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Roman Catholics in Cobridge

the Warburton family:

In 1766 members of the Warburton family were prominent among the list of trustees of the Cobridge school

They were a Catholic family and originality were tenants of the Biddulph family on part of the Grange estate. They bought a large part of the land sold by the Biddulph family on the east side of the estate. Here in the early 18th century John Warburton built a Potworks for the manufacture of white stoneware with a considerable export trade to Holland.

By the time he died in 1752 he had amassed a considerable property which included an estate in Cheshire for which he paid £1,000 as well as land in Cobridge. 

His two sons operated two separate potteries. John Warburton, the eldest, ran a works in Hot Lane until his death at the age of 40 in 1760. The younger son, Joseph Warburton, had a Potworks in Cobridge which he worked until his death in 1769.  

the Blackwell family:

The other important Catholic family in Cobridge was the Blackwell family. 

They had arrived in the area by the early 1770s and John and Joseph Blackwell were listed as manufacturers of blue and white stone ware, cream and painted wares in Bailey’s Directory in 1784. 

By the end of the 18th century John Blackwell ran one of the largest pottery factories in Cobridge and was the owner of two other Potworks in the vicinity. He built a large house in front of the works at the junction of Elder Road and Waterloo Road. Behind the factory he built a row of 19 cottages to house some of his employees. His house, factory and the cottages have all been demolished but the road at the back of the site is still called Blackwells Row today. 

The Warburton and the Blackwell families were the principal supporters of the Roman Catholic community in the area. In 1780 they helped to finance the construction of a small Catholic chapel at the end of what is now Grange Street then the lane leading to Rushton Grange Farm. 

John Ward in his book The Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent (1843) recorded that:

 “the walls of this chapel had just been raised above the ground when the Protestant riots in London, with which the name of Lord George Gordon is associated, took place, and the alarmed Catholics of Cobridge suspended their building for several months... The chapel was enlarged in 1816; it is calculated to accommodate about 150 persons, is an unassuming building, almost concealed by the Priest’s dwelling-house, and an adjoining school-house erected in 1822.” 


When Samuel Scriven’s produced his report for the Royal Commission on Children’s Employment (1841) the school attached to the church was only partially in use and heavily in debt to Mr Blackwell:

“Ann Lymer, aged 21: I am the mistress of this school, and have held the appointment since last May my mother was mistress here many years. There was a master for the boys school, but the funds of the school compelled him to leave, consequently the boy’s school has merged into the girls, and our number upon the books score together 88. The institution is supported by a few subscriptions; there are only 24 in regular attendance, who pay 2d per week towards their education; many of them do not pay on account of their poverty. I have no other income, and what I receive does not amount to more than £10 a year upon the average; this would not alone support me, and I am compelled to take in needlework. The school house is in great debt to Mr Blakewell. The system of education is similar to the Lancastrian; there is no form of worship used, because we admit children of all denominations, the greater part of those present are parents of other faiths. The hours of admitting them are from 9 to 12, and from 2 to 5, five days a week. There is a Sunday school held on the same premises, but with this I have nothing to do. The absence of other children results from the poverty of parents, and of their being taken early to work.

REMARK: This room is on a very large scale, lofty, well ventilated and healthy, capable of accommodating at least 500 children comfortably there is only 24 present. February 1.

St Peter's Church - showing the Manse and the Church
St Peter's Church - showing the Manse and the Church
road to the front is Waterloo Road
photo: 2001

Take a 'walk' around this area
see an 1851 map of the church and potworks