2. Arthur and Mary Crumphorn

A beautifully ordinary love story

Arthur Crumphorn was the last in the long line of tile makers at the Tentred Hall estate, Newcastle-under-Lyme. Yet he was never to inherit the secret family clay “recipe” used to make the distinctive blue red tiles.

His was a typically rural upbringing, dominated by hard work and reverence, with occasional bouts of “letters” at the estate’s tiny school house. He rarely left the grounds and only to accompany his mother to market. Aged 14 he began taking on more aspects of manufacturing at the “Tyle House” including the bi-annual supplies run to Stoke-on-Trent.

Arthur loved going into the city, especially as it meant taking the train, for which he developed a lifelong passion. As soon as he turned 21 Arthur took sole responsibility for these trips much to the relief of his father who believed the city to be “unnatural and filled with sin and sickness”.

It is unknown whether Arthur courted during this time although there is no doubt he would have been expected to marry and carry on the family name. However, it wasn’t until the Spring of his 31st year that he did so, meeting a 19 year old Mary Spindle, a painter at the Spode factory in Stoke. It is stated that his father devastated by what he saw as a betrayal of “all that is good and proper” disowned him and they never spoke again.

Mary had been orphaned at an early age and lived with her aunt and cousin Ida in a small terraced house, no doubt made even cosier when her new husband moved in. Having secured a position in the brick and tile yard at Stoke Station, Arthur was subsequently offered tenanted housing and the couple set up their own home within three years.

Tragedy struck just two years later when Mary gave birth to their one and only child, a still-born daughter they named Sarah Louise. She was devastated by the loss and spent many hours going to church alone. Arthur desperate to return the joy to his beloved, arranged for numerous days out and adventures by rail.

It was on one of these that they happened upon a rehearsal for an organ recital in Leek and fell in love with sight sound and smell of pipe organs and their music.

They became avid organ collectors, making personal pilgrimages all around England including visits to concerts at Royal Festival Hall, London and the Birmingham Town Hall. In celebration of their 25th Wedding anniversary they even took a special holiday, riding tandem around Holland and visiting many others organs including the world famous Müller Organ in the Grote Kerk, Haarlem.

Sadly, just one year later Mary, now aged 45 unexpectedly fell pregnant and died from health problems as a result.  Her passing was marked by a special service including her favourite organ recital at St Augustine Church in Leek.

Arthur survived Mary by six weeks, failing to wake from sleep one morning.  As Cousin Ida who was staying with him during this tough time is often heard to say “His heart simply broke. Bet they’re enjoying the best organ concerts heaven has to offer now”.