1851 James Locket
About the Duke
The Duke William is an established Victorian Public House which has served the potteries town of Burslem for at least 130 years. The ground floor holds a large lounge bar spanning two main rooms and a large public bar. The first floor has been converted into a 48 seat restaurant. The second floor into a meeting room / conference center.
A Short History of Duke William
The Duke William was first mentioned in 1818 when the landlord was Hannah Sheldon. More than likely, though, it had been one of a cluster of unnamed alehouses on a map of Burslem drawn c1720. During the period between 1700 and 1750, trade grew substantially as the number of potteries increased. The map records 19 alehouses of which those with names have disappeared with the exception of the George Hotel and the Red Lion, neither of which have any resemblance to the structure of the earlier pubs there.
The Duke William formerly stood directly on the corner of Newcastle Street. It was developed further around 1851 and became a substantial hotel of two-storeys with an early Victorian-extended mock-Georgian style with main entrances in both St John’s Square and Newcastle Street. At this point, and for the next 60 years, it was one of the leading public houses in Burslem owned by Bass Breweries who bought it in 1864.
The Great War clearly interrupted further development until the 1930s when it was rebuilt in its present form as a mock Tudor town house. The building was made higher but the side facing Newcastle Street was reduced, a feature that can still be seen in the line of the adjacent shops in the main road.
In modern times it achieved some fame when, under the management of Graham Tabbinor in the middle of the 1980s, the pub acquired widespread publicity as a reputable jazz venue hosting great stars such as the blind pianist Eddie Thompson and the jazz legend Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis.
The famous Edwardian writer Arnold Bennett appreciated the high standard of the public house, heaping praise in his novels as well as in private correspondence upon the pub at the top of the Square which, for some unaccountable reason he renamed the Marquis of Granby
Such is the prominence of the Duke William pub in Burslem’s St John’s Square that it has been mentioned in one of Arnold Bennett's books. It remains, as the more recent narrator of Burslem Arthur Berry puts it – ‘a high temple of booze!’