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