Posts Tagged ‘chesterton’

North Staffordshire’s early iron industry

September 14th, 2012

A working model based on an early blast furnace at Fernhust in West Sussex

Commercial iron production began in North Staffordshire when the Romans built an industrial village at Chesterton that had furnaces producing iron and workshops making pottery.

During the middle ages coal was mined in the Biddulph Valley and earthenware was manufactured in the small towns and villages that later became The Potteries.

At the end of the 14th century, there were ironstone mines and furnaces in Tunstall. Charcoal was produced at Goldenhill and there was a bloom smithy making iron in Chell.

An iron industry developed in the villages surrounding Newcastle-under-Lyme and the  iron produced was used to make nails.

There was an iron market in Newcastle and a building called The Iron Hall, which suggests the existence of a merchant or a craft guild that regulated the industry by fixing prices and maintaining quality.

Throughout the Middle Ages furnaces used charcoal.

Blast furnaces, which melted the ore and made pig iron, were developed towards the end of the 14th century.

A typical furnace – eighteen feet high by eight feet square – was built against a steep hillside enabling men, women and children to carry baskets containing ironstone and charcoal up the slope and tip their contents into the furnace. Bellows, made of bulls’ hides lubricated with lard, powered by waterwheels or a treadmill produced the bast.

From the beginning of the 17th century, coal was used in some furnaces.

John Turner who owned a large bottle shaped furnace at Red Bull used a mixture of coal and ironstone to produce pig iron for nail makers in Church Lawton and Scholar Green.

Between 1669 and 1702, the furnace produced an average of 700 tons of pig iron a year. Its output reached 900 tons in 1704-05. The furnace closed during the late 1730s or early 1740s and in 1744 it was converted into a flint mill.

During the 1730s, Abraham Darby successfully used coke in his furnaces at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire to smelt iron.

North Staffordshire’s first coke fired blast furnace was erected at Partridge Nest Ironworks overlooking Apedale where another ironworks was built on the banks of Gresley’s Newcastle Canal in 1789.

Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2012



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Apedale Country Park, Loomer Road, Chesterton – Now with photos!

June 11th, 2012

On Sunday last, I had great pleasure in discovering Apedale Country Park, its railway and museum. I must say, I was thrilled to find such an interesting place right on our doorstep. I can guarantee that I’ll be going back again to check out the mine.

I did know that Apedale was a country park, but I wasn’t prepared to be kept amused and entertained for an entire afternoon.

It is a very reasonably priced day out for families or grown ups alone. If you take a ride on the steam train you’ll pay just £2 for adults for a trip which lasts about 15 minutes. The engine and carriages have been lovingly restored and they absolutely gleam. The station platform makes it easy to get on and off the train and looks lovely and clean. You can tell that everything has been created and restored with careful attention to detail.

I was pleased to speak to a couple of the volunteers there who were so enthusiastic. They told me all about the additional engines they have and the work being done restore them. There’s information on their website about the fares, timetables and special events.

From the railway I was drawn to the museum. Free entry by the way, and it’s certainly well worth a look. There are many mining exhibits and photographs as well as details of all the brick works that used to be in the area with samples of all the different bricks that were made. There’s lots of local items many which I didn’t know about previously, and many that I did but have now seen so much more.

I didn’t get a chance to go down the mine (didn’t have the correct and sturdy footware) but be assured that I will be on the case to get back there and try it out. I was talking to a couple from Wolverhampton who were visiting for the day. They had just been down the mine and were thrilled with their experience. You get to wear a pit helmet with a light on the front and the tour is around 45 minutes. They said it was cold down there so they were glad they wrapped up warm! It was a beautiful, warm day outside but down the mine it’s always cold so best to take a jacket if you intend to go down. Oh, and some good, sturdy shoes or boots. I’ll certainly remember to take these next time as I won’t be walking away from Apedale again untill I’ve been inside that footrail. So watch this space ……. I’m going down!

Here are some photos I took during today’s visit to Apedale. Best to see it first hand, but hope this gives you a taster

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Oral history project postponed

September 19th, 2011

Owing to illness, the Phoenix Trust’s oral history project covering:

  • Apedale
  • Chesterton
  • Red Street
  • Miles Green
  • Boon Hill
  • Halmer End
  • Alsagers Bank
  • Silverdale and
  • Knutton

which was going to start in October has been postponed until the beginning of 2012.

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Multi-million regeneration scheme starts in Chesterton

June 28th, 2011

Construction work is starting on the £4.1 million regeneration programme at Beasley Place, Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, which will create 43 affordable new homes and a series of environmental improvements.

The development, on the site of a former sheltered housing scheme, is being funded by Aspire Housing and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council. The scheme was proposed following a series of public consultations and a housing needs survey to find out what the local community wanted.

The 43 new homes will range from flats, bungalows, and two, three and four-bedroom houses. Twenty properties will be available for shared ownership and 23 for rent.

Shared ownership is when buyers purchase an initial 50 per cent share in a property and pay rent on the rest to help them get on the property ladder.

The high quality architectural design of the scheme will ensure that the site becomes a desirable place to live and will help attract new residents to Chesterton.

Sinéad Butters, chief executive of the Aspire Group, said: “Aspire Housing is excited to be working in partnership with Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council on the regeneration of the Chesterton area. By bringing into use disused land we will provide high quality affordable homes for the local community.”

Cllr. Robin Studd, Cabinet member for regeneration and planning, said: “Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council is committed to building sustainable communities and helping to ensure residents have greater choice in being able to live in a home that is affordable, in excellent condition and meets their needs.”


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Help the Phoenix Trust save North Staffordshire’s historic buildings

April 28th, 2011

The Phoenix Trust needs your help! We are making a definitive list of all heritage buildings in North Staffordshire which are at risk.

We should like you to tell us about listed and unlisted buildings of historical or architectural importance which are at risk because of dereliction, neglect, decay or vandalism.

The buildings you tell us about will be featured on our website  to encourage and empower local people to take a more active role in protecting and preserving North Staffordshire’s unique historic environment.

Let us have photographs of the building if possible.  A good photograph is worth a thousand words. It creates public interest and could help to launch a campaign to save the building.

Please send details of the buildings and your photographs to



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