Salts Mill

A grey day in Yorkshire. Salts Mill at Saltaire. Looking at this old mill with its huge chimney you wouldn’t think there was an amazing bookshop, a cafe and restaurant and gallery’s there with work by world famous artist David Hockney.

Saltaire is near Bradford and Leeds, it is an old area of Shipley and the mill is surrounded by small stone terraced houses that only have a main room, a kitchen and a small bedroom and bathroom. Saltaire featured in a recently updated version of the classic film the railway children.

The mill sits between the railway on one side and the canal and river on the other side if it lower down the hill. The small houses are a beautiful example of a historic area. Saltaire also holds a food festival in the summer which attracts international visitors.

I wish Stoke on Trent had the courage to create something like this from its own historic buildings. This would be a blueprint we could build on.

Industry

Etruria Industrial Museum is open this weekend. This is a museum that houses Jessy Shirleys Mill. It houses a steam engine that was used to grind bone and flint to be added to clay to make fine bone china. I want to take some photos so I can do some paintings if the machinery. The mill is ‘steamed’ once a month in the summer. They usually have events running alongside the steaming. I am not sure but they might have classic cars this weekend?

Etruria is a part of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire and is named for Etruscan pottery which copied the Italian style. It was made by Josiah Wedgwood.

My city

Should it be steamrollered?

I just wrote this reply to a local Councillor who has explained that a court case against the owner of a listed building in the city has been postponed again. The sections in brackets have been added later to explain the situation.

“Having seen the report on Midlands today (a local TV programme) about zero tolerance to owners that are letting the cities heritage deteriorate (including buildings being set on fire) I find this very disappointing. I’m also concerned about the councils proposal for Spode. (to partly demolish it and build a large amount of apartments on the site). I’ve put in an objection. The idea that places should be partly demolished goes against the cities heritage. Surely there could be sympathetic restoration like along the canal between Shelton and Etruria (two bottle ovens have been restored and incorporated into a housing scheme) or let places be rebuilt like at the black country museum? (a large industrial heritage museum in Dudley, West Midlands) Instead we get the headline of a twelve million pounds black hole in the city finances and the prospect of more cuts. Is this levelling up or just levelling the city? (levelling up is a bidding system where cities try and get funding for specific work granted by central government). I came here over forty years ago and the place just gets worse!”

It seems that industrial heritage is not wanted in thus country. We should use funds to restore buildings, but making sure they are carbon neutral, instead we seem obsessed with ‘growth’ despite the damage that can do in a world of dwindling resources.

Westport Lake

While we were at the Waiting Room gallery in Longport we decided to go for a walk round the lake. The local council has bought in parking charges at the lake (I’m not sure if they have started taking money yet), but rather than driving there we left our car on the street and walked a few hundred yards along the canal to the lake.

As you walk along you see the sad dereliction of the industrial heritage of Stoke-on-Trent. Buildings that used to use the canals for transport are falling to rack and ruin. Firms buy them up then instead of restoring them and perhaps nurturing the buildings and creating museums or even apartments like they have in Manchester or Birmingham, let them fall down or burn down!

Leaving the sad buildings behind, we walked along the canal towpath to the lake. We bought a bag of bird food and fed the wild fowl around the lake. Worryingly we did see a Canada goose with what looked like mucus hanging from its beak. There is bird flu in the country which is very harmful to the birds. Once round the lake and then back along the canal. A good walk.

Canal frozen

Well not all of it, where the water was running through the locks there was less or no ice, but some sections were solid with ice about an inch thick. This was in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, by the Etruria Industrial Museum. At least it was sunny and out of the easterly wind.

A thaw is due, but then wet weather too. Oh well at least I’ll be able to save on my heating bills!

Little walk at Etruria

There is plenty to see on a short walk in the area around the Etruria Industrial museum at Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent.

There was a very cold wind blowing along the canal towpath so we only had a short walk. We took a look at the cygnets on the canal, they were on their own so presumably their parents have left them now. I wish we had taken some duck food with us. There were plenty of other birds about including ducks and geese, a rook or crow and magpies.

Some of the industrial buildings in the area are more visible now the leaves are off the trees. One of these is the tall chimney that is on the industrial estate behind Jessie Shirley’s flint and bone mill, which is attached to the Etruria Industrial museum.

One of the boats on the canal had smoke rising from its chimney, which made me think of hot tea and toast. We soon got back to our car, and put the car heater on to warm up. Brrr

Enamel kiln

DSC_0026Enamel kiln at Gladstone pottery museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. These burn hotter than a normal pottery kiln. This is to create enamel from powdered glass, fired about 1400°C. There is a working enamel kiln at Stevensons in Middlewich on the banks of the Trent and Mersey canal. Enamels are used from jewellery to bathroom ware. This is because it has to be stronger and not chip or crack.

The industrial heritage of this country is hanging on. Places like the Black Country museum in Dudley in the West Midlands give us a place to see how the past was. Manufacturing changes and evolves. Soon robots and AI might be the only way things are made. But despite the old dirty polluting past may have been bad, it still stirs memories and romantic ideas of the way things were.

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Tyres

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Photo of an old painted sign on Hartshill Road, Stoke on Trent.

I noticed it as we were walking down Hartshill and heading for Stoke. The paint is peeling and will be gone in a few years, but it clings on.

Part of an old industrial heritage in the city of Stoke-on-Trent which is gradually decaying.

Some places rejoice in their heritage. Manchester turned old warehouses into loft apartments. The Black Country museum in Dudley in the West Midlands has rebuilt old Victorian houses and workshops to create a living museum.

Somehow Stoke-on-Trent has got left behind. Yes there are glimmers of growth, but old houses get knocked down and are either not rebuilt, or when they are, are too expensive for people to buy.

I’m not completely sad about the place, it is unique, but it needs looking after, the people caring for, and caring about this wonderful city.

Middleport photos

We visited the Middleport pottery a while ago on a rainy day and I took a few photos. I liked the atmospheric lighting, the sheen of water on the cobbles and the model of the pottery that is in the museum. I hope to visit again soon.

Middleport pottery is next to the canal in Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. It has a museum, a cafe, a shop where you can buy pottery and various events. There are also studios and workshops which make for an interesting place to visit.

Looking at backstamps

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What are back stamps??

They are the trademark or manufacturers mark  that you find on the bottom of cups, plates and dishes that shows who made them.

This can be useful in identifying the manufacturer, whether they are antique and if they are worth anything. Sometimes they even get forged! People have added things like the Clarice Cliff signature onto modern pots to try and fool people into buying them as originals.

Some pots have simple marks on their base to identify them. Others have complicated patterns and writing.

The people who live in the potteries (Stoke-on-Trent). Have a habit of looking underneath pots to see if they have recognised which pottery made them. I think it’s called the “turn over club” but I may be wrong…..