Search for the Old Roads of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
Alma and Kenneth Stonior have lived at the top of Sneyd Green all their married life.
“I was born around here and remember the open fields now called King George Sixth playing fields,” says Kenneth age 76. “It was rough open land then and although Hanley Deep Colliery waste tips obstructed the view to the west you could get some excellent views of Shelton and Stoke and even see Hanchurch and Swinnerton clearly when the smoke lifted.”
These days, with all the new housing that has appeared over the years and the towing blocks on the Hanley skyline, this landscape remains impressive.
Kenneth is not surprised over the uncertainty.
“The lane has been badly neglected,” he tells me. “I don’t think anybody is quite sure who owns it or where the boundaries are. If it’s a public road then it should be maintained and people should know about it. It’s strange though that the footpath is the only entrance to the council-owned park and yet they tell me the road is un-adopted. It doesn’t make sense.”
A man who might know is Paul Pearce, the City’s Right’s of Way officer based at the Civic Centre.
Paul has OS maps dating from the 1850’s. Other maps in 1880 and 1900 show the footpath running through open-land mostly occupied by a honeycomb of drift mines. These maps are startling examples how the Potteries landscape has changed with heavy industry and dense housing development supplanting open fields.
“By 1898 one map shows a Horse Lane renamed Leonard Road and a former Albany Road West is now Northam Road.” says Steve. “And there was a large area still locally known as Clayholes Pit. As best it’s my guess that our lane was one the monks used to get to the hilltop where the Sneyd Arms is.”
An early postcard shows the Sneyd Arms as a large corner terrace, as impressive I reckon as the one there today.
“Research indicates it was a Parkers inn in 1905,” continues Steve. “The innkeeper then was name Brocklehurst who were a big family around here that also owned the large farm in Birches Head Road. Sneyd Arms was rebuilt to its present fashion in 1938 and the peculiar dome over the door was added in 2000.”
Chris Duncan is a trainee manager of the Sneyd Arms.
“I’ve worked here for five years,” he says. “There’s not much left of the inside that former regulars will recognise. Firstly it is now completely open-plan. The cosy rooms and the bars and lounge have all gone. The garden and children’s play area at the back was once a bowling green. We change with the times don’t we? I suppose we have to.”
2 September 2008
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