Stoke is known for the development of the famous Potteries loop line, the railway system which once linked the six towns with outlying communities, Stoke City Football Club and famous pottery manufacturer, Spode which has stood in the centre of the town since 1770. The town is now the administrative centre of the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Most of the original buildings are still used for a thriving business industry.
Charles Dickens once described Stoke as "a picturesque heap of houses, kilns, smoke, wharfs, canals and river lying as was most appropriate, in a basin."
The town of Stoke has the full name of 'Stoke-upon-Trent' as against the name of the City (comprising the Six Towns) which is 'Stoke-on-Trent'. This leads to much confusion for visitors who sometimes think that the extent of the City is the small town of Stoke. (The main centre is in fact nearby Hanley).
Although Hanley is the main shopping centre the town of Stoke has dominated in name by virtue of its ecclesiastical supremacy as the controlling parish of the area. Also the Civic Centre is located in Stoke.
The valley setting of Stoke gave it the early advantage of canal transport and later the main railway station to serve the area.