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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Local History > History News

History-related news Stories in Staffs, 2006
Newest stories at the top

Cash for St Mary and All Saints
Lottery funds are being made available to restore the 13th century Church of St Mary and All Saints in Bradley, Staffordshire, one of eight churches across the West Midlands to get cash. The church needs its lead nave roof replacing.

Tamworth Castle history events
The Castle's managers have announced a number of living history events for the Spring.
On Sunday 26th March, to commemorate Mothering Sunday, there willbe a joint initiative with St Editha's Church to provide a fun look at women in history.
On the
16th & 17th April, the Roman and Briton Group offer up a hands-on re-renactment, including a performance of a competitive combat between the Romans and the Britons.
And, on April 30th & 1st May, a military living-history event with the Diehards looks at the period of 1837-1914.
See Tamworth Castle details

Vote for the Spitfire!
BBC2's The Culture Show and the Design Museum are calling on style-fans to vote in their their poll to find the nation's favourite example of British design since 1900, in 'The Great British Design Quest'.
Local interest is in the fact that RJ Mitchell's design for the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft is in the final list. Mitchell was born in North Staffordshire, was voted greatest Midlander in a similar poll in 2003.
To learn more about all the long-listed design projects see the Design Museum website -
Many other icons inextricably linked with Britishness feature in the list, such as the Routemaster bus, the Mini-skirt and the Concorde - and our road and motorway signage system and the London A-Z Street Atlas!
Music lovers will be happy that two album covers make the list: The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and New Order's Power, Corruption and Lies. Over the forthcoming weeks, the Culture Show will include short films on the fascinating origins of the long listed projects.
Votes can be cast on the Quest website during February at

Spitfire tops for England? The Spitfire plane features in a second poll this month as one of the prominent nominations in a search for England's most popular icons.
The government has started off "Icons: A Portrait of England" as a two-year, £1m cultural project, which invites the public to name the things they cherish most about England.
The Spitfire is in the vote for what the project calls "the first dozen marks on the canvas that will be our portrait of England", having been chosen by leading figures in academia and the arts.
See the other nominations - and vote!

No spots on The Leopard One of the Potteries most famous pubs (and referred to by Arnold Bennett in his novels) has been recognised for its remarkable history.
For National Pubs Week 2006, the real ale campaign group CAMRA has researched pubs across the country which have played a pivotal role in historical events.
Now, assisted by London School of Economics academic Simon Davies, CAMRA has short-listed fourteen pubs which it feels are worthy of being awarded a specially designed Pubs in Time plaque - and among the first is The Leopard Inn, Burslem.
It was at The Leopard that, on March 8th 1765, Josiah Wedgwood and James Brindley met to discuss the construction of the Trent and Mersey Canal. The project began the following year and spearheaded Britain’s Golden Age of canals, revolutionising freight transport and helping fuel the industrial revolution.

Blake book out A book commemorating the pictures of local photographer William Blake has been produced by the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Blake's photos, taken in Stoke-on-Trent during the early 20th century, captured the people and landscapes of the city and surrounding countryside.
Many of the photographs were taken in the Longton area, a short walk from Blake’s house and his stationers’ business in Stafford Street. Blake often provided cynical captions to some of his photographs, commenting on the poor living and working conditions.
All the photographs in the book are taken from glass plate negatives in the Local History Collection at the museum – which holds 1,374 of Blake's glass plate negatives. The purchase and publication are part of a larger project, "The People and Places of the Potteries", which will also see the creation of new gallery displays devoted to Arnold Bennett, Havergal Brian and Sir Stanley Matthews, as well as a second publication in the summer of 2006.

Family History attracts thousands The BBC Radio Stoke Family History Day at Trentham Gardens took pl
ace on February 11th - with an attendance that went into the thousands!
See our report from the day.

Alex 1000th Crewe Alexandra Football Club has passed another millennium, as the one-thousandth player to have worn the Alex's colours appeared on the pitch this month.
As the Crewe Alexandra Supporters' Initiative group revealed, the lucky man was new signing Gareth Taylor.


Walton hopes
Angling enthusiasts are hopeful that a new TV series about Izaak Walton will encourage more people to visit his cottage in Staffordshire. His cottage at Shallowford, near Eccleshall, will re-open to visitors in April after the winter break, but will only be open one day a week, because of a lack of funding. Tony Bridgett, who's a director with the Walton cottage trust, says he hopes the new "Compleat Angler" TV series will attract more tourists there.

History hold up Work on a reservoir in North Staffordshire is one month behind schedule because industrial artefacts need to be preserved. British Waterways is repairing the dam at Kynpersley reservoir, which was built in 1827 by Thomas Telford, in order to bring safety standards up to date. But anglers fear low water levels while work is carried out could mean fish may suffer. However David Thresh from British Waterways, says they've recovered original teapot valves designed by Telford, and they need to be careful. 19/01/06

Titanic idea goes down a storm A museum dedicated to the ocean liner the Titanic could be built in Stoke-on-Trent. The Titanic Heritage Trust is raising money to create a permanent exhibition to commemorate the ship and the disaster in which she sank. It says the city would be ideal, because the captain of the Titanic, Edward John Smith, was born in Hanley.

Cash to help save historic papers A campaign to save The Sutherland Papers, a unique archive of Staffordshire historical documents, is boosted with a £1.3m grant. See BBC story


Vine lives on
Villagers and ale enthusiasts will be raising a glass or two - as time has been called on plans to demolish a historic Kinver pub, the Vine. Residents successfully campaigned against plans to build houses on the Vine Inn site, in Dunsley Road; and South Staffordshire District Council has now confirmed that demolition plans submitted by the owners have been refused as well. More than 900 objections were submitted to the housing plan, with support from the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), British Waterways, Staffordshire and Worcester Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association. The Vine Inn first opened its doors to beer drinkers back in 1850, when it had a coal wharf and a weighbridge.

Pottery museum gets £6m windfall A museum showcasing the work of Staffs pottery firm Wedgwood is to finally be built after receiving a £6m lottery windfall. See BBC story


Towers recorded
The story of how Alton Towers first opened to the public in the 1830s is being told in a new DVD. Gary Kelsall, who's a lecturer at Staffordshire University, has made the film using hours of archive footage. It reveals how the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury opened the gates to local people 170 years ago and follows the tale to the present day. A copy will be put into the Alton Towers archives.

Gone but not forgotten
A small village in the Staffordshire Moorlands has unveiled a special stone plaque - all in memory of a former methodist church. For 111 years - from 1859 to 1970 - the village of Foxt, near Iptones, had its own Primitive Methodist Chapel. Like so many churches, in its day it was the centre of village life.

Crooked but special
A Pub in south Staffordshire with a couple of unique selling points has been put on the market. The Crooked House in Himley is Britain's "wonkiest" pub as it has a fifteen degree slant after a mine shaft collapsed beneath one side a hundred and fifty years ago. It's also believed the pub has a ghost - a former bar maid called Polly.

Etruria help
Campaigners trying to stop the Methodist Etruria Chapel in Stoke-on-Trent being converted into offices are turning to the lottery for help. The Methodist Church, which closed the chapel last year, has submitted plans to change the use of the site for commercial business - so it can be sold as offices. But Beti Hand from Staffordshire
Arts organisation SHARE wants to lease the building, to create a community and heritage centre. She says if they have to buy it from the church they'll need lottery funding.

Mitchell remembered
A plaque commemorating the life of the North Staffordshire inventor of the Spitfire, Reginald Mitchell, is to be unveiled at a special dance next month. The 3-foot by 2-foot plaque was given to the Rotary club in Mitchell's home town of Kidsgrove, by RAF Stafford, who are now passing it on to the town council.


History on show Two major exhibitions with historical significance have opened this month and run until early next year.

At the Potteries Museum, "Potteries at War" celebrates what life was like in Stoke-on-Trent between 1939 and 1945. See details.

Meanwhile internet buffs will enjoy an exhibtion which is only available online. As part of the SeaBritain 2005 project - a series of events on the theme of Britain and the sea - t
he Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive Service has put togther webpages to illustrate the work of men connected with the county, who were active in roles relating to the sea.
They are: Sir John Leveson, responsible for coastal defences during the Spanish Armada threat of 1588; George Legge, who was responsible for the evacuation of Tangier, 1683-84; George Anson, the naval officer and politician who circumnavigated the world, (1740-1744); Richard Drakeford (c1709-1757), a ship's purser from Stafford who later became involved in the administration of naval prize money; and John Jervis, Earl of St. Vincent, who led the English fleet to victory at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, in February 1797.
See Staffs Past Track - At Sea

And one to come.. is the
"Bethesda" video-artwork (profiling the once great and now derelict Bethesda Chapel in Hanley) which can be seen at the Potteries Museum from late November.

Beth delay Work to restore a chapel in Stoke-on-Trent is a month behind schedule already, and it hasn't even started. It was hoped repairs would be underway to the Bethesda Chapel in Hanley by the end of this month, but it's been delayed. The Historic Chapels Trust who are in charge of the restoration say they've been held up waiting for architects' plans to come in. It's hoped work will begin next month. (See more about the Bethesda)

Alex comes down One of Stoke-on-Trent's most famous pottery factories has been demolished. The Alexandra factory in Tunstall has seen thousands of Wedgwood and Johnson pottery pieces produced there.

Steaming again
Part of Staffordshire's transport history has taken to the road again - after being lovingly restored over nearly ten years. The 1920s Thomas Green and Son steam roller is one of only five of its kind left in the world - but eighty years ago it was a familiar sight on the county's roads, doing work for the county council. It's been restored by a preservation society, who'll put it on show this weekend at Klondike Mill near Uttoxeter.

Heroes for sale
Portraits of three literary heroes of Staffordshire are being featured in a sale in October at Bonhams Auction House in London.
The single-owner collection,
Creative Encounters: Portraits of Writers, Artists & Musicians - The Roy Davids Collection, which has been compiled by the noted manuscript expert and collector Roy Davids over the last 30 years, contains almost 300 portraits of writers, artists, musicians and philosophers - including ones of George Eliot (whose book "Adam Bede" is set in East Staffordshire), Doctor Samuel Johnson, and Henry Newbolt - who was born in Bilston (in those far-off days, it was part of Staffordshire!). 3/10/05


Tywford history An application to knock down the former Twyford pottery works buildings on Shelton New Road in Stoke-on-Trent build apartments is being discussed this week. Planners are recommending the city council approve the development, even though the buildings are grade 2 listed. English Heritage is satisfied with plans to keep the frontage of the original building along with two bottle ovens. 25/09/05

War remembered A special ceremony was held at Leek today. The Nicholson war memorial was re-dedicated on its eightieth anniversary. 25/09/05

Smoky Stoke
A picture of Hanley published in the Times newspaper has horrified people who have to promote North Staffordshire - it was used to illustrate a story about the area, but was actually taken 70 years ago! The picture of industrial Stoke-on-Trent from the 1930s appears in the paper today. The story's about the apparent reluctance of staff of the clothing firm, New Look, to move from Dorset to Newcastle-under-Lyme. But John De Kanter from Instaffs, who promotes this area to outsiders, says it's not fair. 23/09/05

Sneyd remembered A plaque remembering a pit disaster in Stoke-on-Trent is being re-dedicated. Fifty-seven miners were killed in an explosion down the Sneyd Pit in 1942. The plaque has been moved to Hamil Road Methodist chapel in Burslem and is being rededicated in a special service. 18/09/05

Not a lot of heritage Thousands of people visited a record number of buildings across the West Midlands as part of Heritage Open Days, running from 8-11 September. However, In Staffordshire only 12 properties took part, though in neighbouring Shropshire, nearly four times as many venues were involved.

Heritage Open Days celebrates England's architecture and culture by offering free access between the 10th and 13th to properties that are usually closed to the public or normally charge.
To see the full list of properties open in the county, click here
Others that you've told us about are:
*The Museum of Brewing at Burton upon Trent - the 1866 grade II listed building offers unique insight into history of local brewing
*Erasmus Darwin House, Lichfield, offering guided tours of cellars not normally open to visitors
*St Mary the Virgin & St Chad's Church, Brewood - a Grade I listed church founded around 1220, showing extras such as children's art, a quiz, treasure hunt, and activities, period musical instruments, church artefacts and other local items.
* Open Day at St Mary the Virgin Church, Ingestre near Stafford - a Wren church
. See details
* Open Day Tours at Combermere Abbey nr Whitchurch, Shropshire. See details
* Heritage Day at Clayton Hall Business & Language College, Clayton Lane, Newcastle on 10th September - 10.00am - 1.00pm. Guided tours of this grade II Listed building. Call 01782 297570
* Heritage Open Days Walk on September 10th - 1pm-3.45pm - a "chapel hunt" around Macclesfield led by two museum researchers into the stories of 14 of the many local chapels founded since the 1660s - £2.50. Please pre book 01625 612045

Evolve are also organising some events:
Open Day at St Dominic’s Priory Convent, Station Rd, Stone on Saturday 10th, 1pm – 4pm. Founded in the 1850s by the English Dominican Congregation of St Catherine of Siena, St Dominic’s Priory Convent & School is a Neo Gothic building; and the Pugin Chapel contains the most exquisite sculptures, altars and stained glass. Artist Mark Uttley will be providing free workshops creating bookmarks inspired by the delicately beautiful stain glass windows. Bob Thacker from Oaklands Studios will be demonstrating the art of creating lead and stained glass and dichroic glass jewellery.
Book early for the tours
Open Day at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Saturday 10th. Designed in French Gothic Style by Henry Ward, Stafford Gatehouse Theatre was originally built in 1876 as a Borough Hall for the council. The building was refurbished in the 1970’s and opened 1st October 1981 as “Britain’s Newest Entertainment Centre” offering a varied studio drama, contemporary dance, recital and film season. An opportunity to see behind the scenes of this busy theatre, and to view the luxuriant costumes worn in various productions. Actor/ education and outreach officer Rob Salmon, director of four summer school productions and numerous outreach programmes, will deliver a workshop on acting (8 years to 15). Costume Supervisor Rachel Selby from TV productions such as Bodies, No Angels, Peak Practice, All Creatures Great and Small, Soldier Soldier to name but a few, will speak about her experiences of working in TV. Rachel will also deliver workshops where you can design outfits. There will also be an opportunity to design a handbag, which will be adapted by designer John Brooking, for one of the Ugly Sisters in this year’s Panto Cinderella!
Open Day at Trentham Gardens on Sunday 11th September, 12 – 4pm. A great opportunity to peruse these wonderful Italianate gardens built in 1630 for the Duke of Sutherland and designed as a serpentine park by Capabilty Brown in 1754 and attributed to Charles Bridgeman. Today Trentham is undergoing a massive regeneration programme including a monkey park (there is fee to enter the monkey house). Evolve in association with Trentham is happy to offer guided tours, workshops with local sculptor Adam Wilkinson, who will deliver workshops inspired by the Barbary Macaque Monkey. Community artist Paul Braziel will demonstrate the art of working with metal as a medium.
For more information on all the three events above please contact Jane Wells on 01785 619708, or email or visit the website on

Talkng History Guaranteed to keep you awake, twenty four local history lecturers and researchers are undertaking a 24 hour non-stop "Talkathon" to raise funds towards the purchase of the Sutherland Archive for Staffordshire.
With subjects as varied as 'Staffordshire's Vanished Country Houses', 'God Damn King George - Riotous Conduct in eighteenth century Staffordshire' and 'Crime and Punishment in Staffordshire's Archives', each speaker will take a one hour time slot, starting at 1.00 pm on Monday 5 September and ending at 1.00 pm on Tuesday 6 September. The talks will take place at the Wedgwood Memorial College, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent
For more details, contact Mithra Tonking (01283 840262) or Gay Lawrence (01889 578580) and see the Archive Service's Saving Sutherland website at
Tickets on the door cost £5.00; sponsorship (contact Paul Anderton on 01782 613024) also available. 5/09/05

[VE and VJ Day celebrations to mark the end of the Second World War anniversary are listed elsewhere. Click here for details]

From pits to beauty spot A former colliery in North Staffordshire is to be transformed into beautiful parkland at a cost of £14million. Chatterley Whitfield in Stoke-on-Trent is regarded as one of the most important industrial heritage sites in the country. The money from the government will mean the slag heaps will be no more; and a kilometre-long tunnel will be redirected to stop it from collapsing.

Clarice revealed More details about the private life of the Potteries designer Clarice Cliff are being revealed in a new book. It focuses on her 'guilty secret' - that she had an affair with her married boss. Lynn Knight is the author of a new biography called "Clarice Cliff".

Rare pot A Roman pot, described as one of the most important archaeological finds in years, has been bought by the nation. The bowl which dates back to the second century AD was found and dug up on the Staffordshire Moorlands two years ago. It's been bought with National Lottery money and will be shared between the British Museum and the Potteries museum in Hanley in Stoke on Trent.
Kevin Blackburn from Uttoxeter came across it when out using his metal detector. The pan will be on display at The Potteries Museum in Hanley next year.

Find the Mich Man Michelin Tyres, whose factory in Stoke on Trent is one of their oldest English bases, have launched a search to find vintage models and replicas of its famous icon, the Michelin Man. The company is celebrating one hundred years in Britain by staging a major exhibition and want to populate it with as many Michelin Men as possible! The company are prepared to buy up unusual, old copies of the Michelin Man - also known as Bibendum - before the travelling exhibition, which goes its factories in Stoke-on-Trent, Ballymena and Dundee, starts later this year. See

Memorial to Far East PoWs opens A memorial building which highlights the suffering of World War II prisoners opens in south Staffordshire. See full story

Parades and festivals for VJ Day Veterans across the Midlands gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the war in Japan. See full story


Drink it Hardy A Burton micro-brewery is producing a special ale to celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar 200 years ago. The Museum Brewing Company, based at Coors Visitor Centre, is producing a bottle-conditioned beer called Victory at Sea. From the sale of each case, £2 will go towards the Royal National Lifeboats' crew training appeal. Head brewer Steve Wellington says he thinks Nelson's men would have approved of it. 13/7/05

Local History Course announced
The Letters and Diaries of People in Newcastle-under-Lyme, 1680-1880 - by tutor Andrew Dobraszczyc - is the course at Newcastle Museum and Art Gallery, Brampton Park for 10 weeks from 28th September. The closing date for enrolment is August 31st. Talk to the Borough Museum on 01782 619705 for details.

Commemoration 10/7/05
A special day of remembrance took place in East Staffordshire to mark the end of the Second World War. The National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas took part in the national two minutes silence at 3:47pm, when fifty-nine white doves and one black dove were released.
See our People's War Section

Upgrade for Grades More than 180 historic buildings in the Midlands are at risk of wearing away unless they are urgently repaired. That's according to a new report by English Heritage.
The Sutherland Mausoleum in Trentham Park in Stoke-on-Trent is one of them. It was built in 1808 by the Marquis of Stafford, and it's been in need of urgent repair for the last seven years. Work is now underway to renovate the roof.
A multi million pound makeover is also planned for another of Stoke on Trent's historic buildings. The grade two listed Wedgwood Institute in Burslem currently houses the town's library but much of it has fallen into disrepair. The council is now seeking tenders for surveys and design work, to help secure the funding needed for the restoration.

Memories of Bevin Lads and men conscripted into the coal mines in the Second World War met again at Apedale Mining Museum, near Newcastle in North Staffordshire to relive wartime memories.
video camera symbol
See - Bevin Boys
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV
(You need Real Player to watch)
The miners took their name from Ernest Bevin, the wartime minister of Labour, and came from all walks of life.

Neptune remembered in Staffs A permanent memorial has been erected to those who were killed in one of the worst naval disasters of the Second World War. HMS Neptune and HMS Kandahar hit mines and sank off the Libyan coast on December 19th 1941, with a loss of 836 men - it was also the single largest loss of life of New Zealand and South African nationals, who were part of the ship's crew. The memorial is located at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield, Staffordshire and will be officially unveiled at a ceremony on July 9th.

Captain remembered 04/07/05
On the US Independence Day, the stars and stripes flag also has particular significance in Stafford.
video camera symbol
See - Captain Perrin
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV
(You need Real Player to watch)
The town is honouring an American airman, Captain John Perrin who lost his life in heroic circumstances sixty years ago. There are now calls for a memorial to be put up in his honour. See full story

Staffs line
Archaeologists believe a ditch they have uncovered could mark the Staffordshire - Shropshire county boundary. See full story

Clocking on 02/07/05
A clock which was a feature of one of Uttoxeter's Victorian breweries has gone back on display after more than 40 years of neglect. Local clock repairer Doug Bowyer has spent four months restoring the 135-year-old clock, a familiar landmark on the Charles Bunting brewery, which was pulled down in the 1960s. Now it's on show, in full working order, in the foyer of Uttoxeter town hall.

Women celebrated Princess Anne's has been in East Staffordshire today, unveiling a memorial garden at the National Arboretum in Alrewas. War veterans were also there to mark the 61st anniversary of D-day. The section's been designed specifically to remember the role WOMEN played during the Second World War. Cecilia Harper, a member of the Royal British Legion section in Derbyshire, says the garden's a fitting tribute. 6/6/05
See our Arboretum pages

Past on the web
Two new local history websites have launched. The Penkhull Local History group and Mining History students from College in the Community have conducted research as part of their course work to produce the sites.
One website gives an in-depth exploration of the History of Penkhull ranging from prehistoric times and the Domesday records to the present day. It gives an insight into topics such as education, religion, the war years and urban development including a history of Penkhull Square, which was built by Josiah Spode II. It also researches pubs in the area and refers to the Beer House Act, which enabled anyone with a front parlour to sell beer or ale from their house. It includes the history of Penkhull Workhouse, never previously researched.
Richard Talbot, Lecturer and Local Historian said: “For three years, students in Penkhull have worked hard in researching the history of probably the oldest inhabited settlement in the potteries. Looking at what is already available on the web, shows that with the right focus of dedicated students probably the best factual page on Penkhull is now available.”
The other website, created by the Mining History Research Group, was developed to provide information about the History of the North Staffs Coalfield. The site focuses on the pits, which survived nationalisation in 1947, as well as looking at events such as royal visits and mining disasters. This group meets in Hanley library collating information from the extensive archives there.

Lusitania Anniversary May sees the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania ship, which happened on May 7th, 1915. Mike Poirier co-wrote an article about the incident in which there are several local connections, including a survivor named Martha Barker. See the article

Rest in pieces
Three fragments from a witch's grave in North Staffordshire have sold on E-bay for almost £100 and money is being used for a new stone. Molly Leigh, an eighteenth century witch, was buried at St John's Church in Burslem in Stoke on Trent but her grave was vandalised a month ago and the slate tombstone split into pieces. The fragments of the stone were being sold on the internet to pay for the repairs.
The Pagan Association, which found out about the sale, has now offered to pay for a railing around the grave. 16/5/05

Katyn remembrance Members of the Polish community from across the Midlands congregated in Cannock today to remember the victims of a massacre that happened sixty five years ago. Four thousand people were killed by Soviet Secret Police in what became known as the Katyn Massacre. Ten thousand members of the Polish armed forces and intelligentsia also disappeared around the same time. A remembrance service was held today on Cannock Chase, which houses the Midlands' only memorial to the victims of the massacre. Mirosllawa Kisiel who helped to organise the event says people mustn't forget what happened. 15/05/05
See our Polish Community pages

Bring back dressing
People in an East Staffordshire village are reviving the old tradition of well dressing. Rolleston-on-Dove doesn't even have a well - but it does have an old pump, and villagers thought that was good enough. The design - to reflect the 60th anniversary of VE Day - will go on show this weekend. Organiser Angie Gillespie says the project's brought many people from the village together. 5/5/05

Williams Ellis honoured The founder of the famous Staffordshire Portmeirion Potteries was awarded an honorary fellowship from the University of Arts London today. Celebrated ceramic designer Susan Williams-Ellis, 86, studied at the institution, formerly known as the Chelsea School of Arts. The designer is the daughter of architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who created the Portmeirion Village - famed as the location of The Prisoner television series. Sir Michael Bichard, Rector of University of the Arts, bestowed the honour on the designer at a ceremony taking place at the village. 02/05/05

Historically faithful A replica of the famous "Mary Queen of Scots Tapestry" has been unveiled at Tutbury Castle in East Staffordshire, where the unhappy queen, imprisoned there, made the original. It took Staffordshire seamstress Sylvia Everitt four years to make the copy from the original, which is now kept at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk. Dr Roger Joy, who paid for the work in memory of his late wife, says its a faithful replica. 3/5/05
See our Tutbury Castle pages

Bethesda to go public soon?
People could soon be allowed back into an historic derelict chapel in Stoke-on-Trent. Work is due to begin in the summer to restore the Bethesda Chapel in Hanley. The Historic Chapels Trust has raised over £4,000, and needs another £70,000 to complete the first phase of repairs. The chapel was featured in the BBC Restoration programme but failed to win funding at the time. 01/05/05
See our profile of the Bethesda

WW2 remembered
To coincide with the anniversary of the end of World War Two, Newcastle Museum are holding a commemorative exhibition until May 22nd. Hear BBC Radio Stoke's report below
The Home Front
BBC Radio Stoke's Liz Roberts went along to Newcastle Museum
You need Real Player to hear this. Click for BBC's RP download guide
For more events surrounding the anniversary events over Spring and Summer 2005, see our People's War section

Another Mitchell Memorial for Staffordshire? Residents in Kidsgrove, where Reginald Mitchell, the inventor of the Spitfire plane was born, are hoping for a new memorial to commemorate his 110th birthday anniversary. A number of locations have been suggested to remember him. Possible locations for a new statue are Butt Lane, near to where he was born, the memorial garden at Kidsgrove Park, or at the Reginald Mitchell Memorial School. The town council are hoping to raise money for the statue and will work out a suitable design.

End of line for Nile Street It was the end of an era at Royal Doulton's Nile Street factory in Stoke on Trent today. Over 100 pottery workers clocked off for the last time and tableware production came to an end after more than a century. Waterford Wedgwood has taken over the business - but the factory itself will shut. 15/04/05
It was 300 years ago today
...that a Lichfield pub saw the very first beginnings of what is now the Staffordshire regiment. This year, The King's Head in Bird Street will play host to 300 soldiers marking the 300th anniversary of the raising of the Regiment.
Licensee Jenny Matthews explained: "Lord Luke Lillington started the Staffordshire Regiment here at the pub - and there aren't many regiments that can be so precise about their origins. There is a portrait of him on the wall, as well as a regimental tree, medals, plaques, bullet cases and guns.
The King's Head, has enjoyed a long association with the Staffordshire Regiment. A shilling dropped into a tankard of beer meant that the drinker was automatically recruited - a practice that lead to the introduction of glass-bottomed tankards. Every September, the pub hosts an old sergeants' reunion. 26/03/05
Se our Staffordshire Regiment pages

Sam Johnson honoured
A coin marking the work of the famous Staffordshire-born man of letters, Dr Samuel Johnson, will be part of the The Queen's Maundy Money ceremony on the 24th. As usual, reflecting the Queen's age on her next birthday, 79 men and 79 women will each receive 79p in silver Maundy coins, contained in a white leather purse. But this year they will also get a second, red leather purse containing among other items a 50p coin marking the 250th anniversary of Samuel Johnson's "Dictionary of the English Language". See article on the Dictionary

Toby's home goes The Stoke-on-Trent pottery company which brought the world the Toby Jug, is closing down. Cashflow problems are being blamed for the demise of Wood and Sons in Burslem, Stoke on Trent. 11/03/05

Empty grave A Stoke-on-Trent website has revealed the full story behind an empty grave in Burslem, SoT. The grave and memorial in St John's Churchyard is a tribute to local man Fred Horry, who shot his wife.
The website "stoke uncovered" tells how Horry was hung for the murder, but people in Burslem liked him so much, they carried an empty coffin through the streets and then had a full funeral.
To read the full story click here

Time to start again A disused brewery clock which has been rotting in a town hall basement for almost forty years, could be about to tick again. The timepiece that once hung on the now demolished main building at Charles Bunting's brewery in Uttoxeter is being restored. When the site was knocked down in 1967 the clock was lost, but it's been found and is being repaired by local man Doug Bowyer. He hopes it can be incorporated into the designs for the cattle market development in the town. 07/03/05

St Thomas to re-open? A quarter of a million pounds worth of improvements are to be made to a church in a North Staffordshire village. The Grade II St Thomas' Church in Butterton near Newcastle has been closed for the last 2 years because of structural problems. It was built in 1844 and features the repeated use of the Norman round arch on doors, windows, pew ends, pulpit panel and reredos. Other churches to benefit from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund are St Peter's at Kinver, St Mary & All Saints at Checkley and St Peter's at Alstonefield. 01/03/05
See also The Heritage Lottery Fund or English Heritage


Clarice Cliffe goes for thousands A colourful plate designed by the Staffordshire ceramics artist Clarice Cliffe - and bought for just £1 at a car boot sale - has reached nearly £2,000 at auction. Its anonymous vendor snapped up the dish - a Latona Dahlia charger - at a sale in Manchester. Christie's specialist head of British decorative art Joy McCall said the item was made in Stoke On Trent between 1929 and 1931.
The vendor told Christie's: "I spotted the dish sitting underneath an old teapot - I was attracted to its bright colours. "I had a hunch it could be worth something, but kept quiet. I think a fellow car-booter also did, because they offered me £100 for it there and then. "However, I felt I should go home and read up on it first. Obviously now I'm really pleased I did." The decorative plate was one of around 300 items to go under the hammer at the London auction house's Clarice Cliff sale this weekend. 20/02/2005
See our Pottery Expert's Pages

World War Two in South Staffs A nationwide series of events to mark 60 years since the end of the Second World War was launched today at eight locations across the country - including Brownhills in Staffordshire. The £10million, year-long, "Their Past Your Future" programme aims to teach people more about the conflict, and its enduring impact on the world.
The project has been co-ordinated by the Imperial War Museum, and is thought to be the largest of its kind. The centrepiece is a touring exhibition of historical materials which can be seen at the Forest of Mercia Innovation Centre in Brownhills. 17/02/2005
See our Exhibitions pages

Mitchell Remembered An American billionaire wants to spend millions of pounds on the memory of the Stoke-on-Trent Spitfire inventor Reginald Mitchell. 85 year old vodka tycoon Sidney Frank wants every school pupil in Britain to take part in a project about Mitchell and his place in World War Two.
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Hear Sidney speak - why is he doing it?
From BBC Radio Stoke (audio only)
Will Mitchell be honoured? - TV report
From BBC Midlands Today TV Reporter: Mike Kilbane
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He has sent a letter to Reginald Mitchell's family saying he believed the inventor was just as important as Winston Churchill and he wanted to help preserve his memory. He's already commissioned a statue of Reginald Mitchell for the London Science Museum. He's also planning a memorial fund in the inventor's name. 09/02/2005
More about Mitchell and the Spitfire here
More about Sydney Frank’s billions at Forbes Rich List

Historical garage Hanley's famous old Peppers garage (opposite the Bethesda Chapel) is now being renovated into city living apartments. The 1930s art deco building, will be restored to reflect its history. Andrew Smith, the owner, hopes the building will be finished by late Summer this year. For more about Peppers, see the website. 08/02/2005

Centuries-old murderer A Staffordshire historian says he's solved a 240-year-old murder mystery. The grave of Sarah Smith in Wolstanton churchyard, near Newcastle, bears an inscription giving the first and last letters of the names of the man her family believed killed her. Now historical research by Jeremy Crick who lives near the churchyard has pointed to a local farmer, Charles Barlow, as the killer - he may have fathered her illegitimate child.
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Mr Crick says he's amazed he's the first to look into it, though it's a mystery which has baffled people for years.
The gravestone of Sarah Smith is dated 1763, and bears an inscription pointing to her killer - but only gives the first and last letters of his names.
The message reads: "'it was C--(blank)--s B--(blank)--w that brought me to my end ....... With half a pint of poison. Write this on my grave so that all that read it may see".

Littleton Colliery
This former colliery site in South Staffordshire opened on Heritage Day events to the public, and BBC Radio Stoke's Tim Beech caught up with some of the old workers.
Littleton Colliery was the last deep mine pit in south Staffordshire, and its life spanned almost the entire 20th century.
When Littleton opened in 1904, the British Empire still covered much of the globe, the very first Rolls Royce motor car was rolling off the production line in Manchester and British deep mine coal production exceeded 25 million tonnes a year.
By the time it closed on December 10th, 1993, UK deep mine coal production had dropped by around 90% from its peak.
Trevor Matthews worked in the mining industry for 36 years, starting in the late 1940s and ending up as the Assistant Manager at Littleton Colliery, near Cannock.
It could of course be a highly dangerous job working hundreds of feet below the surface in a deep mine such as Littleton.
Hear Trevor talk about one occasion when he thought the roof was about to cave in…
Trevor Matthews
Alan Dean was one of the last men to work at Littleton Colliery, the last deep mine pit in south Staffordshire. When it closed in 1993, Alan's 29 year career as a mechanical engineer came to a sudden end - and so did his family's long association with the industry. You can hear how the closure affected Alan and the Cannock community, and also how mining changed dramatically between the 1960s and 1990s.Alan Dean
While many of the miners spoke about their personal stories and talked of the cameraderie - some tales were a little more spine-chilling!
There are lots of ghost stories connected with collieries, and you can hear how Littleton miner Mick Drury came face to face with a "phantom" one day in south Staffordshire…
Mick Drury

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