Tuesday, 13 June 2017


I have never quite got to grips with the concept of Stoke-on-Trent, which is a major city in the form of six towns amalgamated together. Sort of. Going there for the first time on a flying visit didn't really help, and I think you would need to stay in the city for several days just to get your head around the basic geography.

It has the industrial heritage / decline of so many cities, but without much of the shiny new redevelopment. As Matthew Rice says in the introduction to his excellent book on the city*, "Stoke should be lovely but it's not".

[* "The Lost City of Stoke on Trent" - Matthew Rice. Frances Lincoln Ltd (2010)]

This posting is confined to just one of the six towns (unless I inadvertently strayed into another) - Hanley, which forms what can be seen as the city centre.

Our first clock is on the side of Lloyd's Bank in Fountain Square.

The back of the clock gives its date away as being 1936.

 Just around the corner in Market Square is the Girobank clock.

As can be seen by the plaque at the base of the column, the clock was presented by Girobank in 1988. Perhaps someone will celebrate its 30th birthday next year.

One of the things I like about Stoke is that it brings together into one building the two "W" signed retailers that I often confuse from a distance - Waterstones and Wetherspoons.

The building in question is The Tontines, a former meat market opened in 1831. The market closed in 1987, and the building eventually ended up as a bookshop and pub.

The Wetherspoon's side of the building is called The Reginald Mitchell. Mr Mitchell was the aeronautical engineer for Supermarine Aviation, and is of course famed for designing the Spitfire. Born in 1895, he attended Hanley High School. I am happy to raise a pint or two to Reginald Mitchell.

From aircraft to airwaves. Net up is the home of BBC Radio Stoke on Cheapside. I like the design of the building, although the clock is a bit out of character.

Now it is not often you see a fish and chip shop with its own clock - I think this is the first example I have come across.

The Venus Fish Bar is on Lichfield Street, and comes complete (or perhaps that should be incomplete) with a one-handed clock. I am guessing that this building original housed something different - does anyone know?

But a one-handed clock is better than one with none at all!

This is St John the Evangelist on Town Road, a Grade II* listed building built in 1790. It is now empty and hemmed in by the Intu shopping centre.

The proximity and impact of the shopping centre can be judged by this next picture taken from the rooftop car park.

And finally, not a very exciting clock, but a very standard post office on Leek Road.

One day I hope to come back and cover the whole of Stoke-on-Trent. Perhaps if it becomes City of  Culture in 2021 which it is bidding for.

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