The Bownfields of Shelton Bar

At its zenith, Shelton Bar was a steel works site covering a 400 acre site, employing over 1,000 people. The site was located adjacent to Wedgood’s expansive Erutia works, forming a heavily industrialised zone west of Hanley, bounded by the Trent and Mersey Canal and the West Coast Mainline. In the first half of the last century, Shelton Bar was a shorthand for the district’s industrial force. It attracted writers such as H. G. Wells. His short story, The Cone offers one account; he describes the furnaces rising over the canal:

a weird−looking place it seemed, in the blood−red reflections of the furnaces. The hot water that cooled the tuyeres came into it, some fifty yards up a tumultuous, almost boiling affluent, and the steam rose up from the water in silent white wisps and streaks…”

The modern day image of Shelton Bar is of stark contrast. Following the site’s closure as a steel works in 2000, the point which Stoke-on-Trent Central MP, Tristram Hunt, described as the city’s nadir, Shelton Bar was the largest single brownfield site in the UK. Almost two decades later much of the site remains as such. A small development of speculative office and warehouse space has begun to prosper towards the south of the site, close to the A53 and A500.

Primarily the office spaces have been let to call centres for a range of national and international firms. The warehouses have predominantly been let to distribution firms. The vast majority of the site has been left to revert to nature since the site’s closure. Within this period, the northern parts of the site have been adopted as an unofficial and unmanaged recreational space in the absence of an equal public amenity.

How can the site be developed to appeal to the loose fit and transient nature of business lets, whist offering a permanent and managed recreational asset to the local communities?


The northern end of the Shelton Bar site - still a brownfield condition.


An example of development typical to the southern end of the site.


Offices neighbouring the Trent and Mersey Canal.