Local industrial archaeology

Pottery bottle oven, Longport, Stoke-on-Trent. Next to the Trent and Mersey canal. I can’t remember the name of the pottery sorry. I think there are only 32 of these old pottery ovens left in Stoke-on-Trent. A few, like at Middleport pottery and the Gladstone Pottery museum are preserved and in good condition. Others are derelict or semi derelict. A few are just the bases of them left on the ground. Some are being rescued and repurposed, but others are dreadfully neglected as this one is.

Bottle ovens/kilns and enamel kilns burn at different temperatures. They were different shapes, the enamel ones are thinner. The outside bottle shape has a doorway into it and surrounds a cylindrical kiln where the pottery is placed. The pottery itself is stacked in ‘saggars’- round or oval shaped covers that protect the ceramics as the kiln is ‘fired’. These old fashioned kilns were heated with coal. The clay and fires lead to lung diseases, which were also found in local miners. As coal firing was stopped because of the clean air act many of these potteries closed or converted to gas firing in modern kilns. Old photos from the turn of the 19th century show many bottle ovens all over the city and the pall of smoke they created.

Stoke-on-Trent has clay, water and coal in abundance which is why the pottery industry set up here as well as a few other places in the UK. There are many books about the industrial archaeology of the area are available. Other information can be found at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre (Hanley), Stoke-on-Trent.

Peters Tavern, Hanley

Goulash

We went to the city centre of Stoke-on-Trent today, its called Hanley. We were recommended to try Peters Tavern which is a Hungarian restaurant. My hubby and I thought we would try goulash. He had Hungarian goulash and I had a pork one with sauerkraut and cream. Both meals came with a very soft white bread (perhaps sourdough?). They were very tasty. I’m afraid I can’t remember what mine was called, but was lovely. Nice friendly atmosphere there too.

Canal walk

Today we walked from the carpark of the Toby Carvery at Festival Park, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent to Hanley Park and back. The walk was only about three and a half miles but it was quite humid and I’d already been gardening in the morning.

We saw some Geese and Goslings jump off a wall on the other side of the canal, they swam over to us as I think they were looking for food. Sadly we had nothing for them.

Hanley Park was looking lovely with purple and white flowers in the beds up by the pavilion. They must have spent a lot of money on them.f

Finally we walked back to the Carvery. That was a bit difficult. We had taken a seat outside. But we had to order drinks in the bar, which meant sitting in the bar and having our orders taken, then we could take them outside. When I wanted a bag of crisps I had to go and sit again and wait for them to come and take my order. It was OK but a little strange.t

Then home to more gardening.

Potteries

The ‘Potteries’ is the name people call the city of Stoke-on-Trent in the North Midlands of England.

Built on the coalfields of the area, with an abundance of water and clay, it was an ideal place to start making pottery in factories during the industrial revolution. Bottle kilns, or ovens (so called because of their shape) were built across the six towns of Stoke-upon-Trent, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Fenton and Longton. The six towns were bought together as a Federation in the early twentieth century and this created the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

The Potteries Museum and art gallery is crammed with beautiful ceramics and is situated in the Cultural Quarter of the city centre which is in Hanley. Also worth a visit are the Gladstone Pottery museum in Longton and Middleport pottery in Middleport (near Burslem). There are many places to visit here. Hopefully they will all be open again soon.

Old architecture.

I didn’t take many photos at Stoke Sings because I wasn’t sure people would approve, but I did take some photos of the inside of the hall. It’s surprising because externally it’s all modern glass and metal and neat brickwork. But inside the old fittings and fixtures remain. BUT… That’s good because the acoustics are fantastic. The composer Edward Elgar even said it had  some of the best acoustics in the country. Clearly the people of Stoke-on-Trent loved their music very much.

Building in the city centre.

Hanley town is the city centre of Stoke on Trent. We were there this evening. When we walked back to the car I noticed this building so took a couple of snaps since it reminded me of the Spode site in Stoke.

What bothers me is that such an amazing frontage has been allowed to remain like this. There is a new hotel and a big apartment block being built directly opposite the old building. And yet old buildings like this are left to rot. If it had money spent on it perhaps it could be rescued. Then instead of eventually being knocked down, or falling down, it could be restored.

On the same note an old Manor house at Betley in Staffordshire burnt down today. A lot of effort had gone into repairing and restoring it, now its mostly destroyed by fire. The world is a sadder place for its loss and people who had flats there have lost their homes.

The Glasgow school of art had burnt down a while ago and the restoration started, then another worse fire happened. Great art was lost.

The point I guess is that instead of always building new things we should save some of our history before it has gone, and protect what remains.

Haiku Slam

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We went to  haiku slam this evening. Poets read one of their own works then had to read out haiku’s they had written. Eight poets split into four couples read out three haiku’s each. The best out of the two progressed to a semi final, and then two ended up in the final. It was actually quite dramatic. Some wise and some fun words were spoken.

I did not enter the main competition. I don’t have enough knowledge of the form and I only dabble in poetry. But they had a little poetry competition running along side the haiku. I decided to just join in that, so three of us read a poem out and then had to leave the room while people voted. I came second which was a surprise. Maybe I should try and do more funny poetry, I read a poem called ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ about the frustrations of shopping that I wrote a while ago.

Charity singing day.

I’ve been out all day singing at workshops with various tutors. Then in the evening 16 choirs were involved in a concert to raise money for three charities.

The day started early at a local theatre, groups went off to various changing rooms, bars and the auditorium to learn new songs and vocal techniques. In the same way as artists have different styles so do musicians. The first workshop I attended was called “joy” and it was joyful and bonkers. Fast cheery tunes and ” jazz hands”, it woke us up and some of us even threatened to join the teachers choir. The second workshop I went to was called “raise your voice” and helped us to harmonise and listen to each other while we learnt two folk songs.

In the afternoon around 400 of us.. Yes that many, learned a new song written specially for the day. Based on “let your little light shine” the lyrics were written by a local poet and music by a local musician. The result was filmed this evening when we sang it at the end of the concert.

It should be going on YouTube.

Each choir also sang one or two songs. Some of the singers were in 3 and even 4 of the choirs so they were busy.

We had a satisfying day and I think everyone should be proud of what they did.