Stoke-on-Trent (or simply, Stoke) is a city in England, approximately half-way between Birmingham and Manchester. It shares a border with the affluent town of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and the separation is most evident at Boundary Street in Hartshill. Despite this, the two places are often very much considered to be one large city.
Stoke-on-Trent lies on the A500 "D-road", just off the M6 motorway, and can be reached by travelling southbound from Manchester or northbound from Birmingham. It is approximately 45 miles from both of these cities. It can also be reached via the A34. Those seeking the city centre by road should look for signs to "Hanley", once they enter Stoke-on-Trent.
1 Stoke-on-Trent station. This is a small but busy mainline railway station that has frequent inter-city services to most destinations in the United Kingdom. There are regular services from Manchester Piccadilly, which offer a connection to Manchester Airport. There is a direct fast service from Stoke-on-Trent to Birmingham International train station (near Birmingham Airport and the NEC). Stoke-on-Trent can be reached from London Euston railway station, with services running every 20 minutes at peak times. Journey time to and from London is usually about 95 minutes on the fastest services. There is a large taxi rank at the rail station.
Be careful when travelling from Stoke-on-Trent station as the station displays and staff are not very helpful in distinguishing between express and stopping trains to the same destination, and trains frequently run out of timetable order. For example, there are often two trains to London Euston at around the same time, but one takes much longer than the other. The same applies when the destination is Manchester Piccadilly where there three different operators. Avanti tickets are marked 'AVANTI ONLY' and CrossCountry tickets are marked 'XC Only'. It also helps to know the train companies. Train spotters do not have this problem!
To reach Hanley (main hub) bus station, it is recommended to catch a bus from outside (same side of road) the rail station; otherwise, it is a walk of just over a mile (2km). Other places like Newcastle-under-Lyme can be reached from the bus stop on the opposite side of the road from the railway station.
The majority of bus and coach (long distance bus) routes into the city arrive at Hanley Bus Station in the City Centre. National Express and FlixBus. Coach services serve Stoke-on-Trent from most cities in the United Kingdom. There are also services that serve Newcastle-under-Lyme which is a fifteen minute bus ride from the City Centre, Hanley.
Around 10,000 visitors arrive in the city annually by canal narrowboat, on the Trent and Mersey and Caldon Canal. There are free moorings at Trentham, Barlaston, Etruria/Lock 38, Longport, Westport Lake, and at the Harecastle Tunnel.
The city is on the National Cycle Route No.5, which runs through the city on off-road paths.
Place names in Stoke-on-Trent can be confusing for the newcomer. The six original towns that federated to form the modern-day conurbation city formed in 1925 continue to have their own identity, giving it a polycentric nature. Thus, asking for directions to the "city centre" may be regarded with bemusement by locals. The commercial centre of Stoke-on-Trent is Hanley, as well its administrative one having previously been Stoke-upon-Trent or just Stoke, where the railway station is located. Roadsigns to the "City Centre" point to Hanley.
Stoke-on-Trent has an intricate public transport service and, while buses are usually easy to come by, although many stops are open to rain and wind. Bus information is also relatively limited, so services such as Traveline or Google Maps can be helpful. Hanley Bus Station is the main transport hub for buses in the city and virtually all areas of the city are reachable from here. There is a tourist information office located here and maps of required routes are published and easy to find.
The main bus operator in Stoke-on-Trent is Potteries - First Bus who provide services throughout North Staffordshire and South Cheshire. Another major operator in the area is D&G Bus. There are a couple of tickets that are valid on most operators the 'buy on bus' Smart Ticket and for rail travellers there is a PlusBus rail add on ticket (bought with the rail ticket) for those travelling into the area. Both tickets are valid throughout the City of Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme district. If you are making just one journey a single bus ticket is cheaper.
You should be aware that funding cuts to evening services mean that many services stop running between 6PM & 8PM. The #25 Hanley>Newcastle Keele>University runs later.
The city has over 100 miles (160 km) of excellent off-road bicycle paths, old railway and mineral lines, and canal towpaths. A free map is available from the Tourist Office, which will also be able to advise on cycle hire.
Taxis are also widely available.
Stoke-on-Trent is historically renowned for its pottery industry (hence its nickname of The Potteries). Although the industry has suffered from cheap foreign imports and is now in decline, many of the major manufacturers of high-quality pottery still have headquarters in the area including Wedgwood. There are numerous factory shops dotted around the city, including the Potteries Shopping Centre, in Hanley.
- 1 Gladstone Pottery Museum, Uttoxeter Road, Longton, ST3 1PQ, ☏ . A popular tourist spot for all the family and features numerous activities including a chance to see the famous bottle kilns of the city.
- 2 Middleport Pottery (Burleigh Pottery), Port Street, Burslem, ST6 3PE. (from A500 take A5271 towards Burslem then follow brown signs. Rail Longport.), ☏ . 10:00-16:00. The last remaining fully working Victorian pottery. Tours available. Free Parking on site. Adults £11, Students -18 +65 £10.
- 3 Trentham Gardens, Stone Road, Trentham, ST4 8JG, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. A large public park area served by bus routes from the city centre (Hanley). There is a small admission charge, but various activities are available there such as a petting zoo and children's adventure playground. Depending on the weather it is also possible to rent boats and jet-skis for fun on the expansive lakes and the natural beauty of the Gardens can be exquisite. "The Monkey Forest" has free-ranging Barbary macaques. Trentham Treetop Adventure offers over 30 exciting treetop obstacles from mid-air jumps, knee wobbling tight ropes. Garden day tickets: adult £12, seniors and students £10, child (5-15) £9, disabled persons £8 (accompanying carer free), child (4 and under) free, evening day ticket (available Su-F from 5:00 pm) £6. monkey forest tickets: adults: £8.50, seniors and students £8, children (3 to 14), £6.50, disabled/carers, £5.50, under 3 years old free. Trentham treetop adventures (online/at the door): adult £25.20/£28.00, child (under 16, minimum height 1.4m/4ft 7) £21.60/£24.00, family (2 adults, 2 children £85.50/£95.00.
- 4 City Museum and Art Gallery, Bethesda Street, City Centre, ST1 3DW, ☏ . Well worth a visit, housing a world-class ceramics collection and also a preserved Spitfire, in memory of its designer, Reginald Mitchell, a native of Butt Lane (near Stoke). Free.
- 5 Etruria Industrial Museum, Etruria Vale Rd ST1 4RB. Steam-powered mill which crushed bones and flints as raw materials for pottery. It's only open once a month in summer, see website. Chedderton Mill near Leek is similar.
- 6 Moorcroft Pottery, Sandbach Road, Burslem. Factory Tours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 10.45. Advance booking required 48 hours in advance. Famous for its colourful tubelined pottery. Tours: Adults £7.50; Children (min age 11) £5. Entrance to the Moorcroft museum is free..
- 1 Festival Park. Has a wealth of activities. There is a ski slope and toboggan run, ten-pin bowling, a large cinema, shopping, a canalside pub, Waterworld, a four-star hotel, and a large park created from the site of the National Garden Festival.
Stoke-on-Trent has a thriving gay community and the city centre features several bars and nightclubs aimed at the gay and lesbian individuals. The Three Tuns and the adjoining The Club are two of the most renowned gay venues in the city along with Bar Monique. They are east of Hanley Bus Station travelling towards Bucknall. Other bars and clubs include Pink Bar and Lounge, Number 3, Blush Cabaret Bar and the Waterboard.
There is a large purpose-built skateboarding park at Forest Park.
- Stoke City F.C. (The Potters), ST4 4EG (off the A50 and ring-road 5 miles southeast of the city centre). Play in the Championship, England's second tier. Their stadium is Stanley Matthews Way, with a capacity of 30,000.
- Port Vale F.C. (5 miles north of Stoke). Were promoted in 2022 and now play in League One, the third tier. They play at Vale Park (capacity 15,000) in Burslem.
Stage & screen
There are numerous theatres in the city.
- 2 New Vic Theatre, Etruria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme, ST5 0JG, ☏ . Important producing theatre on boundary of Stoke & Newcastle.
- 3 Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, ST1 1AP. Main venue for touring productions
- 4 Mitchell Art Centre (Mitchell Memorial Youth Theatre), 40 Broad St, ST1 4HG.
- 5 Victoria Hall, Bagnall St, Hanley, ST1 3AD. Venue for music & comedy tours
- 6 Repertory Theatre (The Rep), Leek Rd, ST4 2TR, ☏ . Excellent amateur theatre, hosts touring productions.
Near to Stoke are the following.
- 7 Alton Towers, Farley Ln, Alton, ST10 4DB, ☏ . The UK's largest theme park.
- 8 Biddulph Grange Garden, Grange Road, Biddulph, ST8 7SD.. Spectacular Victorian garden.
- 9 Consall Hall Gardens, Hall Gardens Consall, ST9 0AG, ☏ . Consall Hall landscaped gardens are nearby and in a beautiful setting.
- Keele University Arboretum.
- Peak District National Park.
The main shopping facilities are to be found in Hanley the City centre of Stoke-on-Trent. One would be able to find the usual high street stores and include the second largest Primark in the United Kingdom.
- Primark, 2–10 Lamb St, Hanley, ST1 1PS, ☏ .
The main shopping attraction for Stoke-on-Trent is the factory shops of the pottery companies. Portmeirion, Wedgwood and Emma Bridgewater continue to manufacture pottery in the city, and the factory shops can offer heavy discounts on what will be called "seconds" goods, that often have only very minor defects that are frequently very difficult to tell from the main shop goods. Otherwise, shopping is not something for which many would come to Stoke-on-Trent. The city centre of Hanley offers nothing that cannot be found elsewhere, although it still offers a wide range of stores which would fulfil the needs of most in need of supplies.
Most pottery factory shops will offer a postal delivery service so that one does not have to carry fragile or heavy items onto a plane when returning home.
Stoke-on-Trent is renowned for a delicacy known as the Staffordshire Oatcake and many Oatcake shops can be found throughout the city. The oatcake resembles a pancake in look and is a mix of flour, oatmeal, salt, yeast and water. It is often served with melted cheese and a choice of either (or all!) sausage, bacon and tomatoes.
The pubs of Burslem are renowned, and Duke William and The Bull's Head Inn are to be recommended as authentic English pubs.
- 1 Duke William, 2 St John's Square, ST6 3AJ, ☏ , email@example.com. Attractive traditional pub with restaurant upstairs. Large choice of real ales.
- 2 The Bull's Head, 14 St John's Square, ST6 3AJ, ☏ . M-Tu: 3PM-11PM, W-Th: 3PM-11:30PM, F-Sa: noon-midnight, Su: noon-11PM.
The Congress Inn in the Longton area is a nice friendly real ale pub with a large choice of good beers, as is The Malt & Hops in Fenton.
- 3 The Congress Inn, 14 Sutherland Rd, ST3 1HJ, ☏ . noon-midnight.
- 4 Malt-N-Hops, 295 King St, ST4 3EJ, ☏ . 2PM-11PM.
Monday Night is student night in Hanley and students from Staffordshire and Keele Universities and many other young people from the region converge on the city centre. Many of them are chain pubs, with The Reginald Mitchell (JD Wetherspoon), Walkabout, Chicago Rock Café and Reflex all represented and popular with the locals at weekends. There do remain some traditional pubs in the centre, all of which have been somewhat battered over the years by the chain venues.
- 5 The Reginald Mitchell, Tontine St, ST1 1NQ, ☏ .
- 6 Unicorn Inn, 40 Piccadilly, ST1 1EG. Small one room pub near Regent Theatre.
- 1 OYO George Hotel, Swan Square, Burslem, ST6 2AE, ☏ . A fine 3-star hotel in an area not known for its accommodation options.
- 2 Moat House Hotel, ST17 0RJ, ☏ . A four-star hotel on Festival Park, part of which was originally the mansion of Josiah Wedgwood.
- 3 North Stafford Hotel, Station Rd, ST4 2AE (directly opposite the railway station), ☏ (reservations). Adequate and conveniently-located for sleeping arrangements.
Otherwise, there are a range of hotels available in the surrounding countryside, including options at Alton Towers.
Stoke-on-Trent as a whole is a safe city. As with anywhere care must be taken especially at night, avoid walking alone in dark places. However, if you wish to sample the nightlife, there's no need to avoid the city centres: simply show the same common sense as you would elsewhere, for example by sticking with a group of friends. As with the rest of the UK, in any emergency call 999 or 112 (from a land-line if you can) and ask for Ambulance, Fire or Police when connected. It is free to call the Emergency Services from payphones.
Stoke-on-Trent is well-placed for visiting other cities in the Midlands and North-West of England. While the city suffered from a long period of industrial neglect and might not be immediately visually appealing, the surrounding areas of countryside are especially pleasant. The Peak District National Park can easily be reached from Stoke-on-Trent, either by catching the Sheffield-bound bus from Hanley Bus Station, or by catching a train to Edale or other place in the Hope Valley, with a change at Manchester.
Birmingham can be reached on the M6 motorway heading southbound and takes roughly an hour to reach. There are hourly train services most of the day that cost about £12 return and in fifty minutes take one right into the heart of Birmingham (at New Street Station) with its Bull Ring Shopping Centre which features around 140 stores and is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. Birmingham is home to Aston Villa Football Club, one of the oldest in England and one of the founders of the football league. Their stadium, Villa Park, lies on the outskirts of the city in Aston. They share a healthy rivalry with the more centrally located Birmingham City Football Club based at St Andrews stadium.
Heading northbound on the M6 Motorway one can reach Manchester, the UK's third largest city (behind London and Birmingham) which is excellent for shopping and sightseeing. It also has one of the biggest gay and lesbian communities in the country. As with Birmingham, Manchester is roughly an hour away by car and cheap train fares are available which will take you right into the centre of the city. Old Trafford is the home of the world-renowned Manchester United Football Club and tours of the ground are available.
Liverpool is another location that is easily accessible from Stoke-on-Trent, being slightly north of Manchester and roughly a ninety minute journey by car. Cheap rail fares are available but often require a train change along the way and consequently can take up to two hours to reach. Liverpool is famous for its docklands, museums and being the home of The Beatles. It is also the home of the famous Liverpool Football Club.
The historic city of Nottingham lies to the east of Stoke-on-Trent and once again is easily accessible by car or train. Many coach operators run regular services to Nottingham taking around ninety minutes to two hours and details are available from the tourist information office at Hanley Bus Station. Nottingham is a city renowned for its beauty and medieval architecture and Robin Hood enthusiasts will find much to do there.
The county town of Stafford is a place to visit to sample traditional British life and culture. It is around twenty minutes from Stoke-on-Trent via car or train and bus services take around forty minutes from Hanley Bus Station. Stafford is known for its magnificent parks, architecture and its bustling yet traditional high street.
|Routes through Stoke-on-Trent|
|Manchester/Liverpool ← Crewe ←||N S||→ Stafford → Birmingham|
|Wilmslow/Macclesfield ← Congleton ←||N S||→ Stafford|
|Knutsford ← Holmes Chapel ←||N E||→ Uttoxeter → Nottingham|
|ENDS IN NEWCASTLE-U-L. ←||W E||→ Ashbourne → Derby|
|Shrewsbury ← Market Drayton ←||SW NE||→ Leek → Peak District|