Industrial Locomotives of North Staffordshire, by Allan C. Baker
Published by the Industrial Railway Society (IRS) in 1997, 476 pages. Hardback - c.15cm by 21cm (N6048)
From the introduction: North Staffordshire is an extremely closely knit community and indeed to some extent forms a large enclave at the northern tip of this large county. It is effectively divorced from South Staffordshire and the Black Country by a wide tract of open country north of Wolverhampton and its people see absolutely no ties, cultural, social, business, or indeed industrial, with the remainder of the county. On the west it is bordered by Shropshire, on the north Cheshire and on the east Derbyshire. Its geography therefore offers within a relatively few miles a transition between the extremes of the Derbyshire peaks and dales and the Cheshire plain. It can claim, along with areas of the southern part of the county and nearby Shropshire, to have been in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. It was the first conurbation outside Manchester to benefit from the system of narrow canals that expanded to make possible this country's industrial growth before the coming of the railways.
Industrial North Staffordshire centres very firmly on the Potteries, that group of six towns and sixty villages clustered together, along with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, between the Moorlands to the east and the plains to the west... The area developed with the manufacture of earthenware, due to abundant natural deposits of clay (Marl - hence the local term Marl Hole) and coal. The excavation and mining of these materials led to the discovery of ironstone and coal, and thriving coal mining, iron making and mineral engineering industries grew up alongside the manufacture of pottery....
Industry mushroomed and ultimately covered an area of some 300 square miles which was centred on the village of Etruria, north of Stoke town itself and on the summit level of the canal. Railways arrived here with the opening of the North Staffordshire Railway in 1848... the North Staffordshire Railway was known locally as The Knotty because it used a Staffordshire knot as the centre piece of its emblem, and despite many efforts by its much larger neighbour, the London & North Western Railway, to take it over, it remained independent until the 1923 Grouping.
Etruria, where to a large extent it all started, became the home of what was undoubtedly the greatest single industrial undertaking in North Staffordshire - the Shelton Iron & Steel Works. Originally laid out by Earl Granville in 1839, the works took the Wedgwood family home of Etruria Hall as its general offices, and ultimately expanded to cover land on both sides of the Trent & Mersey Canal. Part of the original complex is still in operation. Obviously, industrial railways abounded in the development of such enterprises, initially with the early form of crude tub/tramways, followed by more substantial lines to serve as canal feeders and later by full-blown standard gauge systems. The latter ranged from small private sidings, with little more than a short stretch of track and loading dock alongside the main line, to lines of several miles in length. Ironically however, apart from a porcelain manufacturer in the south of the area at Stone and Harrison's Mill at Endon, none of the pottery works - Pot Banks in local parlance - ever aspired to owning their own locomotives although there were private sidings a-plenty which were shunted by main line engines. Moreover, because of the fragile nature of the product, the movement of the pottery wares to their markets was an early convert to the use of road transport to supplement the earlier canal transport.
For these reasons therefore, it is fitting that North Staffordshire should warrant a Handbook of its own. Herein I have tried to give substantial detail of the industries, companies and other aspects of the industrial archeology of the area covered, albeit with the common denominator of the railways. There is a far greater coverage of this 'general' detail than has been available hitherto in Handbooks. However, I hope that provision of this more general detail, which incorporates over thirty years of research, will ensure the book appeals to a far wider readership and proves of value not only to traditional industrial railway enthusiasts but also to historians of North Staffordshire, and indeed anybody interested in this unique area.
The book also includes 72 pages of plate black and white photographs to the rear of the book. There are two photographs per page, and thus around 140 photo's in total, showing different locomotives.
The condition of the book is generally excellent. The covers are clean and bright, the spine is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small price sticker on the rear side cover.