A friend took a photo of my coat of arms design at the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. The building burned down a few months ago and I have been trying to find good images of my murals. They were burnt in the fire and the photos are all I have of them.
We drove past the Leopard Hotel in Burslem today. Its just hidden behind wooden hoardings and scaffolding. I haven’t been up past it since the fire that destroyed it back in February. We only glanced at it. I couldn’t stop. It’s a hole in the history of Burslem, and a hole in my memory. I managed to find a photo of the Leopard sign. It was also known as the famous Leopard. I’m still trying to find copies of the photos I took of the murals I painted in there. A remote hope.
This was the function room, the Arnold Bennett suite, in the back of the Leopard Hotel with my murals visible on the walls. They were quite high up and I’m only short, so I spent a lot of time climbing up and down ladders! If I had realised it was likely to take me almost two years to paint them (there were eleven? ) seven on one side and four on the other if I remember?
Titles were :
Umbrellas by Clarice Cliff
Arthur Berry, artist
Walter, the regular
Pot banks and woman worker
The Leopard coat of arms
The Burslem Riot 1842
Wedgwood and Brindley
Molly Leigh, Burslem witch
I cannot remember if there was another one. I’m hoping to collect a full set of images of them. I hope that local people will be able to help me.
Another of my murals, four gentlemen meet to discuss the building of the Trent and Mersey canal. They included Josiah Wedgwood and James Brindley. They were said to have met in the back room of the Leopard Hotel in Burslem.
This image was found on a ghost hunter website. I didn’t give my permission for him to use it, but I guess I can’t complain because it means I now have a record of it. I will keep looking for more.
In 2006 to 2007 I painted a series of twelve murals at the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Recently the pub has been closed down after the previous owner left.
I was asked by the owners Neil Crisp and Neil Cox to do a series of Murals based on the history of Burslem. I painted the Burslem riot scene whose characters included local residents and pub staff, a murder scene of a woman said to have been killed there, a pottery worker at the end or start of her shift. I also painted ‘the Leopardess’ one of the original owners, a picture of Molly Leigh, the Burslem witch, pottery owner Josiah Wedgwood, and three of his friends discussing the building of the Trent and Mersey canal. Also Arthur Berry, famous artist and my tutor at college. Walter a pub regular who had drunk there since his youth. A Clarice Cliff design called Umbrellas, and a painting of the Burslem Angel that stands in top of the old town Hall. I also designed and painted a design for a coat of arms for the hotel.
I always wanted some decent photos of the murals but only have a few pictures. The lighting was not very good in the Arnold Bennett suite. They at least are some memories I have.
The pub was renowned for being haunted and regular ghost tours of the empty hotel rooms attracted a lot of attention. It was even featured in ‘Britains most haunted’ a TV show.
It was a couple of years ago that it closed. Covid didn’t help. I was sad to see it shut but it sounded like they had someone interested in getting it going again.
Over the last few days a report came out that it had been broken into and someone had been arrested ror growing cannabis in there.
Now? Who knows. Apparently three people have been arrested for setting fire to it? Whatever happens its so sad. I guess it will be unrecoverable, destroyed. Part of my life has gone with it.
In about 2006 and 2007 I painted several murals in the Arnold Bennett suite of the Leopard Hotel. It has appeared on Britain’s most Haunted on TV and until a couple of years ago was still open. Now no one seems to know what is happening with it. I’m sure it still needs a lot of work doing on it. No doubt my murals will get painted over if it is refurbished. It’s sad, because for a few years the place thrived. But there was also bad luck there. I wish things coukd be better for it. X
These are three of my murals in the Leopard Hotel in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
The first is a painting of a design by Clarice Cliff called Umbrellas, a painting of a woman who may have been murdered in the back room, and gives rise to the possibility it is haunted, and a portrait of the artist Arthur Berry, together with a painting of his in the background. Arthur was one of my tutors at college.
There are other paintings but I need to take good photos of them. They were painted about 12 years ago.
In 1842 there was a Chartists riot in Burslem which is the mother town of Stoke-on-Trent. During a meeting of Chartists in the town the magistrate decided to read the riot act and the police and military shot a rioter called Josiah Heapy while they were trying to quell it.
I did this painting at least ten years ago and recently it appeared in the local press to illustrate the root. I wrote to the paper giving them retrospective permission to use it, but now it’s on other Facebook pages. When I informed one page they took it down. I don’t mind it being used but I did it and several others and would like some recognition. Some people speculated that I copied it from prints from the time. But actually I researched it. Look closely and you will see faces of customers, staff and the owners of the hotel. I used old prints to get the buildings right in the background. Things have changed since then including a victorian town hall which was built later. The police and mounted regiment are in uniforms that I had to guess. I tried getting the information but could not find it out in time.