A photo walk across Stoke Fields to Winton's Wood, Stoke-on-Trent
- the parish of St. Simon and St. Jude

The 1950's and decline


previous: boyhood


Secondary education immediately divided the sexes, and girls whom one had known and grown up with since babyhood were sent to their own senior schools. Within the sexes of course was a far more significant separation. The 11+ Examinations resulted in a small percentage being sent to Grammar Schools, while the majority went to Secondary Modern Schools, there to remain until the age of 15. Such separation might have been, and probably was traumatic in the short term, but children are said to be resilient to change; perhaps some more so than others. However, right or wrong, that was the way it was.

National Service:
In the 1950's the prospect of National Service was ever-present for young men. A matter of weeks, perhaps only days after their eighteenth birthday they would be summoned to attend for Registration at the Labour Exchange. Some having been at work since fifteen, some studying for their Higher School Certificates, University Scholarships or in later years their A Levels. Soon afterwards they  would again be summoned this time to Bethesda Schools in Bethesda Street, Hanley. On adjacent land in 1820 at Handley Green, the Bethesda Chapel had been built for the Methodist New Connexion or Kilhamites. Both buildings survive to this day.        

After a medical examination and interview, when theoretically he could state his preference for which arm of the Services he wished to join, the young man would return home to await his fate. Not long afterwards he would receive his "Calling-Up Papers" and be notified of his future for the next two years (provided he was medically fit and not exempt or deferred by virtue of occupation or higher education). Joining instructions would be issued together with a rail ticket (or travel warrant), and he was expected to present himself at the specified location on the due date.

Although the War had ended in August 1945, National Service, or Conscription continued until the early 1960's, as minor wars or emergencies continued throughout the world requiring a British armed presence. Indonesia,  Palestine,  Malaya,  the  Suez Canal Zone,  Korea, Cyprus, Kenya, Aden, Oman and the Persian Gulf were all possible destinations for a young National Serviceman. Aldershot and Catterick were two of the less attractive home postings, but the British Army on the Rhine had perhaps the best of all worlds.

This mobile generation then, was dispersed beyond recall. National Service, jobs, higher education or marriage meant that although some might live at home for the time being, others had migrated permanently,  many back to the countryside from where their grand parents and great grand parents had arrived a century or so before. St Jude's Church was dying on its feet, and there was to be no recovery. 

Staffordshire Polytechnic:
In the mid to late 1950's, the Cricket Ground on College Road became the site for the new Staffordshire Polytechnic and the tall advertisement hoardings were removed to make way for the multi-storey buildings we see today opposite the old "Tech". This was the signal for the spasmodic, some would say traumatic alterations to the built environment of St Jude's which have continued to this day.

Macmillan's Outdoor Beer Shop was converted into a full-blown public house and went by the apt name of "The Corner Cupboard" the first (and last) pub to be inaugurated in the Parish.

The College of Building, later to become Cauldon College and in turn Stoke College (Cauldon Campus), was built on the site of the old Cauldon Works, and above the canal the bakery and milk depot were converted into flats.

St. Jude's Sheltered Accommodation in Seaford Street
The site of the former St. Jude's Church

St. Jude's Sheltered Accommodation in Seaford Street
The site of the former St. Jude's Church
the former Vicarage is to the right


St Jude's Church itself was demolished in the early 1980's to give place to sheltered accommodation; the allotments and Poxon's Field on Leek Road being gradually submerged in the development of Staffordshire Polytechnic and its successor Staffordshire University.

The old Remploy factory, hastily built after the War to provide employment and training for returning disabled ex-servicemen has since been expanded and is home to a self-storage facility and its mascot a large pink elephant.

The Regional Film Theatre is housed in this building
A Film Theatre was tucked in behind Federation House and is now incorporated into the Flaxman Building.

The most recent demolition and addition is the demise of Cauldon Road School and the resurgance from its  ashes of the  Thomas Boughey Childrens' Centre and the adjacent Maintained Nursery School. The original owner of the land in the 19th Century, Sir Thomas Fenton-Boughey Bart. would surely approve. On Leek Road the allotment gardens and Poxon's Field have disappeared under a car park, and the Sewage Disposal Works has given way to the Law School and a hockey pitch; a row of poplars atop a grassy bank marks its former limits, while the canal feeder has no doubt been culverted and buried.

the Sewage Disposal Works has given way to the Law School and a hockey pitch

Poxon's Field - disappeared under a car par

Across the Trent, the Sixth Form College and Fenton Manor Swimming Pool complex stand on Squire Broade's. The original St Jude's Church after standing empty since the Repertory Theatre moved on, is now the neighbourhood mosque- al Makki Masjid.

Today the teeming student population lives side by side with the remaining old parishioners, and more recent arrivals from the Sub-Continent and elsewhere in the East. This is the new face of St Jude's, but since the days of the Cornovii, the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes, the Normans and even our old men from before the Industrial Revolution and after, Stoke Fields and Winton's Wood can view all the changes with equanimity, shrug and say "Whatever's next?"

previous: boyhood



John Alcock - (c) Copyright 2006