Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society
invites you to a free talk by Mervyn Edwards
on Monday 19th June 2017.
Now is the time to consider nominating a building or landscape project that exhibits good quality design and execution within the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. For further information see below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Heritage Open Days – 9th – 11th September 2016
Visit and learn about local places of interest free of charge !
The following places are open during the Heritage Open Days. See each listing for opening times.
Newcastle Cemetery, Lymewood Grove, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 2EH
Newcastle Cemetery Chapel will be open from 10.00am to 3.00pm on Saturday 10th September.
Members of Newcastle Civic Society will be in attendance to talk about the chapel and the Society.
Newcastle Cemetery Chapel is a Victorian Grade II listed building of architectural and historical interest. It is set on a hill just outside the town centre in 33 acres of burial ground surrounded by trees and shrubs. The interior has a beamed ceiling, half tiled with Minton tiles and is set out with wooden pews and chairs indicative of the era.
Unitarian Meeting House, Lower Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 2UA
Unitarian Meeting House will be open from 11.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday 10th September.
Non-conformist meeting house or chapel built in 1717 in the shadow of the Parish Church (St Giles) original building dated c.1650 burnt down by rioting mob. Attended by master potter Josiah Wedgwood and Joseph Priestley: chemist, theologian and discoverer of oxygen. Charles Darwin also known to have visited.
St Giles Parish Church, Church Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 1QS
St Giles Church will be open from 9.00am to 12.00 on Friday 9th September and from 10.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday 10th September.
Soaring architecture, glorious glass and many notable features including Medieval Pelican lectern, fine organ and churchwarden’s chest. This beautiful Gilbert Scott church has many gems. This year see the work undertaken with Heritage Lottery Fund to improve and beatify the church grounds and show to great advantage the fine collection of memorial stones.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church, London Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 1LQ
Holy Trinity will be open from 10.30am to 5.00pm on Saturday 10th September.
Built in 1834 in blue brick, an outstanding example of local Gothic architecture, with original altars and fittings, stained glass and other features, including life size statues of St John Fisher and St Thomas More, with engraving by Eric Gill. A church of national importance as it was one of the first Catholic churches built on a main road after the Catholic Emancipation Act. Open this weekend for visitors to explore. Guide book and parish history available. Church has been extensively repaired and re-decorated, including a new (restored) pipe organ. This year we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of local martyr, Blessed Thomas Maxfield, born in Red Street Chesterton, and who was put to death in Newgate in 1616. There will be a display of information about his life and death available in church, and the Martyrs Chapel contains a relic of his forearm bone, brought from Spain in 2000.
St Margaret’s Church, Church Lane, Wolstanton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0EH
St Margaret’s Church, Wolstanton will be open from 10.00am to 4.00pm on Saturday 10th September.
There will be tours within the church and churchyard, advice on researching the baptismal, marriage and burial records and two special exhibitions – the centenary of the Battle of the Somme 1916 and the soldiers from the Wolstanton area that fought and died there and the life and achievements of James Brindley. 2016 is the 300th anniversary of his birth and the 250th anniversary of the cutting of the first sod for the Trent and Mersey Canal. James Brindley and Anne Henshaw were married at St Margaret’s Church on 8th December 1765.
Keele Hall, University of Keele, Keele, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 5BG
Keele Hall will be open from 10.00am to 3.30pm on Sunday 11th September.
The Keele estate was owned by the Sneyd family from 1540 to 1949. The first Keele Hall was built in 1580 and was rebuilt to the design of the celebrated Victorian architect Anthony Salvin in 1855-1860. It is a Grade II listed building. In 1949 the University College of North Staffordshire was founded on the site, which received the Royal Charter as Keele University in 1962. Keele Hall houses an outstanding collection of Mason Ironstone ceramics.
The Raven Mason Collection in Keele Hall outlines the development of Mason ceramics. Curator Harry Frost will be available and offers a free identification service for ceramic items.
There will be guided tours of the heritage areas of Keele Hall.
The Chapel is open to visitors around service times (i.e. afternoon only). Designed by George Pace and consecrated in 1965, it is the first purpose-designed ecumenical place of worship in the UK.
The campus has over 600 acres of landscaped grounds, farmland, woodland and University buildings and facilities.
There are leaflets for self-guided walks around the campus and arboretum. The arboretum includes a national collection of cherry trees.
Kidsgrove Heritage Walk
Starting at Harecastle Tunnel, Kidsgrove Canal, Kidsgrove, ST7 1EA at 10.45am on Saturday 10th September.
James Brindley was one of the country’s most famous engineers. With his pals Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin, he was responsible for bringing the Trent & Mersey canal into being. The mile and a half long Harecastle tunnel where our walk starts is acknowledged to be one of his finest achievements, although sadly he did not live to see its completion.
This heritage walk, in the company of a knowledgeable and engaging local historian, takes you from the mouth of the tunnel that bears his name, to his final resting place at St James Church in Newchapel. Your guide will regale you with stories of the life and achievements of Mr Brindley along with other fascinating insights into local history. If you are very lucky, the great man himself may even join you for the walk !
Nearby Kidsgrove Library in The Avenue will have a display of local history books available to peruse before and after the walk.
The walk is about 4 miles long (round trip) with a slight incline at the end and 4 stiles to negotiate. Much of it is along paths but the final section crosses a field so may be muddy if it has rained. Sensible footwear and suitable clothing is recommended. This event is NOT SUITABLE for children under the age of 5.
PRE-BOOKING IS PREFERRED
BOOKING CONTACT – Trudi Barnard – Call 07946 339110 or Email email@example.com
Booking closes 2.00pm Friday 9th September
Newcastle-under-Lyme is essentially a small mainly Georgian/Victorian market town.
The town centre is a Conservation Area encircled by a dual carriageway ring road. Within this confined area are three main roads, High Street, The Ironmarket and Merrial Street. Many of the buildings in the town centre, now converted into shops, bars banks etc. were originally built as houses and are of domestic scale of two or three storeys. To fully appreciate the town’s heritage it is necessary to look above some inappropriate shopfronts and admire the upper storeys of the handsome buildings.
There are a number of large supermarkets situated outside the town centre that draw trade and footfall away from smaller traders.
There are fortunately still some buildings of architectural merit in the town but redevelopment in the 1960s removed some significant buildings, including the Municipal Hall in the Ironmarket, and replaced them with “modern” buildings that are in conflict with the style of neighbouring properties but at least are of a similar scale.
The Ironmarket is arguably the most attractive road in the town centre. It is a broad, largely pedestrianized, thoroughfare. Many upper storeys have changed little over the years and retain their original character and diversity. Old photographs show the dominance and majesty of the Municipal Hall that once stood proudly adjacent to the Queen’s Gardens. Demolished in the 1960s it was replaced by the current library.
If the plans for a new Public Sector Hub are successful, the library will move to the new building and be confined to a reduced floor area.
The current library building will become surplus to requirements. Its future is uncertain.
The Queen’s Gardens are the green heart of Newcastle’s town centre. Many consider this part of Newcastle second only to the Guildhall in reflecting the character and ambiance of the town.
At present the garden’s backdrop is the very attractive Victorian former St. Giles’ and St. George’s School building.
It has been proposed that this school should be demolished and replaced by a four storey Public Services Hub.
Architect’s impression of the Public Sector Hub
This development is within the Town Centre Conservation Area.
It is difficult to envisage this development sympathetically complimenting the character and ambiance of our Victorian/ Georgian heritage.
Even on a brief visit to Newcastle town centre one can observe developments that have enhanced its appeal and others that have marred its beauty and character.
The area around Red Lion Square retains some of its Georgian/Victorian heritage but York Place, built in the 1960s, now looks dated. Beyond the square there is an area which awaits development where a supermarket has been demolished. Currently it is used as a car park and this area, together with the current site of the Civic Centre facing Merrial Street, is earmarked for retail development and student accommodation.
Merrial Street has a number of interesting buildings including Wilton House, the former Conservative Club, The Ebenezer Schoolrooms and the former police station which now stands empty facing an uncertain future.
The current Civic Centre may not be the most beautiful building in town but it is a good example of the architecture of its time.
The Guildhall is the iconic landmark building in Newcastle. This building has had a chequered recent past. It was left to deteriorate after an unsuccessful period when leased for use as a public house but has recently been renovated, refurbished and brought back into public use as a public access point for council services. Once again its future may be uncertain if the proposed new public sector hub is built elsewhere in the town.
The area adjacent to the Guildhall in the High Street was demolished in the 1930s and replaced by Lancaster Buildings. This “new” building is a good example of architecture of its time and has recently become a Grade II Listed Building.
Commendably the facade of the Castle Hotel was substantially retained when the site behind was redeveloped and the new Roebuck shopping centre frontage compliments the street view and respects its neighbours.
Behind High Street in Market Street, Mellards Warehouse has been restored and refurbished to a very high standard and serves as an excellent example of sympathetic updating of a building to meet today’s needs.
Castle Walks, which extends from the bus station to the Ironmarket, consists of new build shops of two storeys with varying roof levels that have been carefully designed to compliment the surrounding area.
The south side of the High Street between Friars Road and the Grosvenor Roundabout has little to commend it as it consists largely of characterless utilitarian buildings. The north side of this road retains some of its Victorian feel with a mixture of different frontages, roof levels and architectural features and details.
At the end of the High Street there is an attractive sunken garden within Grosvenor Roundabout and across the ring road stands 1 London Road, a modern block of flats that many consider an inappropriate and out of place development.
John Wild, who sadly died on 28th September at the age of ninety three, had been a member of the Civic Society from very soon after its foundation in 1968.
An Architect by profession, he made his skills freely available and helped to stay the tendency of certain developers to vandalise parts of Newcastle which were rich in heritage. The project to save Maer Hills from totally unsuitable development was just one of the many causes he espoused, and he also gave valuable guidance in preserving Maer church from decay.
A very active member of the Civic Society, he served as Honorary Secretary and later as Chairman for many years, before being elected as President. In 2002 John resigned from the Society due to increasing hearing problems, and was elected an Honorary member to mark our appreciation of his enormous contributions to the work of the Civic Society.
On 18th December 2007 the Town Mayor, Councillor David Clarke, and members of the Borough Council decided to issue Certificates of Outstanding Service to certain valued citizens. John Wild was the first person to receive one of these prestigious awards, in a ceremony at the Civic Offices, attended by his family and colleagues from the Civic Society. With typical modesty, he felt that this was as much an honour to the Society as to him personally.
John Wild (left) with Councillor David Clarke and Jim Worgan (right)
John was a real gentleman, of great integrity. Polite, gracious and always ready to listen to others, but also a man of inner strength and convictions to uphold what he knew to be right.
He will be greatly missed, by his family, by the Society and by a Borough to which he devoted so much of his time and energy.
Bernard Billington – Died 31st January 2015
Bernard, ably supported by his wife Kathleen, had been a staunch member of the Civic Society since its early days and he regularly contributed his well-considered views on most subjects discussed at our monthly meetings.
Probably the highlight of his achievements as a member was the fact that it was he who first suggested that the Civic Society should endeavour to get the Queen Victoria statue removed from the Station Walks and returned to a more appropriate site in the town. He also introduced us to his friend Wilf Burt, the stone mason who eventually oversaw the safe transport and re-erection of this statue in the Queen’s Gardens. Bernard personally paid for a new sceptre to replace the original one which had been stolen.
Bernard suffered medical problems in his later years, exacerbated by the rather sudden death of his much loved wife, but although no longer able to attend our meetings, he retained his interest in the society’s activities to preserve and enhance his beloved Newcastle to the end.
Bernard saw wartime service in the RAF, during which time he was “mentioned in despatches”. This was followed by a career in the insurance industry.
A man of high standards and integrity, his contributions to the work of the society, and his friendship with those who remember him will be greatly missed.
On Tuesday 9th December 2014 Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society was very pleased to recognise the achievements and generosity of a founder member, the late Clement “Jim” Wain who died in 2011 aged 92 years, when we officially “unveiled” the newly refurbished Queen Victoria Statue in the Queen’s Gardens and presented the Jim Wain Photographic Collection to the Borough Museum.
Jim was a member of a prominent local family all of whom loved our town, actively promoted its prosperity and strove to maintain its unique character. Jim was a real character himself and is greatly missed by all who knew him. He really cared about the town and was a tenacious campaigner. When Jim died he bequeathed three wonderful gifts to the Society. Firstly our memories of his fighting spirit, good humour and constant vigilance in preserving all that is special about our town. Secondly his extensive and unique collection of photographs of Newcastle-under-Lyme and the surrounding area showing its evolution and its treasures and eyesores lost during redevelopments. Thirdly Jim left a cash legacy to the Society to help us to continue his good work.
Members of the Civic Society decided to use part of his legacy to fund the refurbishment of the town’s Queen Victoria Statue. This work was most ably carried out by Hall Conservation and W. Burt inscribed the stone plaque.
At the event on 9th December members of the Society were delighted to be joined by The Worshipful The Mayor of Newcastle-under-Lyme Councillor Linda Hailstones, her Consort Councillor Peter Hailstones and their Sergeant together with L. Wallace (Conservation Officer), P. Stepien (Landscape Officer-Landscape Development), D. Adams (Director of Amenities) and R. Tait (Head of Operations) from the Borough Council and stone sculptor W. Burt. Jim Wain’s family was very well represented by his nephews Stephen and William, his sister-in-law Janet and other family members.
On this chilly afternoon The Society’s Press Officer, Jim Worgan, addressed the gathering beside the statue and the Worshipful The Mayor responded by expressing the Borough’s appreciation for the work carried out to enhance and preserve the Grade II Listed monument.
The party then proceeded to the Borough Museum for the official handover of the Jim Wain Photographic Collection and reception.
At the Museum our Chairman, Joan Howe, welcomed our guests and, as a selection of Jim’s pictures were projected onto the wall behind her, talked about Jim and the collection of photos he had amassed. She officially presented the collection to the Museum and introduced William Wain and Teresa Mason (Culture and Arts Manager) both of whom eloquently addressed the gathering. The Worshipful The Mayor was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a year’s complimentary membership of the Society.
Statue Background Information
The original marble statue by Charles Bell Birch A.R.A. is in Oodeypore, India. From this six bronze copies were made and these are now located in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Victoria Square in Adelaide, St Peter Port Guernsey, Aberdeen, Scarborough, The Royal Infirmary Derby and Blackfriars Bridge in London.
The Newcastle-under-Lyme statue was presented to the Borough by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam and unveiled in Nelson Place on 6th November 1903 by Grand Duke Michael of Russia. It remained in that prime location until the 1960s when the construction of the ring road caused it to be moved to Station Walks.
Station Walks is a pleasant but secluded public space and unfortunately the statue became neglected and was vandalised.
As the new millennium approached Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society launched a project to refurbish the statue and return it to a prominent town centre site close to its original location. With the approval and support of the Borough Council, the Society set about raising funds. The project cost in the region of £10,000 and was funded by the Civic Society and contributions from members of the public, the Borough Council and local businesses.
The statue now proudly stands in Queen’s Gardens at the bottom of the Ironmarket by Nelson Place.
In 2004 the Society commissioned a condition survey of the statue which showed that,following years of neglect and the effects of corrosion, work was required to refurbish the Grade II listed statue.
2014 – Conservation work and refurbishment completed by Hall Conservation and W. Burt (stone sculptor).
Come along and see some of our very special buildings !
Chapel of Rest, Newcastle Cemetery, Lymewood Grove, off Friarswood Road (Also accessible from Abbot’s Way, Westlands). A Victorian burial chapel of 1866, with original ceramic tiles and oak pews.
Open Thursday 12th September, 2pm to 4pm
St. Giles Parish Church, Church Street. A Gothic revival of 1876, designed by George Gilbert Scott. The medieval tower is the oldest structure in Newcastle. Climb the tower for the view !
Open Friday 13th September, 9am to 12 noon and Saturday 14th September, 10am to 6pm
Unitarian Meeting House, Lower Street (A34) close to the Parish Church. Built in 1717 (upper storey 1926). Older building burned down in 1715. Attended by Josiah Wedgwood and Joseph Priestley. (Look for the Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society Blue Plaques).
Open Saturday 14th September, 11am to 4pm
Holy Trinity Church, London Road (A34). Built in 1834 of decorative blue brick. Original altars and fittings. Interesting stained glass. Life sized statues by Eric Gill.
Open Saturday 14th September, 10.30am to 5pm
St. Margaret’s, Wolstanton. Red sandstone landmark. Interesting Sneyd family effigies. Grave of Henry Faulds, fingerprinting pioneer and of Sarah Smith, a murder mystery.
Open Saturday 14th September, 1pm to 5pm
Keele Hall. Former home of the Sneyd family. Victorian gardens and arboretum. Guided tours of the hall and gardens. Raven Mason Ceramics Collection on display. Antique pottery identification by curator.
Open Sunday 15th September 10.30am to 3.30pm