Our Burslem. Angels, love, and affection.

June and Annette are challenging company. They challenge us to think positively about Burslem.

We met in the Market Place Cafe, just opposite the former Burslem town hall.

For about an hour they spoke passionately about their home town – the ‘mother town’ of the potteries – its history, its characters, its architecture, its future.

“Annette calls me mother,” said June.

The friend that introduced me to June and Annette calls them both ‘the mothers of the mother town’. They speak of Burslem with both love and affection.

“We have an excellent community,” said June. “It always comes together for anything. It’s a beautiful old town.”

June and Annette, Our Burslem. Photo: Jerome Whittingham @photomoments.
June and Annette, Our Burslem. Photo: Jerome Whittingham @photomoments.

June and Annette are leading members of ‘Our Burslem’, a community action group which promotes Burslem, putting on events in the town, and co-ordinating a large and vocal social media presence, on facebook in particular.

Their mission is not political, or rather not ‘party political’. Actually, the group demonstrates a ‘pure’ democracy, being a movement of diverse people uniting in action and voice to affect change in their community.

“It’s not about politics,” said Annette. “It’s about doing the right thing.”

Maybe that is politics?

The Our Burslem group’s aim is to tell others that the town is something worth shouting about.

Annette said: “I think we need to reinvent ourselves as a town, as a destination town… In Stoke-on-Trent people need to be proud of where they come from, it makes a difference… I want people to realise there’s beauty in this town, it just needs some love, care, thought, and innovation – that goes back to Wedgwood… What are we going to do with it, to make it the place to be?

“Would you know this is the place where Wedgwood was born? Is that not the easiest solution to get tourism into the city?”

Annette, Our Burslem.
Annette, Our Burslem. Photo: Jerome Whittingham @photomoments.

Annette, on behalf of the Our Burslem group, has recently nominated three of the town’s buildings to be considered for the Victorian Society’s ‘Top Ten Most Endangered Buildings’ list, in the hope of attracting regeneration and renovation funding.

In our on-street podcast interview she talks about the three buildings she’s nominated: The Wedgwood Institute; the indoor market; and The Central – all on Queen Street.

“There’s no harm in trying to make it – Burslem – better again,” concludes Annette.

We’d be fools to disagree.