Stoke-upon-Trent was established as a borough by the Great Reform Act of 1832 to represent the Staffordshire Potteries, one of the most populous urban areas in England which had previously had no separate representation. The new borough consisted of Stoke-upon-Trent and parts of the surrounding towns, and at the time of the Reform Act had a population just over 50,000 (of whom 37,220 were in Stoke parish); in 1867 the boundaries were extended somewhat, to bring in a part of Burslem which had previously been excluded.
In further boundary changes implemented at the 1885 general election, the borough was split into two single-member constituencies, the northern part becoming a separate Hanley borough while the southern part (containing Longton and Fenton as well as Stoke itself) retained the Stoke-upon-Trent name; the new constituency had a population just under 100,000 by the time of the First World War. The industrial interests predominated, with the bulk of the voters being pottery workers or miners, although Stoke was a partly middle-class town; at first an apparently safe Liberal seat, it fell narrowly to the Unionists in both 1895 and 1900, perhaps partly because of discord between miners and potters within the local Liberal party. From 1906 it was held by John Ward as a Lib-Lab MP hostile to the Labour Party, who being from the Navvies' Union could defuse the mutual jealousies of the potters and miners.
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;