For many years the skeleton of Smallthorne remained the same with a main road running through the centre which could take you from Burslem to Norton, Brown Edge then on to Leek. The terraced housing either side remained much the same, as it was built to provide accommodation for the workers as Smallthorne left its rural existence to become an area of concentrated industry and a thriving village. Though local people, fiercely proud, will tell you that there was difference between Smallthorne and Nettlebank (which consisted of several streets behind the row of terraces running from Smallthorne to Hanley).
In the middle of the 20th Century, and some 30 years after it finally relinquished its local governmental ties with Leek and Norton Le Moors, Smallthorne was about to change drastically. The first major impact was the renaming of its streets as the amalgamation of the potteries towns had thrown up many duplicate street names. Some hardly changed such as Church to Kirk ( a Scottish variant of church) and others were completely new such as Kinver, Brierley and Coseley Streets ( said to reflect our connections with the black country and the iron and chain workers who settled here.
From late 1953 through to 1955 the local authority was in protracted negotiations to implement the local phase of the biggest social housing project in Europe. It had to purchase allotments from the residents of Smallthorne which ran the length of Coseley Street from the top at Fell Street to the park opposite Robert Heath Street. The park itself was not then owned by the local authority and was protected by a covenant that prevented its use for anything else. Part of the Local authority’s bargaining was to provide a suitable alternative site which still exists as Coseley Street Allotments. The negotiations involved many parties as this was all allotments and farm land and then waste land across to Bradeley.
The local authority were successful in their purchases and then gained permission from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the new Allotment site and the Ministry of Housing for the building of the new properties. The preparation for all this included numerous local authority departments and committees as well as involvement for a water supply from the Staffordshire Potteries Water Board. The total land acquired was over 5 acres with the bulk being from Mr B Proctor and Norton Estate Trustees (let out to third parties) the remainder being from the Smallthorne Allotments Association and other parties.
Thus was born the council owned housing which still exists of Coseley Street, Duddell Road, Ship Place (later Shipley Place) and Ashman Street. This was a huge step forward in the facilities available such as inside toilets and gardens for tenants. The houses were heated with coal fires and a through back boiler with a hot water tank upstairs and were generally of three/four styles with some flats built in the same design. Unlike the other areas where such building work was taking place the need for new integrated local shops and Pubs was not necessary as Smallthorne was more than adequately catered for on both counts.
At a later stage some of the older buildings on the main road were demolished and newer shops, pubs and a community centre built in their places then the next project was started around the early 1960’s on the land where the railway lines ran from Ford Green to Nettlebank wharf. This incorporated a new health centre and more shops and a school at Newford.
Article written by Barry Ashley