New to Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire? Here’s a guide to the area

Ema Talam, Lecturer, Staffordshire University


Some of you might be moving to a new city when starting university. I moved to Stoke-on-Trent several years ago, and since then, I have discovered that Stoke-on-Trent and its surrounding areas are home to some of the friendliest people I have met and have a lot to offer, whether you are up for a nice meal, shopping trip, an amazing hiking trip or day trip elsewhere:

  1. Our campus is a vibrant place and has several coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Head to SqueezeBox, Ember Lounge, Pavillion, or new Catalyst Bistro for some great coffee, tea or food. If you want to venture outside of campus:

a.Trentham Gardens and Shopping Village are home to beautiful gardens, the monkey forest (home to 140 monkeys), which is truly a unique experience, number of shops and restaurants and tree top adventure park.

b. Piccadilly in Hanley is a home to some fantastic restaurants and also theatres (Regent Theatre and Victoria Hall), Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, live music venues, escape rooms, etc. Hanley, as the city centre, is where number of events take place – for example, annual arts festival The Big Feast or Wizarding World Wand Installation was displayed early in 2022. – see what Events are coming for Autumn 2022 to the area.

Wizarding World Wand Installation in Hanley

c. The neighbouring town of Newcastle-under-Lyme (if you are not fan of walking, bus number 25 will take you directly from the campus to Newcastle), there are a number of nice coffee shops and restaurants, cinema, mini golf course, bowling alley and escape rooms. Newcastle-under-Lyme is also a home to New Vic theatre.

d. Festival Park is another great place to venture to – it has range of shops, restaurants, cinema, bowling alley, mini golf course, ski centre, and a waterpark.

e. Famous Alton Towers theme park is short journey away from Stoke-on-Trent. There are number of theme events on during the different times of the year at Alton Towers (such as Octoberfest or Scarefest, which takes place during Halloween). Besides the rides, Alton Towers have water park, mini golf course and a spa. Additionally, did you know that Staffordshire University runs a degree in partnership with Alton Towers Resort? If you decide to visit the Alton Towers, you are likely to meet a fellow Staffordshire University student!

Alton Towers attraction
Alton Towers attraction
  1. Stoke-on-Trent has a rich potteries heritage. Gladstone Potteries Museum or World of Wedgewood are the places to visit if you are interested in pottery. Even if you are not interested in pottery, I would highly recommend visiting Middleport Pottery, not least so because of its stunning location or fantastic view over the canal, or Emma Bridgewater factory in Hanley for an afternoon tea or giving a go at decorating pottery. Additionally, British Ceramics Biennial is fantastic event to visit (and to support your fellow Staffordshire University colleagues whose work is exhibited during the Biennial)!
  1. Stoke-on-Trent is a great place for those interested in running or hiking. Stoke-on-Trent hosts weekly parkruns at two locations: Trentham Gardens (and admissions to Gardens is free at the time of parkrun), and Hanley Park. In addition, there is also the Wammy park run in neighbouring Newcastle-under-Lyme. Additionally, University has its own running group (and range of other organised sport activities) – keep an eye on Sport at Staffs on Twitter for any announcements.

    For the keen runners, Stoke-on-Trent hosts annual Potters ‘Arf half-marathon. The challenging route (Stoke-on-Trent is a hilly place!) is open for walking or running and it takes you through various neighbourhoods of Stoke. The race finishes with the infamous Heartbreak Hill, which leads you back to the city centre. The atmosphere at the race is absolutely fantastic – lot of residents stand on the streets or in front of their houses to support walkers/runners!

    If you are interested in walking or hiking, Stoke-on-Trent is in a close proximity to several stunning walking or hiking location. Staffordshire University has its own nature reserve in case you want to stay on campus. Trentham Gardens or even Hanley Park in Stoke-on-Trent, or Knypersley Reservoir, Tittesworth Reservoir, and Rudyard Lake, in the close proximity of Stoke-on-Trent are all great locations for walking. Additionally, Stoke-on-Trent is in the close proximity to the Peak District for all interested in hiking, canoeing and other outdoor activities. If you are unsure of how to find great hiking trails, check out Walk the Moorlands group or keep an eye on Staffordshire Moorlands Walking Festival. If you like hiking, Staffordshire has its own Staffordshire 3 Peaks Challenge you can do!
Hanley Park
Hanley Park is right next to the campus – a regular park Run and other events are held there
  1. Stoke-on-Trent is well-linked to other cities in the UK. You are short train journey(s) away from Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Chester, beaches of Wales, or even London. Don’t forget to get your RailCard to get some discounts on your train journeys.

Staffordshire University has a range of unique business courses, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Whether you are interested in business management, innovation, entrepreneurship, finance, visitor attraction and resort management, or digital marketing, you will be taught by a team of friendly academics and practitioners, who will go an extra mile to support you in your academic journey and beyond.

All of our courses will provide you with a strong theoretical foundations, focus on application of the theory to real-life problems and discussion of contemporary issues, in order to prepare you for your future career. More information about our business courses is available on our website or you can visit one of our open days to find out more about what we have to offer.

Clearing at Staffordshire University

Clearing events available or call the Clearing team on 0800 590 830

Events for Autumn 2022 in Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire

Here’s a pick of some of the great events available if you are joining us at Staffordshire University this Autumn, places still available. There’s also a list of venues and other information sources at the end for more events

September

1st to 4th Trentham Live including Steps, Craig David, McFly and Secret Symphony

9-11th Lunar Cinema under the stars at Trentham Gardens

16th Jah Wobble and the Invaders of the Heart at Foxlowe Centre, Leek

17th Lost in music – One Night at the Disco in the Victoria Hall

18th Dawn French at the Victoria Hall

23rd Comedy – Russell Kane at the Victoria Hall

26th Black Umfolosi – music and dance from southern Africa at the New Vic

29th Sept Tim Peake – my journey into space at the Victoria Hall

Trentham Live – four nights of music in September

October

3rd Music – The Daisy Chains at the New Vic

6th Simon Parker – Cycling 3,500 miles round pandemic Britain Stafford Gatehouse

7-9th, 14 – 31st Scarefest at Alton Towers

31st Henry Blofeld: My dear old things at New Vic

November

1st-2nd The Tiger who came to tea at the Regent Theatre, Hanley

3rd Comedy – Dom Joly’s Holiday snaps at the Mitchell Arts Centre

4th Music – Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at the Victoria Hall

10th The Psychology of Serial Killers at the Victoria Hall

11th Comedy – Kathryn Ryan Missus at the Victoria Hall

23rd Comedy – Mark Steel at the New Vic

Useful entertainment links

Clearing at Staffordshire University
Clearing open – 0800 590 830

Clearing events available or call the Clearing team on 0800 590 830

Business Warfare with Francis Jackson

Tom Lovelock, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student


On 13th May 2022, second year students from the Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course at Staffordshire University attended an engaging business strategy talk at Alton Towers from the General Manager, Francis Jackson.

This honest review talk and Q & A from Francis is part of the students strategy module with the university. Alton Towers and Staffordshire University have a successful partnership which is 6 years strong, and this talk is just one of the many opportunities the students get.

Francis started the meeting by giving brief information about his career background and history. He explained about his transfer from a humble Ski Resort in Australia to the theme park giant that is Alton Towers. Francis believes that Merlin is a “Juggernaut in the visitor attraction industry”, but what gives them the competitive advantage?

The group was taught how important the delivery of the Merlin product can be to being one step ahead of competition. From guest experience and satisfaction to how immersive and impressive the theme park looks, Francis covered how important these high standards are to staying on top. However, he also explained how the core values of the company can sometimes get lost. For Alton Towers, ‘joyful’ should be the absolute minimum that guests get out of their day.

Merlin is primarily driven through marketing and Francis revealed to students just how competitive the tourism industry can get. “Business isn’t cozy” – (Francis Jackson 2022) Gaining the competitive advantage can be brutal, companies can use aggressive war-like tactics to overwhelm their competitors. For Alton Towers: third parties, new and innovative products and tactical marketing are all major factors in their strategy to stay on top and be a world class destination.

As the talk came to a close, Francis gave some advice for students as future leaders. Tourism is one big turf war and Francis let students know this. He explained how academic studies and knowledge mixed with heart and passion will make for amazing opportunity and can take you anywhere you want to go.

Protecting The Magic With Linzi Ticehurst

Lucy Moseley, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student


On Friday the 26th of November 2021, Year 2 of the Visitor Attractions and Resort Management (VARM) students attended an in-person guest lecture with Linzi Ticehurst (Health and Safety Manager at Alton Towers Resort) on the importance of Safety in the workplace.  

Linzi has been working within Health and Safety at Alton Towers for 15 years as part of a close-knit team of 5 and worked on the ‘Protecting the Magic for Managers’ training with a collective team from numerous Merlin Entertainments UK Theme parks and Legoland Resorts. This interactive training session taught us that safety at Merlin is a whirlwind; it spans from rides, hotels, and restaurants, to the work-shops, contractors and events of every attraction.  As Linzi detailed the responsibilities of the HSE, EHO, and ORR at the park, she included relevant guidance documents and legislative works that must be abided by within each corner of every department – relevant to our own Law and Legislation module that we’re currently studying at Staffordshire University.

Safety should always be a moving target  – it is never complete.”

Linzi Ticehurst, 2021

During the session, the one-and-only Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resort Operations Director) stopped by for a couple of minutes to offer a few words on the topic – “the ability to foresee; therein lies the challenge.” (Francis Jackson, 2021). Agreeing with what Francis has said, protecting our guests and staff is the primary focus of our safety department. The responsibilities lie not only in rectifying an incident, but to prepare and take away the hazard in order to maintain the magic for our guests.

I, myself (Lucy Moseley) have been a part of the Health and Safety team at Alton Towers for 2 months up to this publication and working close with the rides department as a fresh pair of eyes on the resort has been an incredible, and rare, opportunity. It is my responsibility to complete administrative work, inspect the rides on resort and bring forward solutions to any arising issues – it’s the kind of role where no two days are the same.

Finally, I would once again like to thank Linzi for taking the time to come and speak with us and share her knowledge on the significance of keeping safe at all times whilst working at the resort. The session that she provided was incredibly informative and well structured, so thank you, Linzi.


The FdA Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course is taught in partnership with Alton Towers Resort, part of the World renowned Merlin Group. It includes 20 weeks paid work experience, and the opportunity to top up to a BA (Hons) degree in your third year.