Burslem History


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868


Description and History from 1868 Gazetteer


BURSLEM, a parish and market town in the northern division of the hundred of Pirehill, in the county of Stafford, 3 miles to the N.E. of Newcastle-under-Lyme, 17 miles to the N. of Stafford, and 148 miles from London by the London and North-Western and North Staffordshire railways, on the latter of which it is a station.

This place was constituted a separate parish in 1807, having previously been a chapelry in the parish of Stoke-upon-Trent. It is situated on the Grand Trunk canal, connecting the Trent and the Mersey, and contains the villages of Longport, a suburb of Burslem, Abbey Hulton, Cobridge, Dale Hall, Rushton Grange, and Sneyd. These were united into one district in 1850, under the Public Health Act, and now form part of the parliamentary borough of Stoke-upon-Trent.

Burslem is mentioned in Domesday Book by the name of Barcardeslim. It is in the district called the Potteries, and has been noted from an early period for the manufacture of earthenware. The district is marked by the presence of extensive beds of clay of various kinds, beneath which coal is found. Burslem had become the chief of the pottery towns in the 17th century, but the rapid and extensive development of its manufacture dates from about the middle of the following century, chiefly owing to the genius and enterprise of Josiah Wedgwood, who was born here in 1730. He invented and obtained patents for several new kinds of earthenware and porcelain, among which were the Queen's ware, a terra-cotta, white porcelain, biscuit, &c. He projected and executed a road, 10 miles long, through the Potteries, and in 1766 cut the first sod of the Trent and Mersey canal, which he had also projected, and by means of which the clays and flints of Devonshire and Dorsetshire became easily procurable by the Staffordshire manufacturers. Great improvements have been since made in the art of pottery, and the population and trade of the town have increased to an extraordinary degree. The number of manufactories is now about forty. There are also extensive coal-mines and iron-works.

Burslem bears the title of "Mother of the Potteries," and produces in the greatest perfection, parian, porcelain, white and black ware, lustre, granite, and all kinds of china and earthenware. There are besides colour-mills, glass manufactories, steam-boiler foundries, smelting furnaces, tile-kilns, rope-walks; coopers, carriers, and various other trades, more or less connected with the iron and pottery trades. The town is pleasantly situated on rising ground, and consists almost entirely of the pottery works and the residences of the manufacturers, their workpeople, and the general tradesmen. The streets are now well paved and lighted with gas. In the centre of the town is the market-place, with a handsome townhall, built of stone, and a covered market erected in 1816; this latter building is extremely elegant, having a handsome Doric portico.

The inhabitants are supplied with water by the Staffordshire Potteries Waterworks Company, the reservoir of which is near the town. The market is managed by trustees; the police, lighting, and local affairs of the town are entrusted to a body of commissioners. There are a board of health, a mechanics' institute, and barracks. Wolstanton and Burslem constitute a Poor-law Union of themselves. Petty sessions are held in the town, and polling for the north division of the county takes place here.

The living is a rectory in the diocese of Lichfield, value £525, in the gift of the Rev. Dr. Armstrong, the incumbent. The church, dedicated to St. John, is a brick building, with a very ancient tower of stone.

A spacious new church, dedicated to St. Paul, was founded in 1828, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, value £150, in the patronage of the Rector of Burslem.

Christ Church, Cobridge, is a small brick building, erected in 1843; the living is a perpetual curacy, value £100, also in the patronage of the rector.

There is besides a handsome stone church, with tower and spire, erected at Sneyd in 1852, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, value £150, in the gift of the crown and bishop alternately.

There are four chapels belonging to the Wesleyans, two to the Primitive Methodists, and one each to the Roman Catholics, Baptists, Independents, New Connexion and Association Methodists.

A free school was founded and endowed in 1748 by John Bourne, with which the National school, established in 1817, has been incorporated. There are some other charities worth about £30 per annum. Monday and Saturday are the market days. Fairs were formerly held on the Saturdays before Shrove Sunday, Easter Day, Whit Sunday, and Mid-summer Day, and on the day after Christmas Day; but they have lately much declined.

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]