Pictures of old Burslem

A fine set of Bert Bentley’s previously unseen 1960s pictures of Burslem, in The Sentinel today. Several could almost be illustrations for my novel The Spyders of Burslem

BERT BENTLEY ARCHIVE - BURSLEM - Dalehall. Port Vale Street: slum clearance. Old works/shops.

BERT BENTLEY ARCHIVE – BURSLEM – Dalehall. Port Vale Street: slum clearance. Old works/shops.

BERT BENTLEY ARCHIVE - BURSLEM - Packhorse Lane. Rear of Fords Pottery showing Enoch Woods original gates and base of windmill. VCH.

BERT BENTLEY ARCHIVE – BURSLEM – Packhorse Lane. Rear of Fords Pottery showing Enoch Woods original gates and base of windmill. VCH.

BERT BENTLEY ARCHIVE - BURSLEM - Nile Street. (Right) rear of Bootes Tile Co. Ltd (closed) Royal Doulton Pottery (left)

BERT BENTLEY ARCHIVE – BURSLEM – Nile Street. (Right) rear of Bootes Tile Co. Ltd (closed) Royal Doulton Pottery (left)

Beware The Cat

William P. Holden’s erudite 1963 edition of Beware The Cat is now available online. An excellent introduction, and then a solid transcription of the Elizabethan English version of the novel. It’s effectively the first novel in English, and certainly the first horror novel. My ‘modern English’ adaptation and abridgement of Beware The Cat is available in my book Tales of Lovecraftian Cats (horrible pun intended). The story has many macabre and fantastical elements, and the main tale opens in North Staffordshire.

Entering the public domain in 2016

Entering the Public Domain on 1st January 2016, by hitting the ’70 years after death’ limit on copyright in the UK and Europe:


It’s a fairly good year for English fantasy…

* Charles Williams, a prolific writer now best known as part of the circle around C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. Wrote a string of mystical English adult novels in which the numinous or uncanny enters the ordinary English world. Non-fiction books include learned studies of The English Poetic Mind and Witchcraft.

* Maurice Baring, a wide-ranging British author. He also produced occasional stories of delicate fantasy, macabre travel-adventure, some supernatural fiction, and at least one book of children’s fairy-stories. Should anyone be considering running off a modern volume of his more fantastical stories, note that he also wrote an introduction to a 1949 one-volume Bodley Press edition of Saki which discussed Saki’s “vein of macabre, supernatural fantasy”.

* David Lindsay, the Scottish science-fiction and fantastical novelist, now best known for the early sci-fi novel A Voyage to Arcturus (1920).

* E. R. Eddison, known for the influential 1932 pre-Tolkien fantasy novel The Worm Ouroboros, along with his adaptations of the Norse sagas.


American pulp culture is represented by:

* Achmed Abdullah, a popular pulp-era mystery/adventure writer. Now best known among movie history buffs, for his novelisation of the major movie The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and his Academy Award nomination for The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935).

* Malcolm Jameson, Golden Age pulp sci-fi writer for adolescents. Little read today but quite possibly the inventor of the ‘time loop’ sci-fi genre plot, now so popular in contemporary movies. His John Bullard of the Space Patrol series was immensely popular during the Second World War, and Bullard was said to have been the first sci-fi genre character to successfully gain mass recognition in America.


London low-life is well covered, and by those who grew up amid it all:

* Thomas Burke, recorder of low life in the East End and the Limehouse in London. First in Nights in Town: A London Autobiography (1915), then in melodramatic stories a year later in his Limehouse Nights (1916) and later books.

* Arthur Morrison, another author writing “unflinching” realist novels of slum life in the East End of London, including Tales of the Mean Streets and A Child of the Jago. He was later an author of detective stories, featuring the mild-mannered Sherlock-alike character Martin Hewitt in Martin Hewitt, investigator (followed by more Hewitt book collections, Chronicles of, Adventures of, and The Red Triangle). Morrison apparently rose from a childhood in the London slums to become an incredibly wealthy collector of Japanese art.


I also spotted a few artists with a 1945 death date…

* The great American illustrator N. C. Wyeth, creator of some especially vibrant pirate, Arthurian, and wild-western genre illustrations, among many other types of illustration.

* Kathe Kollwitz, a German expressionist artist specialising in intimate views of human suffering.

* Ludwig von Hofmann, Berlin Secessionist and German expressionist artist of light and scale. Became known in America via his huge murals for the Chicago and Saint Louis World’s Fairs.

The soughs of the Peak

A podcast on the environmental history of the soughs of the mining areas of the Peak District

Under the Peak District […] is a subterranean network of drainage tunnels, the so-called soughs that were used to drain the lead mines of the region [and thus] prevent [17th century deep] mines from filling up with water drains or ‘soughs’ were cut through the hills to a neighbouring valley. The construction of soughs changed the hydrological [meaning, water flow] landscape of the Peak District, both below ground and above.”

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Picture: My photo of a Peak sough in winter.

So if you’re up there walking, and you feel thirsty… it’s probably not a good idea to drink the nice sparkly water that’s draining out of old lead mines.