Gallery and Museum © Futurilla via Flickr
The town of Newcastle-under-Lyme is part of the Potteries in Staffordshire
. Often confused with Newcastle-upon-Tyne
further north, Newcastle-under-Lyme is a much smaller town with around 74,000 residents.
St Peters Church © Futurilla via Flickr
Newcastle-under-Lyme missed out on a mention in the Domesday Book but grew up around the 12th century
castle which was built to take the place of the Chesterton fortress two miles away.
The small village was named after the new castle and "Lyme" either refers to the lime trees in the area or the Lyme Brook.
By 1253 Newcastle not only had its charter but was also a free borough with a merchant guild and other privileges.
Apart from a plundering by the royalists, Newcastle-under-Lyme remained largely untouched during the English Civil Wars.
Its main trades were silk and cotton weaving and the hat trade, in the 1820s there were 20 hat-making factories.
High Street © Mikey via Flickr
Later coal mining, iron and brick production and engineering were the main economic activities. It also moved into the brewing industry.
Clay pipes were fashionable in the 17th century and Newcastle was one of four pipe-making towns along with Chester, York and Hull.
Keele Hall © Tim Green via Flickr
For a time earthenware tiles were produced in the area along with a small amount of fine bone china at Mayfair Pottery.
High Street © Phil Richards via Flickr
Once situated on the Trent and Mersey Canal, the waterway has since been filled in. The town was on the North Staffordshire Railway line.
The station opened in 1852 after numerous problems with tunnels at Hartshill, one of which was 605 yards in length. The railway was unviable and closed in 1964.
Famous residents in Newcastle-under-Lyme include Josiah Wedgwood MP who served in the first Labour government.
Philip Astley was the founder of the modern-day circus and singer Jackie Trent was born in the town.
Present Day Newcastle-under-Lyme
Although close in proximity to the pottery town of Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle was not heavily involved in the ceramics industry.
Mill Pool, Madeley © Marcus Ward
The historic market still takes place on the High Street, as it has since 1173.
Guildhall © www fotodiscs4u co uk [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
It is known as the Stones and has 80 open-air stalls with antiques and bric-a-brac on Tuesdays and Thursdays and general market goods on the other days.
Newcastle Town FC plays in the Northern Premier League First Division and there is also a cricket and a rugby club.
It is close to the M6 motorway and within easy reach of the main Stoke-on-Trent railway station which is on the West Coast Main Line.
Things to Do Around Newcastle-under-Lyme
Newcastle has some wonderful gardens and was a national winner in the Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom competition for the small city/large town category.
The Queen Elizabeth Garden is well worth a visit to see the summer flowerbeds.
Queens Gardens © Malcolm Street [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The area has several golf clubs including the Keele Golf Course and the Wolstanton Golf Club.
Brampton Park, just half a mile from the town centre, is home to the Borough Museum and Art Gallery. Set in beautiful parkland it has galleries of artworks and a life-size Victorian replica street complete with a pawnbroker's shop, ironmongers and a chemist's shop.
Newcaste Under Lyme College © Mari Buckley [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Cultural attractions include the New Vic Theatre which was the first theatre in Europe to be designed "in the round" which requires totally different skills for actors who have to perform to audiences on all sides.