The Etruria Valley landscape in the mid 1860s

This was the sort of landscape you had in Stoke-on-Trent in the mid 1860s. This is a large oil painting by Henry Lark Pratt (1805-1873), “Etruria from Basford Bank”. Shelton Church can be seen in the distance over in the far right of the picture, Etruria Hall is on the left. This is the landscape through which the hero of the novel The Spyders of Burslem travels on the train from Stoke station to Longport station.

“I glimpsed [from the steam train] old women and girls out collecting sloeberries along the thick hedges of the rail line. I was obviously in one of those industrial districts where the countryside ways and the new manufacturing ways lived strangely side-by-side. It seemed a bucolic and rustic glimpse, but I had no doubt that each of those rosy-cheeked girls had a tongue in her head that would clip a hedge.” — from The Spyders of Burslem

It’s slightly cropped at the top and bottom, as can be seen from this thumbnail…

The new Basford Bank road was built 1828, alongside the older and much steeper Fowlea Bank road (seen here as the roofs paralleling the new road) which is the logical place at which the old Roman road could have dropped down the side of the valley to reach what is now the Stoke station area.

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