Photo Recognition

An essential part of our work in recording the Great War soldiers is recognising them on our photographs The first is of the soldiers who did not complete the war through injury. This photograph is very much of its time and shows most of the men wearing the flat cap. Please follow this link to see a full sized picture where you can identify people and click on them to record names etc. You can also add a comment at the bottom of that page.

Sandy Lane Closed


Notices have been posted at Bank End and the bottom of Hough Hill advising that Sandy Lane will be closed on 3rd January for work by Virgin Media.

Paul Whiston the Brown Edge Lifeboatman

Most people watched the Queens Speech on Christmas day but I bet that most didn’t spot Brownedger Paul Whiston Introducing his lifeboat crew to Her Majesty.

This is clearly a massive honour and shows the nation the respect Her Majesty has for these brave Volunteers.

The Queen & PaulAs some of you know Paul has been living in St Ives Cornwall for many years now and has risen to Coxswain or Captain of the Station.

Paul recently told me he originally wanted to be a farmer and some of you will remember him working with Alan Lowe and Family on the milk round. He has a successful business in St Ives now and is fully committed to the RNLI.

He and his team are currently raising funds for a new tractor unit to tow the new lifeboat out.  This tractor costs over £1 Million and they are half way there with their fundraising.

So while we are enjoying our Christmas festivities spare a thought for these brave volunteers who undertake the most dangerous of services for our country, and if you can give a donation to their fund please do so

To donate £5 to the St Ives (@LifeboatDaySS) lifeboat appeal – mentioned  in #QueensSpeech – text RNLI ST IVES to 70300

st ives lifeboat

Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford

Now most of you might have heard about Thomas Telford who was famous for many fantastic Civil Engineering feats but you might not be aware of his connection to Norton Green and also the significant engineering work he undertook here in Brown Edge.

Telford was born in Westerkirk, Scotland on August 9, 1757. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a stonemason, and some of his earliest work can still be seen on the bridge across the river Esk in Langholm in the Scottish borders. He worked for a time in Edinburgh and in 1782 he moved to London where (after meeting architects Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers) he was involved in building additions to Somerset House. Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard and – although still largely self-taught – was extending his talents to the specification, design and management of building projects

In 1787, through his wealthy patron William Pulteney, he became Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire, England. At this time, ‘civil engineering’ was a discipline still in its infancy, so Telford was set on establishing himself as an architect. His projects included renovation of Shrewsbury’s Castle, the town’s prison (during planning of which he met leading prison reformer John Howard), a church (St Mary Magdalene) in Bridgnorth and another at Madeley Shropshire

As county surveyor, Telford was also responsible for bridges. In 1790 he designed a bridge carrying the London-Holyhead road over the Severn river at Montford, the first of some 40 bridges he built in Shropshire, including major crossings of the Severn at Buildwas, Bridgnorth and Bewdley. The Buildwas bridge was Telford’s first iron bridge (he was heavily influenced by the famous bridge at Ironbridge), but was 30 ft (10 m) wider in span and half the weight. As his engineering prowess grew, Telford was to return to this material again and again.
Telford’s reputation as a civil engineer meant he was constantly consulted on numerous other projects. These included water supply works for Liverpool, improvements to London’s docklands and the rebuilding of London Bridge (c.1800).
Telford devised a masterplan to improve communications in the Highlands of Scotland, a massive project that was to last some 20 years. It included the building of the Caledonian Canal along the Great Glen (and redesign of sections of the Crinan Canal), some 920 miles of new roads, over a thousand new bridges, numerous harbour improvements (including works at Aberdeen, Dundee, Peterhead and Banff, to name but four), and 32 new churches.
Telford was consulted in 1806 by the King of Sweden about the construction of a canal between Gothenburg and Stockholm. His plans were adopted and construction of the Göta canal began in 1810. Telford travelled to Sweden at that time to oversee some of the more important initial excavations.

The ‘Colossus of Roads’
During his later years, Telford was responsible for rebuilding sections of the London to Holyhead road (a task completed by his assistant of ten years, John MacNeill; today, the route is the A5 trunk road). Between London and Shrewsbury, most of the work amounted to improvements (including the Archway cutting in north London and improvements at Barnet and South Mimms). Beyond Shrewsbury, and especially beyond Llangollen, the work often involved building a highway from scratch. Notable features of this section of the route include the iron bridge across the River Conwy at Betws-y-Coed, the ascent from there to Capel Curig and then the descent from the pass of Nant Ffrancon towards Bangor.
On the island of Anglesey a new embankment across the Stanley Sands to Holyhead was constructed, but the crossing of the Menai Straits was the most formidable challenge, finally overcome by the Menai Suspension Bridge (1819-1826). The steel from this bridge being made at Foundry Square, Norton Green. Some scholars have questioned this but when I was a boy my uncle Gordon (the font of lots of history and information) told me that on the side of one of the pillars there is a plaque that states this to be true.
Telford also worked on the North Wales coast road between Chester and Bangor, including another major suspension bridge at Conwy, opened later the same year as its counterpart at Menai.
Late career

Other works by Telford include the St Katharine Docks (1824-1828) close to Tower Bridge in central London, the second Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal (1827), and the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (today part of the Shropshire Union Canal) – started in May 1826 but finished, after Telford’s death, in January 1835. At the time of its construction in 1829, Galton Bridge was the longest single span in the world.
This is where we have our Brown Edge connection with Telford as in 1823 he was commissioned to create a new reservoir at Knypersley to provide more water for the Trent and Mersey canal via the Caldon CanalO

Work began in 1827 and included the demolition of the old Knypersley Mill

The surveying work was started from the stone pillar at the Greenway Bank end of the dam. The Benchmark point is still there and Telfords own hand would have touched the surface as he was undertaking the survey.

I have always been told that  Norton Green iron was chosen for the then largest bridge in the world. In fact Menai bridge records show that the contract to supply the chains went to Mr Hazeldene at Upper Magna Shropshire.  So why this continual rumour?  Telford obviously had links with the local families due to his time at Knypersley. The foundry at Norton Green was owned by the Cope family and the Heath family who owned another iron and steel foundry at Knypersley   I suspect that the main order was placed with Mr Hazeldene and he sub contracted it out to other suppliers one of which was Copes of Norton Green.

Christmas Lights


With Christmas drawing closer the annual Brown Edge Christmas lights competition is in full swing. Over 60 households have joined in this year and the early favourite is (photographed here) the bungalow in Church Road. There is still time of course for more entries.

Rev Sturdee

The Reverend Sturdee

Rev Edwin John Sturdee was Vicar of this parish for only a few years at the turn of the 19th century.  It is now clear that he was a very learned and travelled man even spending time in Australia.

In undertaking some research  it became apparent that he was slightly disappointed in being given the living here at Brown Edge and as he had many learned friends at Oxford he would quite regularly speak there.  He appeared to be very supportive of women’s issues.  This feeling of Brown Edge being perhaps not the heights to which he  imagined himself of being capable, I think explains why he talks so positively of Brown Edge, overemphasising the capabilities of the parish.220px-Frederick_Doveton_Sturdee

His Nephew however was indeed a hero of the nation.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick Charles Doveton Sturdee, 1st Baronet, GCB, KCMG, CVO (9 June 1859 – 7 May 1925)

On 8 December 1914, whilst coaling at Stanley, he was surprised by the squadron of Graf Maximilian von Spee and the Battle of the Falkland Islands ensued. Von Spee, finding that he was engaged with a superior force, was forced to flee. In the course of the pursuit Sturdee’s forces sank the entire German group, with the exception of the light cruiser Dresden, which was not hunted down until some months later. For this victory Sturdee was created baronet in January 1916. He later commanded the Fourth Battle Squadron at the Battle of Jutland, becoming admiral in 1917.

After the War he became Commander-in-Chief, The Nore, and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet in 1921. He was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 1921 New Year Honours, having already been appointed Knight Commander.

Sturdee retired to Camberley, in Surrey, and died there on 7 May 1925. He was buried in the churchyard of St. Peter’s Church in nearby Frimley. His gravestone incorporates a cross made from the timbers of Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory. His grandson William Staveley Sturdee was also an Admiral of the Fleet.


Rev Edwin John Sturdee article 1

A fascinating insight on Brown Edge life from Vicar Sturdee


THE REV. EDWIN J. STURDEE, Vicar of Brown Edge, Sloke-on-Trent. 1902


I AM afraid that our “Sydenham” neighbours, to say nothing of those in the next parish on the other side, have the whip hand of us (if a sporting phrase may be allowed) in the matter of

services. Well trained choirs have their excellencies as well as their defects, and a well-trained choir means a well conducted service. Alas, for our parish, it has no choir, well trained or otherwise. Why we have no choir is a mystery which is kept as secret as the installation of a Freemason. We have choir seats it is true clustered round the well-placed organ, and these seats are more or less occupied, but as there can be no army without drill so there can be no choir without a practice. And yet in spite of these very serious drawbacks our people are delighted with the service, and some have been heard to declare that it is equal to any in the Potteries, which is saying a good deal, for with us “the Potteries” stands for public opinion of the responsible kind.

Our services are congregational. Be it remembered that we are fond of music, and boast of two brass bands and any number of trained singers, who at Christmas and other times parade the parish with the hearty appreciation of the inhabitants.

Our services are also choral, not “fully choral,” which is the correct form of expression, for “fully choral” includes the clergyman, but they are “fully choral” as regards the people. Barnby’s Ferial responses are in use, being more easily joined in than the Festal Tallis. The hymns are selected with great care, preference being given to swinging tunes. No hymn is sung as a rule more often than once in eight weeks, so that no one tune is ever likely by its frequency to kill any old cow in the neighbourhood of the church. The same rule applies to the chants, all taken from the Cathedral Psalter. New tunes and chants are learnt by the children, then brought out for the morning service, and when well seasoned are allowed a place at Evening Prayer, which is our church parade. The sermons are always “understanded” of the people. If they were not, the church would soon empty, for we are honeycombed with chapels of the Wesleyan type, served mostly by local preachers of local fame or the reverse. “I can understand every word,” was the delighted comment of a very occasional worshipper, who, being “no scholar,” was surprised that he could discuss the merits of the discourse with his more educated neighbour. Some time ago a Vicar from the Potteries preached in our church. His own service is so well “rendered” that to invite comparison would be folly, but his remark to a member of our congregation was the highest of all possible commendation, “When I stood in the pulpit I felt there is religion in this Church.” Non nobis Doinine.

Our congregation is not large. It might be much larger if all who came up to the church door would enter, but an incurable shyness seizes some of our lads, who have been known to take to their heels when invited to come in, unless they can see a seat close to the door into which they may pop unobserved. Perhaps this shyness is at the bottom of the disinclination to form a choir, and submit to the publicity of a choir practice. We have a week-evening service. “Of course you do,” would have been the remark twenty years ago, but nowadays the week-night service seems dying out, like the double church attendance on Sunday on the part of the upper and middle classes. The week-evening service is held on an off-night so far s the Wesleyans are concerned, so that some of them come to it, and thereby keep in touch with the church in which most of them were baptized, many were married, and where their bodies will be brought for the last service of all.

Speaking of this leads up to the subject of funerals. It used to be the custom in our parish for the Vicar to go to the house of mourning and conduct a service. Instead, he now meets the body at the churchyard gate, and confines his ministrations to the church and churchyard. All the mourners are invited to join in the Psalm and follow the lesson. Books and leaflets containing the service are handed round. Sometimes we sing a hymn, sometimes a ‘little address is given. All the service, save the committal and last collect, is, as a rule, taken in the church, not only on account of the climate, but also because usually the interest shown in the actual interment is of such an absorbing nature that devotion at this period is flung to the winds. A Sunday or two after the funeral the party come to church, and expect some notice of the bereavement from the pulpit. The system of compromise has to be stretched to its fullest extent in order to spare the feelings of the mourners, and also of the congregation, who, if critically disposed, are apt to resent references to the deceased, which, in some sad cases, are as much out of place as allusions to the gentleness of a Nero, or the kindness of a Caligula.

It would seem, on reference to the first rubric in the service for Public Baptism, that time was no object to our forefathers. To baptize infants “when the most number of people came together” means an addition of some twenty minutes to an already fairly long service. Of course the sermon might be omitted, but no true pastor and no right- minded congregation would consent to this form of excision. And so it has come to pass that the Baptismal Service has been made private instead of public, it being frequently held in an empty church, and as it usually takes place either before a week- night service or, if on a Sunday, when service is over, and there is all too little time to spare before tea, the rite has lost much of its solemnity, and a great deal of its realism.

Latterly we have tried to improve matters in our parish by having baptisms on one Sunday in the month and as part of the children’s service. After the lesson we all turn towards the font; every one has a prayer book and. the sponsors a card. The service proceeds with organ to accompany the Amens, and all take part in those responses which are for general use. As soon as the rite is administered, we sing the well-known hymn “In token that thou shalt not fear,” an interpolation which it is to be hoped will be allowed by Episcopal authority should it ever be called into question. Each child receives a memorial card with space to fill in dates of Confirmation and first Communion. These cards are highly prized, and have often been framed by their owners, though this has not been the case up to the present in our parish. The children’s service and public baptism combined is well attended. Great interest attaches to the number of babies presented so far, seven has been the record but we hope to beat that as time goes on.

The system of having cards of the service for what is called “surplice duty” is a great means of teaching our people that the Prayer Book is not a mere form. At what threaten to be disorderly weddings the attention of the bridal party is frequently centred on the service card, in order to be ready for the responses, so that all passes off well. On one occasion the gloss placed by a witty bridegroom on his endowment of the bride with all his worldly goods (“ I haven’t got any”) failed to rouse the expected laugh, so intent were the party on following the service.