David Proudlove's
critique of the built environment of Stoke-on-Trent


'Guardians of the Dead'

There is only place that we are all going; Death is the one great leveller and has no respect for money, class or status, and it is the only time of life where both kings and beggars are equal. In the worsening economic climate, many will worry, but probably the only people that will not be worrying are undertakers, and you will not find too many liquidation notices concerning those that rely on our final destiny to pay the rent…

One of the more interesting and perhaps happier aspects of our final journey are the final resting places themselves, which are often home to some iconic and beautiful architecture, and some stunning landscape design. The Potteries can hold its head up high in this respect.


next: Guardians of the Dead - page 2
previous: Black Gold


To the north of the city, we have Tunstall Cemetery, which was laid out on part of Tunstall Farm in 1868.

Tunstall Cemetery - laid out on part of Tunstall farm
Aerial view of Tunstall Cemetery

Tunstall Cemetery - the lower entrance on Clay Hills
Gates and Piers, Lower Entrance off Clay Hills

The cemetery boasts an attractive landscape, and its interesting topography provides stunning views across Chatterley Valley to Bradwell Wood.

The view across Chatterley Valley
View across Chatterley Valley from Tunstall Cemetery


The cemetery is the final resting place of Potteries’ legends Father P. J. Ryan, and Clarice Cliff, who was also born in Tunstall and gained fame as one of the most influential ceramic artists of the twentieth century through her innovative Art Deco designs. 

Unfortunately, the cemetery has lost its chapel, though adjacent to its lower entrance is the attractive the Cottage Hotel.

The Cottage Hotel
The Cottage Hotel


The Mother Town’s cemetery lies to the east of the town centre, and sits between the former Sneyd Colliery site and Smallthorne, and on its consecration in 1879 was considered one of the most beautiful cemetery’s in the country.

Burslem Cemetery - Google maps 2008
Aerial view of Burslem Cemetery from Google Maps

Burslem Cemetery is the final resting place of one of the city’s most famous sons, the great author Arnold Bennett, who described Edwin Clayhanger’s attending of a funeral at the cemetery in ‘These Twain’. Fifteen years after the book was published, Bennett’s ashes were interred there.

Bennett’s memorial

As with Tunstall Cemetery, Burslem Cemetery was set to lose its chapel - demolition was sanctioned by the City Council in September 2008 - however a prolonged campaign by the local community saved it from the bulldozers in March 2010.

The Chapel at Burslem Cemetery
Burslem Cemetery Chapel

Minton tiles over the entrance door
Main entrance

Further to the east of the city lies one of the finest landscapes in North Staffordshire, and a Green Flag Award winner, Carmountside Crematorium.

Main entrance, Carmountside Crematorium

The crematorium and chapel were opened at the height of World War II in 1940, with the cemetery following in 1947. The grounds cover some 25.7 hectares, and have been fantastically managed by the City Council: as well as being a cemetery and crematorium, it is a haven for local wildlife and is used by local people for walking and contemplating life.

The cemetery at Carmountside Crematorium


next: Guardians of the Dead - page 2
previous: Black Gold