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Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire, in the West Midlands region of Englandmarker. It lies approximately north of Wolverhamptonmarker and south of Stoke-on-Trentmarker, adjacent to the M6 motorway. The population of Stafford was given in the 2001 census as 63,681, with that of the wider borough of Stafford as 124,531, making Stafford the fourth largest settlement in the Ceremonial county, after Stoke on Trentmarker, Tamworthmarker and Newcastle under Lymemarker.

History

Stafford means 'ford' by a 'staithe' (landing place). The original settlement was on an island in the middle of the marshes of the River Sowmarker, a tributary of the River Trent. There is still a large area of marshland northwest of the town, which has always been subject to flooding, such as in 1947, 2000 and 2007.

In the year 913 Stafford was fortified by Ethelfleda, Lady of Merciamarker and daughter of Alfred the Great, becoming the new capital of Merciamarker (the previous capital having been in or near Stonemarker). Queen Ethelfleda ruled Merciamarker from Stafford for five years as Queen of Merciamarker, after the death of her father and husband - at around this time the county of Staffordshire was first formed. King Alfred's son Edward, with the crucial aid of Ethelfleda, finally conquered and Christianised the Vikings who had settled in the east of England.

The soon to be famous "Thomas Stafford" can trace his lineage back to here though he himself was born in yourk, and later moved to Banbury.

Stafford Castlemarker was built by the Normans on a nearby hilltop in 1070, four years after the invasion of 1066. It was first made of wood, and later rebuilt of stone. It has been rebuilt twice since, but now only 19th century ruins remain atop the impressive earthworks. Illumination of the castle at night-time has made it a landmark for motorists on the M6 motorway and train travellers on the West Coast Main Linemarker. Stafford was considered part of the ancient Pyrehill hundred.

In 1206, King John granted a Royal Charter which created the Borough of Stafford. On 31 March 2006 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the town to join in the 800th anniversary civic celebrations.

Landmarks

The oldest building in Stafford is St Chad's church with a history reaching back into the twelfth century, and possibly beyond. The main part of the church is richly decorated; patterns and figures have been carved into almost every archway and pillar.It's believed that the carvings were made by a group of stonemasons from the Middle East who came to England during the Crusades. A great deal of the stonework was covered up during the 17th and 18th Centuries, and the church took on a neo-classical style. In the early 19th Century restoration work was carried out on the church and the Norman decoration was rediscovered.

Today the Church hosts Timewalk a computer generated display which relates the journey of history and mystery within the walls of the church. Voices from the past, including one of Stafford's most famous characters - Izaak Walton - guide you through the 900 years of the church's history, while dramatic lighting and sound effects enliven the story. St. Chad's central location opposite the Swan Hotel and near the Ancient High House on Greengate Street places it firmly on the heritage trail. It is often referred to as 'Stafford's Hidden Gem'

Opened in 1908, Victoria Park is a 13 acre (53,000 m2) Edwardian riverside park with an open-air paddling pool, bowling green, bird cages, greenhouses and two play areas.

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre is the town's main entertainment and cultural venue. An Arts centre has also been planned for the town to offer more culture and try and boost tourism in the town.

In the main shopping street, Greengate Street, lies the Elizabethan Ancient High Housemarker, the largest timber-framed town house in England.
The Ancient High House is now a museum, with changing exhibitions.


Built in 1798 as a court house and office of the Mayor and Clerk of Stafford, The Shire Hall Gallery, found in the very centre of Stafford town, houses the Art Gallery, which shows changing exhibitions. It also contains a cafe and the town's Library.

Stafford Shire Hall
The Shire Hall used to be the Court House for the town, and as a Grade 2 listed building, still retains two courtrooms. One of these is open to the general public and has a permanent exhibition showing the history of the building, some high profile cases that were heard there and guided tours are available. Part of the tour includes an old 'holding cell' which is open to public viewing.

The Apollo Cinema shows most big-budget films and has three screens.

The new £15 million Stafford Leisure Centre opened on 12 April 2008, adjacent to the ASDA superstore in Lammascote Road. It replaces the old Riverside Recreation Centre, which has been demolished to make way for a £50 million housing, leisure and retail complex (incorporating a multiplex cinema) along the River Sow. The former Tesco store and Bridge Street multi-storey car park will both be demolished as part of this development.

RAF Staffordmarker was transformed into M.O.D Stafford in late 2007, after the R.A.F left the Town. It is now home to a Gurkha signals regiment and a RAF regiment contingent alongside Tactical supply wing.

Staffordshire University has a large campus in the town focusing heavily on computing and teaching courses.

77,900 new homes are expected to be built in greenfield areas of Staffordshire, with 12,900 expected to be built in Stafford.

People

Notable people from Stafford include the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton, and the 18th century playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan was once the local MP. Also, the 1853 Lord Mayor of London, Thomas Sidney, was born in the town.

In the early 1900s, the village of Great Haywood near Stafford was home to the wife of famous The Lord of the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien. He stayed with his wife, Edith, in her cottage in the village during the winter of 1916, and the surrounding areas were said to be an inspiration for some of his early works.

Climax Blues Band, initially, as their name suggests, was a popular Stafford blues band but later they achieved international record success.

Stafford was the birthplace of Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey, Freya Copeland, who plays Angela 'Angie' Reynolds in the soap Emmerdalemarker, Travis singer Fran Healy (but he moved away to Scotland when very young), and comedian Dave Gorman. The science fantasy author Storm Constantine is a long-time resident.

1970s hit duo Medicine Head hailed from nearby Tixallmarker.

Premiership footballers Anthony Gardner, who plays for Hull City, and Christopher Birchall, who plays for Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy, were both born in Stafford.

Fran Healey, lead singer of rock band Travis, was born in Stafford on 23 July 1973 but moved to Scotland shortly afterwards.

Dave Follows (3 October 1941 — 17 October 2003) was a prolific cartoonist and was born in and lived in Stafford all his life.

Rave acts Altern-8 and Bizarre Inc were also from the town.

Former Aston Villa, Derby County and Watfordmarker winger Nigel Callaghan lives and DJs in the town.

British poet, playwright and freelance writer Carol Ann Duffy, although born in Glasgowmarker, Scotlandmarker, grew up in Stafford and attended Stafford Girls' High School. She was awarded an OBE in 1995, and a CBE in 2002. Many of her poems describe experiences and places in Stafford. On May 1 2009, her appointment as the new Poet laureate to replace Andrew Motion was announced.

British portrait photographer Paul Pickard was born in the town. He has been commissioned to photograph Queen Elizabeth II and The Prince of Wales as well as celebrities like Leona Lewis

Former Aston Villa player and manager Brian Little lives in the town

The Stafford accent may be seen as a detatchment of the more southern parts of Staffordshire, where the accent is more Black Countrymarker-influenced. The Stafford accent bears a stronger resemblance to the Stoke-On-Trentmarker accent, which is roughly 20 miles north of Stafford (see above).

Economy

Since 1903, a major activity in the town has been heavy electrical engineering, particularly producing power station transformers, exported around the world. The works have been successively owned by Siemens, English Electric, GEC, GEC Alsthom, Alstom and most recently Areva. Each transformer weighs several hundred tons and so a sort of road train is used for transportation. The weight is spread by a 160-wheel cradle, pulled by an 8-wheel drive Faun Goliath tractor unit and pushed by two more. In the 1968 Hixon rail crashmarker, one such road train was struck by an express train when it was crossing the railway at a level crossing.

Adhesives manufacturer Bostik has a large factory in Stafford and Stafford Prisonmarker is another source of local employment.

The town is also home to the computer science and IT campus of Staffordshire University. The Beaconside Campus houses the Faculty of Computing Engineering and Technology and part of the Business School, and the adjacent Blackheath Lane campus houses the School of Health, which teaches nursing. The main campus in Stoke-on-Trentmarker is located about 18 miles north.

Shoe making

Stafford has a long history of shoe making. It is "an ancient borough and market town, celebrated for the manufacture of shoes." Furthermore, "in the eighteenth century Stafford was represented (in Parliament) by the famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. When he was in Stafford he would stay with his friend William Horton. Horton was the founder of the Stafford Shoe Industry. A century after Horton began the early Factory System, Stafford was exporting some 5,000,000 pairs of shoes to South Africa alone. The were a number of spin-off industries which prospered in Stafford, these including Venables Wood Yard, Spic and Span Polish later to become Dove then Evode(anagram of Dove). The shoe industry gradually died out in the town, with Lotus Shoes being the last manufacturers." The large red-brick Lotus Shoe factory on Sandon Road closed and was demolished about 2001 to be quickly replaced by modern housing.

See for example: Staffordshire Industrial Archaeology Society, Journal No 10 (1981) including: A M Harrison, The Development of Boot and Shoe Manufacturing in Stafford 1850-1880; Staffordshire Industrial Archaeology Society, Journal 19 (2005), Shoemaking in Stafford, containing: The Development of Boot and Shoe Manufacturing in Stafford, 1850-1880, by Martin Harrison, Richard Podmore & Son, Shoe Manufacturers, by Martin Harrison, Stafford Box Factory in 2003, by Martin Harrison

Transport

Stafford railway stationmarker was once a major hub on the railway network, but Beeching's closure of the Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway, and the Shropshire Union Railway to Shrewsburymarker and beyond completely halted east-west traffic via Stafford, and in recent years cross-country trains have stopped at Stafford less and less. However, it is a still stop for many trains on the West Coast Main Linemarker; enabling easy commuting to the cities of Birminghammarker, Wolverhamptonmarker, Stoke-on-Trentmarker, Liverpoolmarker and Manchestermarker. Since December 2008 London Midland have operated a service stopping at Stafford which also serves Tamworthmarker, Northamptonmarker, Milton Keynesmarker and Londonmarker.

Junctions 13 (Stafford South) and 14 (Stafford North) of the M6 motorway provide access to the town, therefore the major cities of Birminghammarker and Manchestermarker and beyond are easily reached. The A34 road runs through the centre of the town, linking it to Stonemarker and Stoke-on-Trentmarker to the north and Cannockmarker and the West Midlands conurbationmarker to the south. The A518 road connects Stafford with Telfordmarker to the south west and Uttoxetermarker to the north east, and therefore is the main route to the major theme park at Alton Towersmarker. The A449 runs south from the town centre and connects with the nearby town of Penkridgemarker and Wolverhamptonmarker. Finally, the A513 runs east from Stafford to the local towns of Rugeleymarker and Lichfieldmarker.

Local bus travel within the town is provided by Arriva Midlands, while services to Stone and Stoke-on-Trent are handled by First PMT.

Stafford is served by four large taxi companies: Aerobrights, Anthony's AJ's, Kaminski Hire and Westside. There are also a large number of independent operators who work from the ranks at the stationmarker, Bridge Street, Broad Street and Salter Street.

The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canalmarker runs close to the Baswichmarker and Wildwood areas, and was previously linked to the River Sowmarker by the River Sow Navigation.

Healthcare

The town is supplied with primary care by the South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust.

The town's main hospital is Stafford Hospital, previously known as Staffordshire General Hospital and also Stafford District General Hospital. The hospital is operated and managed by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and provides a wide range of non-specialist medical and surgical services. Stafford Hospital's Accident and Emergency unit is the only such facility in the town. Wards at Stafford Hospital are numbered, with the exception of the Children's wards (known as the "Anson Suite"), which are named after local towns and landmarked (e.g. Shugborough ward). This hospital is built on the site of Coton Hill private psychiatric hospital which opened in 1851 and closed 1975 and was demolished with only the old chapel and gate house still visible. The hospital made the national newsmarker in March 2009, with the release of a Healthcare Commission report detailing the facility's appalling shortcomings.

The St. George's Hospital is actually a combination of two historical hospitals - the Kingsmead Hospital (previously an Elderly Care facility) and the St. George's psychiatric hospital. This hospital provides mental health services, including an Intensive care unit, Secure units, an Eating disorder unit, an EMI unit, Drug and Alcohol Addiction services and open wards. There is a small outpatient facility, and this is the location of the town's AA meeting. Wards at the St. George's hospital are named after local villages are termed "houses" (e.g. Brocton House, Chebsey House, Coton House, etc).

Education

Primary Schools

  • Barnfields Primary School
  • Berkswich CE Primary School
  • Blessed Mother Teresa RC Primary School (Formerly Bower Norris)
  • Brooklands Preparatory School (Independent)
  • Burton Manor Primary School
  • Castlechurch Primary School
  • Cooper Perry Primary Schoolmarker
  • John Wheeldon Primary School
  • Leasowes Primary School (Formerly Leasowes Infant School and Leasowes Junior School)
  • Oakridge Primary School (plus nursery)
  • Parkside Primary School
  • Silkmore Primary School
  • Stafford Preparatory School
  • St Anne's RC Primary School
  • St Austin's RC Primary School
  • St Johns CE Primary School
  • St Leonard's Primary School
  • St Patrick's RC Primary School
  • St Paul's Primary School
  • Tillington Manor Primary School
  • The Grove Primary School


Secondary Schools



Tertiary Education

The Chetwynd Centre also provides Higher Education in the town. It normally teaches specialised A-levels, some vocational qualifications and subjects taught by teachers with no school base. The centre has joined up with all the town's secondary schools, except the grammar school, to provide better resources for students.

Stafford Collegemarker is a large College of Further Education. Stafford College also provides some Higher Education courses on behalf of Staffordshire University and focuses heavily on computing and engineering.

Rodbaston Collegemarker is based in the village of Rodbastonmarker, on the edge of Stafford. It is an agricultural college and provides most of its training in this sector.

Staffordshire University has a large campus in the East of the town and focuses heavily on computing, engineering and media technologies (Film, Music and Computer Games). The University has 2 halls of residence opposite the campus, the smaller Yarlet with 51 rooms and the larger Stafford Court with 554 Rooms. Stafford court is divided into 13 'houses' named after local villages.

Sport

Stafford is home to three association football clubs; Stafford Rangers F.C., Brocton F.C. and Stafford Town F.C.marker, none of which play at a fully professional level.

The town also has a Rugby Union club , though again it does not play at a high level.

There is also a local Hockey team with eight adult teams.

The Stafford knot

RAF/MOD Stafford

RAF Stafford was a non-flying Royal Air Force station. In March 2006, RAF Stafford was redesignated as MOD Stafford. The event was marked by a fly past and a flag lowering ceremony. For many years the site provided employment for civilians and military personnel. RAF Stafford though was handed over by the RAF in accordance with the defence strategy and streamlining that has become commonplace. A small element of the Tactical Supply Wing (TSW) still operates from MOD Stafford

Areas

An estate which is next to Weeping Cross, and many people get confused between these two estates. It is found by heading towards Rugeley and Cannock from Stafford Town Centre, or from Uttoxeter past Weston Road High School and through Baswich lanes. It has a Co-Op as a convenience store, and a hairdresser. It also has a church with a graveyard.
An estate built on the wetlands off Newport Road in the early 1990s, to the displeasure of many protesters. The roads are named after famous athletes of the time (Gunnell Close, Christie Drive etc).
An estate of terraced cottages, built in the 1830s and 1840s for the influx of railway workers into the town. The estate used to have a church, St Thomas's, but this was demolished in the 1970s and replaced by the new church in Doxey. The offices of Staffordshire Newsletter now occupy the site. Castletown is changing rapidly, with the demolition of Stafford Arms and the building of new executive apartments heralding a new era on the estate.
A new estate built on the former site of Stychfields, in the grounds of the Alstom factory. It also includes a new retail park.
A large council estate with Wolverhampton Road at one end and Newport Road at the other. The first houses in Highfields were built c. 1955, with substantial additions (Highfields number two estate, as it was then known) in 1963/4. West Way is the longest street in Highfields, carving its way through the entire estate. Many of the streets in the sixties expansion of Highfields were named after poets and playwrights (Shakespeare Road, Masefield Drive, Coleridge Drive, Keats Avenue, Tennyson Road, Binyon Court (now renamed "The Keep"), etc). Of the older roads, the longest is Bagot's Oak, so called because of a large old tree that was in the road. Much of the original estate was built on Preston's Farm land, and one of the bus services was still called 'Highfields Farm until recently.
Parkside is a housing estate at the extreme north of the town. It has two entrances from the A513 Beaconside Road, forming a U-shape. The estate has access to many green areas, including 3 parks, a 'green' and access to Stafford Common. There is also a primary school on the estate and access to Sir Graham Balfour School. The estate also has a pub (The Staffordshire Bull) and a precinct of shops that form the northern terminus of the number 8 bus route through the town.
Rickerscote many of years ago used to have a lane running from the now Silkmore estate heading towards the area where the bridge to Argos is. This area is known to many as 'the village', and there is a local shop that serves the people. Rickerscote is home to a large area of grassland know locally as the 'green'.
Other locally well known areas of here are 'The Conker Tree', Boultons Farm, Devils Triangle and 'The Metal Bridge'. The local drinking houses are the Rickerscote Arms, known to the old school as the Alpine, and further into the estate there is the Post Office Social Club.
Silkmore is an area situated between Rickerscote and Meadowcroft, with the distant Rising Brook to its side. The local primary school is Silkmore and the area has a selection of shops, ranging from the local butchers to a Chinese. Over the years the area has been under a small facelift in order to brighten up and change the image of the place.
An area of Silkmore is renowned for flooding, namely the area where the 'Southend Club' used to stand. This has now been replaced with new homes. Other areas of the estate that no longer exist are 'The Pioneer', 'The Garage' and 'Finney's Farm'. These have all now been replaced by homes or the Co-op.
Walton on the Hill is at the extreme south of Stafford bordering Milford and is viewed as an exclusive residential area in the Borough with the highest average house prices. Walton High School is specialist science school and one of the top state schools in the Midlands and as such, places are much sought after.
Weeping Cross is an estate on the east side of Stafford, named after the First World War Memorial Cross placed there. It is easily found by heading up Radford Bank, towards Rugeley and Cannock. It also holds Leasowes Primary School and St Annes Catholic Primary School. Weeping Cross also has a local pub, the Lynton Tavern, a clinic with nearby Pharmacy, a library and a row of convenient shops. The number one bus runs every 20 minutes around the estate.
An estate on the edge of Stafford that borders on Highfields and the M6 Motorway. A large green area with two football pitches and a basketball court known as 'The Bottom Pitches' can be found in Western Downs along with 'The Rainbow Park' on Clarendon Drive, and the 'Dome Park' on Torridge Drive. Until the council built a play area they were the main footballing locations on the estate. The number nine bus route also covers Western Downs.


Nearby Places



See also



References

Notes

Bibliography

  • (11th century and earlier) Staffordshire Newsletter 1994 Guide


External links




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