Timothy Trow

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Sorry for the blurry photo. This is the memorial to a man called Timothy Trow.

I’d known about this for a few years but got a leaflet today and it explained he was a local hero 125 years ago.

Timothy Trow was from neighbouring area of Shelton. He was a conductor on a tram that ran along London Road in Stoke. When the tram reached the West End area of Stoke, at a spot near James Street, he saw a young girl who had fallen in the canal. She was later identified as Jane Ridgeway. He jumped into the Newcastle Canal and rescued her but he then got cramp and despite people trying to rescue him he drowned. All of this happened on 13 April 1894.

There is a memorial stone in recognition of his courage. In recent years our local Councillor has encouraged an annual commemoration. The local West End Methodist Church and local people have turned it into an annual event. One of my friends actually wrote a song to commemorate his bravery and a couple of years ago we walked along the course of the canal (which has since been filled in) and my friend sang the song next to the memorial stone.

Nothing

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Couldn’t resist posting this photo.

On this site sept. 5, 1782 Nothing happened.

The day before had been busy, barges were loaded with pottery to take away on the canal, horses pulling the barges to distant towns along the trent and mersey canal…. . Seven days earlier a load of clay and ground flint had arrived. The pottery has been thrown on wheels or cast in slip. Then into the kilns so that they could be fired biscuit hard. The paintresses had decorated each pot with beautiful designs. These were the pots that were spreading out over the land now.

But today nothing happened.

Mable smiled at  Jeremiah, he smiled back, but nothing happened. Mabels father was not approving of Jeremiah, he was only a lowly saggar makers bottom knocker, making the bases for saggars. These were the pottery cases that fine pottery and china was fired in to protect it from the smoke from the coal. Jeremiah had no prospects. He was younger than Mable. She was the owners daughter.

All she could do was smile. All she could do was hope things would change. But today …

Nothing happened.

Maybe one day it would ..

Icy bird

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She walks across the ice to reach the water, strutting her stuff with only a few slight slides as her claws slip on the frozen surface.

The cold is penetrating despite the weak winter sunlight. The birds feet are not Feathered, she must have antifreeze in her blood. Bigger birds like ducks can force their way through but she can stand on it, weight spread by big toes.

She can reach the grain and bread I threw that landed on the ice, even though its only millimetres thick.

Living through winter must be tough. Birds are not being fed enough because people have been told not to feed them bread but people are not feeding the birds grain or duck food.

Life survives although cold kills, with care the balance is maintained.

Illustrations

I did a series of illustrations for the canal and rivers Trust a couple of years ago. They were included in a leaflet about James Brindley the canal builder.

Each illustration was acrylic paint on watercolour paper because I wanted a more opaque picture than with watercolours. Each one was in an oval or round frame.

I wish I had a copy of the leaflet but I think they all went..

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Canal boats and old lorries.

Etruria is hosting varied events this weekend. There are plenty of wonderfully painted and restored canal boats and barges, and there were also some old and interesting lorries at the site which had hauled static steam engines to Etruria.

I’ve often wondered what it was like to live on a working barge and we recently had the opportunity to see the interior of an old boat that hauled coal, the cabin for a family was only about 6 or 7 foot by 5 ft. There were various adaptations, like having a table that dropped down and boards to put across to make up a bed. But the life was hard and must have been very difficult and dangerous at times.

One man I was chatting to had lived by the canal in the second world war. He said a bomb was dropped on the canal by aircraft trying to hit the local steelworks. It took the roof off  a covered lock and blew down an old wall next to the canal. He also said that there is a lot of subsidence in the area and the land had sunk so much they had to build a new lock. They had dredged the canal then filled in the base. He had helped bring down new lock gates from the countryside down the cauldon canal. But when they got to Etruria the canal was too shallow as they had added too much clay lining to it. With the weight of the lock gate the boat grounded on the bottom and they were stuck on the barge until someone came along with a board to help them get off the boat.

There is so much history that we know so little of in this area.

Tomorrow , well actually later today, there is a classic car show at Etruria. Should be good.

Surreal canal

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Using the Layout app from Instagram, I created this surreal image using a photo of a local canal with a strange thin building projecting upwards from what appears to be a circular or oval pool, the water was so still it had a lovely reflection on it, and this has added to the final picture.

The building is the edge of an old, derelict, warehouse that stands like a cliff face next to the canal, in the past ware from the pottery would have been transported from the pottery, south and east to the Midlands or north and west to the coast at Liverpool or up to Manchester and beyond. In fact Stoke-on-Trent lies at the heart of the canal system, and was built around the coal, clay and water of this area. Manufacturing of pottery, steel making and coal mining was on a massive scale here. Industrial archaeology will reveal the landscape as an amazing historical treasure trove of creativity. Some of the buildings were lost to demolition and decay, many bottle ovens have gone. The rest have protection orders on them, but are not necessarily being maintained. Warehouses and factories are crumbling. It is sad that history is being lost.

 

Exhibition

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Short notice I know….Its a steaming weekend with tours round the Etruria Industrial museum. The steam engine for Jessie Shirleys bone and flint mill will be fired up and the forge will be open further along the Trent and Mersy canal where it joins with the Cauldon canal. Also I think there will be organ grinders there. The exhibition  will be in the warehouse and hands on pottery is also on, run by Etruria Artists. The canal warehouse is by lock 40 on the trent and mersey. The weekend coincides with the opening of weeping window just down the canal at Middleport, this consists of thousands of poppies made out of clay and painted red. They are displayed pouring down the outside of the bottle oven at the Middleport pottery in Burslem.

The Flint mill is over the canal from Kilndown close, Etruria, stoke-on-Trent…  Come and see us if you can!