Fenton is one of the six towns of the Potteries, Stoke-on Trent. It’s the one that wasn’t included in the writing by Arnold Bennett. Many of you will know that Stoke is currently in the run up towards the bid for the City of Culture 2021 so I thought I could play a small part and share some of the architecture of the Sixth Town that may fall under the radar.
Driving along Victoria Road, Fenton last year, a row of dark red brick houses caught my eye and I pulled over to take a better look. It turns out that there’s quite a surprising tale of connections for me behind the history of these buildings but more on that next time.
So, fresh from the drawing board, some work in progress pictures of Victoria Road in the Hitchman Street Conservation area, Fenton.
This is a row of terraced houses built on a philanthropic model for pottery workers towards the end of the 19th century. There is a comprehensive write up about the history of the conservation area here.
Look closely at the gables and there are some wonderful terracotta tile patterns.
The thought that has gone into the design of the fronts is consistent, balanced and although intricate, it all adds up to a really attractive terrace.
Back to the drawing now and more about this next time.
Bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cock-fighting were once popular sports in St John’s Square, Burslem, shown above, fresh off my drawing board. Residents of perhaps one or two of these buildings would have had a prime view on a Sunday morning, when these activities were likely to happen. All banned by law in 1837, thank goodness.
Interesting clues of what went on remain in place and pub names though.
There’s a great old photo of the square which predates the arrival of the red brick building above ‘New Era’ Barbers shop, with the gable and brickwork bearing the date 1884.
It looks like a thatched cottage stood here before this building
I love discovering little bits of our history and thank you Geoff Barnett, for introducing me to the world of Burslem. Before I sign off, I was chatting about this drawing to Terry Hunt in Jollies Art Shop, Newcastle-under-Lyme. It turns out he was once the landlord of the Duke William!
So this post is for Geoff and for Terry.
And here’s Terry outside his shop on Liverpool Road. Good to see that my drawings have got a bit more colourful over the last couple of years.
It has been quite a month. Apart from finishing off a few more drawings in between a few fun family events, quite a lot has been happening.
First of all, a big thank you to Paul at the Stone and Eccleshall Gazette who found my work on the web and then gave me a fab introduction to Eccleshall with his generous write up. This has been so timely and I really appreciate this vote of confidence. It was published just as I had placed the first framed print of Eccleshall High Street on the wall of Gallery at 12.
Just before this happened, my Instagram site (@ronniecruwys) took off. I have been posting work-in-progress photos for the last 9 months and have been using hashtags to connect with other artists interested in the same subjects, for instance #Eccleshall or #Drawing #Architecture. It has been great to connect with people all over the world and share stages of my work in progress. One drawing (of Audlem) got reposted on to another site and within 2 days had over 30,000 likes. Crikey. Meanwhile, Stone Road Eccleshall is getting a respectable response too.
I would also like to give a big vote of thanks to my new Instagram buddies @carolineiam @daveh500 @eddequincey for pointing me in the direction of Gallery at 12, where I have since become a member, and for giving me such enthusiastic support!
What’s more, I actually met @carolineiam last night in Eccleshall, in one of those wonderful moments of serendipity!
Starting with the grade 2 listed building home to Wyn’s and the old Sweet Shoppe:
No 2, on the corner is early C19.
Next along is the Arcade, home of Eccleshall’s artists’ co-operative, Gallery at 12 and the lovley coffee shop The Artisan.
British Listed Buildings Online is a great resource for the history of our streets. The building to the right of London House is listed grade 2, early C19. London House is also listed grade 2, and probably late C17 or early C18.
I do plan to continue with drawings of Eccleshall so please follow this blog if you would like to be kept up to date – or over on Instagram. Thanks for reading.
I have been drawn back to the Great North Road, this time up in York. The Roman road from London can be traced closely beneath the present day A64, entering York just a little north of Blossom Street and Micklegate and neatly illustrated on the British History Online website (scroll down on the link site for the map).
I mentioned in an earlier post that I went to school in York and Micklegate was my cycle route into town. Of course, much has changed and I see that the first building on the street is now occupied by Bike Shed, hopefully ready to greet the forthcoming Tour de Yorkshire. Brilliant! I will be there in the crowds again this year.
Micklegate is a long street and this drawing is only about a third of one side but I have discovered that there are seven Grade I, 26 Grade II* and 117 Grade II listed buildings in Micklegate alone!
Having made a great journey north himself, my father would often speak of the ancient roads in and around the city and how in the past, convicts would have been taken from York Castle prison along Micklegate, then Blossom Street and out along what is now the A64 to Tyburn, on the Knavesmire. Dad had been given a very old book ‘the Criminal Chronology of York Castle‘ which is a register of all those unfortunate souls executed at Tyburn since 1379 with many awful insights into life and death within the city. Dad passed the book on to me and it’s a sobering read.
Events don’t seem so long ago when I think that most of these buildings would have been extant on ‘Saturday 6th March 1761, when Ann Richmond, a fine young girl, was executed at Tyburn Without Micklegate Bar, for setting fire to a stack and barn belonging to her mistress’. The buildings on Micklegate would have been some of the last that she saw.
I got lost in thought whilst drawing Micklegate. I kept thinking of my parents, John and Mary Sharp (nee O’Donoghue), who lived in York for over 50 years and I took the liberty of drawing them in, looking into Brigantes window – which incidentally is the name of a Celtic Romano tribe – apt for my English dad and Irish mum. Our much loved old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Arran is included, no shadows of course!
Micklegate holds many names which have gone – the Blake Head is one that I really do miss when I visit York. I don’t like seeing buildings unused so it is great to hear that this is now home to the BlueBird Bakery and the Rattle Owl. With great names like that, I hope they go a long way – best of luck to you!
I gather from the York Press that ‘Plans have also been submitted to the council to excavate the cellar of the property which is believed to be sitting on top of a Roman road, with hopes of incorporating it into the current building design and allowing it to be displayed.’ Exciting! Look forward to hearing more of this!
Micklegate House (c1752) below, was the former town house of the Bourchiers of Beningbrough.
The drawing stops at the point where it meets Barker Lane, hopefully to be continued. To see all the drawing scanned in full length, please visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk
Limited edition prints will soon be available at Blossom Street Gallery and Framing. Please email me directly and I will happily reserve one for you. A small number will be available to buy from me directly.
Some months ago, I began drawing out the bones of Stone Road, in Eccleshall, Staffordshire. This is an architectural gem of a market town, packed full of Georgian and Victorian buildings.
All the streets I choose to draw have some personal meaning for me. This part of the Stone Road sits opposite Eccleshall Police Station, a tiny spot which is engraved in my memory…Some years ago, my husband got knocked off his bike whilst out cycling nearby. He was whisked off to A&E and lived to tell the tale but his bike ended up in Eccleshall police station where I later went to collect it. Of course I was really upset about the bumped bike but what really cheered me up was the sight of this elegant row of cottages.
I will write more about this on another day but thought I would let you know that work is in progress on this delightful Staffordshire market town.
This is a work in progress picture taken this evening. Just an idea of what is on the drawing board as well as my drawings along the Holloway Road.
Plenty more drawings of Eccleshall in the pipeline….thanks for reading!
Whenever I finish a drawing, I scan it as soon as possible as the original often represents over a hundred hours work. Given the size of the drawings (the Audlem drawing is 2 metres long), the scanned file sizes are huge as I scan with a high resolution for the best quality prints and so that enlargements on to canvas can be made for festival banners.
The street drawings are non-standard sizes so there are not many printing firms that can handle this combination. That said, Smith York in Ironbridge is a place where Simon not only can scan, but he also makes adjustments to the scanned image in order to reproduce the best quality giclee prints on heavy watercolour paper.
The first few limited edition prints are now ready and for sale. I took the first framed large colour print along to Jane and Andy who have been running the Old Priest House in Audlem for almost twenty years. As Jane herself has been included on the drawing, it’s a great keepsake for friends and family of the part they have played in Audlem life. Thanks to you both for providing us with a top destination for many a sturdy breakfast!
When I set out to draw a street, I make thumbnail sketches and take photos. Inevitably, I photograph a few passers-by and I like to draw them too as they are an important part of the streetscape. It crossed my mind that people may wonder if they have been included on a drawing so here are a few photographed faces and the corresponding sketches.
Set within the lovely group of buildings known as ‘The Square’, there is a shop which has been in the same family since 1862 – it’s Williams of Audlem. I particularly like the sign-writing on the awnings and doorway – and the attractive flower baskets and flags all add up to it looking very elegant indeed.
Audlem is a cycling hub! Cyclists are hard to catch on the move but I managed to snatch a few taking off. The slow start can only be the result of a big breakfast…
Williams of Audlem and the Old Priest House are stocking limited edition (100 total) prints. If you would like to buy an unframed colour print, prices are as follows: small (800mm long) £95, medium (1200mm) £135 and large (1500mm) £175.
The prices reflect the quality of the print, the work involved in the drawing and include a commission to the trader. So, if you buy a print, you also support your local high street! There are also a selection of postcards from the drawing avaiable for sale. Please dont hesitate to contact me if you would like to reserve a print.