Art is at the very heart of Stoke-on-Trent, the hub for England’s pottery industry. But the city also has a rich culture that attracts visitors each year. From visual art to literature, theatre, media, music and food, Stoke has a personality all its own.
Art, Galleries and Public Art
Stoke is home to several museums and art galleries, but The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery is arguably the most popular. The museum and gallery houses a fine collection of ceramics and other works of art. Rotating exhibitions also attract art lovers to the gallery each year.
The museum is now the home of the Staffordshire Hoard, which is the most important Anglo-Saxon gold collection to date.
Over in the city’s Cultural Quarter, visitors can check out the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Victoria Hall and the Regent Theatre.
Other galleries exist in the city, including the Dazed Gallery and AirSpace, a contemporary art gallery run and led by artists. The Gallery in Fenton houses works from some of the most renowned artists in North Staffordshire, including Vicky Mount, Sid Kirkham, Harry Davies, Dale Bowen and Kelvin Evans.
The Barewall Gallery in Burslem displays a large collection of work from local artists, such as Jack Simcock and Arthur Berry.
Stoke-on-Trent is home to many art schools, including the Edwardian School of Art, the Hothouse Centre for Ceramic Design and Roslyn Works.
Several artists were born in town, including Arnold Machin, Arthur Berry, Glenys Barton and Sidney Tushingham.
Over in the outskirts of Tunstall is the Golden statue, which stands 21m tall and was constructed with COR-TEN Steel. The statue features LED lights that illuminate more than 1,500 glass prisms. These prisms contain written wishes or memories of local residents.
Theatre and Cinema
Stoke-on-Trent’s main theatre is the Regent Theatre, a 1,603-person venue in Hanley. The main concert hall is the Victoria Hall, which is near the Regent Theatre.
Over in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the round New Vic theatre can be found.
There are several other theatres and event venues nearby, including the Victorian Kings Hall, the Queens Theatre in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent Repertory Theatre, and the Mitchell Arts Centre.
Stoke also has several cinemas, including Cineworld Cinema, which opened in 2015. The cinema is an extension of the Intu Potteries shopping area.
Along with Cineworld, travelers can also see the latest film releases at the Odeon multiplex cinema and The Stoke-on-Trent Film Theatre, which is volunteer-run.
Several well-known authors came from Stoke, but Arnold Bennett was perhaps the most famous. Bennett has been described by many as one of the greatest realist writers of the 20th century. He wrote about local events that occurred in the 19th century.
Other notable people who contributed to literature include Pauline Stainer, Elijah Fenton, John Wain, Peter Whelan and Charles Tomlinson.
Media and Entertainers
Stoke’s main newspaper is The Sentinel, and the city is home to BBC Radio Stoke, which launched in 1968 and was the third BBC local radio station to go live.
Several well-known actors were born in Stoke-on-Trent, including Freddie Jones, Hugh Dancy, Adrian Rawlins, Jonathan Wilkes, Neil Morrissey, Alan Lake, Paul Bown and Rachel Shenton.
Stoke-on-Trent is home to a vibrant music scene. The Northern soul scene was born in the city’s Golden Torch nightclub in the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, Shelley’s Laserdome nightclub was at the center of the rave scene and helped propel the careers of Carl Cox and Sasha.
Three venues in the city host touring bands: Victoria Hall, The Underground and The Sugarmill.
Several well-known musicians were born in Stoke. Robbie Williams is the most famous pop star to hail from the city.
Slash, the renowned guitarist, spent a few years in his early childhood in Stoke before moving to Los Angeles. His father was from the Potteries.
Lonnie Cook, better known as Legendary Lonnie, is a guitarist from Stoke who played with the Screaming Lord Sutch in the 70s.
Other notable musicians from Stoke include: Havergal Brian, Andy Moor, Patricia Leonard, Gertie Gitana, Lemmy, Jem Finer, Discharge and Broken Bones.
Restaurants and Cuisine
Visitors will find restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world in Stoke. From Indian to classic British, Italian, Japanese and everything in between, there’s something for every taste bud in Stoke-on-Trent.
The city is also known for its own unique dishes, including Staffordshire oatcakes. Oatcakes may be eaten warm or cold, and with savoury or sweet fillings.
Lobby is another local dish, a stew, that is still made by Stoke residents.
The Potteries has its own unique dialect, which contains many non-standard words, like nesh and slat – which mean “soft” and “throw” respectively.
Stokes-on-Trent has a culture all its own, but its deep connection to the pottery industry is still very much apparent to this day.