Stoke-on-Trent Local History



Development of Local Government ... continuation

Though Burslem established a market by 1760 and trade and industry in the area developed, local government did not. There had been an attempt to create a corporation for the whole pottery district in 1783, but it came to nothing and the need for local government  increased.

Examples of some local initiatives which tried to meet the need:-

a) The market trustees in Hanley were established in 1791 and after 1813 they were given power by an Act to purchase and hold land and buildings, charge tolls and apply profits to such public works as would be of benefit to the town.

b) Local initiative again secured an act for Watching and Lighting Hanley and Shelton in 1825. This led to the appointment of commissioners with powers to collect and annual rate for the purposes of lighting the town and to appoint constables and watchmen.

c) 1839 legislation brought the appointment of a stipendiary magistrate for the pottery communities, with lock-ups in each of the six towns.


By the middle of the 19th C, though, local government was a mess with a variety of competing authorities. When cholera reached the Potteries in the autumn of 1848, some of the towns petitioned for an inspector of the General Board of Health to make an inspection, but local divisions meant that the proposal for a board of health for the whole of Stoke parish was not implemented.
Hanley was the first to act. A mere nine years after the cholera epidemic, incorporation came in 1857... but it took till 1870 before the process of drawing in the market trustees and becoming a seperate policing authority was complete.

Urban Development of the Towns of North Staffs: 
(Briggs, The Potts, 132)

Town Borough Board of Health
Newcastle c.1173 1850
Tunstall 1894 UDC 1855
Burslem 1878 1850
Hanley 1857 1859
Stoke 1874
Fenton 1894 UDC 1873
Longton * 1865 1862

 * Note: Lane End became Longton in 1848 because of confusion over the address. (Staffordshire Advertiser 16.09.48)


Reports on the workings of local boards of health can be found in the Staffordshire Advertiser.

The Burslem Local Board of Health's 1853 report occupies more than three closely printed sheets of A4 and it gives full account of the work.
During the year it sought tenders for a new Town Hall but deferred erection because of the high cost; 
it was caught up in a court case about the salary of the organist at Burslem church; 
it opposed a bill to improve the water supply because of the costs;
the question of drainage was much discussed;
some private streets had to be brought up to standard by the owners so that they could be declared highways;
a cab stand was established at the New Inn;
paving in the area was improved "We have employed on the highways and private streets 6 men and 2 scavengers, and from 2 to 4 horses, besides a set of pavers" 


Watering and lighting continued as this section from the 1853 report shows:-


The watering of the streets during the past year has been extended, and now comprises the township of Burslem and the ville of Rushton Grange. Additional facilities have been provided by the purchase of one of Folwler and Fry's large tumbler carts, which is available for all purposes - watering in summer or mud in winter. - Thirty of Bateman's fire plugs have been provided with stand pipes, and feed hose, several of which have been fixed in Rushton Grange, and are of advantage for watering, or in the case of fire, either as a supply to the fire engines, or as separate jets. The remainder of the plugs are ready for fixing by the Waterworks Company.


The efficient lighting of the town and district has been strictly attended to, and a great improvement has been apparent both in the light and attendance since the removal of the works to Longport. The following additional lamps have been erected during the year, viz., three in Hot Lane, two in Sytch, one in Regent-street, one in Albion-street, Dale Hall, one at Greenhead, and one in Dale-street, Dale Hall, making a total of 97 additional lamps since the formation of the board, besides the additional accommodation at the post-office and Town Hall. The total number of lamps, including the large lamps which count 1 each, are as follows:-
Township of Burslem 182
Ville of Rushton Grange 33
Hamlet of Sneyd 16
Total: 231


I have to report that during the year, in consequence of the rise of materials and labour, considerable effect has been caused in building operations, and had it not have been for the little town commenced by Earl Granville a considerable reduction would have appeared. The following notices have been received and approved, viz., 225 new houses, 15 alterations of houses and premises, 24 workshops, 2 schools, 2 shop-fronts, 7 hovels, 4 enamelling kilns, 1 steam-engine, 1 large chimny, 1 brick-shed, 1 brick-oven, 3 bread-ovens, 1 bake-house, 8 kitchens, 2 stables, 1 cow-shed, 2 slaughter-houses, 1 slip-house, 3 crate shops, 1 gighouse and 3 water-closets. 


The next stage was, of course, the federation of the towns into one area. Various proposals had been defeated, one of the major issues being different levels of rates. Legislation for federation was secured, despite opposition, in December 1908, for implementation in 1910 - which led Burslem to build a second town hall in order to spend its balances rather than see the money spread over the Potteries.

Expansion by annexing other areas in 1922 can be seen from the maps, and the area was made a city in 1925.



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