Stoke-on-Trent awarded £2.5m from Growth Fund

Stoke-on-Trent’s Etruria Valley is to benefit from an enhanced transport network to boost businesses, after a Government announcement today.

The area will receive £2.5m from the Regional Growth Fund to improve road and rail access to the site, to encourage new and existing businesses to base themselves there.

One of three successful bids in the Stoke-on-Trent area, plans for the Etruria Valley site include improvements at junctions in the north of the site; the construction of two new roads across the core of the area, one providing a route to the north and the other linking up to Festival Way, turning it from a cul-de-sac into a two way route, and the construction of a bridge over the river Trent which runs through the site.

The construction of these link roads is designed to connect Etruria Valley and its extensive employment opportunities to the areas of Burslem, Middleport and the A500, which provides a link between Junction 15 and 16 of the M6 and rail services (and onward links nationally) can be accessed from Longport station immediately to the north of the site and adjacent to the A527/A500 junction.

Plans are also incorporated new roads and junctions to ease access around the site, including Enoch Street, Festival Way and Porthill Road.

This is tremendous news for the city. It could create nearly 1,000 new jobs if existing businesses can expand and new businesses take advantage of the improved road and rail links.

Our Mandate for Change agenda is all about giving businesses the red carpet treatment when it comes to basing themselves in the city. This investment will allow us to create an easily accessible site with good links to national transportation.

Now we must work hard to show the benefits that being in Stoke-on-Trent can have, to encourage firms to relocate here and those that already are here that someone like Etruria Valley contains all the right ingredients for success.”

Plans for city regeneration go on display

Residents are being asked to have their say on plans which will completely transform the centre of Stoke-on-Trent over the next 15 years.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is holding a six week consultation from Tuesday 12 October on the City Centre and Etruria Road Corridor Area Action Plan.

The plan, which pulls together all of the city’s regeneration projects, will be on display in the City Central Library, Bethesda Street, until 22 November.

There will also be a series of staffed exhibitions throughout the period to give people the opportunity to ask questions. The plans will be on the city council website (www.stoke.gov.uk/ldf) from Friday, 8 October.

“Over the next few years the people of Stoke-on-Trent can expect to see some big changes in their city. These plans help to highlight the work that is being done and we are keen to get people’s views. It is vitally important that the people of Stoke-on-Trent make their views known so that we can help shape the future of our city together.”

The plan aims to create:

*New public open spaces and distinctive gateway buildings

*A lively night-time economy with a city centre cinema and a better range of restaurants, bars, cafes and entertainment venues

*A second retail centre

*A new bus station on the existing John Street surface car park

*A high speed bus link between Stoke-on-Trent railway station and the city centre

*Better transport links with the completion of the Potteries Way extension

*Four city centre hotels

*A minimum of 500 homes

Staff will be available at the following exhibitions to answer any questions:

Tuesday 12th October ““ 9.30 ““ 5pm ““ City Central Library Foyer

Thursday 14th October – 1 – 6pm – Victoria Hall Foyer

Saturday 16th October – 9 ““ 6pm – Potteries Shopping Centre

Monday 18th October – 9 – 2pm Victoria Hall Foyer

During the consultation period documents will be available to view in all city council libraries and at the Civic Centre in Stoke.

Revolutionary extension to be installed at council house

The first revolutionary extension to a council house to help disabled residents’ live at home has been finished; 2 miles away from the property.

The extension at 47 Mulgrave Street, Cobridge will be fitted today (5th October) and has been built entirely in a factory. It will be transported to the property by lorry before being lowered into place. The work aims to help the daughter of tenant, Miss Oglesby, to continue to live at home.

The installation is the first time the city council has used the new constructions. The extension, which can be ready for the resident up to four months earlier than a traditional building, has taken only five weeks to construct and fit in place while also avoiding the disruption of building on site. Internal functions are also installed before arriving and once in place the extension is connected to the main building.

The extension contains a bedroom, on-suite bathing and toilet facilities as well as purpose made lifting equipment.

“By getting the extensions built in a controlled factory setting it allows for the creation of these modules to tight time scales as we do not have to worry about weather conditions holding up construction while causing minimal disturbance to the residents their designed to help.

“The project shows the forward thinking taking place in Stoke-on-Trent to provide the best possible care for our most vulnerable tenants. Due to the way these extensions are made we are able to move them to another location should they no longer be required. If this trial prove as successful, as we expect it to, we will be in a strong position to improve peoples’ lives while also proving a value for money service.”

“I’m proud that I will be the first person in Stoke-on-Trent to have one of these fantastic pods installed on their house. The extension is ideal for my daughter as she needs the extra room to make her life as easy as possible. I would like to thank everyone involved for making this an easy and stress free experience for me and my family.”

The project will save the council around £4,000 on each installation. On average a traditional extension costs £38,640 where the new scheme cost approximately £34,880. The scheme, unlike a traditional permanent structure, also allows the city council to reuse the extension in other locations once the property it has been installed in no longer needs the addition.

The structures have a life span of up to 40 years, dependant upon whether it is a re-usable unit or built more for the long term. It has been built by Smart Timber Frame Company Ltd, who are based in Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent.

Walking With Wedgwood – Follow In The Fascinating Footsteps of Stoke’s Industrial Icons

Families are being invited to walk in the footsteps of some of Stoke-on-Trent’s most famous residents this weekend to learn more about the fascinating history behind the development of the city.

The walk around the canals of Etruria will give visitors an intriguing insight into the role that figures such as Josiah Wedgwood and canal engineer James Brindley played in bringing industry to the area and laying the foundations for the city we know today.

The tour involves a circuit of the Etruria canal junction leading up to the site of the old Wedgwood factory, where the Sentinel newspaper offices can today be found, and on to Etruria Hall and Festival Park.

Visitors will explore the history and significance of a number of interesting spots including the site of the first hospital in North Staffordshire, the scene of an 18th century food riot, one of the deepest locks on the canal network, the only surviving remnant of the Wedgwood factory and Etruria Wharf; the busiest local canal port in the 19th century.

The walk, which covers both the Trent & Mersey and Caldon Canals, has been organised by British Waterways as part of the ‘Canals in the Community’ programme in partnership with Etruria Industrial Museum.

“This walk is a great opportunity to get the family out into the fresh air and learn more about the history of their city. Many people may know about Wedgwood or Brindley but the walk will enable them to learn about some of the other colourful characters that would have used the very same towpaths as they went about their working lives”.

Explore The Colourful History Of City Canals

Families are being invited to take a step back in time this Sunday (18th July) by exploring the colourful history of Etruria and discovering the role it’s canal system played in attracting industry to Stoke-on-Trent.

Visitors can join Glenn Airey from the Etruria Industrial Museum on the walk which includes a circuit of the Etruria junction leading up to the site of the old Wedgwood factory and on to Etruria Hall and Festival Park.

The walk is one of a series of similar events taking place over the next few months and will give an insight into the industrial and social history of the area from the 1760s to the present day. Places visited will include the site of the first hospital in North Staffordshire, the scene of an 18th century food riot and Etruria Wharf; the busiest local canal port in the 19th century.

The walk, which covers both the Trent & Mersey and Caldon Canals, has been organised by British Waterways as part of the ‘Canals in the Community’ programme in partnership with Etruria Industrial Museum.

Canals for the Community Project Officer Louise North said:

“We are very lucky that our city has such an interesting and colourful past and this walk will give a real insight into the rich industrial heritage of Stoke-on-Trent. By taking to the towpath people will be able to view the city, and it’s history, from a very different perspective”.

The one and a half hour walk is free of charge and will leave Etruria Industrial Museum at 1.30pm. Free tea and coffee will be provided.

For more information on the Canals for the Community project go to www.waterscape.com/features-and-articles/features/canals-for-the-community-a-project-for-stoke-on-trent

Soldier and footballer join together for 2010k

Grenadier Guard Luke Davis and Port Vale footballer Gareth Owen will be united by a common cause when they take part in the 2010k race this weekend.

Luke, 22, was wounded in Afghanistan earlier this year and is running to raise money for the Colonel’s Fund, which supports the families of Grenadier Guards killed in action and injured soldiers.

Gareth’s brother is currently serving abroad with the Royal Engineers, and has seen service in Iraq and Bosnia. The Port Vale defender will be running to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity, and has already raised over £200.

Both will be having one of their final training sessions for the event at Northwood Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent tomorrow as they prepare for the race.

Luke, from Etruria, is also running in memory of his friend and comrade Lance Sergeant Dave Greenhalgh, who was killed in the same explosion that seriously injured him. Speaking earlier this week, Luke said: “Running the 2010k will be a great way to help me with my fitness regime, but more importantly, it will help me raise some cash for the Colonel’s Fund.”

Luke’s jaw was shattered in the explosion that hit is jackal armoured car, and spent a week in hospital while surgeons rebuilt his jaw. He still needs further dental work done, but plans to return to his unit soon.

Gareth has played for both Stoke City and Port Vale and wants to do his bit to help raise money for Help for Heroes. He added: “My brother is currently an acting serviceman and fortunately he hasn’t needed to use the Help for Heroes charity but so many servicemen and women have.

They are the bravest people I have ever met, and I want to do something, however small to help. I’m really proud to be representing the club and the city in the 2010k. Being born in Staffordshire and playing for both clubs, you get a real affinity for the area, and it’s great to be able to show that you live and work in such a great city.”

A major event in the city’s Festival of Sport, the 2010k is one of several mass participation events to celebrate the centenary of the city’s federation status. The race will be open to everyone, and will also feature a 2k fun run.

The route will start and finish in Stoke Town Centre, will travel around the town before moving up through Shelton, the city centre, and Hanley Park before coming back to Stoke.

The event is being sponsored by Staffordshire University and sports shoe company Brooks Running.

All entrants will get a free t-shirt and there will also be prizes awarded to the first five male and female finishers

Saxons Land at Etruria

Today saw the Saxons land at Etruria, just outside the Industrial Museum to be exact. After reading about their imminent arrival her on pitsnpots, I added the date to my diary and we headed on down.

The Saxons were in fact the Poor Cnichts of St.Chad, a Saxon/Viking re-enactment group based in Staffordshire. The weather looked a bit iffy but we and quite a few other folk decided to brave it and pop down to see the Saxon Warriors and maidens.

The costumes were great and the actors were only to happy to chat to visitors and inform them of the intricacies of daily Saxon life.

Within the camp site there were tents set up demonstrating skills such as leatherwork, flour milling and cheese making.

There was of course the obligatory Saxon Armoury, and weapons on show included Longbows, short swords, pikes a very gruesome array of arrowheads all designed to help the receiver quickly on their way.

There were even a couple of Saxon boats on display as well, one of which actually sailed up the canal.

After several demonstrations of the daily Saxon life and skills. several warriors put on a good display of 10/11th century weapons and tactics in a small area.

If like me, you found the Saxons totally boring at school this was surely the tonic, as seeing how the Saxons lived and fought makes the whole topic come to life, literally.

I’d recommend taking a look at the website of the Poor cnights and checking them out at some of the larger venues they participate in across the country.

Here are a few of the photos I took today.

EXPLORE THE COLOURFUL HISTORY OF CITY CANALS

Families are being invited to take a step back in time this Sunday (28th March) by exploring the colourful history of Etruria and discovering the role it’s canal system played in attracting industry to Stoke-on-Trent.

Visitors can join Glenn Airey from the Etruria Industrial Museum on the walk which includes a circuit of the Etruria junction leading up to the site of the old Wedgwood factory and on to Etruria Hall and Festival Park.

The walk is one of a series of similar events taking place over the next few months and will give an insight into the industrial and social history of the area from the 1760s to the present day. Places visited will include the site of the first hospital in North Staffordshire, the scene of an 18th century food riot and Etruria Wharf; the busiest local canal port in the 19th century.

The walk, which covers both the Trent & Mersey and Caldon Canals, has been organised by British Waterways as part of the ‘Canals in the Community’ programme in partnership with Etruria Industrial Museum.

Canals for the Community Project Officer Louise North said; “We are very lucky that our city has such an interesting and colourful past and this walk will give a real insight into the rich industrial heritage of Stoke-on-Trent. By taking to the towpath people will be able to view the city, and it’s history, from a very different perspective”.

The one and a half hour walk is free of charge and will leave Etruria Industrial Museum at 1.30pm.

Operation Nemesis – Cannabis Factory Uncovered In Etruria

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of being concerned in the cultivation of cannabis.

Officers were called to Mere Side Close, Etruria, yesterday evening (1 February) following a call from a concerned member of the public reporting suspicious activity at an address in the street. This property was also the only one which did not have a roof covered in snow on Sunday morning.

After attending the location officers arrested a 22-year-old male in the vicinity on suspicion of cultivating cannabis. He remains in police custody where he will be questioned.

Officers are at the address this morning and have recovered approximately 350 cannabis plants at various stages of cultivation. The loft, garage and upstairs rooms of the property have all been used to grow cannabis plants.

Inspector Martin Brereton, commander of Burslem Neighbourhood Policing Unit, which covers Etruria, said, ‘Thanks to a member of the public, who was rightly suspicious of the activities at this address, we have arrested a man at the scene. The fact that snow had melted so quickly from the roof of this address raised concern that intense heat was coming from the property. I would like to thank members of the public for letting us know their concerns about suspicious activity involving drug misuse in their community. We will endeavour to act on all information received.’

Police and Crimestoppers say the following are some of the tell tale signs of properties being used for growing cannabis.

– Windows permanently covered from the inside
– Visits to the premises at unusual times of the day or night
– People visiting just to “maintain” the house
– Daily or weekly calls at the house by people who stay for a short time
– Black bin bags or laundry bags being taken away
– Compost bags or gardening equipment left outside, usually at the rear of the premises
– Vents protruding through the roof or a rear window
– Strange, pungent smells from the premises
– Unusual noises from equipment such as cooling fans

Anyone with information about the supply of drugs is asked to call Staffordshire Police on 0300 123 4455 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Drinking in the last chance saloon- the death of the pub

DRINKING IN THE LAST CHANCE SALON

As a Christmas present I got the widely praised Family Britain by David Kynaston a chronicle of Britain between 1951 and 1957. I was reading the section about the role that the pub played in British life during that time although in truth the pub was in the long slow decline from its late Victorian peak. In 1904 there were over 99,000 licensed pubs a figure that had fallen to 75,000 by 1950. That figure is around 40,000 although it also includes clubs, etc.

Kynaston chronicles the position of the pub in 1950s Britain. A study of Liverpool pubs in the early 50s describes pubs as a ” popular rallying point in the neighbourhood where one can be sure of warmth and fellowship” and there is a moving description of a South Wales pub on a December night in 1952 ” people congregate closely together around the fire which seems to make them open their hearts and make them talk personally”.

He concludes the section by saying that ” pubs acted as a central reinforcement of working class certainties in an era where the certainties – above all of place and gender still unquestionably applied”¦. Underpinning a strong, cohesive sense of identity, they were certainties of exclusion as well as inclusion”.

I was thinking of this earlier this week as I looked at the former Rose and Crown in Etruria. While I was down at the Festival Park. I don’t how long it ceased to be a pub- it’s now housing. But at one time in the 70s and early 80s when I used the pub regularly it was a popular and used by workers from Shelton Bar as well as the communities of Shelton and Etruria.

This piece is an elegy on pubs of the area and beyond as 2009 as hastened the demise of many locals. I write from Leek a town that had the reputation of having 52 pubs- one for every week in a year. Over the recent years these numbers have declined rapidly. The imposing Talbot with its clock tower dated 1878, White Lion, Sea Lion, Bulls Head, the Park and others have all had time called. The news looks bad for the Earl Grey. The Roebuck in Derby St in the centre of the town closed and then reopened. The Swan the oldest pub in town established in 1504 is under threat. There were only 14 drinkers in that pub on Boxing Night on the other hand the Cock and the Wilkes Head seem to be doing well. Other places in North Staffordshire are facing the same phenomena. I have been told that Longton has now only one pub.

You see I have a long term interest in the pubs of North Staffordshire. I owe my existence to a beer shortage in my fathers favourite pub in 1948 which led him to meeting my mother in the pub she frequented with her parents- the Glass Barrel in Copeland Street( long gone). All the pubs that my grandfather was a regular such as the Globe, Rose and the Phoenix in Liverpool Road in Stoke no longer exist. As a child I remember going into the Red Lion in Glebe Street to collect a programme for the Stoke v Real Madrid centenarian friendly in 1963. The Red Lion was pulled down and rebuilt at the Tram Museum at Crich.

As I grew older I used the Albion in Hanley when it had revolving doors and Edwardian fittings and pubs in Abbey Hulton. Its perhaps a reflection on the demise of the estate pub that of the 4 pubs on the estate only 1 still exists. The Priory, Carmount with the garish paintings of monks on the walls and the Abbey have all vanished. There was also the Sea Lion in Hanley which had an excellent Folk Club on a Sunday night although awful beer. The Sea Lion disappeared when the Potteries Shopping Centre was built.

Many pubs went following road building programmes in the 70s including the intriguing Bridge in the Etruria close to the Wedgwood factory and right by the canal a little forethought and it would have made an excellent tourism venture.

By the late 70s I was at York University and using the Wellington in Fulford in a terraced street close to the River Ouse. Sandy the landlord was an ancient then. On the wall was a photograph of him on a charabanc trip in 1947 still looking as aged as he did in 1977.

It was in the Wellington that I recall having a conversation with a middle aged ex boxer whose party piece was to push his nose flat against his nose having lost all the cartilage in many fights

I was a real ale enthusiast and took University friends on tours of Stoke pubs that made it into the CAMRA guide book. The Black Lion in Broad St, Hanley was run at the time by an eccentric landlady who seemed to have innumerable small dogs and a camp son who sang tunelessly on a wheezy harmonium. I hid my giggles behind a copy of the “War Cry”.

On my return from University the world of politics and pubs elided. Politicos used the Jolly Potters in Hartshill or the Beehive in Penkhull. The former being presided over by the ever elegant Clive with his handle bar moustache. The Potters is another pub that has now been in difficulties.

Burslem Labour Party members used the “Foaming Quart” another establishment that has now ceased to foam.

The best establishment in the early 80s was the “Smithfield” in Hanley run by the inestimable Maurice the saxophone playing landlord. The pub was at the centre of the community and was used by punks many refugees from the demolished “Vine”, older members of the community, Labour Party members, Sikhs it represented even in Thatcher’s Britain “a strong, cohesive sense of identity” identified in Kynaston’s book.

The most memorable incident in the “Smithfield” occurred one Christmas Eve in the 80s when the then Lord Mayor called in dressed in civic finery visiting all the pubs in his ward. A fight developed which spread along the bar and soon involved the Lord Mayor fists swinging and mayoral chain bouncing off his chest. Funnily enough his mayoral theme that year was “peace”.

Above all I have had some wonderful conversations in pubs. There was one in the “Golden Cup” in Hanley with a man whose brother was on the mighty HMS Hood which blew up in 1941. In Oxford a conversation with a Texan Senator about the state of English education . And the most human conversation I ever had with a MP in the “Black Lion” in Hanley when the Bradford North MP Pat Wall spoke to local Militants. I sidled up to him and perhaps tiring of politics he spoke very movingly of his love for Jazz, of Liverpool in the 50s and his unquestionable support for Everton Football Club. In pubs I have had conversations about books, football, history, politics, art, music everything that goes into making us part of the human race.

Now pubs face a battle for their existence a combination of alternative social activities, cheapness of alcohol from supermarkets,smoking ban, high rents and the recession have reduced their numbers greatly.

In the 80s there was a character that haunted pubs in the centre of Hanley. Ron could be heard from some distance away, a whistled favourite being the music of “Laurel and Hardy”. He was bald, and a very red faced man with a bulbous nose. Ron would be one for gnomic comment. “Hanley, he would say in one of his favourite haunts the “Unicorn”, ” nothing doing” As far as the traditional pub is concerned Ron’s utterance seems more prophetic than we thought of at the time.