A 'Potted' History of Stoke-on-Trent
by Steve Birks

The first settlements - the development of the Six Towns 

| The County Borough | The Formation of the City |

| Hanley | Longton | Stoke | Burslem | Fenton | Tunstall |

 The County Borough

Calls for an amalgamation of the six towns had been made since as early as 1817; in 1888 there was an unsuccessful attempt to constitute a separate "County of the Potteries". Various schemes were enunciated at various times, always meeting with equally vociferous support and opposition!

However, following an Act of Federation which went through Parliament during 1908, the County Borough of Stoke-on-Trent came in to being in 1910. The six towns of Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton and Longton (to name them in order from north to south) were united under one new authority it was the largest such amalgamation ever to take place in Britain

The name "Stoke-on-Trent" was chosen for the united borough. The new Council met for the first time in March 1910. in Stoke, under the chairmanship of Major Cecil Wedgwood DSO; who was elected the first Mayor. A descendent of Josiah Wedgwood, Cecil was a man of great integrity and dignity. He was later to die in France during the Great War whilst leading the men of the 5th North Stafford's.

On April 1, 1922, a further 9,600 acres of land were added to the County Borough, giving it a total area of 21,190 acres, and stretching it out to the east and south. The areas added included Packmoor, Brindley Ford, Ball Green, Norton. Smallthorne, Milton. Abbey Hulton, Bucknall, Adderley Green, Meir, Blurton, Hanford. and part of Trentham

 The Formation of the City

On June 5, 1925, their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary visited Stoke-on-Trent. On this occasion they personally conferred the Royal Charter elevating the Borough to the status of a city. The motto chosen was "Vis unita fortior," which is translated, "Strength united is stronger." The concept is that the total strength of the one city made up of six towns would be greater than the sum of the six towns taken individually.

See the City Coat of Arms

Stoke-on-Trent wanted to grow yet larger and applied to Parliament to incorporate the neighbouring Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Urban Districts of Clayton and Wolstanton. It should be said that 97% of the people living them did not want the annexation to take place! In any case, the Bill was rejected by the House of Lords in July 1930, and again in March 1931. However, parts of Trentham and Barlaston were added to the city in 1931.



Hanley and Shelton were incorporated in 1857. becoming the Borough of Hanley, a name which means 'place at the high clearing' Job Ridgway's son John became the first Mayor. John Ridgway's crest of a kneeling dromedary was used in the Seal of the Borough of Hanley, and now forms part of the Coat of Arms of The City of Stoke-on- Trent



In March, 1865. Longton and Lane End were incorporated as the Borough of Longton ('long village').



The towns of Stoke, Penkhull and Boothen were incorporated as the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent in January, 1874. Notice that the town is correctly called Stoke-upon-Trent, as distinct from the city, which is Stoke-on-Trent. In practice, local people know the town of Stoke-upon-Trent by the simpler and shorter name of Stoke.



Burslem, whose ancient name means 'Burgweard's Elms' was incorporated in June 1878. Although not the first of the six towns to be incorporated. Burslem was the largest town in the Potteries for many of the early years and the first to develop with the onset of the industrial Revolution. So it her become known as 'The Mother Town of the Potteries'.



The towns of Fenton (`farm by a fen or possibly 'enemies town`) and Tunstall ('site of a farm') became Urban District Councils as late as 1894, having had neither charters nor mayors, in fact. Well-known. local author Arnold Bennett steadfastly refused to acknowledge Fenton's status at all, naming one of his books 'Anna of the Five Towns'! Although if is true that Fenton has no town centre as such, it is definitely one of the six districts which constitute the city of Stoke-on-Trent.


Parts of these details are from "Treasures in Jars of Clay" Copyright © 1994 Robert Mountford
The booklet is available from City Vision Ministries

questions/comments: email: Steve Birks