Sir Joseph Cook GCMG New Blue Plaque

Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society is pleased to recognise another distinguished local resident with the installation of  a Commemorative Blue Plaque on his former residence at 86, Newcastle Street, Silverdale. To find out more about Sir Joseph Cook’s extraordinary life we highly recommend the recently re-launched biography  “Pit Boy to Prime Minister” by G. Bebbington.




Heritage Open Days 9th – 11th September 2016


, , , ,

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.


BOOKING CONTACT – Trudi Barnard – Call 07946 339110    or  Email

Booking closes 2.00pm Friday 9th September


Jim Worgan – Macebearer


, , ,

Our President, Jim Worgan, in his capacity as a resident of the Borough, has been offered and accepted the position of Macebearer at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, during the term of office of the present Mayor, until May 2017.


There are two Macebearers whose principal duties are :

1)  To proceed the Mayor from the Civic Offices on formal occasions including the Mayor’s Civic Church Service and the annual Remembrance Day Parade and Church Service and

2)  From the Mayor’s Parlour to the Council Chamber for 6 full meetings of the Borough Council.


The mace is the symbol of the Sovereign. It is always carried before the Mayor with the crown uppermost except if the Sovereign is present, then the crown is reversed. It is the symbol of Royal Authority delegated to the Mayor and is thus redundant in the presence of the Sovereign.


Civic Awards

The Civic Awards Scheme, aimed to encourage quality in design and workmanship in  new building, refurbishment of old buildings and landscaping in the Borough, was revived in 2009 after a lapse of many years.   It is awarded jointly by the Newcastle Civic Society and Borough Council every two years.


Newcastle-under-Lyme Mayor, Sandra Hambleton, presenting the Winner’s Plaque to Martin Bostock, Head of Education and Facilities, NuL College and a certificate to the architect Mike Giblin of Ellis Williams, Architects of Preston Brook.

In 2015 a winner’s  Plaque was awarded to the Performing Arts Centre of Newcastle-under-Lyme College, and Certificates of Commendation were awarded to Doddlespool Farm,   Betley and the new Marks and Spencer  store in the Wolstanton Retail Park.

Performing Arts Centre

The Performing Arts Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme College (Plaque Winner)


Doddlespool Farm, Betley  (Certificate of Commendation)


Marks and Spencer, Wolstanton Retail Park  (Certificate of Commendation)

Civic Society response to “Hub” planning application approval

Although the application for the hub has been approved, we would like to comment on the process and the seeming lack of consideration shown to the numerous and justifiable objections to the plan.  Those who attended the planning meeting attest to the fact that they could not hear what was said and that certain points raised from the floor and gallery appeared to have been cursorily dismissed by the Chair and Planning Officers.  Overall, there was a general feeling that the eventual vote appeared to be a mere formality and that the issue had been decided long before the meeting.  Indeed, the lack of time given for a measured response from the electorate and the cursory consultation that did take place suggested an unhealthy haste to push the plan through – no matter what was said.

It also appeared that this development was not being assessed on its own merits (and public opinion suggested that it had very few) but as part of a chain of developments which would take place if this development was approved.  Thus, despite the strong evidence of unsuitability of the building for this site and the contravention of many of the Council’s own and published policies regarding conservation areas and listed buildings it was approved, seemingly in order that the Ryecroft development could then take place.

Given that approval has been granted, concern must now be expressed re the suitability of the building for its various seemingly incompatible usages, since these appear to have been disregarded.  The police have already indicated that the building would be unsuited to their purposes. There are worrying clauses which suggest that this building could be sublet during the next 60 years of the building’s projected life, should these agencies not wish to use the space being built for them.  Given that this project is financed albeit indirectly from public funds and permission is being given for a civic hub and not future and possible random office space, it could be construed that this could be a misuse of public funds.

The impact of this new building on the town centre and not least the Queen’s Gardens appears not to have been considered to any useful degree.  The disuse of several notable buildings in the town centre – not least the Guildhall – refurbished with public funds – will now become vulnerable and will probably fall, like the school, into disrepair.  Concern also needs to be expressed for the Library archive for which, we understand, there might not be sufficient room in its new home at the Hub.

Thus overall, what is most concerning is not just the erection of an unsuitable modern building but the apparent flippancy employed to the erasure of part of the town’s history – the part that is perhaps worth keeping – the loss of the Queen’s Gardens which were an important feature in this part of town and the probable loss of important written historical records.  Most concerning of all is the fact, given some of the inopportune comments by some members of Council, that this is somehow being construed as  ‘modern’ and ‘being in the 21st Century’.

Miss J Howe


Newcastle Civic Society

Press Release 09-02-2016




A GROUP dedicated to protecting Newcastle’s heritage and character is calling on residents to object to the demolition of a historic town centre building.

Newcastle Civic Society is taking a stand against borough council plans to replace the former St Giles’ and St George’s School with a four-storey “Civic Hub” overlooking the Queen’s Gardens.

A petition against the proposals, started by Civic Society member Kenneth Glover, has gathered more than 1,000 signatures since its launch four weeks ago.

And the Society is now urging residents to object formally to the proposals via the borough council’s planning website before the consultation deadline of February 16.

“We are not averse to change and modernisation but we have to be very careful how this takes place and what is removed,” said society chairman Joan Howe. “Despite the four years of preparation and consultation with officers, councillors and other agencies involved with the project, the public appear to have been kept in the dark. Indeed, the application was made to the planning office on January 25 before any wider public consultation had taken place.  This is surprising given the importance and scale of this building, the cost of which will be met by the general public.”

The application to demolish the school was passed by the council’s planning committee on January 6 and the school will be demolished within six months once plans for the new building have been approved.

The new building will house the library, the register office, health workers, the Borough Council and some County Council staff, some social services and the police.  There will be 30 car parking spaces, 13 for police cars and a bicycle park for 100 bicycles.

The Civic Society has formally objected in the strongest terms to the demolition of the school and to the new building as they feel it would be out of keeping with the Victorian buildings and ambiance of this part of town’s conservation area.

Miss Howe added: “Putting everyone into one building will mean that many other buildings – some of which are listed – will be left empty in the town centre and subject to demolition and deterioration.

“The scale of development for Newcastle would appear to be at the levels witnessed in the 1960s when the Municipal Hall was demolished and when it was fashionable to remove historic buildings in town and city centres and replace them with modern architecture – some of which in the 21st century have become run-down eye-sores.

“Given that the Borough Council has yet to produce a Development Plan all this would appear to be somewhat premature and ad hoc development.”

  • Residents can object to the proposals online on the council website at before February 16.



Release immediate


9 February 2016

Spare a few moments to help save our heritage

school elevations


Hub elevations

Staffordshire County Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council plan to further erode Newcastle’s Victorian/Georgian heritage in the Town Centre Conservation Area by demolishing the locally listed former St. Giles’ and St. George’s Primary School and erecting a four storey Public Services Hub that will dominate the view through the Queen’s Gardens and affect the setting of the Grade II Listed Queen Victoria Statue and Grade II Listed 31 Ironmarket Georgian building.

Newcastle-under Lyme Civic Society strongly opposes this planning application.

Help us by e-mailing your objections to this ill-conceived planning application now (closing date 16th February 2016) by visiting –

and click on the comments tab.

A few moments of your time will help us to conserve our heritage for future generations.

You can help to make a difference.

St. Giles’ and St. George’s Primary School versus the proposed new Public Sector Hub


, , , , , ,





IMG_0442 bArchitect’s impression of the new Public Services Hub

What do you think ?

Let us know by e-mailing us at

If you would like to join

Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society

include your postal address to receive a membership form

One Member’s View of the Changing Face of Newcastle


, , , , ,

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.

Ironmarket - Municipal Hall (2) (Large Box 19)

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.

IMG_0442 b

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.

Newcastle has seen many successful and sympathetic developments over the years but mistakes have been made too. If we hope to preserve the special character, ambiance and heritage of our town we must learn from the past.



Come and Join Us


, , ,


Newcastle-under-Lyme Civic Society welcomes all new members.

If you are reading this page you must be interested in our town and probably want to ensure that its history and character are preserved for future generations to appreciate.

The Civic Society does not oppose progress and understands that the needs of our community change and develop over time but we do not wish to see our interesting, historic heritage swept aside and replaced by generic new buildings that fundamentally change the character of this Georgian / Victorian market town.


The objectives of the Society are to promote and encourage the following :-


  1. a) To stimulate public interest and care for the beauty, history and character of the area of the town and its surroundings.


  1. b) To encourage the preservation, development and improvement of features of general public amenity or historic interest.


  1. c) To pursue these ends by means of meetings, exhibitions, lectures, and promotion of schemes of a charitable nature.


  1. d) To encourage high standards of architecture and town planning in Newcastle-under-Lyme.


The Society currently meets at 2.00 pm on the second Friday of each month at the Brampton Museum.

Not all everyone can attend meetings but all our members receive detailed minutes to keep them up to date.

Our annual subscription is just £7.00 per year payable in January.


If you want to help to make a difference by joining the Civic Society please email your name and address to