are an urban tragedy. Here is the national seat of
an industry, here is the fourteenth largest city in England and what
is it ?
Five towns - or, to be correct, six - and on the whole mean towns
hopelessly interconnected now, by factories, by streets of slummy
cottages, by better suburban areas. There is no centre to the whole,
not even an attempt at one, and there are not even in all six towns
real local centre
Yet a long tradition there is; only one
does not see it.
In 1953 at Sneyd Green two kilns of c.1300 were found, and in
the manor court rolls of Tunstall in the C14 several men are called Le
Potter and Le Thrower.
Early in the C17 the Adams family produced pottery, and the first
potter of the Wedgwood family was born in 1617. The family made
utilitarian ware and they worked in villages. The trade remained
largely domestic until the mid C18.
The turn came with Josiah Wedgwood. His
Etruria factory, opened in 1769, was the first large factory, and he
maintained a London showroom. He was also instrumental in getting the
Trent and Mersey Canal built to make transport of his products easier.
The canal was designed by Brindley and completed in 1777.
Pottery factories still
exist, if not as old as this, at least of the early C19. The offices
face the streets, and in the yard behind were the kilns. But the
kilns are disappearing rapidly, which is visually a great loss; for
their odd shapes were the one distinguishing feature 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
As for the surviving offices and warehouses, some are quite
handsome, and they will here be recorded. The DOE [Department of the
Environment] has not so far done that adequately. The six towns are
The churches of the six towns are interesting too. There is
a recurring pattern of no medieval survivals, of quite sizeable C18
parish churches (Burslem, Hanley, Longton), of second parishes with
churches of the Commissioners' type, and of a I multitude of Victorian
churches. There is also a multitude of Nonconformist chapels, and too
few of them are recorded in the gazetteer.
The six towns were united into one County Borough in 1910.
That might have helped, but it didn't. In 1925 the whole became the
City of Stoke-on-Trent. That might have helped, but it didn't either.
Now the population is (1971) c. 265,000, and Stoke is England's
In the following pages the six towns will be treated individually, and
they will be arranged alphabetically. Each town will be divided in an
inner, walking, and an outer, driving, area.
For the driver the directions from the centre are added to the