A Demographic Investigation of the Census Returns for Anchor Terrace, Longton 1861-1891

Longton is not an ancient town. In the second half of the 17th century it was only two small hamlets. Longton was originally the name of the settlement opposite Longton Hall – now closer to Blurton than present day Longton – and that known as Lane End, which is the Longton which we know today, a mile further east.

 

Evidence from the hearth tax of 1666 revealed Longton, and Lane End, to be a small community when compared with other pottery towns. Three quarters of a century later in 1738 Longton still had a population of little more than ‘500 living human souls’. The hearth tax also revealed that the majority of dwellings were simple one-hearth houses with eight too poor to pay, suggesting an underdeveloped community yet to take off economically. Records of rates paid to the extensive Stoke parish help to enforce this view. Of the forty persons rated only twelve came from Longton, Lane End and Meir.

 

The roads converging on Longton were ancient. The main thoroughfare being of Roman origin, and the road to Stone in existence in the 13th century. But it was only when they were turnpiked in the middle of the 18th century that Lane End began to develop, making it a communications centre and an attractive location for new industry.


New industries began to arrive in the 18th century when agriculture was still the major occupation of the area. Pot banks began to appear during the 1750’s, increasing in number until by 1784 there were thirteen manufacturers listed, rising to thirty-seven by the close of the century, by which time the town had developed as a centre of commerce. By 1867 there were over sixty-five pot banks in existence, although the Longton pot banks tended to be smaller than those of other towns.

 

During the 19th century Longton became dominated by the pottery industry which expanded rapidly, the general rise in the birth-rate being augmented by the numbers moving in from the countryside to work. The 2,500 inhabitants in 1780 had doubled to 5,000 by 1811, which had doubled again by 1831, and continued to rise until by 1871 there was a population of 19,000.

 

The average house in this area during the mid 19th century was the small terraced two-up two-down, a parlour and Kitchen downstairs with two bedrooms above, many of which were erected during the 1820s. Many pottery manufacturers and coal proprietors owned whole rows of houses, and smaller landlords existed who held perhaps one terrace of half a dozen houses. Longton had more back-to-back houses than any other pottery town. Overcrowding was not a general problem in the first half of the 19th century, with an average of five persons per dwelling. Children averaged three per family, while every other household had at lodgers, but most of these were relations of the household – parents, grandchildren, in-laws, married children, cousins and nephews. Rent would range from anywhere between £1 to £3 per annum. Wages varied from an average of just over 2s a week for children to 9s for a thrower’s woman. A gilder received £1 4s, a plate, dish or saucermaker £1 8s, and a painter or thrower £2. Ovenmen received £3 for each kiln they ‘fired’.

 

Census data on pottery towns previously published include Penkhull (Patterson 1972), central Burslem (Stuart 1973), and central Longton (Breeze 1976). All reached the conclusion that their communities were youthful ones – over one-third of those sampled being under fifteen years of age, with relatively few over fifty, pottery being the predominant occupation, although Breeze did note that in central Longton one-tenth of the workforce were miners.

 

The methodology used in studying Anchor Terrace was different to those of the aforementioned studies, although certain exercises were performed to produce similar sets of statistics. Age/sex ratios were used to determine the composition of the street, as well as being able to show which groups were working in the pottery industry. Birthplaces were adapted to suit a smaller number of statistics, as were occupations, analysed to show the division of labour into different trades rather than social groups. It has to be remembered that the population of Anchor Terrace represented less than 1% of the total population of Longton. There seemed little point in using the Booth-Armstrong classification as from the list of occupations it was obvious that the street was predominately working-class.

 

Anchor Terrace is situated off Anchor Road, one of the main routes leading out of Longton, being one of a series of neatly laid-out streets. During the second half of the 19th century the east entrance of the street looked out onto the Anchor earthenware potbank, and no doubt housed some of its employees. The street itself contained 37 houses, 21 (numbers 1 – 45, with no 13 or 15) on the north side of the street, and 16 (numbers 2 – 34) on the south. Both sides of the street had rear yards which backed onto the rear yards of the neighbouring terraces. It appears that each house had its own toilet in the yard. No photographs exist of the street from this time, but one of Bath Street which stood back to back with Anchor Terrace shows it to be a row of small brick built terraces opening onto the pavement.

 

Number 1, not on the corner of Anchor Road and Terrace but the first house in the street appears a third wider than its neighbours, and the census records that it was a grocers shop. The yard of number 5 contains two buildings other than that of the toilet and may help explain how for the first three censuses there appears more than one head (and with a separate schedule number) living at numbers 5 and 7. Enumerators were told that the term ‘house’ meant every building in which a person habitually sleeps, therefore it is not uncommon to find outbuildings such as stables or workplaces included in the census. Numbers 9 and 11 appear twice as long as the remaining houses on this side of the street, and this again could explain the extra head (again with separate schedule number) on the 1871 census.

 

Like number 1, number 2 also stood in the street rather than on the corner of Anchor Road and Terrace. In 1872 there was a ‘dining room’ on the corner of Anchor Road and Terrace, and this large square building with a small building adjoining it at the rear was probably that. This side of the street was broken halfway by The White Horse Inn, which occupied numbers 14 and 16, although actually took up the width of three houses. At the rear, the same width as the Inn and therefore forming a small courtyard with the other two sides walled, appears what was probably a stable block. At the other (east) end of the street stood number 34, recorded from the 1871 census onwards as The Sea Lion. However, only The White Horse is listed under licensed victuallers, while the occupiers of The Sea Lion are listed only as beer retailers. This is the only building which survives from that period and is now a public house. It is likely that the houses in Anchor Terrace were numbered as in 1839 a body of improvement commissioners was established whose duties included the naming of streets and numbering of houses.

 

An examination of family structure shows the street to be predominately occupied by nucleated families rather than extended, although grandchildren of both sexes appear in all four censuses. However it would be wrong to think of these families as that of simply parents and children (and grandchildren) as a small number of different relations were often present – especially noticeable after 1871, although never rising above 8.9% of the total population of the street. One unusual aspect is the sudden appearance of servants in the 1881 census – six in all. These, with one exception, were all single females aged between ten and twenty. It was no surprise to find that two of them were living at the two public houses in the street, but why did two of them live at number 27, an average terrace in the middle of the street? One was a fifteen year old single female, the other a forty-three year old widow, both being born in Crowan in Cornwall, but with different surnames. In only three cases was a servant employed where young children were in the home. However one of these had a mother at home as well, and in another the children were all recorded as scholars, so if the servants were employed as child-minders that only leaves one example. The number of servants could give a false impression of wealth until it is realised that all of them, except in the noted case, were young females who wouldn’t have earned good wages. Again, why they should disappear, apart from each of the two public houses having one on the 1891 census is something of another mystery.

 

The age structure (tables 3.1 – 3.4) suggests a young community for the thirty years studied. In no instance does the group of people less than thirty years of age fall below 65%, a figure which compares with that of Hanley in 1851. The general expectation of life was shorter than that of today – only one person reached the age of eighty, and the number rapidly decreases after the age of fifty.

 

An examination of marital conditions of people aged sixteen and over reveal two-thirds of the street being married couples. Studies of central Longton and Hanley using the 1851 census show a higher percentage of young men as being single, suggesting that they, the most likely group to move in search of work, had recently settled into the area. More unmarried children living at home suggests that jobs were easier to obtain than in rural areas where children often had to leave home in order to find work. With the exception of the 1891 census, Anchor Terrace had one third of its population recorded as single, with little difference between the number of males and females.

 

The pottery industry provided the most employment, a figure of 38.3% in 1861, which slowly rises to 52.3% in 1891. Central Longton in 1851 provided 33.4%. In 1861 12.5% of the street was employed in some form of mining, a figure which slowly falls to 4.6% by 1891. Mining was an important local industry in itself, second only to pottery, and it took six tons of coal to fire one ton of clay.

 

There was only one instance of a dual occupation, that of William Ellerton. In 1871 he lived at no.1, described in the census as a grocer’s shop. His occupation is listed as that of ‘blacksmith and grocer’ (and blacksmith is taken when examining the occupational structure). However, the directory records his entry as ‘shopkeeper, Anchor road and blacksmith, Smithy lane’. Presumably his at-home wife would have run the shop while he was employed in his trade. It is also interesting to note that his nineteen-year-old son has followed his father’s trade. Although not strictly an occupation the 1871 census records Elizah Alcock’s occupation as a pottery manager. The enumerator has added under the entry ‘also Wesleyan local preacher’ with ditto added to his wife’s otherwise empty occupation column.

 

The age/sex structure of pottery workers corresponds broadly with that of the study of central Longton in 1851. Occupations listed such as ‘crate maker’, ‘carter’ or ‘errand boy’ are not included here, as so many occupations which could have been taken as pottery or non-pottery were prefixed with the word ‘potter’s’ (i.e.: ‘potter’s carter’). This was so that the clerks in London would be able to categorise occupations easier. Contrary to similar studies there was little or no decrease in females in their twenties as they left to get married and have children. No significant fall in numbers of either sex occurred until after the age of thirty-five.

 

The decline of those in the pottery industry after this age may have been due to the unhealthy conditions of the time. Dust, heat, risk of lead poisoning and other hazards, as well as the prevalence of diseases such as tuberculosis and the poor sanitation of their homes could have contributed to the cause of illness and death among potters of both sexes. Accidents in mines were also a common occurrence.

 

The 1891 census records a retired gilder aged sixty-one, yet still has one person at the age of sixty-eight working as a dipper. The enumerator for this last census also recorded the word ‘retired’ after a number of other persons occupations, so although it may be possible that he was still working, this may have been an oversight of the enumerator and classified him as retired. The same could be applied to the seventy-one-year-old china painter in the 1871 census, although the enumerator of this census did not differentiate between working and retired, which was usually the case. We also see those listed either at home, with no occupation listed, retired, or living on their own means fall steadily between the four censuses. It is likely that in many households where lodgers were present wives were employed providing household services such as meals, laundry and cleaning for their paying guests. The 1891 census shows there were no children employed in the pottery trade. Scholars, who ranged in age from five to fourteen, probably attended St John’s national school, which catered for 300 children. Attending Sunday school would have been the only form of education for those children already working.

 

Occasionally a son would follow in his father’s trade. Many obviously went into the pottery industry, but children would often have the most menial jobs such as turning or labouring. Therefore it is difficult to judge if they intended to follow their father’s trade if they were not recorded as being apprenticed to any particular one. The censuses records miners sons becoming miners, as well as a saddler, a blacksmith (already mentioned), and a tallow chandler all seeing sons continue in their trade.


The rise of the pottery industry may well have absorbed surplus labour and taken paupers off the poor rate. The fact that Longton seems to be accepting migrants suggests that it did not face unemployment problems.

 

Few of the people of Anchor Terrace travelled far from their place of birth, as nowhere does the figure fall below 64% of those born in Longton itself, while the total of those born within 5 miles never falls below 67%. From those born between 6 – 20 miles it was predominantly rural communities which supply labour to Longton’s workforce, yet surprisingly this trend was reversed for the remaining areas of Stafford, as well as other counties. In the majority of cases these migrants came from areas which were a lot larger than Longton. So although it appears that local people moved for economic reasons, it is difficult to explain why those moved from further afield. In the contemporary migration theory people moved for two main reasons – when they were forced to move because of prevailing local circumstances (i.e.: they were pushed), or when they moved voluntarily in order to improve their economic situation (i.e.: they were pulled). From the census details alone it is impossible to tell which of these factors influenced people’s decisions.

 

A number of the immigrants, especially the older ones, could have spent most of their lives in Longton and grown up in the pottery industry, but it is impossible to say whether they arrived with the intention of working in the pottery industry. They appear to have taken whatever was available, that is that most of them did end up in the pottery industry. There was only one exception to this, that of miners, the majority of who were born outside the area. Miners usually tend to be the largest sector to move (among the working classes). It does not mean that they were escaping from a declining area, perhaps simply in search of higher wages.

 

The were two Irish immigrants found in the 1871 census. Many Irish were living in Longton at the time of the 1851 census (464 out of 15,149), many on Gallimore’s Bank and Newbold Square. Between these two communities ran Chancery lane, often known as ‘Irish row’4. More than a million Irish had migrated to escape the potato famine of the 1840’s. As many of them were aged twenty-five or above when they arrived it was too late for them to learn a trade, and so tended to do lower grade work such as canal cutting or labouring in the building trade. No doubt some would have found employment in the construction of the Longton section of the Stoke to Derby railway line, completed in 1848. However, Tom Mann and Margaret his wife, both aged forty-nine, were living in Newcastle in 1851 and arrived in Longton sometime before 1864, according to the birthplaces of their children.

 

An attempt was made to determine the morality of the street by estimating the amount of unmarred mothers. This was done by counting the number of grandchildren and assuming them to be the offspring of the children of the head of the household, still living at home and single. However the evidence is inconclusive and the results should be treated with caution.

 

Although the grandchildren recorded on the censuses were often young enough to be the offspring of the children of the head (i.e.: at least a sixteen year age gap) not all of those children were single. Some, although still living at home, were married, while some were widows or widowers. The Mace entry (1881 – no.1) is a typical example. Thomas Archer, the thirty-nine year-old widowed son in law of William Mace (the head) is listed above three grandchildren, only the youngest one of whom has the Archer surname. The eldest two, while still being young enough to be his own daughters have a different surname (Jones). Does this mean that his wife was previously married, or are they the children of a married daughter that has left home? The only clear occurrence of an unmarried mother is that of Annie Rathbone (1871 – no.12). She was a twenty-five year-old single woman with two daughters, one aged two, the other just one week old. Interestingly she has a thirty-two year-old single male lodger staying with her. It also appears that some husbands were missing on census night, giving rise to questions such as were they working away, in prison, or perhaps some widows were still classing themselves as wives?

 

Where families remain in the street for more than one census a brief biographical outline can be drawn, and following are four examples. The 1861 census records two Walker families in the street, and as both of the heads were employed as saddlers it seems fair to assume that they were in some way related. The first, Edward & Elizabeth Walker (no.11) aged sixty-one and sixty respectively, lived with their four children and one grandson. By 1871 Elizabeth was now a widow and lived alone with another grandchild, Edward, aged fourteen, not mentioned on the previous census. By 1881 Elizabeth, now eighty, has her eldest daughter Elizabeth living with her, and yet another grandson, aged eleven, not mentioned on the 1871 census, but which could possibly the son of daughter Elizabeth. The 1881 census also records that Elizabeth’s grandson, Edward Walker, now twenty-four, is the head of no.17, married and with a family of his own and is still there on the 1891 census, with a larger family. The second Walker family, Aaron and Sarah, both aged twenty-nine, lived at no.33 in 1861, with two young children, Edward aged four, and Catherine aged one, and a lodger. The 1871 census shows no reference to Catherine, possibly denoting her death. By 1881 the family had moved to no.33.


Richard Johnson, the keeper of The White Horse Inn first appears in 1871, with his wife and three children, the eldest two being scholars. By 1881 the two eldest have become employed (a dressmaker and a railway booking clerk), while the youngest from the previous census is now a scholar. They have also had another daughter, and employed the services of a fourteen year old domestic servant. Keates 1872 directory lists Richard Johnson, licensed victualler of The White Horse Inn, as also being a merchant at 23 High Street, with his residence given as Woodside Villa, Sandford Hill, a short walk from Anchor Terrace. By 1891 their previous youngest daughter is now a scholar, and they have had another daughter, this time accompanied by a twenty year old domestic servant.

 

Only two families lived in the street for the duration of all four censuses, one of which was the family of Henry Copestake at no.45. In 1861 thirty year old Henry, and Jane his twenty-nine year old wife have three young children, all scholars – Lizzie aged nine, Fred aged seven, and George aged two. By 1871 the children have doubled to six, the eldest three are now employed – Lizzie a domestic servant, Fred a potter, and George a office boy, while the youngest three are scholars – Jane aged nine, Betsy aged seven and Thomas aged four. By 1881 Jane, now forty-nine, is widowed. Her three youngest children still live with her, Jane, nineteen, a milliner, Betsy, seventeen, with no occupation, and Thomas, fourteen, a clerk. Her eldest daughter Lizzie has returned home, now twenty-nine, with her husband William Robinson, a twenty-nine year old draper, and their two year old child, William. By 1891 Jane, now fifty-nine, is recorded as living on her own means, with daughters Jane, a milliner, and Betsy, a house rent collector. Her eldest daughter Lizzie Robinson appears to have separated from her husband, although still recorded as married. Their child William has adopted the double-barrel surname of Copestake-Robinson, and also has a nine-year-old sister.

 

Longton’s recent expansion with the success of its pottery industry resulted in many of these terraced streets being built to house the influx of workers. Anchor Terrace with its close proximity to the Anchor earthenware factory, and the mines such as those at Park Hall and Meir Hay reflects the tenants that it housed. Along with a grocer’s shop, an inn, and a beer retailer the street probably would have provided for much of its own needs. The residents generally were the young, nucleated families, employed primarily in the pottery industry, as well as mining, building, the railway, or some form of retail work. Like so many during this period they were no doubt attracted to the area with its opportunities of employment, although the majority had not travelled far, many being born in Longton itself.

 

On the whole families appeared to spend less than ten years in the street, reflecting that like so many of these houses, they were most likely rented rather than owned. However, the opposite also occurs with two families which are present for at least the thirty year period studied here, as well as one family whose son sets up home just a few doors down from his parents where he himself grew up. The majority of children appear to have received some form of education up until the age of fourteen, when the majority of them went into the potbanks. This unit of study, being less than 1% of the total population of Longton, broadly corresponds to the larger unit into which it fits.

Longton, detail from the 1840 Ordnance Survey map