Hanley has an important city centre. It has been for a long time the commercial hub of the city of Stoke-on-Trent. It is home to the Potteries Shopping Centre and many high street chain stores.
The Pottery towns are connected by double-carriageway roads, and have the M6 motorway nearby. Hanley no longer has a train link, but the canal which carried the goods is still active.
Hanley was a centre of the 1842 Pottery Riots, and part of the 1842 General Strike. This is a reminder that coal mining was as important as pottery in the area during the 19th century. Coal fired the huge kilns in which the clay objects were baked. Indeed coal was as important to potteries as the clay itself.
Both the pottery and the coal was moved by barge along canal waterways. It is still more efficient to move heavy cargo on water than any other way.