Overview of Stoke-upon-Trent
The name "Stoke" is one of the most popular names for places and in historical documents, particularly in the UK. There are over 50 UK locations that carry the name Stoke, including Stoke in Hampshire, Stoke Bristol and Stoke Gifford in Bristol, Stoke St Gregory, Stoke St Mary, and Stoke St Michael in Somerset, Stoke Abbott in Dorset, and Stoke Pound and Stoke Prior in Worcestershire.
The city now known as Stoke-upon-Trent was once a federation of six towns, including Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall. Of these six towns, Stoke was selected as the name of the city because that's where the area's original ancient parish was located. At that time, the other five settlements in the area were still chapelries.
Aside from Stoke's six towns, the city also has a number of suburbs. These include Meir, Shelton, Bucknall, Bentilee, Penkhull, Etruria, Blurton, Hartshill, Trentham, Middleport, Smallthorne, Abbey Hulton, Birches Head, Cliffe Vale, Sneyd Green, and Trent Vale.
The word "stoke" itself comes from "stoc," an old English word that initially meant "place" but was later associated with various other connotations, such as "dairy farm," "summer pasture," "meeting place," "crossing place" and "place of worship." There is no historical reference as to which of these connotations is specifically used for Stoke, the city, but it should be noted that all of them apply.
As a crossing place, Stoke was a particularly popular crossing point during Roman times for what is now Derby and Chesterton. As a place of worship, Stoke was also the location of an ancient church that was constructed as early as 670. Like most of the other towns in the area, Stoke was also referred to as a dairy farm, summer pasture and, certainly, a meeting place.
Since the name Stoke was understandably common during those days, an affix was usually added to distinguish one location from another. In this case, the affix was the river Trent. Hence, the name Stoke-upon-Trent.
Located in Staffordshire in England's West Midlands region, Stoke is about half-way between Manchester and Birmingham and adjoins the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. The city occupies a rectangular area stretching 19 kms and encompassing 93 sq. kms. It is also popularly referred to as The Potteries, particularly since Stoke has always been the seat of the UK's pottery industry.
From its six original towns, the area became known as a single, unified city in the early part of the 20th century. A host of service industries and other businesses later joined the pottery industry to form a thriving commercial hub.
The city's motto is "Vis Unita Fortior" which means "United Strength is Stronger" or "A United Force is Stronger."
As of 2001, Stoke's population numbered around 240,636 people. The 2001 census also revealed that the city had about 103,196 households, which is actually down by 3.5% compared to the number of households in 1991. Females outnumber males but only ever so slightly, 51.3% vs. 49.7%. More than 96% of the city's inhabitants were born in the UK while nearly 95% consider themselves to be white. The minorities include Asian British Pakistani (2.6%), Asian British Indian (0.5%) and Black Afro Caribbean (0.3%).
In terms of religion, roughly 72% of Stoke's population are Christian. The other major religions represented in the city include Muslim (3.0%), Hindu (1.1%), Sikh (0.6%), and Jewish (0.5%). Meanwhile, 14% of the city's population claim they have no religion.
In terms of age, Stoke's population has an average age of 38.5 years old. Around 19.9% of the population are under the age of 15 compared to 21% who are over the age of 60.
In terms of in-city activities, Stoke has several impressive museums and art galleries. About £1,000,000 worth of new public art was installed all over the city in 2005. The city also has a vibrant and booming night life and a host of clubs, pubs, bars, theatres, and restaurants.
Stoke also has a bustling music scene, which shouldn't be surprising, considering that pop star Robbie Williams hails from there. With more than 70 million records sold around the world, the most by any British solo artist, and with 15 BRIT and six ECHO Awards as well as a Grammy Award nomination under his belt, Williams has certainly done his share to be known as Stoke's most famous son. Williams was elected to the UK's Music Hall of Fame in 2004 and has been acknowledged as the UK's greatest artist of the 1990s.
After Williams, another popular musician who is readily associated with Stoke is Slash, the former lead guitarist of Guns N Roses and presently lead guitarist of Velvet Revolver. Widely considered to be one of the best rock guitarists in music history, Slash has done much to elevate Stoke's heritage in music. The English-American musician was actually born in Hamstead, but was raised in Stoke beginning at an early age.
Among the leading nightclubs in town that provide excellent music are Torch, Shelley's Laserdome, The Void, Golden and others. For a brief period during the early 1990s, Stoke was known as the UK's "Techno City," thanks to the exploits of leading techno groups like Altern 8 and Bizarre Inc.