By MERVYN EDWARDS, Local Historian and Burslem History Club Speaker Secretary

The Saggar Makers hostelry adjacent Burslem’s Town Hall holds a special place in the history of Burslem History Club, as it was our first

Auction particulars describe the Marquis (then occupied by Mr. Beech) in 1836.  It incorporated a "Spirit Vaults, spacious Stabling [and] Outbuildings" and there was a dwelling house and shop adjoining, occupied by Mr. Chadwick, mercer.

The Burslem Association for the Prosecution of Felons met at various venues in Burslem, including the Marquis.  Host Emery accommodated the Association at a meeting in December 1840.  A horrific fatal accident took place on the premises in 1846, when the landlord and an assistant, James Heath, were in the process of brewing some ale.  Heath stumbled and fell into the boiling liquid in a mash tub.  Though he was hauled out by his employer, he was nevertheless scalded and eventually died in the North Staffs Infirmary.
The 1851 Census records Burslem-born George Eley ("Master Victualler", aged 33) as being the publican at the Marquis.  By the time of the 1861 Census, Robert Spence was the licensee, and then a well-known figure in Burslem, having been a gasworks manager at Holehouse and a shopkeeper in Market Place from 1855.  He served on the Burslem Board of Health between 1863-6 and it was he who provided "viands, wines, &c" at the dejeuner which followed the laying-out of the foundation stone of the Wedgwood Memorial Institute on October 26 1863.  Spence died in 1869, his wife Sarah remaining at the Marquis as licensee.

In 1879, a Burslem branch of the Master Bakers' Association was formed at a meeting at the Marquis, and they subsequently gathered there to discuss the price of bread and flour and other business.  The serviceability of the hostelry as a venue for meetings and events is illustrated in a newspaper advert in 1882:


The Large Room will be opened during the WAKES WEEK with an array of FIRST CLASS TALENT!  TENORS! BARITONES! &c.  Burton Ales and Dublin Stouts will be supplied.

The bane of mining subsidence necessitated a rebuilding of the premises in 1958.  Manager Colin Capper said at the time of the reopening: "We used to hear the shocks whenever the ground subsided.  The floor became uneven and there were cracks inches wide".  The Marquis was rebuilt in two parts, hinged together, allowing the building to move "in synch" with any future subsidence, whilst staying in one piece.  During reconstruction, the builders unearthed pieces of pottery on and around the site.  It is stated that a mid 17th century potworks, specialising in tygs, once stood on this site.

The Marquis was reopened after refurbishment as the Saggar Maker's Bottom Knocker on July 28 1992, a name-change which drew criticism in the Sunday Telegraph.  In August 1996, the frontage was repainted greyand white and the name shortened to the Saggar Makers.

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