Category Archives: Newcastle-under-Lyme History

The Brampton – Where Broom Grows

Drawing of the Brampton Museum, detail of the red brick elevation, by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Three storeys of beautiful red brickwork

Broom grows outside my kitchen window here in Scotland – I love the intense yellow after the greys of winter.  Broom links me to my next drawing in my red ochre series: the Brampton Museum in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The name Brampton means ‘place where broom grew’ – I wonder if any still grows in the park?

Broom outside my window in Hazelbank

The Museum is located just outside Newcastle-under-Lyme’s town centre in Brampton Park, surrounded by mature trees and shrubs.

Drawing of the Brampton Museum, detail of the eaves and windows, by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Deep overhanging eaves of the Brampton Museum

Long before this became a park, this was common land grazed and cultivated by the town burgesses. Eventually, the field was sold and Victorian villas were built – including ‘The Firs’ in 1855 and ‘Pitfield House’. The gardens of these Villas now make up the present park. You can read more about the history of the park here.

Drawing of the Brampton Museum, Newcastle Under Lyme, detail of the windows, by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Detail of a former doorway
Look out for curious details

Twenty one years after ‘The Firs’ was built, Newcastle’s first museum was born just off the Ironmarket in Lad Lane. This consisted of a public library, a reading room and museum.

It was during the early years of WW2 that the Borough Museum was founded in the Lancaster Buildings. Eventually it moved to its current location in Brampton Park. You can read more about the history here – written by Neville Malkin, 9th June 1976.

The Russian Canon outside the museum
The Market Cross and the Russian Canon

Here’s the drawing in full. You can see the rest of my red ochre series of Newcastle-under-Lyme on my website Drawing the Street or browse my Etsy shop where the originals are for sale (available to buy at the time of writing).

The complete drawing of the side elevation of the Brampton

The second drawing of the Brampton shows the side towards Pitfield House, with some of the garden and more of the wonderful roofscape.

View from the play area side

I’ll sign off with a picture from the 2019 exhibition at the Brampton ‘Capturing the Past’. I was delighted that my collection of street drawings were included in the exhibition – they’ve been part of the Museum archive since 2018.

Thanks for reading

Ronnie 🙂

To Market To Market

pen and ink drawing of Newcastle under Lyme markets and the guildhall
Market Cross with the market stalls behind

Newcastle town centre is alive with markets! Back in the 13th century, there was only the one market day but now markets are held 6 days a week with an additional one held monthly on a Sunday.

This is the second of six new red ochre sketches of Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre – the full set can be seen on my website Drawing the Street.

Chatting outside the Guildhall

The history of the markets is ancient. There’s an in-depth write up on the town’s history on the British History website: there is evidence that a market was held in Newcastle-under-Lyme as far back as 1203 when the market day was changed from Sunday to Saturday, for which the burgesses had to pay a fine to the king. I bet the good folk of ‘Castle didn’t go much on that.

pen and ink drawing of the Guildhall in Newcastle under Lyme by artist Ronnie Cruwys
Southern view of the Guildhall on the High Street

It’s possible that the market day remained unchanged until 1590 when under Elizabeth I’s charter, market day was declared to be Monday and it remained so until the beginning of the 19th century when an additional Saturday was added to meet a larger population.

Here’s the drawing in full.

Market Cross and the Guildhall, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Let’s take a few steps to the left and look at the market cross from a different angle. The market cross was located further up the street in medieval times, opposite the Ironmarket.

Lamps at the top of the Market Cross
Detail at the street

It required some restoration work in the mid-1500s when it’s thought that the five steps were built. Later, in the early 1800s it was moved to the present location when the lamps were added.

Market Cross with the High Street behind

The finished original drawings are set in standard 10 x 12 inch mounts ready to frame and now listed with full description in my Etsy shop.

If you’re looking for a print instead – please get in touch.

Market Cross and the Guildhall

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ronnie

The Old Barracks

Waiting for the X164 bus from Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre back to Whitmore was a sketch moment. My car must have been getting fixed at Ryan’s garage – sketched here the year before.

I keep places/buildings that I find interesting in mind to draw later – in this case several years later! Recently I’ve concentrated on some new sketches in and around the town centre and I thought I would start sharing the first of them ‘The Barracks’, here.

Roofline of the Barracks Workshops

Barracks Road was once named Friar’s Road; the name changed in recognition of the Barracks. It was built in 1855, in red brick ‘Italian style’. This was the headquarters of the 3rd King’s Own Staffordshire Rifle Regiment, which assembled annually at Newcastle for training, until 1880.

You can discover more about the history of this building here on the Potteries website. I’m delighted to hear that it received a grant a few years ago towards window repairs.

Entrance to courtyard

The Barracks workshops is now home to a number of small businesses and has been popping up on various social media posts.

There is also a heritage project running which is looking for people who have memories of the history and uses of this building – more about that on the Sentinel’s website here.

You can see the full set of new drawings on my Drawing the Street website.

The original drawing of the Barracks is available to buy mounted and ready to frame in my etsy shop here .

Thanks for reading

Ronnie 🙂

Fifty Streets: 1/3

Drawing the Street turned six this summer. My thanks to all who have accompanied me from the beginning and to those who have followed along the way as something has caught their interest.

Ironmarket drawing on its way to Newcastle Library -framed by Terry Hunt at Jollies Arts Ltd

With my Newcastle work currently on display in the Brampton Museum and Gallery, I’ve been posting some of these drawings on social media to share it further afield. Having also just completed my 50th street drawn on over 60 metres of archival cotton paper, it seems timely to reflect on how this all began as a post-card sketch.

There’s a beautiful poem called ‘Fluent’ by the late John O’Donohue from his book Conamara Blues. I’ve never forgotten his words:

‘I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding.’

When I sketched the former Ironmarket post office on to a post card, I had no idea what would unfold. It turns out that I was sowing the seed for an archive of streets, all meaningful to me in some way. This is part one of three posts about this story.

Ironically, it was the limitations of a post card that prompted me to think about a full-length drawing of the Ironmarket. This all took place whilst attending drawing classes run by Staffordshire artist David Brammeld.   When considering how long to make the drawing, David’s advice was: “Don’t limit yourself!” Shortly after, our son asked me what I would like for Christmas. I suggested a large sheet of paper and received a 10 x 1.2 metre roll! There was no going back.

Ironmarket unfurled , early 2013

I gave no thought as to where this would lead but concentrated on representing the Ironmarket in a way that could be read in future. During my time as a conservation architect, I had always been grateful for old drawings of buildings that showed details which would inform my work. I knew that by drawing a street as a whole, individual buildings could be read in context, such as the shops standing on narrow burgess plots.

Java Coffee shop situated on an ancient burgess plot

The Ironmarket retains a lot of its fine structure and is rich in stories if we pause a moment to look. Drawing is that pause. I choose which parts of my view I want to record – in a way that I hope is also good to look at.

Each drawing starts with a preparatory sketch where I map out the entire street as accurately as I can whilst still keeping it a freehand drawing. I’m always looking at ways to improve my work, whether learning about colour harmonies, shading, light, tone etc but always retaining that close reference to drawing what is there.

This first drawing ignited a great discussion on how the street had changed during living memory and prompted me to draw further streets around the town centre. I held my first exhibition in the library and Drawing the Street was born.

First exhibition held in the Library on the Ironmarket, 2013

Drawing the Street is a growing entity; it has become more than just sketches of streets.  It now contains many memories, some poignant, some funny. As the streets grow, so does my drawing style, evolving to include the things that I see as important – the people that belong to the street, the shops and businesses there at the time, the little details of life such as spotting my old work mates from the roofing contractor Miller Heritage working on the renovation of Mellard’s Warehouse – drawn below.

Although most of my streets are in conservation areas, I like to include the modern infrastructure. These too are part of our surroundings and tell their own story.

Garden Street, (in part) with the later addition of a workshop for TW Heating.

As the streets progressed, I stepped up my work on to archival quality cotton paper and redrew the Ironmarket at a slightly smaller scale than the first 2.7m drawing and entered it into the local open art exhibition. It was voted favourite by the Friends of the Borough Museum and awarded third prize – an honour and a great boost to continue. A few years later, the Friends bought my entire collection!

Thanks again for joining me and for reading this far. The streets belong to us all!

Ronnie 🙂

Back to the brampton

the brampton museum and art gallery
The Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle-under-Lyme

I have a big trip quietly planned for Friday 13th September. A lot of time in the car, train and taxi to spend a couple of hours at the Brampton Museum, Newcastle-under-Lyme, but I’m thrilled that my work is to be included in an exhibition ‘Capturing the Past‘ held by the Museum from 14th Sept to 3rd Nov 2019.

Picture of Ronnie Cruwys by Stoke Sentinel
Thanks to Stoke Sentinel for taking this photo shortly after my first exhibition in Newcastle-under-Lyme Library.

The exhibition invites us to: ‘take a trip down memory lane and see our town through the eyes of local artists and photographers. Nothing ever stays the same – our world is constantly changing’. The selection has been taken from the museum’s vast archive of local history and it is a great honour that my work has been included to display.

The Friends of the Brampton bought the entire collection of my original Newcastle-under-Lyme street drawings before I left for Scotland and they are hosting a preview at the Museum on Friday from 2pm.

I was really pleased that the collection stayed together in their birthplace. Six years on, the drawings will reveal how things have changed in the interim.

My drawings focus on streets as a whole rather than just an assortment of buildings enabling the viewer to see them from a wider perspective; how one building relates to another and how the loss of one building affects its neighbours. I created them as a social and historical archive so I am very happy they were retained as a collection for public record in Newcastle. They can be read and interpreted in years to come.

Time now for some new work hot off the press! To celebrate this great moment for me – just over six years since Drawing the Street set out, I have sketched three more buildings of the town, including the much loved Brampton Museum itself at the top of this post.

pen and ink drawing of high street newcastle under lyme by ronnie cruwys, artist, part of exhibition at Brampton Museum
Looking down the High Street towards St. Giles, Newcastle-under-Lyme

The street layout at the heart of Newcastle is medieval and I’ve always loved the view from the end of the High Street looking down towards the pinnacles, gables and tower of St Giles’ church.

Looking down at street level, we see a few signs directing us down through the arch, along the very narrow Pepper Street.

Look closely at the sign boards for Amore Italian Restaurant and Blacks Menswear

I had to include a reference to Cassie and Francesco at Amore Italian restaurant, Pepper Street, where my work was on display for several years.

The third sketch is another feature of the High Street – the Guildhall.

pen and ink drawing of clock tower above the Guildhall, High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme by ronnie cruwys artist
Clock tower above the Guildhall, High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme

These sketches will all be available to buy at the Brampton as greetings cards and also as signed prints set in A4 mounts at £20 each. There aren’t many as I am only taking as many as I can carry…

To see the full collection of my Newcastle drawings please visit my website Drawing the Street.

Thanks for reading,

Ronnie

Old Maxims Disco Diva

Maxims ghost view small
The former Maxims night club, a ghost of its former self, with St Giles’s church tower behind

Hello! A warm welcome and thank you to recently subscribed drawing enthusiasts.

I’ve been working on this drawing in my local class taught by David Brammeld. It was only when I began this drawing that I discovered that one of my classmates was a regular Maxims  disco diva at this legendary night spot! It used to be known as the ‘Place Mate’ when it was owned by the same proprietors as ‘The Place‘ in nearby Hanley where disco was born and David Bowie and Led Zeppelin once played as pop youngsters.

However, when the dual carriageway was constructed around Newcastle-under-Lyme, Maxims was severed from the life blood of the town centre and now all that is left are these empty shells.

Maxims Buildings 2014.JPG

I wouldn’t have given these buildings much thought if it hadn’t been for the comments given by Moya when I displayed some of my drawings in Newcastle Library a few years ago:

Stand with your back to St Giles. Look across the dual carriageway to what used to be Maxim’s Night Club. This used to be the old Catholic Club and overspill rooms for St Marys School.  Also, it was the Old Pomona pub. When they took Evans sweet factory down behind it, they discovered that there was a courtyard and it had been a coaching Inn….Sammy Bell’s pottery was excavated in the car park/ courtyard area. The base of the Kiln is in the grounds of Newcastle Museum...’

The gloomy front masks a surprising gable window behind with a mosaic of pottery fragments.

Maxims round the back 1 Cruwys sm
The building is considered to date back to the mid-1600’s

From local records, it was bought by Samuel Bell in 1724 for £156 who set up a potworks there and then in 1729, took  out a patent for ‘Agate Ware’.

back of Maxims Night club NUL

Not knowing these buildings, I walked around the back and peered through the hoardings which now surround the site. I was so surprised by what I saw that I thought they were definitely worth recording as part of my street records. However, a flat elevation wasn’t going to give any idea of the complexity of the roofs and layout so I opted for a sketch perspective instead.

I used Dr Martin’s Payne’s Grey ink on a sheet of  Khadi cotton rag paper, a heavy, textured and grainy paper – lovely to draw on.

Maxims black and white small
Back of the former Maxim’s buildings

There are plans underway for a new use for these buildings but it’s unlikely that they will remain in this organic sprawl for much longer. I would be interested to hear of any other insights into the history of these buildings.

maxims colour added 2.jpg
Drawing almost finished.

Thanks for the comments Moya and thank you for reading.

Ronnie

 

English Kitchen, Brunswick Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme

No 7 Brunswick Street, The English Kitchen

English Kitchen
No 7 Brunswick Street

I’m back from a wonderful family gathering and one of the first jobs on my list was to MOT my car. I popped the car into the garage but this time, packed my pens and sketchbook as there is a building close by that I have wanted to draw for quite some time.

No 7 Brunswick street stands out as a reminder of what was once a street of elegant town houses. The building next door is shrouded in scaffolding at present but the English Kitchen was just the right size for me to complete in one hit, standing with my back to Jubilee Pool.

First and second floor of 7 Brunswick Street
Look up!

Thanks to my friends who have encouraged me to get out there and draw – I completed the line drawing on the street and applied the colour at home. Here is the final sketch. Thanks for reading!

Pen and ink sketch of 7 Brunswick St
No 7 Brunswick Street in full technicolour!

 

 

Mellard Warehouse is looking good!

This post is dedicated to the lads at Miller Heritage – hats off to you gentlemen!

REPAIR OF MELLARD WAREHOUSE, MARKET LANE, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME

From the first floor of ‘Pockets’ you can see a narrow gap on the south side of the Ironmarket. It’s easy to miss but this is Market Lane and it leads down towards the bus station on Hassell Street.

View from Pockets
View from Pockets

Once on Market Lane, it is also quite easy to walk past what has been up until 2013, a tumble-down warehouse, dating from around the late nineteenth century.

Mellards Warehouse before work began photo by Midlands Heritage
Mellards Warehouse before work began
photo by Midlands Heritage

Mellards from Market Lane
Mellards from Market Lane

However, it is worth taking a minute’s detour to take in the transformation, the difference is remarkable.  You can now see that this is a handsome old warehouse, with its subtle mix of Staffordshire red and blue bricks laid in English bond, a pattern favoured industrially during the Victorian period, with blue engineering brick arched lintols and stepped cills.

Mellards Warehouse
Mellards Warehouse

Thanks to the combined efforts of the owner (my apologies, I dont have your name), a grant through the NUL Town Centre Partnership Scheme , CTD Architects Leek and the Main Contractor, Miller Heritage of Wolverhampton, this building has a new lease of life.  The work has been recognised by a Civic Award . Congratulations!

Side view
Side view

Here’s wishing the building and future occupants every success and let’s hope that the view down Market Lane will soon be full of life, colour and activity.

Mellards Warehouse Side elevation
Mellards Warehouse Side elevation

Mellards Warehouse Market Lane
Mellards Warehouse Market Lane

Loading the skip
Loading the skip

'You are having a laugh!'
‘You are having a laugh!’

We won't all fit in there!
We won’t all fit in there!

Take a look at this link to see just how far this building has come. Thanks for reading!

http://www.midlandsheritage.co.uk/industrial/276-disused-warehouse-newcastle-under-lyme.html

For more drawings, visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk

Ironmarket in Winter is all yours!

If you have been one of the people to visit the Drawing the Street exhibition, my wholehearted thanks! I have been very moved by the continuous flow of positive comments. These drawings have entailed endless hours of work and to read how well they have been received has been a wonderful vote of confidence in what I began a year ago this month. I hope to respond to each of your comments in turn via email or the blog pages.

It is evident that Newcastilians are most enthusiastic about their town and its history! The centrepiece drawing ‘Ironmarket in Winter’ has been enjoyed by so many of you that I have decided to donate the original to the library to keep it in the public domain. I would love to hear any thoughts or memories of the old Ironmarket and town centre so I can build up a living history alongside the drawings. I have come across a strong community spirit here in Newcastle, it would be good to draw some of it together through this website.

Ironmarket in winter - extract
Ironmarket in winter – extract

I will retain the copyright of the drawing and a number of prints (of all my drawings) are being sold through Newcastle Library, the Borough Museum and Art Gallery and directly from me. I will get a price list together in my next web update, but if you are thinking about a print for a Christmas gift, do get in touch with me as soon as you can by email RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk or phone  07966 230909.

Coming soon…. gift box sets of ten best quality postcards of ‘Ironmarket in Summer’. There is a limited pre-Christmas launch of 100 sets, so if you would like me to reserve a set, please drop me an email. 

The forecast is stormy but I am very excited by my week ahead. Tomorrow I begin my three year Icon Diploma course in Moele Brace, and have just set up a new blog site for anyone interested in following what I will be learning from Aidan Hart, one of the UK’s leading Iconographers (www.icondiplomastudent.wordpress.com).

Then, next Saturday afternoon, 2nd November,   I set up my first two week exhibition for Drawing the Street.  If you live in Newcastle-under-Lyme, please come along as I hope to have some of my better Newcastle drawings up for you to see, but you can be the judge of them! It will be up until 16th November.

I must add here a couple of ‘thank yous’. One to Terry at Jollies Arts & Crafts for helping me to assemble the frame for ‘Ironmarket in Winter’ – it isn’t easy to frame a 2.7m drawing. Another to Kevin at ‘I wis Framed’ in Stoke, who has been damping and weighing down some of my buckled cartridge paper ready for framing.

I’m also still recovering from the news that my ’Ironmarket in Summer’ was awarded a prize by the Friends of the Borough Museum and Art Gallery.  I was truly delighted with this news! Thanks to the Friends and the Gallery.

Third Prise awarded by the friends of the Borough Museum & Art gallery
Third Prize awarded by the Friends of the Borough Museum & Art gallery

I have been getting my work printed with Smith York printers in Ironbridge and gradually trying out different methods and papers so that I can have a range of prints available to buy. Please note that when any work is displayed in a gallery, there is a commission to include but it all helps the economy. I also would like to add that quality and sustainability is really important to me and this is reflected in my choice of suppliers.

I look forward to seeing some of you up at the library.