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Topic: Titanic Year “Goldenhill 1912”
Tom Simpson
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Titanic Year “Goldenhill 1912”
on: June 22, 2011, 16:31

This is the latest instalment in the series of articles on the people, traders and businesses in Goldenhill. The population in 1911 was 4896, an increase of about 500 since 1904.

If you look at the progress which was made between 1834 and 1912 and then compare it with what has occurred since 1912, I think you may consider that in some areas we have made great strides and hopefully, in the right direction.

In 1834 there were no cars, no trains, no postal service, few newspapers, high illiteracy, few schools, few shops, meagre wages, extreme poverty, child labour and primitive healthcare.

In 1912, there were, steam trains, electric trams, basic cars, postal service, more newspapers, more schools, greater literacy, more shops, wider choice, wage earning, still some poverty, factory & employment laws and basic health care.

In 2011 we have, 125 mph trains, performance cars, jet engines, space travel, a diminished postal service, e-mail, internet, education for everyone, plenty of shops, internet shopping, some unemployment, poverty, wars, wonder drugs and sophisticated surgery techniques.

There hasn’t been a world war yet but the British and the Germans have been spoiling for a fight for years now.

April 14th 1912, two days after setting sail on her maiden voyage, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Did you know that the Titanic captain, Edward John Smith was born in Hanley in 1850 to an ordinary working class family?

Let’s have a look at who’s who in Goldenhill in 1912. The Reverend Granville Rowe Bailey is still the vicar at St. John’s church and the Reverend Thomas Bedwin is the priest at St. Joseph’s. The other prominent people are, Thomas Birchall, Joseph Wayne, Reverend Frederick Masters and Hugh Henshall Williamson.

James Lewis is still the Postmaster and stationer, he is now able to send and receive telegrams from his post office. William Aspinall at 44 High Street and David Lindop of 72 High Street were also stationers.

The 2 collections and deliveries apply 6 days a week but with just 1 on Sundays and as I write this the Government has just announced that it is considering selling off the Post Office to the private sector. Is that progress?

The school teachers are William C. Jones, Miss Sherwin, Samuel Brander, Miss Martha Wooliscroft and Miss Kate Ganton.

There is a County Police Station in the High Street commanded by Sergeant James Egan supported by his 4 constables.

The volunteer military unit no longer resides in the village, it has moved to the Barracks and Drill Hall in Bath Street Tunstall. The office commanding is Captain Laurence Clive, if you recall he was assistant to the CO back in 1904 when they were stationed in Goldenhill.

The village has a registrar E. J. Oliver, for the registration of births, marriages and deaths. He attends the Club Room in Church Street for 1 hour each Friday between 11-30 & 12-30.

Church Street is now called Garbett Street and I assume that the Club Room was the Miners Welfare Institute which we called the Uffers back in the sixties, not sure if it was the same building though.

The village Surgeon and Medical officer is still William Partington but I believe he died in the latter part of 1912. The undertaker is Thomas Buckley in Heath Street.

Life is getting very sophisticated now, there are 4 insurance agents living here, Alfred Cotton, John Ginnis, Edward Green and William Parker will ensure that all your insurance needs are met. The unofficial job title was, the “club man”, I know I was one for a few years between 1990 and 2002 and part of that time was actually in Goldenhill.

The Burslem Co-operative Society had their branch in the High Street opposite where the Co-op is now. Altogether there were around 35 shops, most of them were in the High Street but quite a few in the back streets.

Henry Mainwaring was a Hardware dealer at 11 Heath Street and Mr Painter traded as the same at 166 High Street. There are now 3 chip shops situated in the High Street at numbers, 24, 31 and 84. A good indication of the new prosperity is 7 butcher’s shops operating in 1 village.

On the down side there are still 3 pawnbrokers, I’m not sure if this was good or not but it probably helped people quite a lot as pay day approached. Uriah Ebrill was still the only boilermaker, surprisingly. Beer retailers are 8 in number and one of them was Samuel Whittaker who went on to keep the Wheatsheaf in my childhood. Another was George Buckley at Acres Nook, think of the Rifleman and go back to the 50s and 60s.

Emily Lockett has taken over as the toy retailer and Harold Lockett has a shop at Latebrook, the Locketts were well known to my family. Charles Lovatt is the only baker. One hairdresser looks after all of the village and 2 tailors supply all their sartorial needs. You’ll like this, Luke Bailey is the cow keeper, I just thought he should have a mention.

Two boot and shoemakers earn their living here, one in Heath Street and one in High Street. Minnie Birchenough is a dressmaker at 23 Heath Street and Thomas Birchenough was one of the boot makers at the same address.

Frank Cumberbatch is a tobacconist in High Street, that’s a new trade, he more than likely supplied the chewing tobacco for the coal miners. Thomas Cumberbatch was one of the shopkeepers in Heath Street. William Pigott is the village plumber at 92 High Street, just think of all those frozen pipes in the outside toilets in winter. William Jeffreys has a shop at 2a Albert Street which is on the corner to where his bus garage is going to be and William Stonier has a butcher shop at 98 High Street opposite to where his bus garage will be, that is when they get around to it.

Let’s have a look at the names which passed the test of time at least until the 60s. Bentham, Buckley, Caton, Cumberbatch, Dale, Davies, Deakin, Dudley, Eptlett, Farr, Faulkner, Fernihough, Frith, Green, Hancock, Lear, Leese, Lovatt, Mainwaring, Neate, Nixon, Parker, Reeves, Sillito, Stubbs, Caton, Colclough, Cooper, Jeffreys, Weetman and Wood.

The Potteries Electric Tram Company still has a depot at the top of the village, Oldcott Green to be precise, there’s posh for you. Anne Corbishley, Sarah Buckley, Charles Fernihough, Albert Fradley, Ambrose Lawton and Charles Wilson were all farmers.

For the first time we have Thursday as the early closing day. I suppose there has to be a substantial number of shops to warrant an early closing day.

The colour works previously owned by the Williamson family is now a public limited company, the Goldenhill Cobalt Co Ltd. Edward Green is still the Station Master.

Let’s take a look at who has the public houses. Henry Arding Dale, The Wheatsheaf. Joseph Redfern, The Working Men’s Institute. Charles Sale, The Lord Nelson. John Colclough, The Red Lion. Cornelius Cooper, The Duke of Wellington. I have two photographs taken in the High street in 1911 which show a pub called the New Inn and also the Horse and Jockey, these are not listed anywhere that I can find. The New Inn was next to the Nelson and the Horse and Jockey was opposite the Wesleyan chapel. One of the photos shows a shop opposite the Nelson selling Humber cycles and a sign on the Nelson says “You may telephone from here”

Lots of names and properties had survived up to the mid sixties when the city council decided in their wisdom to obliterate over 150 years of history and tradition. Even without the benefit of rose coloured glasses, life seemed a lot simpler then. Less choice didn’t necessarily mean poor quality, it just meant that what you got was all that was available and there was no point in wanting more. People worked for what they wanted, if you didn’t work for it, you couldn’t have it.

The year 1912 at first appeared to be quite ancient and then I considered the fact that I was born in 1946, which was only 34 years on from then. My earliest memories are probably around 1950 when I started school. As I have said before I can recall the death of King George VI in 1952, so for me this is not ancient history.

I have really enjoyed researching these articles and I hope that anyone who reads them will get an equal amount of pleasure from them.

All comments and criticisms are welcome.


David Wood.


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