THE SWAN, BURSLEM

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

The Swan certainly existed in 1795, for in August of that year, the “Swan Publick House… now let at the yearly Rent of £10 10s.” with one sitting in a pew in the body of St, John’s church, Burslem, was advertised to be sold at auction at the Legs of Man in Market Place.
In the 19th century, the Swan served the community very well as a venue for the meetings of various societies. 
The St. John's Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows held its 13th anniversary at the Swan on July 21 1834, host Wetherby accommodating 80 persons who dined at his inn.
William Lander is listed as keeping the Swan Inn in White’s Directory (1851) which also reveals that he was operating a tallow chandler’s business in Massey Square. He died on October 14th 1854, and the family memorial refers to his secondary occupation as a “Chandler”. 
He is buried in Burslem churchyard with his wife Elizabeth Tunnicliff (died 1883).
The Swan had enjoyed a long association with pottery industry trades unionism.  A branch of the Potters’ Union Society was established there on April 18th 1825. 
William Evans, trades unionist and founder of the Potters' Joint Stock Emigration Society in 1844, hoped to provide opportunities abroad for a few of the beleaguered potters.  For those who contributed to a central fund of money there was the chance to "escape" to Wisconsin in America, where the Society had purchased land.  Unfortunately, only a few departed, and the Society, partly on account of financial difficulties, collapsed by 1851 - as did the fortunes of Evans.  Having spent some time in Wales, he returned to  the Potteries in
1854, destitute.  However, his endeavours had not been forgotten by some, and that year, he was presented with a silk purse containing £20, at the Swan. 
Evans retained his links with the pottery workforce, becoming Editor of the Potteries Examiner in 1864. This was financed by the Hollow Ware Pressers, who were meeting at the Swan by that year.
A Turners' Society was meeting at the Swan certainly by September 1879, by which time the increase in mechanisation in the pottery industry was beginning to spur the workforce into militancy.
Arnold Bennett wrote in "Clayhanger" (1910) of "the ancient Duck Inn, where the handbell ringers used to meet".  In the same novel, "Big Jim" Yarlett informs Edwin that an 85 year old caged parrot is kept in the pub, whilst in Book 2 Chapter 20 there is a fight outside the Duck Inn, between two striking pottery workers.  In the present bar, there is a black and white photograph of the Swan as it looked before its rebuilding in the mid 20th century.
The CAMRA Potteries newsletter (Winter, 2012) reported that the pub had re-opened after a long period of closure and was
“totally unrecognisable from its previous incarnation.”






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