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.
I can’t use the actual painting in this blog because I don’t have the memory on my plan. But imagine this is a mural of the Burslem Chartists riot of 1842 that I painted in the Leopard Hotel, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in about 2007.
￼The mural includes the hotel, the original town hall in Burslem and Josiah Wedgewood House.
The painting included police and members of the Staffordshire troop taking on rioters in Burslem. The rioters were Chartists and were fighting for the rughr to vote. One of them was killed, his name was Josiah Heapy and he now has a memorial in Swan Square, Burslem.
My mural included local people from 2007 depicted as rioters. These include local historians Fred Hughes and Mervyn Edwards and the then owners of the pub, Neil Crisp and Neil Cox. Other members of the hotel staff are included. I really wish I could show it you. If I sort things out I will post photos.
In 2007 I did a series of murals in The Leopard Hotel, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.
One image was based on a story of a woman in the 18th or 19th century who had been murdered in the back rooms of the hotel. Stabbed to death, in one of the small “snug” rooms which the back room was divided into.
In the painting the woman is slumped in an old high backed arm chair, her glass of red wine lying on its side on the floor. At first she just looks like she is asleep, but the pool of wine is slowly mingling with another red liquid. The woman sits in front of a raging fire. But her skin is pale. Almost white. She wears a mob cap and a low cut blue dress. Is she a maid in the hotel, a pottery worker, or a lady of the night plying her trade?
No one I spoke to knew her name or why she had been murdered. It could have been a crime of passion or a theft of money. If anyone had heard anything surely the criminal would have been caught?
Does her ghost walk the back room of the hotel, looking for her killer or his children down through time. Is it her footsteps that are heard when the room is quiet and empty?
I don’t even know if the story is true, but I made her a simple maid, cut down on a dark cold night, abandoned with no care about how it would affect her family, her parents, her siblings.
Murder looks so simple, a moment of rage, without thought to the victim or their family.
I hope it did not happen….that it is just a story and the chill that runs down my spine is just the central heating playing up.