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Stafford

From Academic Kids

This article is about the town of Stafford, England. For other uses, see Stafford (disambiguation)

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Stafford is the county town of Staffordshire in England. It lies in the north of the West Midlands region, between Wolverhampton and Stoke-on-Trent. The population of Stafford town in 2001 was 60,049. The surrounding borough of Stafford has a population of about 120,000.

Contents

History

Stafford means ford by a landing place. The town's location was the only feasible place for a large army to cross the river Trent, and so was strategically important in the wider region. The original settlement was on an island in the middle of the marshes of the river Sow, a tributary of the Trent. There is still a large area of marshland adjacent to the town centre, which in both 1947 and 2000 saw floods.

In the year 913 Stafford was fortified by Ethelfleda, Lady of Mercia and daughter of Alfred the Great, becoming the new capital of Mercia (the previous capital having been in or near Stone). Queen Ethelfleda ruled Mercia from Stafford for five years as Queen of Mercia, 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 Danes who had settled in the east of England.

Stafford Castle 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. Night-time illuminations create a landmark for motorists on the M6 motorway and train travellers on the West Coast Main Line.

Buildings and the town centre

The oldest building in Stafford is St Chad's (http://www2.staffordshire.gov.uk/stchads/) church.

Opened in 1908, Victoria Park is a 13 acre (53,000 m²) Edwardian riverside park with an open-air paddling pool.

In the main shopping street, Greengate Street, lies the Elizabethan Ancient High House, the largest timber-framed town house in England. Greengate Street is also the street with the most pubs in it.

The town centre contains the usual chain shops and eating-places, of the sort found everywhere in England. The Apollo Cinema shows the usual big-budget films.

People

Famous people from Stafford include the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton, and the 18th century playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who was also 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 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 his early works.

More recently Stafford was the birthplace of Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey and Freya Copeland of the soap Emmerdale and where stand-up comedian Dave Gorman was brought up. Author Storm Constantine is a long-time resident. Ozzy Osbourne lived nearby.

Economy

A major activity in the town since 1903 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. Every so often a delivery takes to the road. Each transformer weighs several hundred tons and so a sort of road train is used. The weight is spread by a 160-wheel cradle, pulled by an 8-wheel drive FAUN Goliath tractor unit and pushed by two more.

Local employment is also provided by Stafford Prison, close to the town centre.

Stafford is home to the computing and IT campus of Staffordshire University.

Stafford is a rail stop for most inter-city trains on the West Coast Main Line, enabling easy commuting to the cities of Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, and Manchester.

Business news in Stafford is covered by the Express & Star newspaper (http://www.expressandstar.com/).

The Stafford knot

The arms of Staffordshire show a distinctive three looped knot and the county motto is the knot unites. However this is properly called the Stafford knot since it was the badge of the de Stafford family. The fanciful legend is that three convicted felons who had committed a crime together were due to be executed in Stafford jail. There was argument over who should be hanged first but the hangman solved the problem by devising this knot and hanging the three simultaneously. However; the knot can be seen on a 4 ft (1.2 m) high carved Anglo-Saxon cross in Stoke churchyard. This strongly suggests it pre-dates the Norman and medieval period, being probably either i) a heraldic symbol of early Mercia or ii) a Celtic Christian symbol brought to Staffordshire by missionary monks from Lindisfarne.

The North Staffordshire Railway was referred to as the Knotty after the knot.

Nearby Places

See also

External links

Source

fr:Stafford (Angleterre) nl:Stafford (Engeland)

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