Before the Storm . . . .
What was it like to be a Biddulph resident in the months leading up to the outbreak of war? Using directories, (Kelly’s 1912 & 1916 and also the Potteries, Newcastle and District Directory of 1912), newspaper reports (The Chronicle, The Staffordshire Evening Sentinel and The Staffordshire Weekly
Sentinel) and photographs, we aim to paint a picture of everyday life.
Kelly’s 1912 directory describes Biddulph as ‘a large parish, in a hilly moorland district’ which ‘abounds in coal and has several quarries of durable stone’. Employment could be found in the ‘several collieries, large iron works and fustian manufactories’. The soil is described as sandy with a subsoil of stiff clay and that ‘a few oats and some wheat are grown here, but the land is principally pasturage’.
The population in 1911 was given as 7,422 in the civil parish and 6,135 in the ecclesiastical parish. The most densely populated ward in 1911 was the East Ward with a population of 2,966.
So who were the ‘movers and shakers’ in the community? Who were the industrialists, the landowners, the professionals? Where did the locals find employment? What about the health of the parish and who took care of souls? As for entertainment – just what could you do in Biddulph in 1914?