Covering the hilly north-west part of the county from the Cheshire border to the valley of the river Trent south of Newcastle-under-Lyme, this volume treats parishes that lie mostly on the North Staffordshire coalfield and where both coal and ironstone mining and iron-making became important, especially in the nineteenth century. A rich archive has been used to illustrate the origins of this industrial activity in the Middle Ages, when the area was characterised by scattered settlements, with an important manorial complex and a grand fourteenth-century church at Audley, a hunting lodge for the Stafford lords at Madeley, a small borough at Betley, and at Keele and Trentham religious houses which became landed estates with mansion houses after the Dissolution. In the nineteenth century Trentham gained fame for its spectacular gardens created by the immensely rich dukes of Sutherland, and Keele rose to prominence in 1950 as the site of Britain's first campus university. After coalmining ceased in the twentieth century several villages and mining hamlets acquired large housing estates, which in Trentham parish were absorbed into Stoke-on-Trent.
Nigel Tringham is a Senior Lecturer in History at Keele University, with special responsibility for researching and writing the volumes of the Staffordshire Victoria County History.