Stoke on Trent's original claim to fame was the european ceramics headquarters. This evolved due to a combination of reasons.
First, there was traditionally a great deal of high quality clay available along the banks of the rivers in the midlands.
Second, canals could be easily built in this same clay, allowing the transportation of fragile ceramics very long distances. In fact, the existance of the pottery/ceramic industry was largely responsible for extending the English canal system to what it was (and is now returning too. The Trent, is of course the main river in the area.
Famous potteries such as Royal Daughlton and Wedgewood are located near Stoke.
"Stoke" is actually 5 towns, Hanley, Stafford, Stoke, Burslem and Longton. These comprise the collective "Stoke-On-Trent".
North Staffordshire University is good at one thing, and that is Ceramics. It also has a pretty good music scene.