Today, there is virtually no sign of heavy industry in Smallthorne but this is a relatively recent development. The district used to be criss-crossed by a canal and numerous mineral lines servicing five collieries – Cornhill, Holden Lane, Intake, Norton and Pinfold; the Ford Green Ironworks; a forge; and a chain, cable and anchor works. These lines joined the main Biddulph Valley Line near Ford Green Hall. The Foxley, a branch of the Caldon Canal, itself a branch of the Trent and Mersey Canal, fell into complete disuse with the arrival of the railways and its remains have almost all been obliterated over time.
The Biddulph Valley Line, later part of the North Staffordshire Railway, was opened in 1859 and a passenger station called ‘Ford Green and Smallthorne’ began service in 1864. Passenger services between Stoke and Biddulph ceased in 1927 but some special excursion trains continued until 1962. With the decline of the heavy industries all along the route, the line was gradually downgraded until the last section between Ford Green and Milton Junction closed in 1977 (when Norton Colliery closed).
Thus, until the late 1970s Smallthorne was very much a coal mining area. In the mid 1960s there were still three large collieries – Norton (Ford Green), Sneyd (Burslem) and Hanley Deep Pit – within a mile or less of ‘Smallthorne Bank’ (the main shopping area today) and a number of others were within an easy commuting distance. One of the many workingmen’s clubs scattered throughout the surrounding district is still called the Norton Miners Welfare Institute and Cricket Club and can be located off Community Drive in Smallthorne. (The semi-pro football club Norton United F.C. are also based at the Institute, although, being only a mile and a half from Vale Park, home of League Two Port Vale F.C., crowds are rarely large).
Taken from Wikipedia - 25th May 2013