Hartshill And Harpfields Centenary Celebration Day

This Saturday there will be a day-long event held in Hartshill and Harpfields to celebrate 100 years since the Federation of the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent.

Since December 2009 representatives of local community organisations have been meeting with Rob Simms, the City Council’s Area Implementation Team Officer for Hartshill and Penkhull and Councillor Randy Conteh, one of the three councillors for the ward to organise this event. This hard work has resulted in a programme of events that will celebrate Hartshill and Harpfields’ history, heritage and environment as well as the people who live within the area.

There will be a variety of events and exhibits on offer throughout out the day:

10 am -12.30pm A children’s event on Stowell Green. This will include many games, activities, performances and competitions.

10am-12 noon (and from 2.00pm- 4.00pm) Open Day at The Limes Allotments, Thornburrow Drive

10am A series of guide walks in several locations (repeated at 2pm):

Both a social history walk and a natural history walk around Hartshill Park Local Nature Reserve, both of which leave from Vicarage Road car park at 10am and last an hour.

A social and natural history walk around Hartshill Cemetery, which starts at 10am from the chapels in the middle of the cemetery and last an hour.

In addition, several places will be open to visitors throughout the day. These include:

Holy Trinity Church, Hartshill Road will be open for informal visits between 10am and 4pm. There will also be morning coffee and toasted tea cakes available at the Minton Community Centre from 10.30am to 12.30pm which is located behind the church.

Newcastle Players Theatre Workshop, 287 Hartshill Road will be open to visitors between 10am to 11.15am.

Our Lady of the Angels and St Peter in Chains Catholic Church, Hartshill Road will be open for informal visits between 10am and 4pm.

North Staffordshire Medical Institute, Hartshill Road will be open from 12 noon ““ 3.30pm with a host of displays and exhibits as well as welcomes and introductions at 1.15pm where Councillor Randy Conteh will welcome the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Stoke-on-Trent, Councillor Denver Tolley and Mrs Lynne Tolley. The Chair of the Hartshill and Harpfields Residents Association, Barbara Andrew, will introduce 3 of the area’s longest-lived residents.

To find out more please listen to the “ËœAfternoons with Andy Morris’ show (12.30pm-3pm) on 6 towns radio tomorrow www.6townsradio.co.uk where the Chair of the Hartshill and Harpfields Residents Association, Barbara Andrew will be talking about the event.

Alternatively, please visit: http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/corporate-events/xml-events/view-event.en?bbp.s=1&form.view-event=visited&bbp.i=d0.1&eventID=4621&webID=116

House Fire in Hartshill

Firefighters from Hanley, Longton and Newcastle have tackled a house fire in Hartshill.

The call was received at 9.16am reporting a fire at a terraced house on Stoke Old Road in Hartshill. The fire involved the rear extension of the property and the roof space.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus tackled the blaze using one hose reel jet and paramedics treated a male and female from the property for smoke inhalation. Crews also forced entry into the property next door, due to it being heavily smoke logged. They searched for potential occupiers but no-one was in at the time.

“The occupants were extremely lucky as they did not have smoke alarms fitted in the property. They were alerted by the smell of smoke. If this incident had happened during the night, whilst the occupants were sleeping, it could have been far more serious.

“They had been burning rubbish in a metal bin in the back yard the previous night. Unfortunately the fire hadn’t been completely put out, so it smouldered and reignited. The heat spread to a plastic wheelie bin which was close by and also positioned next to the house. The fire then spread to the extension and up to the rood space.”

“Firefighters have visited neighbouring properties handing out after the fire postcards which raise awareness of the free home fire risk check service we offer, which includes the fitting of free smoke alarms. Although the occupants don’t own the house the free service still applies and we’d remind landlords that they have a requirement to ensure smoke alarms are fitted in properties that they rent out.”

“We would also urge anybody who is burning rubbish to ensure it is situated away from a house, garage or shed that could potentially catch alight should the fire become out of control.”

The fire caused damage to the roof of the rear extension of the property and caused light smoke damage to the neighbouring property.

To book a free Home Fire Risk Check contact: 0800 0241 999. For all other non emergency enquiries contact: 08451 22 11 55 or log onto: www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk/firekills. In an emergency dial 999.

Peter Cheeseman 1932-2010

I have just heard of the death of Peter Cheeseman the founding Director of the Victoria Theatre following a long fight against Parkinsons Disease. He was 78. Even from the distance of nearly half a century the importance of Cheeseman’s pioneer work in community theatre and theatre in the round cannot be understated. There was a time in the 1960s when some of the work being produced at the Old Vic from its Hartshill site was of world renown.

I am pretty sure that musical documentary theatre like the Knotty on the North Staffs Railway, Zigger Zagger on football supporters and the Fight for Shelton Bar blazed a new path in theatre making North Staffs the centre for new art and creativity.

The reputation of the Old Vic also led to new talent working in the area. Alan Ackybourn, Ben Kingsley and Robert Powell, all saw their careers flourish under the direction of Cheeseman.

I can remember clearly my first visit to the Old Vic at the age of 10 at Christmas 1965 to see a adaptation of the “Christmas Carol”. I was captivated and a love of the Theatre has stayed with me. Over the years I saw a number of excellent productions at the Vic. Productions that have stuck in my mind include a 1981 production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and a 80s production of the Dariel Fo play ” An Accidental Death of an Anarchist”.

In the mid 80s the Theatre moved from its Hartshill site to a new site just over the border in Basford. I can recall Cheeseman coming to a meeting of the City Council and arguing successfully for support against some sceptical views.

The new theatre opened in 1986 and I can recall going to an opening day where Cheeseman showed off the new theatre to an appreciative public.

I continued to attend and have particularly enjoyed the new take on Shakespeare from the visiting theatre Northern Broadside. A production a couple of years ago of the rarely produced “King John” sticks in the mind

It has to be said that there were some misses as well I still still hear the titter of laughter at the end of a 1989 production of “Macbeth” and the ill advised use of a papier mache head at the end of the production.

I also remember the 30 year association of the Victoria Theatre with the Lindsay String Quartet and I used to travel over from the Abbey for the regular Sunday night concerts that opened me up to the works of Haydn,
Schubert and above all Beethoven.

I have taken my daughter to the New Vic most recently to see a production of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I hope that she has been equally bitten.

In the middle of a election campaign the role that the Arts can play in raising the spirits and giving an insight into the human mind will not register. Art especially theatre can make a profound impact upon the live of the people of North Staffordshire. Cheeseman is quoted as saying that the Arts make our lives worth living. hear Hear I say

How not to be selected

As its coming up to the Selection meeting for Stoke Central I thought that I would offer my advice on anyone on those candidates who will be facing the experience.

I have been interviewed a few times and I have never been successful at a parliamentary level although I have won a few meetings to become a candidate at local government level.

Apart from the early 80s when I was nominated to fight Hartshill in the winter of 81 my first experience was 2 years before at the age of 24 when I attended a selection conference at Joiners Square to fight Staffordshire East as the Euro seat at the time. It was a snowy day when I turned up. I was extremely nervous and made a terrible choice of subject it that it was a lecture on the coming power of computers. I think I nicked most of the content from a “Times” editorial. I remember using the phrase “using IT as a totem” at some part of the proceeding. The paper was shaking as a struggled to control me nerves. The occasion was memorable in that one of the other candidates was Robert Maxwell who was hoping to get the nomination on the basis that he had served in the North Staffordshire Regiment during the war. I can recall that he was solicitous. We both lost and the eventual winner was a Birmingham lawyer named Tracey who in turn lost out in the election to the Gloucestershire based Tory Moreland who was part of the family that bought us “England’s Glory” matches in the election the following June.

On a more positive side I did answer the questions tolerable well. My only other story about Maxwell was that some years later a friend of mine who was in the same Labour Party branch in Oxford- Headington told me that there was a branch raffle where the tradition was to give the bottle of liebfraumilch back to the branch if you had the winning ticket. That was until Robert Maxwell won and he kept the bottle of plonk. I guess people should have cottoned on then.

By 1985 I had been a Stoke Councillor for a few years and I thought that I would try again. I applied for Ludlow mainly because a friend of my fathers had pushed for me to be interviewed by the panel. It was a completely unwinable seat and I travelled down to South Shropshire one November Sunday in the company of my good friend the much missed John McCready a Fenton Councillor.

It was an agreeable trip down to an agreeable town and concluded with an agreeable selection meeting. I lost to an unemployed zookeeper from Manchester. He wore a Star of David and told me that he had fought in the Israeli Army in the Yom Kippur War in 73. Some time later I found out that he was later charged with benefit fraud after coming 3 in the subsequent General Election.

The Staffs Moorlands selection and a meeting in Leek shortly followed this. Vera Ivers eventually won the candidature a well-deserved winner who was a popular Councillor. I tried 4 years later in 1990. The selection meeting was held the night that Geoffrey Howe demolished Thatcher with his resignation speech likening her to a captain who had broken all the bats. It followed the earlier resignation of Nigel Lawson and this occurrence did lead me to quip that “to lose one senior minister was a misfortune to lose two looks like carelessness”. That night I lost to a very strange man a Councillor from Norton called Sharman who later was convicted of embezzling funds from a Leek based homeless charity.

Shortly afterwards I was also beaten by a sitting Stoke Councillor Terry Crowe in Cheadle

I also tried in South Worcestershire the following month December 1990 and enduring a snowy drive down the M5 to Pershore where the meeting was held. I made the mistake as I was staying in the town overnight of having a drink on an empty stomach. I did not do very well on the questions one on the nature of the relationship between inflation and employment- the Phillips Curve- left me completely clueless. I remember that one particularly spotty faced Herbert who was sitting in the front row asked that question. I was transfixed and unable to respond.

If any candidates or their supporters are reading this the only two bits of advice I can offer is that never drink on an empty stomach and the best man does not necessarily win