Stoke, or to give it its full name, Stoke-upon-Trent is a component town of the city of City of Stoke-on-Trent, in the ceremonial county of Staffordshire, England.
The town, which was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1874, is one of six that federated to form the county borough of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910, along with Hanley, Tunstall, Burslem, Longton and Fenton. It is the seat of the city's council, though Stoke-on-Trent's city centre is, usually regarded as being the nearby town of Hanley which, since federation, has been the most commercially important of the Six Towns.
Confusion can arise over the similarity of this town's name to that of the larger city. If the new borough (not a city until 1925) had to be named after one of the original towns, the main reason for using "Stoke" is that this was where the new town's administration was sited, which in turn was because Stoke had the main transport links.
The canal, mainline railway, and trunk road passed through the centre of Stoke. Stoke also had the main railway station (other towns were connected by the "loop" line) making the name of Stoke perhaps the most familiar outside the area. It made sense to name the city after the oldest and most commonly recognised name, even though it was not then the most significant town from a commercial perspective. (The commercial centre was Hanley, elevated and therefore relatively free, for most of the year, of the city's smog and smoke.).
Growth of Stoke and its Transport links
Stoke was located where the River Trent meets Fowlea Brook.
The later Roman road
through Stoke remained the basis for local road transport long after the Roman occupation.
The Anglian name given to this ancient place of meeting and worship was the 'stoc' (meeting place) on the Trent. It was the site of the first church in the area, built of wood around the year 670, later rebuilt in stone, and now known as Stoke Minster A significant small town grew up around this church.
In the 18th Century, the "Grand Trunk" canal came along the Trent valley to carry coal cheaply to the Potteries (and pottery safely away). Many of the promoters of the canal were pottery magnates.
In the 19th century, the railways, too, came along the valley. The mainline Stoke-on-Trent railway station was opened by the North Staffordshire Railway on October 9, 1848, replacing the temporary station sited at Whieldon road which was constructed for the opening of the first NSR line on April 17, 1848. Travellers to the region would change trains at Stoke for local trains to their ticketed destination.
The King's Hall
Assembly hall, ballroom, exhibition hall and theatre built in 1910-11 at the time of the Federation to the design of T. Wallis and J.A. Bowater
and with an impressive nineteen bay dressed stone frontage on Kingsway behind the Town Hall. It has proved itself to be a very useful adjunct to the Town Hall of 1834-50. This was built on Glebe Street, opposite the parish church to the design of Henry Ward
. The entire Town Hall/King's Hall complex serves the City of Stoke-on-Trent well as its chief administrative offices including the Lord Mayor's Parlour combined with all the facilities of the King's Hall for the City's formal entertainment.
In the 19th century, Stoke had a thriving pottery industry, hence its nickname, "The Potteries". Since the last half of the 20th century, however, almost all of the bottle-shaped kilns have been taken down, due to regulations from the Clean Air Act — an estimated 4,000 bottle kilns in the heyday of the pottery industry, today reduced to a mere 46. Successful Stoke-upon-Trent potters include Spode
, Copeland, Minton
Although Stoke is surpassed by its neighbouring town, Hanley
in terms of size, population, and shops, it does have:
- Stoke Minster
- the same (abbreviated) name as the City
- the mainline railway station
- the main campus of Staffordshire University, its library and halls of residence (these are actually located on land that was originally part of Hanley) and was the original site of the Staffordshire Cricket Clubs ground.
- The University Hospital of North Staffordshire and the City General Hospital, as well as the Central Outpatients Department, which is one, if not the, largest in the UK.
- a long-established purpose-built art house cinema
- a purpose-built repertory theatre
- the Irish centre
- the Trent & Mersey canal & National Cycle Network paths
- the main complex of Council offices & chamber - clustered in and around the Town Hall
- the Minster church and Stoke Approach area and the outdoor artworks
- The King's Hall music & events venue
- a free public lending library
- The Spode Copeland pottery factory
- The Villas, the first conservation area in Stoke, containing several Grade II listed houses
Outlying townships within the bounds of Stoke-upon-Trent include Boothen, Hartshill, Mount Pleasant, Penkhull and Trent Vale.