Benjamin Goodwin


GOODWIN, Benjamin (born c. 1863), pottery worker, Longton.

Benjamin Goodwin was born in Upper Hill Street, Longton, about 1863. He was the second but eldest legitimate child of seven children of Benjamin Goodwin and Caroline, nee Cartlidge. The area in Longton in which the family lived contained some of the worst slums in the Potteries. Upper Hill Street had only two taps and two privies for 14 houses. 

In the immediate vicinity were eight public houses and two off-licences, which were open from six in the morning to eleven at night. There were also four pawnshops nearby. 

Benjamin Goodwin left school at the age of 11 to work as a moulder runner at Chapman's Pottery, earning 2s. 6d. for a 55-hour week. At the age of 14 he became an apprentice presser. In 1884, 'out of his time', he was dismissed so that he should not have to be paid at a journeyman's rate. He obtained another job, which he held for three years, only to be dismissed just at the time his wife was pregnant. Eventually he managed to find work in the growing sanitary ware trade in a factory in Stoke upon Trent, four miles away from his home in Longton. He had to catch a train at 6.23 a.m. and one back at 6.31 p.m. with a mile to walk to and from the station at each end. The weekly fare was one shilling.

To supplement his income Benjamin Goodwin became a part-time collector for the Royal Oak Society and also for a local doctor's dispensary. He combined all these jobs with that of secretary of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon, organised by the Caroline Street Congregational church, Longton. He was also sick visitor for the North Stafford Provident Society.

Benjamin Goodwin's son, Albert Goodwin, born in 1890, became assistant general secretary of the Society of Pottery Workers in 1947. In his unpublished memoirs written in 1961 he describes his parents as 'obnoxious' and from whom he expected no kind treatment, but excuses this as a product of their trying to fit him for harsh poverty-stricken life.

SOURCES: J. Burnett, Destiny Obscure (1982); ex. inf. F. L. Harris. People of the Potteries