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Bennett's and the Potteries

Locations in Bennett's novels

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The School of Art

The Wedgwood Institute in Queen Street, once housed Burslem Endowed School, attended by Bennett 1877-1880 and by Cyril Povey (Old Wives' Tale) and Denry Machin (The Card). Unaltered and cleaned to reveal its ornate elevations, this is a listed building.
Now Burslem Library, it was erected in 1863 as a memorial to Josiah Wedgwood whose Brickhouse Works once occupied the site.

The School of Art

The Wedgwood Institute - the School of Art in Bennett's novels
The Wedgwood Institute - the School of Art in Bennett's novels

Situated on Queen's Street (Wedgwood Street in Bennett's novels) and along each side runs Brickhouse Street and Clayhanger Street (Cock Yard and Bugg's Gutter according to Bennett).

Note: In Bennett's time Clayhanger Street was actually named Baker Street - in the 1950's it was renamed.

In Bennett's writings:

"On a hot day in August, just before they were to leave
Bursley for a month in the Isle of Man, Cyril came home, pale and perspiring, and dropped on to the sofa. He wore a grey alpaca suit, and, except his hair, which in addition to being very untidy was damp with sweat, he was a masterpiece of slim elegance, despite the heat. He blew out great sighs, and rested his head on the antimacassared arm of the sofa.

"Well, mater," he said, in a voice of factitious calm, "I've got it." He was looking up at the ceiling.
"Got what?"
"The National Scholarship.
Swynnerton says it's a sheer fluke. But I've got it. Great glory for the Bursley School of Art!""

Bennett: The Old Wives' Tale



Actual location / building:

The Institute is situated on Queen Street, which was named after the pottery ware Wedgwood made for Queen Charlotte in 1765. 

The Institute stands on the site of the Brick House pottery works which was rented by Josiah Wedgwood from 1762 to 1770 - this was the second of his potworks in Burslem (the first being the Ivy House works).

The foundation stone was laid by future Prime Minister - William Gladstone on 26 October 1863. The frontage of the Institute contains twelve huge terracotta tiles depicting the months of the year. Also displayed are the carvings of the people of the Potteries performing their different skills, together with a statue of Josiah Wedgwood. 

The Institute was built with funds raised by public subscription to make arts, science and literature available to all, not just the rich who had previously had the only access. It was also designed to be the main centre for arts activity in the Six Towns of the Potteries.  At one time part of it became an annex of the Burslem Technical and the Institute also houses Burslem Library.

On the upper storey a series of twelve terracotta panels set in arcading illustrate the months of the year, and above them mosaic signs of the zodiac.

Between the storeys are ten relief terracotta panels which depict the processes involved in the manufacture of pottery.
The process panels depict crowded scenes in pottery workshops.

Signor Salviati executed the zodiac mosaics

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