Undervalued, under-listed and under threat, the buildings of Stoke-on-Trent stand defiant, reminders of the area's glorious economic heyday and its unique, almost perverse, municipal growth. The city's building stock often holds a mirror up to its people: pragmatic rather than flamboyant, humble rather than flaunting. It was not without reason that architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner described Stoke's towns as an `urban tragedy', yet their buildings reflect the innate qualities of local inhabitants. Their creativity and nose-to-the-grindstone graft produced handsome yet functional buildings such as Tunstall Town Hall, Etruria Methodist Chapel and the Twyford's factory at Cliffe Vale. Yet, here and there, we find extravagance and even eccentricity in the way of polychromatic facades, ceramic fascias, baroque detail and eye-catching relief pub signs.
Stoke-on-Trent in 50 Buildings examines the city's notable architecture and offers original comment on how it compares with buildings and structures in other locations. Local historian and author Mervyn Edwards has spent nearly thirty years describing - and often drawing - the buildings of Stoke-on-Trent, and has seen many of them fall to the wrecking ball. This book offers his insights on some of those that stand today as cultural anchors in the city.
Mervyn Edwards is the author of many published books on North Staffordshire history and is a weekly columnist for the Sentinel's The Way We Were nostalgia magazine. He has appeared on BBC TV's The One Show and Twenty Four Hours in the Past, and is a familiar voice on Radio Stoke. He was a local history tutor for the Workers' Educational Association for eight years and helped to develop the education department at the now-defunct Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum, where he often acted in period drama for school groups. Mervyn runs an annual history programme in North Staffordshire. He is also MC of Burslem History Club and a member of the Potteries branch of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA).