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through-stone

Stone, Staffordshire

Stone is an old market town in Staffordshire, England, situated about seven miles north of Stafford, and around seven miles south of the city of Stoke-on-Trent. It is the second town, after Stafford itself, in the Borough of Stafford, and has long been of importance from the point of view of communications. Stone gave its name to both an urban district council and a rural district council before becoming part of the borough in 1974. In 2001 it had a population of 14,555.

History

Early

Stone was the capital of early Mercia, a powerful Anglian kingdom that later expanded over most of what is now the West Midlands. Christianity arrived via monks from Lindisfarne around the year 650, King Penda of Mercia having invited them in. The capital was later moved to Stafford, and then to Tamworth.

Etymology

The place-name's meaning is exactly what is stated, a "stone, rock", from the Old English stan "stone".

The local story is that the town was named after the pile of stones taken from the River Trent raised on the graves of the two Princes, Ruffin and Wulfad, killed in 665AD by their father, King Wulfhere of Mercia, because of their conversion to Christianity.

The Church, built over these stones in 670 AD lasted until the 9th century before being destroyed by invading Danes. It was replaced in 1135 AD by an Augustinian Priory which survived until its dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII. The building collapsed in 1749 and the present church of St. Michael's was built in 1758. All that remains of the original priory is the rib vaulted undercroft which forms the foundations beneath Priory House, which is located on Lichfield Street opposite the Frank Jordan Community Centre.

Population

Stone, Staffordshire
Population by year
1801 - 2,843
1831 - 7,808
1841 - 8,349
1991 - 12,646

Local government

In 1251 Henry III granted Stone a market Charter.

Stone Urban District was an urban district. It was based on the Stone civil parish which equates to the town of Stone. There were two amendments in parts of the Stone Rural parish in Stone Rural District where transferred in. The district was abolished by virtue of the Local Government Act 1972.

The replacement Stone Town Council forms part of Stafford Borough Council.

Transport

Roads

Stone stands in the valley of the River Trent, and was an important stopping-off point for the coaches on one of the roads turnpiked in the 18th century. A directory for 1851 says that Stone was a very lively town, and a great thoroughfare for coaches, carriers and travellers … No fewer than 38 stage coaches passed through the town daily. The main coaching route was the London to Holyhead route, via Watling Street as far as Lichfield and then from Lichfield to Holyhead via the A51.

To support the coaching trade Stone was a principle stopping point with many coaching Inns to refresh both Horses and travellers. Notable hostilries include the Crown Hotel, Crown & Anchor, Red Lion and the Black Horse Inn.

Nowadays there are two trunk roads, the A34 linking Birmingham to Manchester and the A51 linking Lichfield to Chester. Stone is by-passed by the M6 motorway.

The Trent & Mersey Canal

The River Trent, which runs through the town, had been used for cargo-carrying vessels since Roman times but further inland smaller boats could only be used. Seasonal fluctuations in water depth proved insurmountable, although cargo could be carried from the sea as far south as Wilden Ferry (SE of Derby), where the River Derwent joins the Trent and increases the quantity of water, then onwards by road. Prior to tarmacadem roads journeys overland by roads were slow and delicate wares were prone to breakages over the rough terrain.

James Brindley, the canal builder, put forward the scheme to build what he called the Grand Trunk Canal to connect the two rivers, Mersey and Trent in 1766. It was backed by Josiah Wedgwood who saw that it offered an efficient way to bring raw materials to the potteries and to transport finished wares to his customers.

By 29 September 1772 (Brindley died on 27 September), 48 miles of the Grand Trunk Canal (now known as the Trent & Mersey Canal) from Wilden Ferry to Stone was navigable - the length past Burton-on-Trent being completed in 1770.

On completion of the Star Lock a grand opening was held, during this opening a cannon was fired in celebration. However disaster struck and the cannon damaged the new lock, requiring a re-build.

Stone became the Headquarters of the canal company with its office at Westbridge House, sited then below Star Lock on what is now Westbridge Park. The offices were moved later to Stoke-on-Trent.

Due to the quality of the local water beneath Stone two brewers were located here carrying on the tradition of beer making that the Augustinian monks started. Firstly, the most notable, John Joules who brewed beer from 1758, although the brewery is now closed having been taken over by Bass of Burton. The canal played a great part in the export of Beer. Joules once owned a pair of boats that delivered coal to the brewery and as late as the 1950s had the telephone number ‘Stone 1’. Joules bottle store remains an imposing building on the canal and can be clearly identified by the red cross logo of John Joules in the brickwork.

The second brewer was Bents located on what is now Mount Industrial Estate. Although the brewing Industry in Stone has declined following aggressive take over from the nearby Burton upon Trent Brewers in the 1970s a rebirth in the form of micro brewering has occurred recently under the Joules name, dropping the 'John' due to trademark reasons. A pint of Joules can be tasted at the Swan Inn.

The Star Public House was fully licensed in 1819 although the building predates the canal by some 200 years. The building has in its time been a butcher’s shop and slaughterhouse. Stabling for boat horses was available up to the 1950s and the business relied heavily on the canal for trade.

Public transport

The coming of the railway was to end Stone’s era as a coaching and canal town. The North Staffordshire Railway opened its main line from Stoke on Trent through Stone to Norton Bridge on 3 April 1848; the following year a branch line from Stone to Colwich began operating.

One industry that did flourish under the railway era was the shoe industry, at its height in 1851 there were sixteen shoeworks. The industry however declined after Australia the main shoe market imposed an import tax on the industry.

The town is not currently served by train services following the West Coast Mainline speed upgrade, but there will be an hourly semi-fast direct service to London Euston from January 2009. Trains between Manchester Piccadilly and London and south England via Birmingham New Street pass through the town, but do not stop.

Local bus services are operated by First PMT and Bakerbus.

Present day

Stone parish church, dedicated to St Michael the Archangel, is at the south end of the town located on what used to be Stone Priory. It was commenced in 1753, and finished in 1758. The present clock tower was added later in 1896.

Christ Church stands on the north side of the town, where the population is still increasing. It was erected in 1839.

The canal still dominates the town. Many canal side sites have in recent times been taken over for modern day use including ‘The Moorings’ a development of apartments based on the old Stubbs warehouse and also apartments and housing surround the old Trent Hospital, once the Workhouse. Housing developments also border the canal. Commercial traffic has now been replaced by the leisure craft that pass through Stone each year. The Canal Cruising Company today operates from the historic site of the canal maintenance and boat building operations of the Trent & Mersey Canal Company. This restored docks complex with its workshops, by Yard Lock, continues to be used for the maintenance of pleasure craft and historic boats.

State Education within Stone is based on the three tier school system. Starting with a range of Primary Schools, two middle schools (Walton Priory Middle and Christchurch Middle) and Alleyne's High School. Independent education is served by the Catholic St Dominics Priory School founded with the convent of the same name in the 19th century by Mother Margaret Hallahan when the school was originally known as "Blessed Imelda's Enpension School"

Yarnfield Park Training & Conference Centre just outside the town is a major training centre for the UK telecommunications industry. It is owned by BT Group and run by Accenture.

The town is home to two football clubs, namely Stone Old Alleynians F.C., and the much larger Stone Dominoes F.C.

Personalities

  • John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, colleague of Lord Nelson, Victor in a battle against the Spanish at Cape St Vincent 1797.
  • Peter de Wint Born 1784, Landscape Painter featured in the National Gallery.
  • Stan Collymore, Born in Stone in 1971
  • James Brindley, the Surveyor-General of the Trent & Mersey Canal.
  • L. T. C. Rolt, author of ’Narrowboat’ which helped to promote the canal network of today, plus several engineering biographies and other works.
  • Cedric Price, architect, was born in Stone in 1934.
  • Eva Morris, the oldest person in the world from December 1999 to her death in November 2000, lived in Stone.
  • Chris Birchall, a football player who plays for Coventry City F.C.. Birchall was born in 1984 and plays international football for Trinidad and Tobago, as his mother was born there.
  • Steve Gardner, a Champion Weightlifter, Powerlifter and Strongman went to St.Michaels Primary and Alleynes Comprehensive School. During his career Steve took the WDFPF European Heavyweight Drug Free Powerlifting Title, and the IAWA World Open Heavyweight All Round Weightlifting Title, representing England and Great Britain on many occasions. As a Strongman and Highland Games Athlete Steve competed with Geoff Capes, and placed 4th in the World Lorry Pull Championships in 1985 beating Jon Pall Sigmarson (Worlds Strongest Man). Steve also represented the British Police at Tug of War winning several World Championship medals, and is a current Guinness World Record Holder for Tug of War endurance

External links

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