The lost city of Stoke

Stoke-on-Trent isn’t the sexiest city. But perhaps some of my fondest childhood memories involve being paraded around the potteries by my dad – himself a Staffordshire lad, playing hide-and-seek in crumbling factory yards and narrowly avoiding smashing racks of ceramics.

The Gladstone-Rosslyn works by Matthew Rice
The Gladstone-Rosslyn works by Matthew Rice

The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent by Matthew Rice is a beautifully illustrated song for Stoke, that harnesses the warm feelings that my memories – and I’m sure those of others – stir up.

Toby jugs by Matthew Rice
Toby jugs by Matthew Rice

The story that the book tells is primarily a nostalgic one. It pictures bottle kilns, pot banks and mansions thrown up to house Stoke’s booming pottery industry, many of which were torn down in the 1960s. Described not as a guide but an ‘invitation to explore a (deeply flawed) treasure trove’, the book features Rice’s illustrations of how many of the buildings look today.

Staffordshire figures by Matthew Rice
Staffordshire figures by Matthew Rice

With a foreword by ceramicist (and Rice’s wife) Emma Bridgewater, whose factory employs 150 people in a Victorian building in the city, the book documents the charming aesthetic I love about Stoke – crumbling facades and all.

A late 19th century house by Matthew Rice
A late 19th century house by Matthew Rice

The Lost City of Stoke-on-Trent by Matthew Rice is available from Frances Lincoln Publishers from 7 October, priced at £19.99.

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