TSP Coffee Mosaic + Tile Trail

Mosaic + TSP Tile Trail | Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
*Please click on the image link above to try the TSP Coffee Tile Trail

This tile trail has been inspired by the re-discovery of a mosaic doorway threshold at TSP Coffee shop in Piccadilly, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. There are tiles and architectural ceramics to be found in every neighbourhood across this The Potteries. These examples give a good flavour of what local people and visitors can find by looking carefully and re-viewing this internationally significant 'ceramic city'. We are interested in finding out more about each entry and adding new 'sightings' to the collection.
If you have any information, comments or photographs - please get in touch via email: Danny Callaghan, @potteriestiles (Twitter) or via ceramiccitystories.org

TSP Coffee Doorway Mosaic
*Please click on the image link above to find out more about he TSP Coffee mosaic

The premises that house TSP Coffee Shop has an unusual and exquisite mosaic that defines the original recessed doorway threshold. Bespoke commercial and art mosaics were made by many prominent companies in Stoke-on-Trent including Richards, Minton & Hollins and Malkins amongst others. Individual ceramic tesserae (pieces) were made in their tens of millions in the city. It is notoriously difficult to identify the designers or makers of mosaics without historical records relating to the original building work or commission. Mosaics sometimes incorporate a decorative encaustic centrepiece tile. If possible the reverse backstamp can sometimes offer an answer but even that could be misleading if the tesserae are made by a different tileworks. The cafe premises has a 1908 date-stone. This would suggest that it was made and installed around the same date. The mosaic design reflects the artistic movement of the day - 'Art Nouveau'. It is understood that the premises could have previously housed a grocers shop belonging a man called George Mason. The central design or roundel does appear to incorporate a 'G' and 'M' - albeit very stylised. This is complimented by beautiful surrounding patterns of tesserae. This pattern flow within mosaics is known as 'andamento'. In this case it uses a combination of techniques: 'opus vermiculatum' (worm-like borders to emphasise the central motif) with 'opus palladianum' (random 'crazy paving') for the background areas.
More research is needed to see if it is possible to establish a manufacturer. Archive material that relates to construction of the building or specific commission is probably the only way that the original maker could be evidenced. However, there are many more general observations that can be made confidently about bespoke commercial or 'art mosaic' and about the history of the shop location. For example we can be almost certain that these ceramic pieces were fired in local bottle kilns. Many women were involved in creating and preparing mosaics (but not installing them) - perhaps this was the case with this design. People who walked on these mosaic tiles would have witnessed trams passing up and down Piccadilly in the early part of the 20th century.
According to the wonderful www.potteries.org (and the photograph below) the property was occupied by Harris 'Electrical Engineers' and the shop is called 'Electricity House'. Up until the 1950s - the dominant view from the shop's corner window looking towards Bethesda Street would have been dominated by the kilns of the Bell Pottery which were subsequently demolished to make way for a new Museum and Art Gallery which opened in 1956.
*Information and images thanks to www.thepotteries.org - one of the city's most important cultural assets.
*Click on the link below for BBC Radio Stoke item thanks to reporter Jodie Looker: