Hanley - one of the Six Towns of Stoke-on-Trent
Tunstall Burslem  Hanley  Stoke-upon-Trent Fenton  Longton



"The streets were lively with the red and blue colours of politics. The Liberal member for the Parliamentary borough of Handbridge, which included Bursley, had died very suddenly, and the seat was being disputed by the previously defeated Conservative candidate and a new Labour candidate officially adopted by the Liberal party.

The Tories has sworn not to be beaten again in the defence of the integrity of the Empire. And though they had the difficult and delicate task of persuading a large industrial constituency that an industrial representative would not further industrial interests, and that they alone were actuated by unselfish love for the people, yet they had made enormous progress in a very brief period, and publicans were jubilant and bars sloppy."

The aspect of the affair that did not quite please the Society for the prosecution of Felons, was that the polling had been fixed for the day after its annual dinner, instead of the day before. Powerful efforts had been made 'in the proper quarter' to get the date conveniently arranged, but without success; after all, the seat of authority was Hanbridge and not Bursley."

 Arnold Bennett
| Arnold Bennett's Hanley

Bottle Kilns in Hanley - 1930
in the bottom right corner is the former ground of Port Vale Football Club
photo: Times On-Line Archive

Staffordshire's potteries working at full blast

'At Hanley, Staffs, one of the original Five Towns made famous by Arnold Bennett’s novels, kilns and smokestacks are seen working at full blast in this scene observed from above by the camera in 1930. Hanley was an important manufacturer of china and earthenware from the 18th century onwards. 
Since 1910 with the other Potteries towns, it has been subsumed in the borough of Stoke on Trent, but is still an important commercial and ceramics centre'


Following on from Tunstall and Burslem, Hanley dominates the next hill on the road south and was an important mining town surrounded by colliery spoil tips which have now been landscaped and reclaimed, (The main area being 'Central Forest Park').
Hanley became the main shopping centre of the Potteries when, in 1910, it became a federated city with the merger of all six towns.

Nowadays the town boasts a large shopping centre and the city's Cultural Quarter comprising two splendidly refurbished theatres, the The Regent, along with one of the country's best concert venues, the Victoria Hall

Amongst some of the famous people born in Hanley are football legend Sir Stanley Matthews and Captain E. J. Smith, the captain of the ill-fated Titanic.

The centre of Hanley retains its 'village roots' and is made up of "an archipelago of island sites". It is the main shopping area with many 'high street' names both in the town streets and shopping centre.

 On the site of the old Bell pottery stands the Potteries Museum which houses one of the largest and most important ceramics collection in the world. The museum also contains a Spitfire airplane - a tribute to the designer Reginald Mitchell who was born in the City.

Lord of the Manor... "Bagnall, Esq. of London, is lord of the manor, and holds a court baron once a year; the King, as Duke of Lancaster, holds also a court baron once in the same period; and a court is held once a fortnight, for the recovery of debts under forty shillings."

"HANLEY a large modern town and chapelry, in the parish of Stoke, is about two miles east by north of Newcastle, and ranks next to Burslem in size, extent and opulence. The town is in an elevated situation, and the streets forming which are irregular, but many of the houses are well built. The chapelry contained, in 1821, 5,622 inhabitants."

1828 journal

"Hanley, the most populous town in North Staffordshire, is generally described as the capital of the Potteries, a title to which it has certainly the greatest pretensions; ........ it has during the present century made such strides in the art, as to overtake and pass all competitors.
At the census of 1891, the population of the municipal borough reached the total of 54,846; and such is the prosperity of the district, that at the present time this number has been very largely increased.

1893 journal

Dates in the history of Hanley

1227 - Hanley known as 'Hanlih'. The name means either a high wood, or a clearing in that wood.
1297 - References to coal mining at Shelton.
1685 - Thomas Miles of Shelton was producing white stone ware.
1766 - Josiah Wedgwood I purchased the Ridgehouse Estate and built a new factory there (opened on 13 June 1769). This factory was the nucleus of an industrial village which he called Etruria.
1769 - Josiah Wedgwood I opened his factory in Etruria (on the side of what was to be the Trent and Mersey Canal).
1770 - Josiah Wedgwood I completes the building of Etruria Hall.
1825 - Earliest gas works in the Potteries opened in Shelton's Lower Bedford Street, under the ownership of the British Gaslight Company, to supply Hanley and Stoke.
1857 - The townships of Hanley and Shelton, forming a portion of the parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, were incorporated to constitute the municipal borough of Hanley.
1869 - The Queen's Hotel in Albion Street Hanley build to the design of Robert Scrivener. It was acquired by the Hanley County Borough in 1888 and became the new Town Hall.
1888 - The Queen's Hotel in Albion Street, Hanley converted by Hanley County Borough for use as Hanley's Town Hall. The Victoria Hall, built on the rear was opened. Victoria Hall was built to the designs of Hanley's Borough Surveyor, Joseph Lobley to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
1891 - The population of the municipal borough of Hanley was 54,846.
1905 - Birches Head and part of Sneyd Green were added to Hanley.
1911 - Population- Hanley: 66,255.
1986 - National Garden Festival held at Etruria on the site of the old Shelton steel works.
Hanley's ring road the 'Potteries Way' opened in October 1986.

Dates in the history of Stoke-on-Trent

Facts about Hanley from old journals

Hanley forms the north-eastern and highest part of town, and from it and Earl Granville's Coal and Iron Works, an old tram road, now worked by a locomotive engine, extends down to the Trent & Mersey Canal, at Etruria, where it now also forms a junction with a station on the North Staffordshire Railway. The houses have a neat appearance and some of them are spacious and elegant, there being here many of the most wealthy and extensive china and earthenware manufacturers in the Potteries, and in the suburbs are several coal and iron works.

It is well placed for transit purposes, being quite close to the Cauldon branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal, and occupies a healthy situation upon an eminence overlooking the whole district.

The streets are wide and well paved, being admirably lighted by the British Gas Light Company Limited; while there is an excellent water supply by the Staffordshire Potteries Water Works Company. The drainage system has been carried out upon the most improved principles, the configuration of the district admirably lending itself to a perfect system of sewage; and the death rate of the borough is remarkably low for an industrial town.


"Walks" and articles on Hanley
and the surrounding area

The centre of Hanley preserves the irregular layout of the late-18th-century village  and in 1960 Mr. J. W. Plant the City Reconstruction Officer described it as 'an archipelago of island sites'
Etruria: Josiah Wedgwood & Etruria.
Creation of Etruria in the 18thC. and subsequent transformation of the area in 19thC.

Etruria: Last day of Shelton Steel Works
A walk along the Trent & Mersey Canal on the 27th April 2000. In its heyday the works stretched across Etruria Valley to what is now Festival Park in Hanley. It had a 10,000-strong workforce, five coal mines, steelworks and rolling mills, blast furnaces and a bi-products factory.

The history of part of Shelton - Stoke Road, Howard Place and Snow Hill
John Ridgway & Shelton.
Walk around the Howard and Cauldon Place area of Shelton in the 1850-1890 period. The Ridgway pottery family and the development of the streets and houses.

John Ridgway & Shelton.
Walk around the Howard and Cauldon Place area of Shelton in the 1850-1890 period. The Ridgway pottery family and the development of the streets and houses.

Job Meigh & Ash Hall
A walk around the Ash Estate in Werrington. Reviewing the development of the estate by Job Meigh II from 1837 to 1862

A photo walk across Stoke Fields to Winton's Wood
- the parish of St. Simon and St. Jude (Hanley), the area around Staffordshire University. Winton's Wood and Poxon's field.


List of potters who were located in Hanley

Tunstall from W. Yates' A Map of the County of Stafford, 1775
from W. Yates'
A Map of the County of Stafford,
- click for bigger map -

other maps on Hanley



Hanley Town Hall
Hanley has had three Town Halls 
on Hanley's Town Halls

Bottle Kilns:
Kiln at Dudsons
Kiln at Dudsons
There are 8 bottle kilns left in the Hanley area.  

Arnold Bennett
Arnold Bennett called the town "Hanbridge"
on Bennett

Hanley Arms
Hanley Arms
on Hanley's arms

Portland Vase
Portland Vase

See how pottery was made at the Etruria works

Trade gazetteer entries on Tunstall 

Hanley Cemetery - "Having secured a site (in 1858), the Council offered premiums for the two best designs for chapels, and for laying out the grounds.

'Ragged Glory' - Church of St. John the Evangelist, - One of the saddest sights in the city, and a monument to the apathy and neglect of the city’s built heritage

Listed buildings in Hanley

‘The Shock of the New’ Victoria Hall Extension, Hanley

"Hanley is the most townish of the six towns - but it has no civic centre."

Pevsner and the buildings of Hanley

Historical Hanley
Hanley Churches
Hanley in the 1890's
Hanley Pubs
Hanley Streets

Postcards of Hanley...
Market Square c.1908
Market Square c.1908

Hanley: - birthplace of.......
Arnold Bennett 

Enoch Arnold Bennett was born on 27 May 1867 at 90 Hope Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
 Sir Stanley Matthews

One of the Potteries greatest sportsmen. Stanley Matthews was born on  in 1915 in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, England.

Matthew's began his professional career in 1931 He made his debut at the age of 17 for the local First Division professional team Stoke City.

At the age of 41, Matthews won the first-ever European Player of the Year award. In 1965 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, becoming the first active football player ever to receive the honour.

 Captain John Smith  - Edward John Smith was born in 1850 on Well Street, Hanley - Smith joined the White Star Line in March 1880 - He died on 15th April 1912 as Captain of the sinking Titanic.

Meat Market


"The Man of Fire"