History tends to repeat itself

To include the canals in this picture of old Stoke-on-Trent, I painted the name Brindley on the train. To name a train after the master canal engineer could be interpretated as an insult, as it was the Victorian railways for moving goods made that made the canals redundant: Or intended irony as the trains and rails became redundant by lorries and Tarmac. History usually repeats itself.

To keep history, correct, I was going to change the name of my painted train to its true name “The Staffordshire Potter” which was in fact, the last train to run on the potteries loop line. Brush and tube of black acrylic paint ready, time had spoiled the paint. I found more black acrylic paint but too was spoilt. Of course, I could get more paint until I achieved my task, or take this as a message; I chose the latter just in case, it is the spirit of Mr. James Brindley himself looking over my shoulder; Thinking-

“You are not going to treat my name with contempt, as a city leader recently did to my colleague and friend, Josiah Wedgwood.

That single act of heritage vandalism, which made rubble of sculpted bricks, symbolized years of disrespectful disdain; to generations of famous, and the humble people who with honest hard labour, built Stoke upon Trent.” “City leaders with their clothed words, either spoken or with strokes of a pen, have for years been citing reasons many, to remove every Staffordshire brick made, that maketh the Old City: Leaders of false vertues; you cannot remove, nor turn my sculptured bricks into rubble, for my bricks made The Grand Trunk Canal”

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer; History tends to repeat itself
Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer; History tends to repeat itself - The Duke of Bridgewater Pub
Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer; History tends to repeat itself a map of the potteries 1817

Potteries Map From 1817

Robert Stevenson - The Sign Writer; History tends to repeat itself a map of the potteries 1895

Potteries Map From 1895

Dear, My local MP.

Ref: HS2

Thank you for your reply to my letter. The re-opening of the Stoke to Leek train line is an interesting point: The closure of the Victorian railway network during the 1960s was the main reason the people of this country was compelled to rely on cars to travel: And now we have many problems as a result of too many cars. Only recently I read a book, written in 1905 by a local historian named William Scarratt. Inside this book called old times in the Potteries, the author writes about the then recently constructed Potteries loop line and concludes with “These particulars may appear irrelevant to chronicle, but what may they be worth in year 2005.” If in 2005 we still had the loop line, maintained and updated; this city would now have the finest public transport system in the country, but instead, as you correctly state; Stoke-on-Trent is the most congested City in the country.

I fully appreciate and understand your support for the HS2, as this country is now in urgent need of public transport; for the motorways that took preference over the railways; like the cities they lead into; are also congested. When the construction of the Victorian railway network went underway there were many protestors, giving forth the same argument, as now, and history has proven the original railways once construction was complete, was a huge benefit to the public, as people used trains to travel around England: This was up until the infamous axe. As usual, public protests were ignored at the time, and since the 1960s more railway stations were closed. This meant a high percentage of the public had little choice but to own an automobile. Then from the Mid 1980s, it was decided this country no longer needed the mines, the steelworks and other heavy industries: This forced people to travel out of their home town, out of their city, to find work.

And now there are so many cars the side streets, the high streets, the highways are congested with them. As a result of all this, this country is in desperate need for the construction of a public railway network that bulldozes its way through the countryside; a second time: Thus, returning back to the beginning. But instead of churning up the English countryside again, would the billions that will be spent on the HS2, be better spent on improving and updating, what is left of all the existing railway system, including reopening all that what is possible? Another point you make is the HS2 will be good for the environment. Returning to the book by William Scarratt, he states the site where Hanley railway station now stands was once called “Buttercup Meadow” Hanley railway station is long gone but alas, buttercups were never to grow there again.

Yours sincerely

Robert E. Stevenson

Robert E. Stevenson – The Signwriter

Traditional Signwriting for Heritage, Commercial & Vintage Projects