Breaking the Mould. Stoke.

Stoke Library

The Minton's were another influential family of potters, whose name today is well known and associated with finely decorated porcelain and the distinctive floor tiles to be found in countless Victorian houses and which are still produced today.

The Minton family gifted several substantial buildings to the community: Herbert Minton endowed the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1842, and in 1852 built day schools behind the church; his brother Rev Thomas Webb Minton built St Thomas's Church in Penkhull also in 1842; Herbert Minton donated £500 to the public baths in London Road in 1856 which became the Herbert Minton Memorial Building after his death 2 years later; the library and Shakespeare institute in London Road was built in 1878 on a site donated by Colin Minton Campbell, with costs subscribed by Thomas William Minton.

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The library in London Road was designed by Charles Lynam and built by local contractor John Gallimore in 1878. Local materials were used, including blue and red brick, terracotta and tiles. The upper ground floor has circular windows and there is a mosaic of Shakespeare on the façade.

The building provided a free public library and there was a canteen for local workers in its basement.

Next door, the Herbert Minton Memorial Building was a little earlier, designed by Murray and Pugin around 1853. Initially intended to provide public baths, its plans were amended after Herbert Minton's death in 1858 to make a memorial building. It housed the Stoke College of Art. The upper storey was formerly a studio, and survives intact.

The art school moved in from its former home in the Town Hall in 1859. Colin Minton Campbell was chairman of the board and Minton's nephew Michael Daintry Hollins was the treasurer. The family provided income for the school and the students.

Among the students there was sculptor Arnold Machin who designed the portrait of the Queen used on postage stamps since 1967. Printing was a significant element of the education on offer, and many advances in transfer printing of great use to the pottery industry were developed there.

A mosiac inscription tablet was erected on completion of the building in 1860 (it was removed in interests of public safety in 1951):
"The foundation stone of this building erected by subscription as a memorial to the late Herbert Minton Esq. of Stoke-on-Trent to Commemorate his success as a manufacturer and his virtues as a citizen was laid by the Earl Granville K.G. on Wednesday the 21st day of July in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty eight."

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