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.

Sun through cloud

IMG_20190821_195945_491

The sun was shining through the clouds at Spode this afternoon giving everything a moody look.

Grey clouds, leaden

A glimmer of sun

Bright, yellow, hot

Sizzles through the clouds.

Humid heat festers

Industrial view languishes

Only a few plants

And a cat sleeping in the dust,

But alive,

Better than ruins.

 

Today at Spode site

Flowers and old wood

Blocked up windows and peeling paint.

Dasies and dianthus.

A history in brick and slate.

Clay and pottery.

Caged in but released,

Renewed and Revivified.

Pansies and wallflowers shining,

their sunlit faces turned to a bright, chilled sky.

Crumbling with asbestos innards,

But able to be proud again.

 

Photo walk

About 5 years ago we went on a photo walk around the north of the city of Stoke on Trent in a town called Tunstall. The idea was to do a circular walk encompassing greenways around the town that used to have a rail line and that runs between terraced houses on a raised path. There are bridges over paths and tunnels driven through the ground.

I used my old phone so the images are not brilliant. The day started overcast then it started to snow as we walked along the path. We came out onto the side of a newly built section of road then followed the path round up a hill before coming out at an old pub (can’t remember it’s name) where we stopped off for lunch and sat next to a real coal fire to warm up. Then off through local streets to finish near where we started outside the local health centre.

Photos include trees, train signals, walking along the path. A terraced house. The corrugated side of one of the tunnels. One of the metal greenaway signs, a dandelion growing on the side wall of part of the path, and bracket fungus growing on an old wooden post.

I’m hoping to go on another photo walk, may be when the weather is a bit better. The idea of looking at industrial and post industrial landscapes fascinates me.