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Will the recent way NBC has handled the travellers situation impact who you vote for in future council elections?

Yes I will vote for a different party / councillor than our current lot in Kidsgrove - 91.8%
No I will vote for the party / councillor who represent Kidsgrove now. - 8.2%

Talke, Talke Pits and Butt Lane in 1912

We the people of Talke, Talke Pits and Butt Lane want to tell you about our villages.
We hope that it helps to show what life is like here in 1912 and to explain that life is better than before and hopefully it will get better in the future.

Allow me then enlighten you.
We have sewers, running water, gas lighting, electric lighting, telephones, steam trains, omnibuses, bicycles, motor cars, a postal service, schools, greater literacy, more industry, newspapers, quite a few shops, employment laws and health care.
Obviously only the better off people have electricity, cars and telephones but most other things are within our reach if we work hard.
There are still a lot of old houses which are in a terrible state but the new houses they are building now have a water tap and a lavatory.

The health care is better than 40 years ago, but we have to pay the doctor for any medicines we need, sometimes we don’t have the money to spare so we just suffer in silence or get worse.
Children are supposed to get free treatment but it doesn’t always happen that way.

Talke is at the centre of the three villages and we form quite a tight knit community.
Our ecclesiastical parish was formed in 1859 from the civil parish of Audley, containing the villages of Talke, Talke Pits and Butt Lane, the population in 1901 was 5497.
Talke stands high on a hill and has commanding views of the surrounding countryside, we can even see as far as the Welsh hills.
We can also see Mow Cop and all over the Potteries.
Well, we would see all over the Potteries if we ever have clear day, the sky is always black with smoke from the bottle kilns, how they live down there with that I’ll never know.
The Goldendale Iron works is down in the valley, the smoke that pours out of the chimneys is terrible.
We don’t catch the smoke really because the wind is usually blowing towards Goldenhill.
At night the sky glows bright red with the flames from the furnaces and we can hear the clanking of the machinery and the trains.

The church at Talke is dedicated to St Martin and has tubular bells which were hung in 1906 in the memory of the Reverend Mark Wilks MacHutchin who was rector here from 1859 to 1906.
The church sits 300 and the stained glass window was added in 1888, it was paid for by public subscription.

The Mission Church at Talke Pits was erected in 1887 and seats 200 persons.
We also have Wesleyan, United Methodist, Primitive Methodist and Welsh Wesleyan Chapels.
In the centre of Talke village there is a portion of an ancient stone cross which dates back to 1253, we used to have a market around it but not anymore.
The cross was restored by public subscription in 1887 at a cost of £8.

In July 1782 a fire broke out and destroyed a large part of the village.
Worse was to come in August that same year when 39 hundredweights of gunpowder were being transported through the village when it exploded.
The cost of these two calamities was £2387 15s 7 3d.
His Majesty, George the Third commanded that a collection be made throughout the land for the relief of the sufferers.

On the 13th December 1866 a fearful explosion of coal gas occurred at the North Staffordshire coal pits and 91 persons were killed.
Almost £16000 was raised by public subscription for the relief of the widows and children of the sufferers.
Since then a permanent relief society has been formed for the benefit of coal and ironstone workers of North Staffordshire.

In April 1875 another explosion occurred in the Bunker’s Hill coal pits when 42 men and boys were killed.
At this time a fund of £3000 was raised for the widows and fatherless children.
The main colliery owner is a company called Talke o’ th’ Hill Colliery Limited and they are the main employers.
The company’s trading name is Carbon and the general manager is A.M. Henshaw.
The other colliery is the Bunker’s Hill Company, James Maddock is the manager.
The rest of the people work on the land or go to the Potteries for work.
Most of the farming is wheat with some dairy herds.
As you know, all around us is countryside, green fields, ponds and woodland.
It would be a terrible shame if the industrialists took over and built their giant smoky factories like in Stoke on Trent and the Black Country.

The lords of the manor are, Sir William Fletcher Boughey, Captain Justinian Heathcote Edwards-Heathcote, the Captain is also our local Justice of the Peace.
Just like Kidsgrove we have a modern postal service.

Joseph Jackson is the Post Master at Talke.
Letters are received at 6-00 am & 4-00 pm, and are dispatched at 10-20am
& 8-00 pm, no Sunday deliveries.
Talke also has the Telegraph Office for the sending of telegrams.

Walter Dean is the Sub Post Master at Butt Lane.
Letters are received at 7-00am & 4-20 pm and dispatched at 10-30 am
& 8-25 pm, no Sunday deliveries.

Allen Cartlidge is the Sub Post Master at Talke pits.
Letters are received at 8-35 am & 5-30 pm and dispatched at 9-40 am & 7-10 pm, no Sunday deliveries.
I think that having two collections and deliveries a day is really good but not many people actually receive mail, who would want to write to someone who can’t read?
It costs a penny to post a letter and that money could be better spent on food.

Each area has its own schools and in Talke we have three, they are,

The Council School built in 1909 which has places for 300 boys and girls.
Joseph W Nicklin is the Master and MIss Riddett the Mistress.

The Church of England School which has places for 130 girls, Miss Mary Drysdale is the Mistress.

The Mixed & Infants School built in 1895 which has places for 320 children.
Mr Ernest Rushworth is the Master and Miss Annie Palin the Mistress.

Talke Pits has just one school which is St Martin’s, it has places for 162 children and Mrs Sarah Ann Smith is the Mistress.

Because like the rest of England, children have to attend school, we can see that one day everyone will be able to read and write.
If you are naughty at home your dad gives you a clip round the ear and that wears off pretty quickly.
At school they give you the cane across your fingers at least one stroke and then they expect you to carry on writing as if nothing has happened.

Our parents and grandparents say that they have always got on in life even though they never learned to read and write.

The school leaving age is twelve and then we have to get a job to help out the family, most lads go to work with their dads, if they are lucky the girls might get a job in the fustian factory or in service in the big houses.
The government says that a lot of people live in poverty, I don’t know what they mean by poverty, I do know that sometimes our parents haven’t got enough money to feed us.
The government also says that schoolchildren should have free school meals but because it isn’t law yet, they don’t bother.
What usually happens is that when people leave school the family has a bit more money coming in, that is until they decide to get married and start a family then it happens again, not enough money to feed everyone.
There is usually plenty of work for all the men and boys but the pay is not very good and women are paid a lot less than men.
Mostly our meals are just potatoes and bread sometimes with a bit of bacon if we are lucky.
We can buy other vegetables or cheese if we have the money, or we can trade things to give us a bit of variety.
Most women and girls wear long skirts down to the ground and it seems that all men grow a moustache as soon as they start to shave.
Sometimes if he has the money to spare, dad will go to the pub or he sends mum with a jug to the outdoor for a couple of pints of stout.
If your dad works in the pit you can get the coal a little bit cheaper, so at least mum can cook the food and we can have a warm before we go to bed.
If you go to work, a few pennies a week are paid out of your wages into the National Assistance Fund.
If you are sick the fund provides a few shillings a week to help you to live and also free doctor’s treatment just for the worker, not his family.
Sometimes the Fund will pay out if you are out of work for a while, but only for a few weeks.

Police constables Percy Arnold and Frederick H. Wade are responsible for law and order and are based in Butt Lane, Constable Benjamin Mann is stationed at Talke Pits.

Our most prominent residents are, Albert Mayon Henshaw, George Jefferson, Frank Jenkinson, William A. McDonald, John McGowan, Miss Marsh-Caldwell, Thomas Rigby, Reverend Otto Herbert Schroller, Reverend John Henry Lilwall and Reverend John H. Thornley.

There are three doctors serving our communities, unfortunately they are based at Butt Lane and Kidsgrove.
William Austin McDonald, Ivy Cottage, Congleton Road.
Jonathon Steele, The Avenue Kidsgrove.
George Jefferson, Congleton Road Butt Lane.
It costs money to see a doctor so it is probably just as well that they are not too local.

In Talke and Talke Pits we have a good selection of traders which means that we are quite independent.
Between us we have,
2 hairdressers, baker, newsagent, 3 insurance agents, 3 drapers, 1 dressmaker, 3 chip shops, 2 butchers, hardware dealer, shoemaker, wheelwright, coal agent, clog maker and about 15 grocery shops all together.

In Talke we have three public houses, The Swan, The Caldwell Arms and The Old Queens Head, I wouldn’t be surprised if these pubs were still here in a hundred years.

Walter Hulse is the landlord of The Swan.
William Wainwright, The Caldwell Arms.
William Kerry, The Old Queens Head.
The pubs, along with the 6 beer retailers should more than satisfy the thirsts of the local men, that’s what the vicar says anyway.

St Saviour’s at Butt Lane was consecrated on 14th September 1879.
The vicar is the Reverend John Henry Lilwall Edwards B.A. of Keble College, Oxford.
The Baptist Chapel in Church Street, Butt Lane was erected in 1880.

Butt Lane School which was built in 1909 with places for 400 children has Thomas I. Nicklin as Master and Mrs Harriett Tinsley as Mistress.

The doctors have surgeries at Butt Lane and Kidsgrove.
William Austin McDonald, Ivy Cottage, Congleton Road.
Jonathon Steele, The Avenue Kidsgrove.
George Jefferson, Congleton Road Butt Lane.

The Butt Lane Industrial Co-operative Society has two stores, one of them is on the Newcastle Road and the other is in Talke Pits.

If you are a member at the Co-op they give you a number so that you can claim your Dividend.
What happens is, when you go into the shop to buy something you tell them your number, ours is 13629 and then they mark that purchase against your name so that each year you get a bit of money back for being a good customer.
That refund is called the Divi for short.

3 insurance agents make sure we are all covered in their burial clubs, once a week they turn up for their premiums, I’m sure that they will provide that service for a long time to come.

In Butt Lane there is also a good selection of traders.
3 beer retailers, 4 butchers, 2 boot repairers, 2 plumbers, 3 hairdressers, dress maker, 4 insurance agents, joiner, pawn broker, 2 chip shops, clog maker, 2 hardware stores, corn dealer, 2 drapers, builder, 2 herbalists, blacksmith, cycle dealer, newsagent, photographer, stationer, 2 fustian cutters and about 20 grocery shops.
For those of you who don’t know, fustian is a course kind of cloth, I think the fancy name for it is corduroy.
The two companies are, Barlow & Hopkins, Old Butt Lane and The United Velvet Cutters Association, Banbury Street, Butt Lane.

Benjamin Cramer is the pawn broker at 120 Congleton Road.

The Butt Lane Social Club is in Chapel Street, Luther Scragg is the secretary.

The Talke Liberal & LabourClub is in Congleton Road, Benjamin Lethbridge is the Junior Secretary there.

The Millstone public house, licensee Arthur Ray is in Congleton Road.
The Old Red Bull public house, licensee John Bott is also in Congleton Road.

Our villages are on the main route from London to Carlisle so most days we see teams of pack horses and horses and carts travelling through on their way to different places.
They stay at the inns overnight, so the landlords are kept very busy providing food and drink for the men and fodder for the beasts.
As you can imagine there is quite a bit of drunkenness and rowdy behaviour when all these men are gathered together.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about village life in 1912 and I hope that in 2012, your life and your standard of living are greatly improved from theirs.

The next time you are stuck in the traffic on the way home remember, these people walked everywhere.
The next time there is nothing on the telly remember, there hasn’t always been television.
The next time you feel the need to put the heating on because it’s a bit chilly outside remember, most of these people didn’t have enough coal to make a fire sometimes.
The next time you throw away half a pizza, because you’ve had enough of it remember, most of the time these people didn’t have enough food to live on.

Despite all those hardships, the people of this era survived and went on to fight two world wars and still came out on top.

© 2012 David Wood

All comments are welcome.

This site belongs to Leicester University where most of the trades information was obtained.
They are quite happy for anyone to consult the directories.

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