Friday, 28 June 2013

From Sandon to Stoke-On-Trent

The next morning was cloudy and cold. I had been told that it was going to start raining in the afternoon, so I decided to get through Stone to the Wedgwood Museum, spend a day there and go on a camp site nearby in the evening. Unfortunately the camp site didn´t exist any more so I ended up in the nice B&B The White House in Stoke-On-Trent. It is really in old english style, and Joe, the owner, is friendly and has a lot to tell about the region and its culture. He offered to wash my clothes, I have a bath for my own, television and wifi :) I decided to stay for two nights.

This milepost stands at Aston Lock and it is exactly halfway between Shardlow, the beginning of the canal and its end in Preston Brook.
When the Trent & Mersey Canal was built, like all other canals, mileposts were erected along the route to indicate to boatmen how far they had travelled and so how much they would have to pay as canal companies charged to use the waterways on a "ton/mile" basis. These original mileposts were made of timber but were replaced later with cast iron ones. During World War II all mileposts were removed. Subsequently many were lost or were melted down to make weapon etc. At the end of the war any posts which survived were replaced. The Trent & Mersey Canal now has 93 cast iron mileposts. 59 of which are original. In 1977, the bicentenary year of the canal, the Trent and Mersey Canal Society set about replacing the 34 that were missing with new cast iron markers.

This wooden statue Christina was made by Simon Jones.
As well as carrying freight many of the boats also carried a limited number of passengers. It was cheaper to travel by canal as by the coach. One such person to use a boat was Mrs Christina Collins who in June 1839 paid one shilling and six pence to travel by boat from Preston Broke to London, where she was to join her husband. After leaving Stoke the three boatmen started to drink heavily and when they reached Stone Mrs Collins told Hugh Cordwell at the Toll Office that she feared that the men would "meddle" with her. He told her to report the men at the end of the journey. The following day Christina´s body was found in the canal near Rugeley. She had been raped and her body thrown overboard. Two of the men were hung for murder at Stafford and the third was transported to Australia.

This is the warehouse of brewers John Joule and Son. The company used the canal to transport their beers not only to the home market but also to Liverpool and Hull for their extensive export trade.

Notice how the ropes of the horses have cut into the wood. One can see these cuts on most of the brickwork of the tunnels along the canal.
Josiah Wedgwood
Stoke-on-Trent and the area around is referred to as "The Potteries" as a rsult of its main industry. The most famous innovator of pottery was Josiah Wedgwood. He started in 1759 in Burslem and by 1766 he was able to build a larger factory and home which he subsequently named Etruria after an Italian state whose pottery style had influenced him. He was one of the industrialist who supported the Parliament Bill to build the Trent & Mersey Canal.


  1. Beer hic


  2. The moral - Don't hitch a ride on a canal boat :)
    I thought i had come across this before. It turns out that the story was retold in an episode of Morse "The Wench is Dead"