Local and international flavours make the September vehicle rally a great success

The Classic Vehicle Event at Etruria over the weekend of 14th and 15th September was a great success. Particularly iimpressive amongst the military vehicles on the Saturday was a Reo 'Deuce and a Half', a lorry which is typical of all the American war films. A number of Classic Commercials, plus a large number of classic cars, turned out on the Sunday. Especially interesting was a local 1949 Leyland Titan double decker bus, this vehicle is a rare 'low height' version enabling it to safely pass under the many bridges in The Potteries. Pictures below by Barry Job.

Classic vehicles, boat rides and more at September's Steaming Weekend

Jesse Shirley's Bone Mill can be seen in action once more on Sat 14th and Sun 15th of September. Visitors will also get the chance to see some classic vehicles and even take a boat ride along the Trent & Mersey Canal.

A collection of military vehles will be on display at the Museum on the Saturday, while classic cars and coimmercial vehicles take centre stage on the Sunday.

As it's Heritage Open Day weekend, special trips on a historic narrowboat can also be booked between Etruria and Burleigh Pottery in Middleport. The trip will take about 45 minutes. During the trip you will be entertained by members of the Arnold Bennett Society reading from the famous local author’s works whilst drinking tea or coffee and eating homemade cake! Tickets are one way but you can book a return boat, use public transport or walk along the canal (about 45 minutes walk) back to your starting point. Please go to


  where you can find full details and also book tickets.

There will be Learn by Play Activities for children and as usual the blacksmith will be in residence giving demonstrations, so a fantastic weekend of entertainment is in store.

The Museum is open on both days from 10.30am until 5pm. Children go free while adults are requested to make a donation of £3 towards the upkeep of the Museum (£5 gets you an excellent guided tour!) 

'Princess' to feature in BBC documentary

At the end of May KEO Films came to the Museum. Ant Palmer, their cameraman, was very impressed with "Princess" and the mill and spent some considerable time filming the Bateman and Sherrat engine and mill machinery in action. This will appear in "A Garden In Time", a piece about the Biddulph Grange gardens and the Bateman family on BBC 4 next Spring. Pics below by Barry Job.

2013 Steamings

Here's a reminder of future steaming dates for 2013. Please note that the beam engine and mill will be 'in steam' at 1.00pm, 2.00pm, 3.00pm and 4.00pm each day. Doors open at 11.00am and the museum will close at 4.30pm.

1/2 June - Canal Festival incl. steaming, boats, music, stalls, activities and much more

3/4 August - Steaming plus local community event

14/15 September - Steaming plus military and classic vehicles rally

7/8 December - Steaming plus Christmas event

Archaeological Survey in Etruria

In the 18th century Stoke-on-Trent became increasingly industrialised. Thus industrial diseases and accidents became common, yet professional medical care was absent. Thus a proposal in 1802 for a Medical Dispensary and Fever Hospital received general acclaim, money was raised by public subscription and a plot of land between the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Caldon Canal was purchased.

The Dispensary and Hospital opened in 1804 and much good work was carried out, but it was soon realised that the Etruria site was not suitable for expansion and there were problems with subsidence and increasing atmospheric pollution. In 1819 the Hospital moved to a new site and the existing buildings were used for a number of purposes before being demolished about 1878. The original site is believed to lie under the field adjacent to the Etruria Industrial Museum Visitor Centre, although the exact location is unknown.

Thus a geophysical resistivity survey of the field was carried out over the weekend of 23rd and 24th March led by Hannah Holbrook, a volunteer at the Museum and Archaeology Student at Sheffield University, and with the kind help of Sheffield University staff and with the assistance of the Etruria Volunteers. Although the site has been much disturbed by later construction work, the results are very promising and support the suggestion that further work would be revealing.

Story and photo by Barry Job.

Eggs-ellent effort from the Etruria Volunteers

Volunteers at Etruria Industrial Museum were told 'you're all stars' last week after they put their hands in their pockets and purchased sixteen Easter eggs for a local charity appeal. Signal Radio were thrilled with the hefty donation which will benefit children's organisations in the area. Jack and Fay Fowler-Evans can be seen below, eyeing up the delicious hoard.

Boiler flues cleaned as preparations begin for 2013 season

Volunteers old and new assembled again on Sat 23 Feb to begin the arduous process of cleaning and testing Etruria's 1903 Cornish-type boiler in readiness for this year's steaming weekends.

This first stage involves a great deal of dirty work in the unforgiving confines of the boiler's internal and external flues, removing the soot and debris accumulated during all of 2012's fires.

See Barry Job's pictures below for the full 'before and after' effect.

Tim, Tony, Chris G, Joe, Chris C, Andrew, Bernard and Danielle enjoy their last breath of fresh air for a while.

Tim, Danielle, Bernard, John C, Chris C, Joe, Chris G and John Mc all escaped more or less unscathed.

Christmas Steaming 2012 - report

The 2012 season of events drew to a close with a traditional Christmas steaming. “Princess” was in steam powering the mill and Father Christmas arrived in style aboard a trailer pulled by a 4 inch scale Ruston Proctor miniature traction engine “Milly” with owner Terry Magson at the controls. After greeting the crowd of waiting children he led them down to his grotto where they were given small gifts. Meanwhile the adults were entertained by a very authentic 1940s themed front room; this brought back happy memories for the older visitors. Other attractions included a small craft fair, children’s activities, canal boats, a choir and the Etruria blacksmith was in residence in the forge. There was lots for the visitors to see and do and a good time was had by all.

 Santa arrives right on time with Terry Magson at the controls

Anne and Danielle in the 1940s Christmas Front Room

Christmas Steaming 2012

This year's steaming programme draws to a close with the traditional Christmas event on Sat 1st and Sun 2nd December. here's the details:

Museum, Mill & Tea Room
Open from 10.30am to 5.00pm
Entry to the Museum and Mill by suggested donation of £3 per adult
Or £4 to include a Guided Tour - Children free

Santa’s Grotto with Santa Arriving
by Mini Traction Engine at 12.00 noon
on both days.
Suggested donation to visit Santa’s Grotto
and receive a small gift: £2 per child

Jesse Shirley’s Bone & Flint Mill ‘In Steam’
1.00pm to 4.00pm on the hour

Local Arts & Crafts Christmas Gifts
10.30 am to 4.00pm

Children’s craft activities Canal Boats
Blacksmith Demonstration Auto Jumble
1940s Wartime themed Room

The Friends Latest News and Events

The Etruria Vehicle Rally

The rally was a great success. Held on the Sunday of the September steaming weekend; over 40 vehicles were exhibited. Blessed with good weather, canal boats were moored all along the Caldon Canal arm adding to the atmosphere. The public attended in good numbers and, with the exhibitors, the museum saw one of its busiest days, the boiler house and engine house being packed with enthusiasts and interested spectators. It is intended to hold this event next year when it is hope to attract even more vehicles. Pictures below by Barry Job.

A wide variety of vehicles attended from a 1974 Reliant Scimitar Grand Touring Estate to a 1963 International B414 tractor

One of the more unusual classic cars was a 1957 Austin Metropolitan, a design with a decided American influence.

The 1921 Flanders was built in Detroit as a direct competitor to the more successful Model T Ford

Some of the volunteers who made the day such a success.

Fund-raising Challenge Completed at Etruria

Etruria was the finishing line for Keith Meeson's record-breaking sponsored walk last week (w/c 24/6/12). Former miner Keith walked the six miles along the Caldon Canal from Stockton Brook to Etruria wearing colliery clogs weighing 5ibs. His time of one hour and fourteen minutes is thought to represent a new record for a feat of this kind. Keith was raising money for the Donna Louise Trust, a popular Potteries charity supporting work at a local children's hospice. He was supported by champion cyclist Les West who can also be seen below in these pictures by John Cross.


Annual Bout of the Flue

Etruria's coal-fired, 1903 Cornish-type boiler was treated to her annual clean-out on Saturday 21st January. Each year, once the steaming season is over, the volunteers don protective clothing and crawl into the claustrophobic confines of the boiler and its flue system, removing the soot and debris that's built up over the course of the previous year's operations. This prepares the way for our boiler inspector to attend and confirm that he's happy with the state of the equipment, after which it's all put back together and the annual cycle begins again with an inaugral test steaming in the spring. Barry Job's pictures below illustrate the 'before' and 'after' effects of this gruelling bit of housekeeping.

Ben, Tony, John, Joe, Chris Cleaves and Chris Green ready to go 

Tony, Joe and Ben enjoy a cuppa courtesy of Greg

Chris emerges blackened but not beaten

2012 Steaming Weekends

Come along and see Princess 'in steam' and all the Mill machinery in operation on the following dates:

7/8th April

2/3rd June

4/5th August

6/7th October

1/2nd December

This year's Canals Festival will take place on the 2nd & 3rd of June, to coincide with our second steaming. Watch this space for details of activities and themed events accompanying the other dates.

Full steam ahead for Santa

Father Christmas has been a reular visitor to Etruria's December steaming for many years now and 2011 was to be no exception. Arriving by canal boat, of course, Santa brought festive cheer to families at Jesse Shirley's Mill on the 3rd and 4th of December along with helper Danielle and the appropriately-named 'Shirley' the red-nosed reindeer! Pictures below by Barry Job.

Santa and crew approach the Museum via the Caldon Canal.

 Shirley the Red-Nosed Reindeer with volunteer Barbara Alcock

Engine Volunteer Ben Riley busy making a decorative wreath.


Volunteers and Contractors Combine to Overcome Engine Problems

The running of the Beam Engine “Princess” at the museum has had one or two problems in the last few months, as volunteer Tony Green explains. 'This was due to a lack of cooling water getting to the condensor. On investigation we found the problem was due to the valve on the condensor pipe being blocked.'

'The blockage was from resin getting into the pipe from some work that has been done the canal wharf. May Gurney, the company who did that work on behalf of British Waterways, have been very good in helping us to resolve the problem. They have taken out the valve for refurbishing and fabricated a temporary infill until the valve is repaired.'

Pictures below show the interior of the pipe, coated with resin (plus canal-dwelling interloper) and the new section as fabricated by May Gurney.


'Our Heroes' Awards

On Thursday 22nd September The Sentinel and Britannia “Our Heroes” event was held at The Moat House Hotel. It was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people from across the communities of North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.

There were many humbling and heart warming stories of bravery and self sacrifice in the ten categories. In the “Bright Young Thing” category was our own Jack Fowler-Evans, supported by his proud parents Danielle and Phil, and, representing the Etruria Engine Volunteers, Barry Job.

Jack first visited the Etruria Industrial Museum when he was four years old and has been a volunteer at the Museum for over two years. When he heard that Council cuts might close the Museum he took it upon himself to make a stand; he wrote a speech and spoke in front of his school, Bradwell County Primary. He then collected over 1,500 signatures for a petition against the closure which he handed in at the Civic Centre in Stoke.

Jack was the runner-up in his category being beaten by the talented 14 year old rock guitarist James Bell. Amongst the celebrity presenters were Nick Hancock, Jonathon Wilkes, Imran Sherwani and the legendary Gordon Banks. Even though he was the runner-up; Jack received a number of gifts including an impressive framed certificate and he did the Museum proud.

Left-right below: Jack with his larger-than-life cut-out, with proud parents Phil and Danielle, and with celebrity presenter Nick Hancock.

Report & pics by Barry Job.                                                        


Civil War Breaks Out at Etruria

Sat 3 and Sun 4 September saw a 'living history' event at Etruria Industrial Museum when members of the American Civil War Society set up camp and gave visitors an insight to life on both the Union and Confederate sides of the conflict, which broke out 150 years ago this year. Alongside all the uniforms and horses, the weaponry and firing drills in particular attracted the attention of spectators. Pictures below by Barry Job.

 Coal Sponsorship Boost for Engine Volunteers

Collaboration between the Engine Volunteers at Etruria Industrial Museum and a Wolstanton-based coal merchant could help secure the future of the last working steam-powered bone and flint mill in the world.

Working with the Engine Volunteers, CPL Distribution Limited have come up with a deal to provide the coal that generates steam to power ‘Princess’ the giant beam engine at the museum.

Following the announcement of budget cuts by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, a group of enthusiastic supporters and volunteers are now setting up a charitable Trust to help preserve and develop the museum for the benefit of the public.

“CPL Distribution has come forward with an offer to support us by discounting the price of coal. This will save money in the short term and help sustain the future of the site in the long term,” said Tony Green M.B.E. who has worked as a volunteer on the engine for over 30 years.

“We run the engine for the visiting public over six weekends each year, and for numerous educational visits for the city’s schools. In the future the Trust would like to increase the number of ‘steamings’ that we offer.

“Last year, the engine’s Cornish boiler, used 14 tonnes of coal. This accounts for a significant part of the running costs, so the offer from CPL to support a unique part of the city’s ceramics heritage is very welcome.”

With the collaboration between the Engine Volunteers and CPL now in place, the first steaming with the new coal began on Friday 1st July and continued over the weekend when visitors came to see the giant engine in motion.

Steaming dates for the rest of the year are:

6-7 August 3-4 September 1-2 October 5-6 November 3-4 December

Engine volunteer Tony Green MBE (right) and Stephan Kirkham of CPL Distribution Ltd have their shovels at the ready.

Antiques Roadshow Special filmed at Etruria

Jesse Shirley's Bone & Flint Mill will feature in BBC Bristol's forthcoming Antiques Roadshow special concentrating on the production of fine ceramics from raw materials through to finished products.

The Mill presented an obvious location for the show's producers, being the last working steam-powered potter's mill in Britain and the source of much of the cattle bone and Cornish stone you might find in English bone china made as far back as 1857.

Members of the BBC team can be seen in Barry Job's pictures below 

Louis and Godfrey: camera and sound

 Director/Producer Nicky Illis and Antiques Roadshow expert Mark Hill

Canals Festival 2011

Thousands of visitors enjoyed another successful Etruria Canals Festival over the weekend 0f 4-5 June.

The event has been held at Etruria Industrial Museum for eighteen years now and gives locals, plus canal and steam enthusiasts from much further afield, their first chance of the year to see Jesse Shirley's Bone & Flint Mill in action. Other attractions include historic and working boats, music, craft stalls, community groups, steam and stationary engines, family activity trails and plenty more. Volunteers and Friends naturally play a vital role in preparing and delivering the event. 

The Festival had a special element this year, as an opportunity to raise awareness and support for the Friends of Etruria Industrial Museum, which will become increasingly central to the operation of the Museum over the months and years ahead. To this end, the Friends were chatting to visitors and collecting names of those who expressed an interest in helping out in future. Please see the 'Support Us' link above for details of how you can get involved. Pictures below by Barry Job.


Sherine and Kathleen recruiting for the Friends of Etruria

MP for Stoke on Trent Central, the Hon. Dr Tristram Hunt, presents Roger and Teresa Fuller with a specially-commissioned Moorcroft vase for winning the best-dressed-boat competition with 'Ibex', built in 1927.

New Arrivals at Etruria

Volunteers at Etruria Industrial Museum recently took delivery of two historic working narrowboats.

NB Lindsay and its 'butty boat' Keppel were built in the 1950s and carried materials vital to the production of pottery, among much else, around Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire.

The boats have been donated by British Waterways and will be restored by volunteers at the Museum. They will provide a superb educational resource as well as serving more practical uses like possible storage space for coal - highly appropriate given their history!

There's plenty of work to be done in restoring the craft to their former glory so please contact Andrew Watts, volunteer co-ordinator at Etruria, if you'd be interested in helping out. Andrew can be seen below with British Waterways Chairman Tony Hales at the official handover.


Photo by Barry Job

 Well done Jack!

Etruria's youngest volunteer, Jack Fowler-Evans, has been in the news again.

Nine year-old Jack has made local headlines several times over the past few months as an active campaigner on behalf of the Museum during Stoke on Trent City Council's spending review.

In recognition of this, and all his hard work at Etruria on Thursday evenings and at steaming events, he was nominated for Renaissance West Midland's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award for 2011. Jack is to be warmly congratulated on finishing as runner-up in this very prestigious category and can be seen below with his certificate.

Yet more honours could be heading Jack's way as he's also been nominated in the Sentinel newspaper's Our Heroes awards, in the Bright Young Things category. Well done Jack from everyone at Etruria.

Picture by Chris Cleaves

Fact-Finding Visit to Apedale Heritage Centre

Representatives from the Etruria Industrial Museum (EIM) Coordination Group were invited to spend a day at the Apedale Heritage Centre on Sunday 1st May, to discover the exciting new developments that are taking place there.

Sherine Holden, Bernard Lovatt, Tony Green and Barry Job of EIM received a warm welcome from Andrew Bennett, Museum Manager, who was joined by Barrie Collinson, Education Officer and Les Mason, Trustee. The group had the opportunity to discuss the merits of running a charitable Trust and to share ideas and best practice.

                                                  Tony Green of Etruria Industrial Museum

Following a conducted tour of the Apedale Museum with Barrie Collinson, where some of the exhibits dated back to the Roman civilisation, the EIM representatives were treated to a tour of the underground drift mine guided by Les Mason. The mine has been restored to offer schools and the public a unique insight into the mining industry and the working conditions that men and children endured.

                                                                          Apedale Trustee Les Mason

Following an appetising lunch at the Heritage Centre’s cafe, the EIM representatives were introduced to Phil Robinson, Chairman of the Moseley Railway Trust. Phil explained that the Trust had been formed at a school at Cheadle near Manchester, but when the site was needed for development they had relocated to the Apedale Country Park. They are in the process of completing a station building, using some materials from the old Silverdale station, that will act as a visitor centre for all railway enthusiasts.

                                         Sherine Holden of EIM Coordination Group

The day ended with a trip experience of the Kerr Stuart steam locomotive “Stanhope”, followed by an informative visit of the Moseley Railway Trust Museum, where a rare and comprehensive collection of narrow gauge rolling stock is kept, it is hoped that this may be designated a National Collection.

Both the management of the Railway Trust and the Heritage Centre have made tremendous strides in promoting their respective enterprises to the public and they have great plans for the future. EIM can learn a lot from dynamic management such as this and it is important that we develop strong links with them.

Story & Pictures by Barry Job.


Blood & Bone China

Stoke on Trent film-maker Chris Stone has used Jesse Shirley's Bone Mill at Etruria as a location for his Victorian vampire web-series, Blood & Bone China.

Chris and his crew met up with cast members on March 20th to film a key scene in the Pan Room at the Mill.

The bloodcurdling tale is set in the Potteries of 1897 and centres on a series of mysterious disappearances that lead investigators to the local bone-grinding facility...more than this we cannot reveal for fear of Transylvanian retribution.

I was lucky enough to see the first four episodes of the series when its worldwide premiere was held at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. The production values are tremendous and the story is bound to keep viewers gripped in true Hammer Horror tradition.

You can find the series at www.bloodandbonechina.com and have fun spotting Jesse Shirley's Mill among other local backdrops. We are expected to feature in episode 8, although as the series is shot and edited close to release date, this may alter slightly.

Leading man Anthony Miles                    Writer and director Chris Stone

Photographs by Barry Job