Search for the Old Roads of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
An 1898 map of Etruria clearly shows the village Josiah Wedgwood built.
Lord Street was the original settlement; later streets were Humbert
Street, Cavour Street, Salem Street and Etruscan Street. This last was an
important thoroughfare for it connected Etruria with lower Shelton and
Stoke. The entire district has changed over 30 years except for this
little corner on which still stands the old Railway Hotel.
Jack told me his uncle was a furnace worker who was killed when he drunkenly stepped off the Vine’s pavement in front of a car.
Naturally Cheryl doesn’t remember such colourful times but she says, “My dad told me how all the pubs lined up pints at the end of the shift at Shelton Bar. The end of industry caused the end of all those pubs. The New Rendezvous is the last of them.”
The New Rendezvous remains a quaint hostelry. In an attempt to recapture the industrial atmosphere imitation steel girders are suspended above the bar. Sadly the present location fails to match the mood. Nevertheless the former Railway Hotel is an impressive edifice, looking every bit as a typical Victorian railway hotel should.
“Everything’s changed around here now,” says Cheryl. “New houses have replaced old industry. I remember there being four giant gas holders standing in the gasworks. Now there’s one which I think is just an emblem of the past. My clearest childhood memories are the times I played in Etruria Park. Even that has changed, although I think much for the better,”
The 11 acre park was built on a triangle of land between Lord Street, Etruria Vale Road and the Trent and Mersey Canal. Historian Steve Birks has researched its origins.
Sadly the fountain has seen better times and has been seriously damaged by years of industrial pollution and neglect. The other artefact of note is the plaque that was erected to commemorate the services of Thomas Wedgwood to photography.
“Thomas Wedgwood was the fourth son of the potter Josiah Wedgwood and was born at Etruria Hall in 1771. He was an early experimenter in photography,” says Steve. “As a young man he was treated for consumption at a Bristol clinic where he met Humphry Davy who published Wedgwood’s experiments with silver nitrate that captured images onto permanent mediums. This event essentially was the birth of photography as we know it today.”
Near to the entrance of Etruria Park from the main road the Society of Staffordshire Photographers unveiled a bronze plaque to mark this event in 1953.
“Of all the parks in Stoke on Trent,” recalls Steve, “Etruria once had the greatest mix of education and recreation facilities. It had one of the highest children’s slides in the Potteries. But, along with the witches’ hat, it was removed in the 1970’s as it was considered to be too dangerous for kids.”
14 October 2008
click the "contents" button to get back to the main index
next: Queen's Gardens, Newcastle
previous: Tunstall Cemetery