Pottery was first made in the Stoke area about 3,500 years ago. The work of Josiah Wedgwood in the second-half of the 18th century helped establish this part of Staffordshire as the centre of the pottery industry. Wedgwood also helped finance the building of the Trent & Mersey Canal which enabled Cornish clay to reach Staffordshire.
The North Staffordshire Railway that now owned the Trent & Mersey Canal, opened its first line to Stoke in 1848. The town was now linked to Crewe and the following year a line to Manchester was built.
The city of Stoke was created in 1910 from a federation of six towns: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton and Longton. The population of the city was now nearly 250,000.
The exact local population in each of the Pottery towns appears by the last census to be as follows: Stoke-on-Trent (8,391); Hanley (10,185); Shelton (11,836); Longton (12,407), Fenton (4,923); Burslem (16,090) and Tunstall (6,945). The house accommodation of Longton is inferior to the standard of most others. Filthy and crowded courts - ill-arranged, undrained and irregular streets - and expanses of half waste-land, covered with rubbish and cinder-heaps, patched with neglected gardens, piled up with broken saggars and smashed fragments of pottery, all bear testimony to the hastily ill-built, and ill-laid-out town.
Perhaps the best specimen of a pottery village is to be found in Etruria. The characteristically named hamlet, which is indebted for its classic appellation to the founder of the great pottery firm of Wedgwood, is situated in the township of Shelton, upon the banks of the canal which connects the waters of the Trent and Mersey. The village is entirely the property of Messrs. Wedgwood, and is almost wholly occupied by the working people in their employment.