During the past decade, historians of Stoke-on-Trent, along with the local Sentinel newspaper have been featuring the working people of the Potteries during the past 100 years. These articles and photographs have featured in books, magazines and newspapers under the heading ‘The Way We Were’, and more recently in Stoke-on-Trent’s Museum & Art Gallery. The Rafferty family of steeplejacks has featured prominently in their research.
After WW2, ex paratrooper Sam Rafferty went into the steeplejack business. He initially learned the trade working for other steeplejack companies. In 1949 Sam set up his own business in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent. He employed his four younger brothers Harry, Joe, Kenny and Ron. Stoke-on-Trent, known as the Potteries, was a steeplejack’s paradise with hundreds of brick chimneys and bottle neck ovens servicing the pottery industry.
The Rafferty Brothers became minor celebrities amongst the people of Stoke-on-Trent, as it was unique that five brothers of the same family would do what is regarded as one of the most hazardous jobs in modern industry. As time moved on Sam and his four younger brothers demolished the majority of the brick chimneys in the area and were responsible for cleaning up smoky Stoke!