and here you have an attractive town and abundant fine low-cost premises too. What an opportunity! But transformation will not happen through the market alone; it needs significant public intervention which is presently conspicuously lacking.


Middleport Pottery

The nearby Middleport Pottery initiative gives some hope. The Pottery is an attractive Georgian influenced building of modest scale. It is only two storey – not much higher than the terraces around with the Trent and Mersey Canal on the other side. The renovation project was funded by the Prince’s Trust and overseen by Feilden Clegg Bradley. The buildings have been very simply restored and ‘repurposed’ so it retains its strong industrial character. It now provides workshops for craftsmen, small shops, a visitor centre and cafes. It is a real success story, rightly a RIBA award winner. The bucolic Trent and Mersey Canal alongside the Pottery, with its palimpsest of an industrial past, also has a very strong character which should provide an attractive basis for more renovation and small-scale developments to bring the area back to life. The UKBPT has already restored terraced housing nearby and more is in progress.

Probably looking better than they ever did – Middleport Terraces

Although I absolutely reject HRH’s reactionary and dogmatic views on architecture the Prince’s Trust does deserve a lot of credit for its championing of places like Middleport and its empathy and concern for places that are ‘left behind’. This stands in stark contrast to government for the last 40 years, for which places like Stoke-on-Trent mattered little, that is until Brexit. Of course there have been many government planning and regeneration initiatives. Mostly these start from the premise that Stoke needs radical re-planning. This was implicit in the dismissive comments of Priestley, Pevsner and Crossman which underlay 1960s redevelopments which are now coruscated. In the neo-liberal era other regeneration stratagems were employed, like a Garden Festival on the site of the old Shelton Steel Works and Wedgwood’s Etruria. This was partly successful, creating a new park and dense urban woodland. But the price of this was a tacky retail park and lowest-common-denominator commercial development as bad as, say Derby’s deadening, anti-urban Pride Park.

Not bad for a quid

More recently Stoke was the victim of Labour’s insane Pathfinder housing renewal project which proposed to ‘renew failing housing markets’ by essentially knocking down terraced housing to push up the value of the remainder and to build lots of Barratt-type estates to ‘diversify the housing market’. The social and logistical lessons of incremental demolition for communities should have been obvious from the post-war experience of the Durham coalfield ‘D’ towns, let alone urban redevelopment in the 1960s. And inevitably it was a disaster. When Pathfinder was ditched by the Cameron government in 2011 it left whole areas in limbo with the Council trying to pick up the pieces. Stoke City Council pioneered ‘homesteading’ of empty properties, selling abandoned terraces for £1 and offering 15-year loans for purchasers to do-up the houses. This seems to have been a modest success. The targeted streets are now indistinguishable from other terraces. There is a striking contrast between these ‘self-improved’ terraces, which often show scant respect for the architectural qualities of the buildings, creating a friendly visual chaos, and those done up by UKBPT, which meticulously reveal their original detail. In the middle of Staffordshire University surviving terraces off Leek Road have been entirely given over to students and with expensively block paved streets look very attractive.

Christ on a bus – Longton Bus Station

The wrong transport policy

A big problem for Stoke is that traffic dominates everywhere and public transport is dire. Bus use has declined by a third in the last ten years, the second worst rate of decline in the country. 75% of people now travel to work by car and only 5% by bus. No wonder there is so much congestion and pollution. Building even bigger junctions on the expressways will not solve this. First, the main bus operator, blames the new city centre bus station location for the decline in passengers but the real reason is shit services and high fares. Recently it has cut out most evening buses, a devastating blow to community and cultural life. But given de-regulation there is little a cash strapped City Council can do. What Stoke really needs is a new fast tram linking the six towns as a visible expression of a new approach to sustainability, public transport and civic pride. Cities like Bordeaux, Nice and even Nottingham have done this. Why shouldn't Stoke  too?

Impressive ruins – Middleport

A international reputation – the old Minton works

Stoke-on-Trent's problems of de-industrialisation and urban decline are similar to those of many small and medium sized towns of the Midlands and North. But Stoke is unique and needs its own solutions, not the re-heated nostrums of ‘urban regeneration’. Rather it needs to reclaim and restore its distinctive character. This is best expressed in Matthew Rice’s Lost City. His chapter Stoke Right Now (written 10 years ago but still highly relevant) is a powerful and insightful exposition of the city’s problems and the opportunities. He calls for an end to the continuing destruction of the city's past. 'Stoke needs to reconcile itself with its past before it can (successfully) renew ... buildings are all significant, anchors to hold fast to whilst the place rethinks its character'. He is absolutely right. Conservation, re-use and good maintenance of the built environment and public spaces are what is required. And the need for good maintenance does not only apply to buildings and streets but also to communities hammered by austerity and indifference.

Towards a sustainable and creative city – Spode

But Stoke also needs a new vision for sustainability too. Its dispersed form, its reservoir of adaptable buildings and its strong local community identity are real assets. It could be a new model for a carbon neutral city. Fifty years ago Britain had the imagination, energy and resources to build a new city in Milton Keynes, the subject of our last blog. A similar collective effort is needed to unlock the green potential of places like Stoke.


Fred Rodgers said...

Hard to disagree with a lot of the above comments, especially the Hanley bus stations. The original one may have been grim by the end of its days but it was accessible. The new one is, as stated, in the wrong place. When we last visited the pedestrian access was difficult, especially with a lack of pedestrian crossings.
Again, a few years ago, Middleport was one area of hope, despite a few streets of £1 houses awaiting refurbishment. There were several wildflower gardens even then.,Burleigh is also still in production there and Steelite is just around the corner. Moorcroft, in Burslem, is also still in production
However, two notable omissions from the above are the Burslem and Hanley parks, both Victorian and the former Grade II registered, being one of the largest registered parks in the UK. These were the only two we visited, the latter by narrowboat, so have no information on the other four town parks.
Incidentally, the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery also has a statue of Stanley Matthews outside and the Spitfire Museum - a tribute to R J Mitchell - inside.

Anonymous said...

Easy to agree with these comments, erudite, sensitive and critical. And ultimately optimistic that The Potteries have a reasonably good future, despite all the socio-economic and political problems and uncertainties that beset them. Excellent photographs complement and support the text very well.

Roger Fox said...

I very enjoy your informative description so well accompanied by stunning photos. We plan to visit the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Bill Lowe said...

I worked, briefly, in the City Council's Land Reclamation Team in the late 1970s. It's great to see much of that tree planting reaching maturity, but this City is so self deprecating in character. It has so many assets: excellent surviving buildings and the 50 or so self defining bottle ovens, greened up cycleway network on former rail lines, leisure canals, and extensive parks. The reuse of the garden festival site for poor quality commercial sheds and the misdeeds of highway engineers have sucked the street life out of Hanley, which has a better ceramics museum collection than the V and A. As you say..so much potential, and agree that Burslem should be an artistic hub, based on the founding Wedgwood heritage and not a forgotten shopping centre [is the fascia sign over the deserted Woolworths still there?]. The work of greening up the City needs to continue.

Anonymous said...

You have been misinformed. Fenton is not in fact the smallest of the six towns, but the largest in area. It has had two centres during its life, the first along King Street(then Market Street) where there was a market, police station and a police house, and the second as you say off the main City Road.

Jack Thomas said...

I just love travelling blogs and the Very beautiful places you have visited. It looks like you had enjoy it a lot. Keep sharing more your travelling memories with us. Now it's time to avail Metro Limo Detroit for more information.

Charbonnel said...

Indulge in the luscious flavor of caramel chocolate in Jeddah, where velvety caramel meets premium chocolate for a truly decadent treat that's sure to satisfy your sweet cravings.