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The Potteries & Stoke On Trent
Stoke on Trent is situated approximately halfway between Manchester and Birmingham and is surrounded by beautiful English countryside such as the Peake District National Park and Buxton.
Stoke on Trent became a federation of six towns, Stoke, Burslem, Hanley, Fenton, Longton and Tunstall, on 31st March 1910. It became a city in 1925, and became known as the Potteries and is considered to be the home of the pottery industry in the United Kingdom.
The city is often known as ‘the city of five towns’, because of the name given to it by local novelist Arnold Bennett. He believed the ‘five towns’ sounded better than six so he left out Fenton which has become known as the ‘forgotten town’.
The production of ceramics dates back to the 17th century because of its abundance of clay, salt, lead and coal (all necessary for the manufacture of pottery.
Josiah Wedgwood set himself up in business in 1759, having worked in the industry as a young boy. He later (1769) built the largest factory in Britain. This was situated in Etruria, on the outskirts of Burslem, his birthplace. It is said that John Wesley helped Josiah to improve working conditions for staff. Both had political interests by playing an important part in the ‘Abolition of Slave trade’. Wedgwood produced medallions in black and white jasper, which depicts the emblem and motto of the society.
In 1777 there was the birth of Grand Trunk Canal (now the Trent and Mersey Canal). This helped the industry by providing an outlet to the ports of Hull and Liverpool transporting raw material into the city. Horses were used to pull the boat along by walking along the pathways. This was not only quicker but also cheaper.
Another famous figure from Stoke on Trent is Reginald Mitchell. He invented the ‘Spitfire’, but has never been commemorated for this as he died before they were manufactured.