Having been born and raised in Staffordshire since the late 90s, studying at Staffordshire University and going on to take up my first post-grad job at The Sentinel, you might think Stoke-on-Trent is all I’ve ever known. You wouldn’t really be wrong – but why would you want to go anywhere else?
Stoke-on-Trent is a city like no other. Our city has a secret, and people on the outside looking in just aren’t in on it. If you told them, they just wouldn’t ‘get it’, either.
The six towns find themselves at the heart of the pottery industry, inventor of oatcakes, not one, but two cracking football clubs and a long list of famous names and faces who have gone on to shape history – from Lemmy and Reginald Mitchell, to Sir Stanley Matthews and Clarice Cliff.
People are quick to snub the Potteries, but Stoke-on-Trent is a city with the fire of 1,000 bottle kilns in its belly. There’s so much our diverse city has to offer, from its important heritage to its exciting future.
There are some things that you only understand if you’re a Stokie – and there’s no point trying to explain them to people who aren’t from ‘round here – here’s XX of them.
1. There are two types of people in the world
People who worship oatcakes like the food of the Gods they are, and people who need to move out of Stoke ASAP. Oatcake fans can also be split into two categories: folders and rollers – for the record, I’m a roller.
2. People are precious about where they buy their oatcakes
It’s much like being a snob over what brand of teabags you buy. Personally, I prefer a Povey’s oatcake over a North Staffs oatcake – where you’re not quite sure whether to eat it, or check underneath it for a backstamp. But, if I’m buying a takeout oatcake, I do love Oscar’s down Newcastle.
3. Look, book and cook
These three words are spelled with double -ook not a -uck and so we’ll say it how it’s spelled and the rest of the country is wrong.
4. Everyone has a story about Robbie Williams
Love him or loathe him, everyone knows, is related to, went to school with or dated Robbie Williams – or his Dad, the lovely Pete Conway.
Fun fact – the Take That singer even has three streets named after his songs. They’re all in Middleport, and named Candy Lane, Angels Way and Supreme Street.
5. The Blue Clock
The Blue Clock, or ‘Blo Clock’ is a universal meeting place outside The Potteries Centre, in Hanley. The iconic structure hasn’t told the right time for God knows how long, but it’s one of the most recognisable features of our city centre and Town Road wouldn’t be the same without it.
6. Pick a team
Potter or Valiant? Regardless of whether or not you follow football, when someone asks you who you support, you answer wisely as you will forever be judged on your choice.
7. No-one knows where Stoke-on-Trent is
“Where are you from?”
“Somewhere between Manchester and Birmingham.”
8. You don’t quite understand the North/South rivalry at uni
Being in the Midlands, you’d think you could just sit on the fence. When your fellow students force it upon you to pick a side – pick North.
9. There’s Stoke and then there’s actual Stoke
Actual Stoke being Stoke town itself, the town of Stoke within the city of Stoke-on-Trent
10. Stoke-on-Trent is made up of six towns
Just to confuse people even more – Hanley, Fenton, Longton, Boslem, Tunstall and Stoke
11. People look at you weird in restaurants
Usually because you’re turning over your plate or mug to see if it was made in Staffordshire and feeling proud when it is. I absolutely love hearing people’s stories of the places furthest away from the Potteries that they’ve found a Churchill plate or a Wedgwood jug.
12. There is a right and wrong side of an oatcake
Don’t even try to fight me on this one. The smooth side is made for the fillings.
13. There are two types of clubbers
People who go out to The Sugarmill and The Underground and the and people who go to Fiction.
14. The Regent Theatre’s panto
There’s no Christmas tradition quite like a night out at The Regent Theatre’s pantomime with local legend Jonathan Wilkes, and adopted Stokie Christian Patterson. It’s a night out people will queue the length of Piccadilly to get tickets for months in advance, and spend the last four months of the year asking everyone they speak to if they’ve got tickets to the panto.
15. Being terrified by the Man of Fire
Since 1963 the Man of Fire – also known as Jack Frost or The Spiky Man – has been terrifying children and giving them nightmares of being chased down Trinity Street.
The 35-foot metal sculpture has kept a watchful eye over shoppers for decades as he hangs from the side of The Potteries Centre, overlooking Stafford Street.
The inspiration behind the artwork was fuelled by Staffordshire’s pottery, mining and steelworks industries, with the inscription reading: “Fire is at the root of all things both visible and invisible.”
16. It’s UP ‘Anley and DOWN ‘Castle
It doesn’t matter if you live in Etruria, Tunstall or Fenton – actual geography goes out of the window in Stoke and you’ll always be going ‘up Hanley and down Castle, even if you live north or south of them respectively.
17. Cost Kick a Bo
When Stoke Dialect is mentioned, the phrase ‘cost kick a bo agen a wo en yed it on yed til it bost’ is never too far behind.
18. Radio adverts don’t get more Stokie than Wayne Walker
Wayne Walker, Wayne Walker, where quality and value meet. Everyone knows it, and everyone heads there the second the sun comes out to stock up for the weekends BBQ. Wayne’s Signal 1 advert has to be the broadest Stoke accent I’ve ever heard on the radio, but LT Garage Doors comes a close second.
19. Every road leads to Rome, unless you live in Stoke
In Stoke-on-Trent, every road leads you to the other end of the city before you can get where you need to be
20. If a dog crosses the road in Bentilee…
You’ll find the D-road is gridlocked, you’ve got bob hope of getting off Festival Park car park, and there’s a queue of traffic a mile long up Smallthorne bank. There’s literally no point leaving the house. You won’t get far. It breaks the city.
21. You’re never stuck for a day out
Wherever you stand in this gritty city, you’re never far from a great day out – from Trentham or Biddulph Grange Gardens, to Middleport Pottery and The Emma Bridgewater Factory – not forgetting Alton Towers.
22. No matter where in the world you are, Stoke is home.
That will never change. You can take the Stokie out of the city, but you can’t get rid of that bleeding accent.
Not only do we have that proper potters accent, but Stokies also have an abundance of bizarre phrases and words thanks to the Potteries Dialect and there are some things people just don’t get unless they’ve lived and worked here.
My good friend Terry Bossons released ‘Terry’s Pottersaurus – The Ducktionary of Stoke-on-Trent’, and here are my top 24 words and phrases used in the six towns.
- Asthee – have you e.g. Asthee sayn owt up Anley? (Have you seen anything in Hanley?)
- Ow at – how are you?
- Birrer – a bit of e.g. Al ‘av a birra tha (I’ll have a bit of that)
- Bo – ball e.g. footbo
- Brok – broken
- Bosted – ugly. Alt. Bost – burst
- Bothdee – Birthday
- Canst – can you e.g. canst chuck us telly box? (can you pass me the television remote?)
- Chaykee – cheeky
- Clemt – hungry e.g. Am clemt deeth (I am starving to death)
- Duck – endearment term e.g. Ay up, duck
- Eeyar – here you go
- Her/his/me/thee sen – her/his/my/yourself e.g. get theesen a cowt on it’s frayzeen (get yourself a coat on it’s freezing)
- Hoss – a horse
- Lobby – stew, but better than stew anywhere else in the country
- Mack – make
- Mar lady – my lady/girlfriend/wife
- Moanin – morning
- Nesh – someone who doesn’t deal well with the cold e.g. Am goin inside am a bit nesh
- Ockered – awkward
- Orate – alright
- Snappin – food e.g. need get some snappin down ya
- Thay knowst? – do you know?
- Wom – home e.g. goin wom? (going home?)