This page is about Stoke-on-Trent in England. For other places called Stoke or for other uses of that word please see Stoke (disambiguation).
The city of Stoke-on-Trent (also known as The Six Towns, and The Potteries) is a sprawling conurbation in The Midlands, United Kingdom.
Stoke-on-Trent is situated almost equidistant to all the major cities in the North/Midlands of the UK (Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Liverpool, Sheffield). The city is named after the town of Stoke, the earliest of the six towns to be established.
This city runs into Newcastle-under-Lyme, which is administered separately. Together they form a conurbation with a population of over 350,000.
Unlike most English cities, its council is led by a directly-elected mayor, currently Mike Wolfe, an independent. It is the only one of the eleven English districts with elected mayors to use the mayor and council manager system rather than the mayor and cabinet system.
The Federation of the Six Towns brought together the boroughs of Hanley, Burslem, Longton and Stoke, together with the districts of Tunstall and Fenton as the single county borough of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910. Stoke-on-Trent was officially granted city status in 1925.
The motto of Stoke-on-Trent is Vis Unita Fortior which can be translated as: United Strength is Stronger, or Strength United is the More Powerful. See picture (above right).
Although the city is named after the original town of Stoke, and the City Council offices are located there, conventionally the City Centre is regarded as being in Hanley. Its county borough status was abolished in 1974, and it became a district of Staffordshire. It was restored as a unitary authority independent of Staffordshire on April 1, 1998.
Since the 17th century the area has been almost exclusively known for its industrial-scale pottery manufacturing, with such world renowned names as Royal Doulton, Spode, Wedgwood and Minton being born and based there. Lesser known is the locally-loved Potteries Oatcake (very different from the Scottish version), whose fame has yet to travel outside of North Staffordshire. There is also a distinctive local spoken dialect, although its broadest use is now becoming confined only to older residents.
North Staffordshire is a world centre for fine ceramics - a skilled design trade established in the city since at least the 12th Century.
In the late 1980s & 1990s Stoke-on-Trent was hit hard by the general decline in the British manufacturing sector. Numerous factories, steelworks, mines, and potteries were closed. This resulted in a sharp rise in unemployment in the 'high-skilled but low-paid' workforce. However, at Q2 2004 the unemployment rate had recovered to almost the same as in the wider West Midlands. The city's present employment levels are currently stable and likely to grow from 2004 to 2008, according to a detailed 2003 study by Experian Business Strategies. About 9000 firms are based in the city.
At 2004, the fortunes of the city finally seem on the brink of changing rapidly, with the city starting to shrug off its undeserved image of industrial decay. Numerous service-sector & logistics companies have established themselves, and new business parks are bringing fresh economic life to the city. The old mass-production pottery companies are now far fewer, but small high-value craft & heritage pottery producers are thriving.
KPMG's 'Competitive Alternatives 2004' report declared Stoke-on-Trent to be the most cost-effective place to set up a new UK business. The city currently has the advantage of offering very affordable business property - while being surrounded by a belt of extremely affluent areas (The Peak District, Stone, South Cheshire, Newcastle-under-Lyme) and having excellent road links via the A500 and nearby M6. The city's housing market boomed in 2004, with terraced houses rising at an average of £700 a week.
Around five million tourists visit Stoke each year, directly supporting around 4,400 jobs. Stoke-on-Trent shows its popularity through the number of repeat visits; around 80 percent of visitors have previously visited. Tourism to the city was kick-started by the National Garden Festival in the 1980s, and is now sustained by the many pottery factory-shops/tours and by the improved canal network.
A 2003/4 mapping study found 1000 active creative businesses & artists based within a ten mile radius of the city. The survey did not include the thousands of ceramics companies.
Stoke-on-Trent offers good rail access to nearby cities & London (90 minutes by train). It is on the major West Coast Main Line rail route and there is a large inter-city rail station with a first-class lounge and wi-fi service. Nearest international airports are Manchester Airport and Birmingham International, with direct train services to both.
Sites and Attractions
Stoke-on-Trent is home to two Football League teams, Stoke City F.C. (the Potters), whose ground is in Stoke, and Port Vale F.C. (the Valiants) based in Burslem. Football fans may also like to visit the shrine to Sir Stanley Matthews in Stoke churchyard.
Stoke-on-Trent has a reputation of being something of a "student city", with a particular bias towards those taking media & creative courses. Stoke-on-Trent College is the largest college in England and has two sites; one in Burslem and the main centre in nearby Shelton. The Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College is based in Fenton, while Staffordshire University (http://www.staffs.ac.uk.) has its main site in Shelton (the other is in Stafford). Stoke-on-Trent city centre is also popular with students from Keele University and from the huge Alsager-based Art & Design campus of Manchester Metropolitan University. Nearby Leek, Crewe, and Newcastle-under-Lyme all have excellent Colleges. There is also a Workers Educational Association residential college at Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.
Nightlife has boomed in recent years, with Hanley becoming increasingly popular for its nightclubs, theatres, pubs, bars and restaurants. Nearby Newcastle-under-Lyme also has plenty of bars and pubs to offer to young people. There are also several theatres outside the city centre, and a long-established 'art-house' cinema in Shelton.
The main shopping centre is Hanley; with the Potteries Shopping Centre, plenty of major high street shops, and a scattering of unique specialist retailers. With the Peak District National Park just ten miles away, Hanley naturally boasts five outdoors clothing & equipment shops.
The city's rich past can best be explored through visiting one of its many museums & galleries; such as the Etruria Industrial Museum, the Elizabethan Ford Green Hall, the world-class ceramics collection at the main Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, and the newly opened Ceramica in Burslem. Burleigh is not a formal museum, but is well worth visiting since it is the world's oldest working Victorian pottery.
2005 attractions in the city will include; the results of a £100-million refurbishment of Trentham Gardens, the opening of the initial phase of the huge Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum (now given Ancient Monument status, ranking it in importance with Stonehenge), the new National Cycle Network of off-road bicycle paths through the city, and numerous improvements to the extensive & popular canal system.
Famous people of Stoke-on-Trent
- The Potteries (http://www.thepotteries.org/)
- Discover the Museums of the Potteries (http://www2002.stoke.gov.uk/museums/)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service (http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/live/welcome.asp?id=2586/)
- Stoke-on-Trent Tourism (http://www.visitstoke.co.uk/)
- Stoke-on-Trent College (http://www.stokecoll.ac.uk/)
- Stoke-on-Trent City Council (http://www.stoke.gov.uk/)
- Creative Stoke (http://www.creativestoke.org.uk/)
- Staffordshire University (http://www.staffs.ac.uk.)