2024 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of William Blake in 1874. Blake was a photographer and stationer based in Longton. His most famous photographs are known as the ‘smokies’, such as the wryly-captioned ‘Fresh Air for The Potteries’. They depict the landscape of smoking chimneys and industry that once dominated the area.
But Blake didn’t restrict himself to industrial landscapes. He travelled throughout The Potteries and into the adjacent towns, villages and countryside. The photographs he took tell us stories about people and places in and around north Staffordshire. They reveal his concern for social issues, a curiosity to explore, and an obsession to record his surroundings.
Blake died in 1957 and his surviving photographs form a unique archive that captures the working lives, social history, and landscapes of our region in the early 20th century.
For more information, visit The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery.