Tales from a Changing City

Review by Steve Dean

Pics by Julie Gould (click on pics to enlarge)

“The bulldozers came last wayk; thee didna waste any tarme…
Now owl aw ar can see from mar back yard is a sea of debris; red, black ‘n’ grey; and th’ tide stretches back as far as thayse tired owd eyes of marne can see. Pretty soon, I suppose, ar’ll bay the eonly one arahnd ‘ere that’s left…”

Having lived in Stoke for twenty years now, I myself have seen much change since I first arrived and Stoke Sounds contributors Danny Hill and photographer Darren Washingtons’ tribute to the changing face of Stoke-on-Trent brought home just how drastic these changes have been.

Darren’s photography captures well the starkness of the devastation wrought on great areas of the city as street after street is flattened in the dubious name of progress and Danny’s acute observations are richly detailed and written with an obvious love for the city of his birth.

I was going to write at some length of the work presented here, but after pondering on the matter for a spell, I though it more apt to leave it to Danny himself.

Much of it written in the old Potteries dialect, here are some of my favourite quotes gleaned from the exhibition walls…

…on relationships and football:

“Shay’s taken everythin way’ve ever had. The bloody lot. The telly, the fridge-frayzer, the microwave, the furniture, washing machayne, even the laight-fittings for God’s sake. Ah should ave sayn it comin. It inna larke shay never warned may. Shay’s been sayin it fer years. Ow thay’st bloody cares abite is thee footbeowl. Repeatin larke a bloody mantra ‘er did. Thee conna ave the best of both worlds. Tak yer pick…

…what am ar supposed ta deow nah?Ah’ve got absolutely nothin’. Shay’s even taken may most prized possession, just ite of spite; an ‘istoric piece of rubble from the owd Victoria ground – thee owd Boothen end thee kneowst? Ar spent two wayks wages biddin’ fer that!”

…on characters:

“Many wondered if Raymond went more than a minute or two with out saying anything at all! Some customers, caught up in his camaraderie, would prompt him playfully from time to time.
Leaning forward. “What about Stanley Matthews? Ever meet him?”

Snorting derisively. “Knew him?We were practically known as blood brothers, my boy.”

“Bruno Brookes? Nick Hancock?”

“There is not one local disc jockey, past or present, that has not met the end of my scissors.”
“Robbie Williams?”
“It is quite well-known around Tunstall and Burslem parts that I inspired at least 3 or 4 of the boy’s records!”

...and on society (this one really has to be written in its entirety):

“That couple next doewer raylly git on mar bloody wick, thee deow. Thee think theer so high n mighty, teowkin' ow posh, larkes - why conna thee teowk normal larke may n our Trev' deow? Professionals, that's what thee call 'emselves, or to give it the full title, young professionals, ow bloody "la-de-da," thee are, thee act as if theer farts dunna stink larke every-bugger elses deow. 'E leowkes larke thee's summat wrong with 'im! N 'er, dunna git me bloody started on 'er; weolkin' dine th' road as bold-as-bloody-brass, larke er's trayin to balance a payle o' beowks on 'er pretty blonde 'ead. Ooh, ah conna bloody stand 'em, ah conna. Ah oewnly went rind theer to say "Ay up, welcome to th' neighbour'ood," but 'er leowked at may larke ah wis bloody-well daft! Well, ah've trayed showin' um 'ospitality - eet's obvious thee onna from rahnd 'ere, ah wis doewin' mar neighbourly bit, thee kneowst, larke eet says in th' Bible - but ah wunna deow eet again! Ah wunna bother! Nah, that's eet as far as ah'm concerned, thee've burned theer bloody bridges!”

“That couple next door seem terribly nice, very welcoming, although me and Richard have only met them just the once, as we were unpacking when we first arrived. Quite frankly, it's been dreadfully arduous adjusting to our new surroundings. My darling Richard, I know, has been under considerable strain adapting to his new job over here; I can see the anxiety in his eyes. He seldom complains. Bless him. Richard is Richard, and during the preciously short few years of our marriage I've tended to notice his behavioural traits, his eccentricities, if you like, and when under pressure, his burdens do serve to force him into his shell, making him appear, to outsiders, anxious and maladroit. Given time, however, I'm sure he will adjust to our new status quo. There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I'm sure we'll settle here, eventually.
The new house is a dream, I love it, and the area is very agreeable; with lots of amenities and culture around the local area for Richard and I to enjoy. Yes, the more I think of it I'm positively sure we will make a home for ourselves here. That is, however, if we ever learn to interpret exactly what it is our neighbours are actually saying to us…”

Danny and Darren have had a very positive response to their exhibition and there is every sign that some very interesting opportunities may arise for them in the not-too-distant future. With work of this standard, there is no real reason for there not to be.

For more about:
Danny Hill
Darren Washington

Thinking about becoming a midwife?

Keele University School of Nursing and Midwifery will be holding an open
evening on 23rd September, from 5pm - 8 pm, when prospective applicants
can learn more about career opportunities within healthcare.

The event will be held at the Clinical Education Centre, City General
Hospital, off the A34.

The School is now recruiting for the January 09 and September 09
pre-registration programmes in nursing and operating department

Please contact 01782 556600 for more information, or visit the
website: www.keele.ac.uk/depts/ns

Kendo Nagasaki back on canvas

Ever since Sir Peter Blake painted masked wrestling legend Kendo Nagasaki’s portrait for the BBC “Masters of the Canvas” Arena television documentary, the Samurai Warrior has been looking for another artist to create a further interpretation of his mysterious image, and this commission has found its way to Burslem-based artist Rob Pointon.

Trained at The Prince's Drawing School in London and with work in the private collection of HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Devonshire, Rob has painted charity portraits of local stars such as Gordon Banks, Nick Hancock and Sam Plank as part of a 48-hour portrait marathon. It was at this event in December 2007, while Rob was painting 90-minute portraits of local people back to back for 2 days and nights, that his work was seen by Atlantis Chronos Goth, Kendo Nagasaki’s mysterious occult priestess, and she felt it merited being brought to the attention of Kendo Nagasaki.

Rob describes himself as “a figurative artist”, and in partnership with Karen Sayle of Big Red Studio (also of Burslem), Rob has developed a technique of animating oil paintings so that they move and evolve on-screen. After Kendo Nagasaki had seen this work, it was agreed that a moving oil-painted portrait of the wrestling star would be produced, and that it would be done at Nagasaki’s remote abandoned country mansion. The mansion’s cellar walls now tell a new story – a unique wall-painted animation of the life-story of Kendo Nagasaki, after which the oil-painted portrait itself comes to life!

The movie of the animation will have its first screening at the the Victoria Hall, Hanley, Stoke On Trent on Saturday 20th September 2008 as part of the LDN wrestling event which will be televised for Sky TV’s Fight Channel (427). The main event of a packed bill of international wrestling will be Kendo Nagasaki’s long awaited return to the Victoria Hall ring in a tag match which will see Nagasaki and his partner take on LDN Champion Yorghos and Nagasaki’s old enemy from the days of ITV Wrestling, Liverpool’s Robbie Brookside, in a special ladder match.

Tickets are priced at £10 adult (£8 concessions) and can be purchased by calling 0870 060 6649.

When Tunstall had a theatre, by Mervyn Edwards

Tunstall's first theatre was built on Booth’s Fields – a popular site for circus entertainments - at the junction of Sneyd Street (now Ladywell Road) and Victoria Street (now Harewood Road).

It was originally known as the Burslem and Tunstall Prince of Wales Theatre, though “Burslem” was soon dropped from the title. It was apparently known as the St. James’ Hall in later years, before assuming the name of the Theatre Royal, which name appears on the 1878 Ordnance Survey Map.

It opened in 1865 and was initially successful. The nearest other theatres were in Hanley and Newcastle. The historian Scarratt recalled that Gustavus Vaughan Brooke, the famous tragedian, appeared at the theatre. It eventually declined in popularity and closed around 1880. Possible reasons for this failure are given by William Scarratt: aside from a horse-tram connecting Burslem and Hanley, there was no co-ordinated transport system in the Potteries, so customers had to walk to the venue from neighbouring towns along poorly-made footpaths. Scarratt also hints that Potteries parochialism contributed to the theatre’s downfall: “Tunstall alone could not support one, and the outlying villages were too inert or prejudiced to give any encouragement.”

In 1882, the building was taken over by the Salvation Army as their Northern Potteries Citadel. 1889 saw the building cleaned and partly-rebuilt. Only the four outer walls now remained of the old theatre, and an entirely new, semi-circular gallery was erected, with staircases leading up to it.

The Salvation Army moved to new premises in 1998 and a pottery firm, PK Ceramics, took it over in 1999.

Bankeyfields community site

The Bankeyfields community website is a brilliant example of a highly localised website helping to connect the community and it has many features that local residents groups might want to follow:

- discussion forum, featuring a great big debate about the roundabout at Goldenhill. Since Stoke is packed with confusing road systems, this is a great taste of Stoke culture!
- regular news updates with an RSS feed so it can be fed to other sites, like this one
- events calendar with space for organising
- reports of problems - hopefully council wardens are keeping an eye on the site.

Although the architects of the site have built it themselves using Drupal, all of these tools can be found free or very cheaply online and people can chip in to help whenever they have a bit of time (and of course internet access). It's great to see such an active community site in a corner of Tunstall. It takes a long time and hard work to build up support for websites like these, so hopefully Bankeyfields will provide inspiration to others.

Cobridge Park Mela

(junction of North Rd and Elder Rd, Cobridge)

on Sun 31st Aug from 12-5pm

The event will be aired by Aap TV Sky Channel 803

Acts booked for the event include:-

* Hussain Brothers Qawwali Group
* Break Dancers
* World Famous African Drummer
* Fashion Show featuring Miss World finalist
* Bhangra Dancers/Dhol Players
* Singers
* British Twaekando Champion
* Pyrotechnics and Firework Display
* Sumo Wrestling, Gladiator Games
* Street Sports
* Bouncy Castles
* Henna Painting
* Face painting
* Balloon Modelling
* Competitions
* Food and Clothes Stalls
* Stalls by various business's, partner agencies etc (any other Businesses or agencies are welcome to book their places now ! )

More information:

Imran Shah

Community link officer

North Staffs British Muslim Welfare Society

01782 769300

Better mental health services

North Staffs Users Group (NSUG) is the independent charity that works towards improving mental health services in North Staffordshire. NSUG does this by speaking with anyone who has experience of mental ill health, and finding out what they think of the treatment they have received.

By finding out what people think of – and want from – mental health care, the NSUG can help to ensure that the views of people who have had mental health difficulties are considered when future services are being planned. Alternatively, if someone has a specific problem with the treatment they are receiving, they can ask NSUG to help them to resolve it.

As Emma Ford, the Group's Stoke Outreach Worker, says, "We want to hear what people think about anyone who offers mental health services. This could be GPs, Social Workers, Resource Centers, Community Nurses, Harplands Hospital, or even Voluntary Groups. We want to hear the things that people think are good as well as not so good. Also, if someone has refused services or treatment, or has decided not to attend appointments, we'd like to know what put them off. If anyone has any views whatsoever about mental health services in this area we want to hear them!"

So, if you've got anything that you want to tell NSUG about, Emma will be in the Waiting Area of the Greenfield Centre, Tunstall, 11.30-12noon on the first Monday of each month; at Christchurch Social Services Drop-in, High Street, Tunstall, 11-12noon on the last Wednesday of each month; and at the American Clubhouse, Waterloo Road, Cobridge, 11-12noon on the last Thursday of each month. Alternatively you can contact the Emma by telephone on 01782 683043, or email emma@nsug.co.uk