Stoke-on-Trent (often abbreviated to Stoke) is a city in Staffordshire, England, which forms a linear conurbation almost 12 miles (19 km) long, with an area of . Together with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke forms the The Potteries Urban Area. This, together with the rural Staffordshire Moorlands area, forms North Staffordshire, which in 2001, had a population of 457,165.
The city formed by the federation of six originally separate towns and numerous villages in the early-20th century. The original settlement from which the federated town (not a city until 1925) took its name was Stoke-upon-Trent, because this was where the administration (and chief mainline railway station) was located. After the union, Hanley emerged as the primary commercial centre in the city, despite the efforts of its rival, Burslem. The three other component towns are Tunstall, Longton, and Fenton.
Stoke-on-Trent is considered to be the home of the pottery industry in England and is commonly known as The Potteries. Formerly a primarily industrial conurbation, it is now a centre for service industries and distribution centres. The city is a unitary authority with a directly elected mayor.
The motto of Stoke-on-Trent is Vis Unita Fortior which can be translated as: United Strength is Stronger, or Strength United is the More Powerful or A United Force is Stronger.
The borough proposed in 1919 to expand further and annex the neighbouring borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Wolstanton United Urban District, both to the west of Stoke: this met strong objections from Newcastle Corporation and never took place. A further attempt was made in 1930, with the promotion of the Stoke-on-Trent Extension Bill. Ultimately, Wolstanton was added to Newcastle-under-Lyme instead in 1932. Although attempts to take Newcastle, Wolstanton and Kidsgrove (north of Tunstall) were never successful, the borough did however expand in 1922, taking in Smallthorne Urban District, and parts of other parishes from Stoke upon Trent Rural District. The borough was officially granted city status in 1925 with a Lord Mayor from 1928.
The city's county borough status was abolished in 1974, and it became a non-metropolitan district of Staffordshire. Its status was restored as a unitary authority with the local authority as Stoke-on-Trent City Council whilst remaining part of the ceremonial county of Staffordshire on April 1, 1997.
Since the 17th century the area has been almost exclusively known for its industrial-scale pottery manufacturing , with such world renowned names as Royal Doulton, Dudson Ltd, Spode (founded by Josiah Spode), Wedgwood and Minton (founded by Thomas Minton) being born and based there. The presence locally of abundant supplies of coal and of suitable clay for earthenware production led to the early but at first limited development of the local pottery industry. The construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal enabled the import of china clay from Cornwall together with other materials and facilitated the production of creamware and bone china.
However, many other production centres elsewhere in Britain, Europe and worldwide had a considerable lead in the production of high quality wares. It was largely the methodical and highly detailed research and a willingness to experiment carried out over many years, initially by one man, Josiah Wedgwood, and later by other local potters, scientists and engineers, together with the development of artistic talent throughout the local community, that raised the profile of Staffordshire Potteries Also of note is Thomas Whieldon. With the industry also came a large number of notable ceramic artists including Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Lorna Bailey, Charlotte Rhead, Frederick Hurten Rhead and Jabez Vodrey.
North Staffordshire was a centre for coal mining. The first reports of coal mining in the area come from the 13th century. Part of the North Staffordshire Coalfield, the Potteries Coalfield covers and the city had several pits including Hanley Deep Pit, Trentham Superpit (formerly Hem Heath), Fenton and Wolstanton The last pit to close was the Trentham Superpit in 1994. The industry developed greatly and even new investments in mining projects were planned within the City boundaries as recently as the 1990s.
Other industries have also occupied important roles in the development of the city both before and after federation. Notably the iron and steel making industry located in the valley at Goldendale and Shelton below the hill towns of Tunstall, Burslem and Hanley. Shelton Steelworks production of steel ended in 1978 and the final parts of the plant closed in 2002. From 1864 to 1927 Stoke housed the repair shops of the North Staffordshire Railway and was also the home from 1881 to 1930 of independent railway locomotive manufacturers Kerr Stuart & Co. Ltd.
Shelton Steel Works as well as the mining operations were heavily involved in the World War II industrial effort. Central to the RAF's success was the Supermarine Spitfire designed by Reginald Mitchell who, whilst born at 115 Congleton Road in the nearby village of Butt Lane, Kidsgrove had his apprenticeship at Kerr Stuart & Co. Ltd's railway works.
Stoke-on-Trent is situated approximately half-way between Manchester and Birmingham and the city adjoins the town and borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, which is administered separately and situated to the west. To the east is the Peak District, which includes part of the Staffordshire Moorlands District, as well as parts of Derbyshire and West and South Yorkshire.
Stoke-on-Trent is often known as "the city of five towns", because of the name given to it by local novelist Arnold Bennett. In his novels, Bennett used mostly recognisable aliases for five of the six towns (although he called Stoke "Knype"). However, Bennett said that he believed "Five Towns" was more euphonious than "Six Towns", so he omitted Fenton (now sometimes referred to as "the forgotten town").
A city like Stoke made up of multiple towns is known as a conurbation (although in this case the conurbation is bigger than Stoke itself, because the urban area of Stoke is now continuous with that of administratively-separate Newcastle).
The six towns run in a rough line from north to south along the A500 road - Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton. Although the city is named after the original town of Stoke, and the City Council offices are located there, the city centre is usually regarded as being in Hanley, which had earlier developed into a major commercial centre.
The city's world-class ceramics collection is in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. The city's past can also be explored in Etruria Industrial Museum, the Elizabethan Ford Green Hall, Gladstone Pottery Museum (an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage) and the newly opened Ceramica in Burslem.
Most of the major pottery companies based in Stoke-on-Trent have factory shops and visitor centres. The £10-million Wedgwood Museum visitor centre is due to open in the firm's factory in Barlaston in October 2008. Spode offers guided tours of its factory and unique Blue Room in Stoke town centre. The Dudson Centre in Hanley is a museum of the family ceramics business that's partly housed in a Grade II listed bottle kiln. It is also a volunteer centre. Royal Doulton in Fenton has a factory shop. Burleigh in Middleport is the world's oldest working Victorian pottery. There are also smaller factory shops, such as Royal Stafford in Burslem and Emma Bridgewater Ltd in Hanley. And there are ambitious plans to open the huge Chatterley Whitfield Colliery as a mining museum, since it has been given Ancient Monument status, ranking it in importance with Stonehenge.
Trentham Gardens is in the south of the city and a £100 million refurbishment was completed in 2005. Next door is Trentham Monkey Forest, which houses 140 Barbary Macaques in a 60 acre enclosure that visitors can walk through.
The Alton Towers theme park is ten miles east of Stoke-on-Trent and is one of the United Kingdom's best known attractions. The Waterworld indoor swimming complex on Festival Park near Hanley is also a significant children's attraction.
Each of the six towns in Stoke-on-Trent has at least one park. At nine hectares, Burslem Park is one of the largest registered Victorian parks in the UK. Park Hall Country Park in Weston Coyney is the city's only National Nature Reserve, and its sandstone canyons are a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Hartshill Park in Stoke is also a nature reserve, and Bucknall Park is home to the City Farm. Westport Lake in Longport is the largest body of water in Stoke-on-Trent and has a nature reserve.
KPMG's 'Competitive Alternatives 2004' report declared Stoke-on-Trent to be the most cost-effective place to set up a new UK business. The city currently has the advantage of offering very affordable business property - while being surrounded by a belt of extremely affluent areas (The Peak District, Stone, south Cheshire) and having excellent road links via the A500 and nearby M6 and rail links.
Around five million tourists visit Stoke each year, directly supporting around 4,400 jobs. Stoke-on-Trent shows its popularity through the number of repeat visits; around 80 percent of visitors have previously visited. Tourism to the city was kick-started by the National Garden Festival in 1986, and is now sustained by the many pottery factory-shops/tours and by the improved canal network.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Stoke-on-Trent at current basic prices with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
|Year||Regional Gross Value Added||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
The main shopping centre is Hanley; location of the Potteries Shopping Centre (housing many well known national retail outlets), many well-known high street shops and some unique specialist retailers. The Potteries Shopping Centre has recently opened high quality coffee shops including Starbucks and Costa Coffee. And with the Peak District just ten miles (16 km) away, Hanley naturally boasts five outdoors clothing & equipment shops.
Nighttime indistry has boomed in recent years, with Hanley becoming increasingly popular for its nightclubs, theatres, pubs, bars and restaurants.
There is also the position of Lord Mayor, which is largely ceremonial. The title of Lord Mayor was first conferred on the City of Stoke-on-Trent by King George V on 10 July, 1928. The role of Lord Mayor is decided upon by a vote amongst the elected councillors, the candidates are also selected from the councillors.
The political composition of Stoke-on-Trent city council as of 2008 is as follows:
|Year||Labour||British National Party||Conservatives||Liberal Democrats||Independents|
The city is covered by three House of Commons constituencies. They are Stoke-on-Trent North, Stoke-on-Trent Central and Stoke-on-Trent South. All three have returned Labour MPs without interruption since their creation in 1950. The city is within the West Midlands European Parliament constituency.
In July 2007, the nationwide public smoking ban in England failed to come into effect in Stoke-on-Trent because of an apparent "bureaucratic blunder". As Stoke-on-Trent has both a Council Manager and a Mayor, the enforcement of the ban must undergo a formal approval by both.
Stoke-on-Trent is linked to the nearby M6 motorway at junctions 15 and 16 by the A500. Locally the A500 is known to as the D road (500 in Roman numerals is D) as its loop between the two motorway junctions resembles a D. The A50 cuts through the city, providing an East-West link between the M6 and M1 motorways. Improvements to the road network have led to a number of companies building distribution centres in the area.
Stoke-on-Trent railway station is a mainline station on the Stafford-Manchester Line, which is a part of the West Coast Main Line between Manchester and London, as well as the Crewe-Derby Line. Virgin Pendolino train 390029 is named after Stoke-on-Trent. Other railway stations in the city include Longport and Longton stations. Etruria station was closed in September, 2005.
Local public transport is almost exclusively by bus. Bus services are mainly operated by Potteries Motor Traction, now owned by First Group under the name First PMT. There are also several smaller companies operating bus services in the city. There are central bus stations in Hanley city centre and Longton town centre. National Express operate long distance coach services from Hanley Bus Station.
The city is served by the Trent and Mersey Canal, which sees traffic of some 10,000 boats a year. Additionally, the Cauldon Canal branches off from the Trent and Mersey Canal at Etruria, within the city boundaries, going to Froghall with one branch going to Leek. Recently numerous improvements to the canal system have been made.
There are of new National Cycle Network off-road bicycle paths through the city, connecting the city to the national long-distance paths, completed in 2005. A further Stoke-£10-million of funding has now been secured for the city's cycling network, to be spent in 2009-2011.
The Community schools are: Berry Hill High, Birches Head High, Blurton High, Brownhills High, Edensor Technology College, Haywood High, Holden Lane High, James Brindley High, Longton High, Mitchell High, Sandon High, Thistley Hough High and Trentham High.
A major re-structure of Stoke-on-Trents High School system is currently under proposal. As part of these plans Longton High School is to close in 2010. Trentham High, Berry Hill High, and Mitchell Business and Enterprise College are also expected to close.
There are four higher education institutions in the local area. Stoke-on-Trent College is one of the largest colleges in the UK, and has two sites: one in Burslem (media & performing arts) and the main centre in Shelton. Another college is situated in Fenton- the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, which shares its site with the Fenton Manor sports complex.
The city is also home to Staffordshire University (formerly North Staffordshire Polytechnic), with its main site in Shelton, near Stoke-on-Trent railway station. It gained its university status in 1992 as one of the post-1992 universities. Keele University Medical School uses facilities at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Hartshill. Keele University itself was founded as the University College of North Staffordshire in 1949 with major involvement by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Stoke-on-Trent is home to two professional football teams, Stoke City ("the Potters"), who play at the Britannia Stadium after a move from the Victoria Ground in 1997, and Port Vale ("the Valiants") who play at Vale Park. City play in the Premier League during the current 2008-2009 season, while Vale play in League 2. This is the first time Stoke, the oldest league team after Notts County, have played in England's top division since 1985. The only major success for either of the professional teams was Stoke City's 1972 League Cup win.
In speedway, the Stoke Potters race in the Premier League whilst the Stoke Spitfires race in the BSPA Conference League. Speedway was staged at the greyhound stadium in Sun Street, Hanley intermitently between 1929 and 1939. In 1947 the Potters were part of the post war boom rising from Division Three of the National League to Division Two before closing in the early-1950s. The Potters were revived in 1960 and they raced in the Provincial League until the end of 1963 when the stadium was closed and the site redeveloped. Speedway was revived at Loomer Road in Newcastle-under-Lyme, initially as Chesterton, before it reverted to the Stoke name.
The city has a number of amateur sports clubs, including rugby union and cricket, the latter competing in the North Staffs and South Cheshire Cricket League. The cricket ground in Longton is one of the venues used by Staffordshire County Cricket Club
Stoke Spitfires was also the name of the city's American Football team. The team eventually folded in 1992 after a record of 35-34-1. In 1994 the Staffordshire Surge was formed and played their matches in and around Stoke-On-Trent. Currently the team play at Stoke Rugby Club in Division 1 North of the British American Football League.
Sir Stanley Matthews is perhaps the best known sportsperson from the city, who played football for Stoke City and Blackpool where he played in what became known as the Matthews Final and managed Port Vale. The "wizard of dribble", as he became known, made 54 appearances for his country, scoring 11 times. There are two statues of Matthews in the city; one in Hanley, and one at the Britannia Stadium.
Other notable sports people from the area include Mark Bright, a former FA Premier League footballer, Garth Crooks another top-flight footballer, both of whom now have media careers with the BBC. Ross Pointon (UFC fighter), Andrew Foster (tennis), Adrian Lewis, Ted Hankey both darts players, the later a world champion, Dave Harold, Jamie Cope (both snooker) and Imran Sherwani (field hockey). Wicketkeeper Bob Taylor, who played for Derbyshire and England was born and still lives in the area. He represented England 58 times and still holds the world record for the most number of dismissals in the first class game (1649).
In golf, Trenthams' David Lynn (born 1973) is the KLM Open Champion 2004. David has been a member of European Tour since 1996 and he has been in Top 30 of European Tour Order of Merit twice in last three seasons.
The city's main theatre is The Regent Theatre, which is in Hanley. Nearby is the main concert hall, the Victoria Hall. The Victorian Kings Hall in Stoke town hall is used for smaller events. In Burslem the Queens Theatre has been refurbished and restored at private expense. The Stoke-on-Trent Repertory Theatre is based in a ten year old building in Stoke and puts on amateur productions. The City Council-run Mitchell Memorial Theatre in Hanley also shows amateur productions. And the independent volunteer-run art-house cinema, The Stoke-on-Trent Film Theatre, is located very near the railway station, and shows art-house and subtitled films.
The city's Cultural Quarter in Hanley contains the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, the Regent Theatre and the Victoria Hall. But there are also smaller elements, including the independent Dazed Gallery and the subsidised student-run gallery AirSpace. In Fenton the Artbay Gallery has a contemporary range of original works as well as limited editions. In Burslem the Edwardian School of Art has been refurbished with £1.2 million, and is now run without a public subsidy. The Hothouse Centre for Ceramic Design (25 units), and the Roslyn Works (16 crafts studios) operate in Longton.
Other notable contributors to the world of literature includes Elijah Fenton (poet), Peter Whelan (playwright), John Wain (poet, critic and scholar), Pauline Stainer (poet), Charles Tomlinson (poet, graphic artist, translator, editor and critic).
Several nationally recognised TV presenters have been born in the area including Frank Bough who presented Nationwide & Breakfast Time, Anthea Turner from Blue Peter and Nick Hancock who chaired the comedy quiz show They Think It's All Over and was host on Room 101. Bruno Brookes the former BBC Radio 1 disc jockey who hosted the station's breakfast show also presented Top of the Pops. Peter Wyngarde as Jason King in "Flamingos only fly on Tuesdays" makes a quip about a "knicker salesman from Stoke-on-Trent". The cat in Dick and Dom in da Bungalow once sang a song about Stoke-on-Trent. Master illusionist Andrew Van Buren was born & is still based in the area, although he is more often found performing out of the country.
Robbie Williams is perhaps the most famous pop star to hail from the city. Many of his songs refer to Stoke-on-Trent, either directly or indirectly. These include "It's Only Us" and "Burslem Normals" as well as the spoken introduction to his duet with Jonathan Wilkes of the song "Me and My Shadow", while the song "Angels" was partly inspired by the golden angel at Burslem Town Hall. Slash was born in Hampstead, but grew up in Stoke from an early age. Other notable individuals and groups from the area include Andy Moor who is a Dj and Producer, Havergal Brian who composed 32 symphonies and five operas, Gertie Gitana (music hall star and singer), Lemmy, the founder of the rock band Motörhead, Patricia Leonard (singer/contralto), Jem Finer (Banjoist, The Pogues) and Broken Bones, Discharge (Punk Band). Murdoc Niccals, a member of the fictional group Gorillaz with the role of bass guitarist is said, in his constructed biography, to have been born in Stoke-on-Trent. Indie rocker Stephen Malkmus mentions Stoke-on-Trent in "Pink India", released on his self-titled solo album, singing that the song's protagonist, Mortimer, is a "rook" in The Great Game, who "came from Stoke-on-Trent."
In October, 2007, Stoke-on-Trent City Council introduced a new theme tune - "Moving Forwards Together". It was described by the council as "part of our drive to help us move the city forward and create a better Stoke-on-Trent for people to live, learn, work and enjoy".
Another common variation on the standard English dialect, is the use of the word "shug", as in short for sugar. This is usually used when closing a sentence as in "Ta Shug" (thank you sugar).
A local cartoon called May un Mar Lady, published in the The Sentinel newspaper, written in Potteries dialect, first appeared on July 8, 1986 and ran for over 20 years. Since the cartoonist Dave Follows' death in 2003 the full twenty-year run (7,000) of May un Mar Lady strips are being republished in The Sentinel, as May un Mar Lady Revisited, keeping the dialect alive for another twenty years.
Also, Alan Povey's Owd Grandad Piggott stories which have aired on BBC Radio Stoke for a number of years are recited in the Potteries dialect by the author.