New artwork on display at Staffordshire’s Uttoxeter Station that is hoped will entice train passengers and racegoers to visit the historic town centre. The pictures were created by seven members of the Uttoxeter U3A Urban Sketchers who recognise the value of the market town’s very special urban environment.
For example, the splendid Elizabethan half-timbered T G Sargeant’s Butchers’ building in Market Street, sketched by Alison Trenery, was built around 1600 and restored by the company in 1980. Other historic Market Place buildings, housing shops such as John German’s Estate Agents and the Charles Martin Watch Company, are the subject of Shelley Robotham’s sketches.
Uttoxeter was first granted a charter to hold a market in 1251 by King Henry III. The market grew rapidly to become one of the most important in England by the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Johnson Memorial by Barbara Kelly commemorates the famous writer, Dr Johnson (1709 – 1774), whose father ran a book stall on Uttoxeter Market. Young Samuel famously refused to help his father one day, but later, as an adult, served penance by standing out in the rain in Market Place without a hat. Also nearby are the town’s main war memorial and the Millennium Monument. The Wednesday, Friday and Saturday markets are held weekly.
Caroline Derry’s depiction of Ye Old Talbot Inn, also in Market Place shows a late 16th century building now Grade 2 listed. It was willed in 1644 by John Dynes to the local poor, the rental income being used to pay for apprenticeships for poor children.
Balance Street was one of Uttoxeter’s principal Georgian thoroughfares. The development of this area of the town, particularly along Balance Street, during the mid to later 18th century is shown by the numbers of listed late Georgian houses which still remain to this day. Jane Maia’s sketch illustrates number 40 Balance Street.
One of Barbara Kelly’s coloured artworks shows an internal view of Redfern’s Cottage: Museum of Uttoxeter Life, in Carter Street. This 17th century timber framed building is the town’s Heritage Centre and local information hub. After a threatened closure, a group of local volunteers has reopened the museum which houses a fascinating collection relating to Uttoxeter’s rich history; including social history, arts and artefacts and local history archives. Jackie Hemingway’s sketch is of the pump in the garden at Redfern’s Cottage.
Bank House (now Bank House Hotel) in Church Street, built in 1777, was the home of Uttoxeter’s first bank. The original bank vault has been retained as a feature in the restaurant and the hotel’s oak unsupported staircase is one of the finest of its kind. The station art work includes two sketches of this beautiful building, by Anne Copley and Caroline Derry.
Claire Sandys, community rail officer for the North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership said: “Uttoxeter is a beautiful market town. I suspect that many of the visitors to the station are unaware of the wealth of history to be seen just a few minutes’ walk away from the platforms. We are very grateful to the U3A Sketchers for allowing us to display their artwork and hope that it encourages more people to visit the town centre.”