Update 30 Oct 2018


Events Diary 2018


The Society intends to attend the following events in 2018. Committee members will be present to answer any queries you may have - so please come along.


21/22 April
Audley Community Centre
28 April
Audley Together
Audley Methodist Church
19 May
Audley Methodist Church
9 June


Commemorative football match (kick-off 2.00pm)
Halmerend Stute
3rd August
Society AGM at 7.00pm
St James' Church Hall , Audley
20th October
Family History Day 10.00 - 12.30 noon
Bignall End Methodist Church
11th November
Audley Armistice Event
St James' Church Hall. Audley





Minnie Pit Centenary Commemoration


The Society's magnificant support of the Minnie Pit Centenary Commemeration has been recognised in the award of the plaque below:



click to enlarge





Additions to the Members' Area


The following have been added:

1. Audley Historian volumes 17, 19 and volumes 8 and 9


2. A collection of funeral cards of deceased in the Audley area.

We currently have a database of about 416 cards and the images can be found on the Audley FHS Members’ Section. Often two images are available – cover and interior of the card. Although we have been collecting them for a few years this is the first time we have gone public, so this is a new resource for Audley researchers. A glance at the cards shows that they mostly relate to the ancient parish (i.e. Scot Hay to Butt Lane), with a good number from nearby parishes and occasional ones from further afield if they were given as part of a collection (so clearly there is a good chance of a connection). They range in date from 1864-2010. We hope you find them useful. If you should decide to do further research on the subject more generally and analyse the cards on our database for an article in Audley Historian, this again would be pioneering work and please us mightily.

Ian Bailey Email:  


The index is below. To view the cards go to the Members Area.






Additions to the Records for viewing at the Research Sessions


A varied assorrtment of maps from 1740 to 1968. Full list here.



New Book reissued




Paul Bemrose

(Newcastle Museum)



in support of the PHILIP ASTLEY PROJECT -

This excellently researched and illustrated book is available online @ £9.99 plus postage from


Once in a while, history produces a personality who rises up to become a legend in his own time. Philip Astley, born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742, proved to be such a person and was fated to become one of the greatest theatrical and circus entertainers of all time. He made his debut not on the stage of some fashionable theatre of the day, but in a simple dirt ring of his own making in a field on the outskirts of an obscure London suburb some two and a half centuries ago. It is for this reason that we are celebrating him this year. In 1768 he formalised that dirt ring into a fixed circle surrounded by seating, performed his own astonishing equestrian acts and brought into that ring a bevy of entertainers – acrobats, jugglers, wire-walkers, clowns – to create the rich mix of entertainment we call Circus. The size of that ring he fixed at 42 feet diameter – the international standard of circus rings to this very day. Astley was a brilliant equestrian performer, one of the many riding masters who were plying their skills up and down the country throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. Often they were barely able to eke out an existence for themselves despite their efforts. Many riders had gained their expertise while serving in the army, as indeed was the case with Astley. What marked Astley out from his contemporaries was his uncanny knack of developing and expanding current forms of equestrian entertainment and moulding them into something new and exciting. It was this innate flair that inspired him to create the circus as we know it today. He shaped his programmes in such a way that fine horsemanship was combined with a blend of fun and laughter. He introduced clowns and performers of every persuasion to titillate his audiences. Over the years. His innovative ideas and concepts were adapted by virtually every proprietor in the business and Astley’s original ideas formed the basis of the later extravaganzas created by many of the nineteenth century impresarios. Even today, his ideas can still be detected in circus scenarios, a tribute indeed to the foresight of Astley. This then is the story of a brilliant man whose career ends with his death in 1814 and a legacy acknowledged in the books of authors such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. In a sense, this book acts as a preface to the fascinating history of the circus because, by the time he died, it had already become the most popular form of mass entertainment in the world. Philip Astley, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, is justly regarded as the Father of the Modern Circus. The re-issue of Paul Bemrose’s wonderfully researched and illustrated book ASTLEY - Circus Genius, is sponsored by Ray Johnson and Andrew Van Buren to support the PHILIP ASTLEY PROJECT during this 250th Anniversary year of the birth of Circus.

Ray Johnson

Director Staffordshire Film Archive  



New Publication

Victims of the Minnie Pit Disaster 1918


Reprint now available

Go here for more information




Audley Historian 24



The 2018 edition of our journal is now available.

Go to the Publications page.








New Name for BMSGH


The BMSGH has changed its name to Midlands Ancestor.The North Staffs Branch are starting to use the name "North Staffs Family History - a local group of Midlands Ancestor "  




New Publication


"Called to Arms 1803-12 in the Staffordshire- Cheshire border region: Volunteer Infantry Corps for home defence under threat of a Napoleonic invasion"


Paul Anderton

Launched at Newcastle Museum on 30 th April and published by Audley and District Family History Society .


The book makes available to family and local historians information otherwise only found in The National Archives. It contains names of hundreds of men who in 1803-4 joined home defence units in such places as Leek, Nantwich, Newcastle, Audley and Betley, Kidsgrove, Etruria, and Sandbach. They drilled and exercised weekly and went on annual camps, all in the expectation that they might be need to repel French armies headed by Napoleon Buonaparte. The history of each corps is explained and the circumstances in which each was formed are described. 


It may be purchased using Paypal on the Publications page or directly from Mark Casewell (see Publications page)


Price £5.50 members, £6.00 non-members + £1.60 UK pp and Paypal 0.50p surcharge (if applicable)


click to enlarge




Book Launch at our 30th Anniversary Event



but available as a download

go to Publications page


"Never to Return"


3rd edition, edited by Ian Bailey and Christine Huxley













New Audley FHS Publication


"Halmer End: A Brief Account of Village Life in the 1920s and 1930s" by Nofara.  



The memories of a person raised in Halmerend.  


It costs £4.50 to members and £5.00 to non-members.


Launched at Halmerend Chapel on 9th Jan.

SOLD OUT but available as a download (see Publications pGE)





AH13 may be downloaded free of charge by members in Members Area


Facebook Group


The Audley and District Family History Society now has a Facebook group at . If you wish to join, click the "Join Group" button (open to everybody -no need to be a member of Audley FHS) We now have over 250 members. There are plenty of items of interest on family and local history, so why not give it a try?


Robert Mayer has been running a "Wood Lane" group for some time.To join go to the "Wood Lane, Audley, Staffordshire - Historical Research" page on Facebook.  



Research Sessions


Research sessions are held on the first Wednesday of every month in the Church Hall 2-4pm.  Next: Wednesday 6th February, 2019.


Changes to the Website


There are a few changes to the website, mainly to the navigation bar titles: a new category, "Coal Mining" , contains the Minnie Pit appeal, formerly in "Minnie Pit", and Stewart Baker's memorial photographs, which were under the now removed "Memorials". Another new category, "World Wars" contains the list of Audley "fallen" commemorated on the Audley cenotaph previously in "Memorials" and new photographs by Clive Millington of the Audley Cenotaph, Halmerend Cenotaph,2014 Remembrance Sunday service at the cenotaph and the Audley Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School Memorial.

The Minnie Disaster Appeal has been updated.


The list of the fallen in both World Wars has been updated. It now shows if the Society holds a photograph of the person.

Update to the update: Audley soldiers by regiment and battle. Clive Millington has already improved the list mentioned above and done an exercise you might like to try. He put the dates into a format which is now more easily sorted into date order. This enables the dates to be checked for any soldiers who died on the same day, but just as important is the effect the sorting has on the regiments. If you sort the list by order of date of death you will see that a number of soldiers died on the same dates in WW1 but NONE in WW2. You will also see the groups of soldiers who were in the same regiments during a particular battle or offensive. Note, for example, the 3 RE tunnelling company soldiers who died in March 1916 and the 7 soldiers who died on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. There's certainly scope for further study. 

16 Nov 2014


The Members Interest Database is now active in the Members Area

23 Dec 2014


Old Audley has been updated.

The articles describing the changes in Audley have been updated. (Nov 2016)

The articles describing the changes in Wood Lane have been updated (April 2015- Apr 2017)

The Changing Face of High Street, Wood Lane has been added (13 May 2015)


Two sections have been added to World Wars: R.J.Mitchell and Air-raid Shelters

Nov 2015


Audley Historian volumes 17 and 19 have been added to the Members Area

A collection of funeral cards has been added to the Members Area

February 2018



Many new records have been added.

October 2018







Publications Payment by PayPal

Publications can now be purchased by PayPal. You don't need to have a Paypal account to use debit or credit cards.


Online Membership Payment

Online membership can now be done over the internet using your debit card, credit card or by PayPal account. You don't need to have a Paypal account to use cards. Click on the Joining Us button to the left.


North Staffordshire Historians


The December 2016 newsletter may be downloaded here