Newcastle-under-Lyme in old picture postcards volume 1

Newcastle-under-Lyme in old picture postcards volume 1

:   Paul Bemrose
:   Staffordshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2455-3
:   128
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Newcastle-under-Lyme in old picture postcards volume 1'

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It is perhaps fortunate for this publication that the borough bas within the past decade celebrated the 800th anniversary of its foundation in 1173. The celebrations were organised in 1973 and designed to make its citizens aware of the rich heritage that is every Newcastilian 's birthright. As a consequence, there bas been a steady increase in interest in learning more about the social and industrial growth of Newcastle and its community, particularly insofar as the later period of Victorian England is concerned and also those years leading up to the outbreak of World War I. These eras marked a time when the town was showing early signs of changing its physical appearance after many years of relative stagnation. By 1880, the development of photography bad advanced technoiogically almost beyend recognition from the early faltering attempts of Daguerre in the late 1830's and Fox Talbot's equally rather limited calotype system whereby he was able to produce paper negatives and prints. As the decade advanced, photography bad become almost a way of life in Victorian England. not least in Newcastle, so that by the time 1880 had arrived and George Eastrnan marketed his first 'Kodak' camera, the era of the 'snapshot' bad been ushered in, giving rise to many aspiring and often gifted amateur photographers. Informal and candid camera studies using this and similar systems which no longer required long time exposures, revealed for the first time the true quality of contemporary life in towns, cities and the countryside.

Sir Benjamin Stone was one such gifted recorder of the contemporary scene in Great Britain and he produced over thirty thousand plates for posterity to wonder at and admire. On the local scene, such professional photographers as A.W. Harrison who was also one of the first to take photographs in 1896 using the new Röntgen rays or Xrays as they are better known to aid in medica I diagnosis and surgery, W. Parton, another weIl established photographer, and the firm of G.T. Bagguley were all printing local views. Several national companies also produced local cards,

The majority of the illustrations contained herein have been carefully selected to emphasise this new and important development which allowed the camera the ability to capture the event as it really was and not posed as was often the case previo usly .

Picture postcards were produced primarily by photographic studies and printing firms to make money and they rapidly became a lucrative side line in the general stock-in-trade of such establishments. As pictorial souvenirs, subject matter was naturally enough generally though not always made to look as attractive as possible to the purchaser. Not infrequently, photos were either retouched or vignetted to mask out unwanted or ugly detail. Many old Newcastle views have been treated in this manner. Despite this, a few such examples have been included either because they are rare prints in their own right, or because. they dep iet an unusual shot not reproduced elsewhere.

Because a prolifically illustrated history of the town was produced by the council in 1973, care has been taken in this publication to duplicate as few photos as possible found therein. This has inevitably resulted in variations in print quality since the author has bad to look much further afield for illustrations and use prints which in some cases are photo copies or even copies of photo copies. It is hoped the reader will forgive some of the quality in the interest of pictorial variety, Because this book contains a large number of hitherto unpublished photographs, it virtually becomes an essential adjunct to the Borough Council's 1973 'Octocentenary' history book. It will pro vide many hours of visual information and pleasure to the serious student of Iocal history and casual reader alike.

Newcastle never has enjoyed a reputation as a tourist attraction and for this reason the range of picture postcards produced throughout the period under review, bas proved to be somewbat limited. Similarly, industrial views are eomparatively uncommon.

Within recent years, television has played a not insignificant part in making the public increasingly aware of the satisfaction and pleasure that can be acquired through learning about industrial archaeology and social history . A great deal of research has been produced recently by the professional and amateur historian alike. Fortunately, by dint of a more enlightened approach to the subject, much of what is left to us of our industrial heritage is now not so frequently subjected to what used of ten to be a sudden and inevitabie total annihilation by the bulldozer.

Newcastle lies on the western flank of the North Staffordshire Coal Field. It enjoys along with its neighbours the dubio us appellation, an 'industrial town of the North Midlands'. The heavy extractive industries of coal and iron, plus brick and tile making formed the mainstay of its early eighteenth and nineteenth century industrial development. Feit hat making, brewing, silk and cotton processing were also much in evidence. Oddly enough, the borough never became a 'pottery town' in the strict meaning of the phrase although much of its workforce was being absorbed into the pottery industry by the 1880's: it did however have one or two potters of note operating at various periods in the borough.

The bulk of the towns basic trades and industries were partieularly productive in the decades leading up to the turn of the present century. Trade and commerce originally developed because of Newcastle's strategie position astride the main thoroughfare from London to Carlisle. This route had become weIl established by the thirteenth century and it rapidly evolved into an important market town and has rnaintained this position for the past six centuries. What has been stated may suggest that the Newcastle of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries presented a dismal 'Lowrie' type industrial landscape with nothing to relieve the unmitigated gloorn. Happily this was not the case as hopefully many of the photographs will shew.

Even when all its heavy peripheral industrial production was at a peak, the beautiful and not infrequently sylvan Staffordshire countryside was never very far away for those who sought it. The population of the town which in 1880 was 17,500 increased by only some six thousand during the fifty years covered by this book. After 1930 however, large boundary changes were soon to take place and the town grew in importance economically and politically almost out of recognition. Today, the borough supports a population in excess of one hundred and twenty thousand souls,

Town directories and guide books are always a useful souree of information and from them we can trace what irnprovements have been taking place over a period of years. For exarnple, in 1881 the silk, cotton and paper mil!s were all operating, the sugar refinery was expanding and werking at full capacity. The town had three breweries, three corn mills and two saw mills in production. The Enderley mill, founded by Richard Stanway in 1881 was operating as a model textile mil! and included a surgery, creche, reading room and savings bank.

By 1900 the new Municipal Hall had been in operation for over a decade, the town had a free library, school of art and a fine public swirnming bath was built in 1906. Gas supplies (l880) and electricity (1904) were being produced by the Council's own plant although it should be mentioned that the town was one of the first to be provided privately with gas in 1819.

At the close of the period, we find that Newcastle was cornmencing an expansion in a westerly direction to satisfy the demand for high class residential dwellings from industrialists from the pottery towns and the surrounding area. lts popularity long established as a 'dormitory' town was growing. Light industrial development was taking root and the traditional markets and shopping facilities were as much in demand as ever.

1. The borough's principal street lines had become firmly established by the first couple of decades of the nineteenth century. Most of the landmarks which are depicted on artistic representations such as this by J. Hulse painted in 1800 and published in 1900 and later photographic studies, were weil in evidence by 1825. Many of the ensuing plates will show that despite quite radical changes to several ground and first floor frontages, basic structures can frequently be identified, modified though they have been to suit changing times and architectural styles,

2. The restored mediaeval market cross about 1880. Focal point of mayor choosing ceremonies, 'Mock Mayor' making events and civic proclamations throughout the nineteenth century. The cross appears to have been originally sited in the High Street facing the top of the Ironmarket but it had been repositioned at the north end of the Guildhall by 1820 in which year it also received its decorative wrought iron lighting fixture.

3. Market day in the High Street 1880. Traditional site of the town's markets and fairs. WeU depicted are 'the stones' or street cobbles now long since gone but still referred to by many when they speak of the street market. By 1882, a steam tramcar system was eperating in Newcastle, later to be succeeded by an electric tram service. The original borough police station, the Old Roebuck posting inn and the Castle Hotel, which by 1834 had also become a post house, can all be clearly seen in this view.

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4. The Guildhall has for weU over two centuries dominated the High Street from all directions. It was here until recently that the town council held its meetings. Quarter Sessions Courts were also convened here. Happily custom has not been completely lost because the town burgesses still continue to meet in this their traditional home. Erected in 1714 it replaces an earlier town hall of Tudor origin which had been sited in a more northerly direction, adjacent to the top of the Ironmarket. Originally the Guildhall was open on the ground floor and was used to provide space for a provision market until 1854 when the new covered market was built to improve this facility.

t"own )(a/I and )Y1arket 'p/ace. j(ewcasl/e.

5. New forms of street furniture appeared in town with the introduetion of an electric tram service in the ear1y 1900's. Such innovations gave the highways a comp1ete1y new look with its permanent ways and cable supporting columns. In some measure this new system tended to bring orderliness to the regulation of vehicles and carriages using the town centre since such traffic was now obliged to keep large areas occupied by the tramways clear at all times. Cable strain plates and the old P.E.T. Company post marking plates can still be found by diligently searching for them on old walls and buildings.

6. Now demolished, the three storied block to the right of the old Manchester & Liverpool Bank was for many years occupied by the council's town clerk's department until it removed to Derwent House in The Brampton before being finally integrated in the civic offices in Merrial Street. This photograph was taken about 1912 and shows that part of Penkhull Street (since 1954 incorporated into the High Street) almost opposite the Golden Lion public house.

7. Produced in 1927, the following sequence of three cards was published by the Doncaster Rotophoto Co. Ltd. ünly the lamp on the Market Cross appears to have been altered sin ce it was re-sited by the Guildhall in the 1820's. The 'Kings Theatre' to the right of the Guildhall seems to be screening a silent Char1ie Chaplin film. This theatre was soon destined to change its name to the 'Savoy' cinema complete with its own selfcontained twelve tab1e billiards saloon to vie for patrons with the then novel two screen picture house a little higher up the road in Red Lion Square known as the 'Regal and Pavillon' and owned by Bob Beresford, an Alderman and ex-mayor of the town.



8. Evidence of increasing vehicular traffic on the roads can be seen from this card where cars and lorries, even a primitive petrol tanker are parked in front of the Castle Hotel. Horse drawn carts and carriages as weH as the electric tramway were soon doomed to redundancy by the rapid increase in bus undertakings and private cars, in fact, the tram system was abandoned in 1928.

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