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Stone High Street & Farmers Market

Stone is an old market town in Staffordshire, England, situated about 7 miles (11 km) north of Stafford, and around 7 miles (11 km) 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.

There is a Bronze Age ring ditch at Pirehill suggesting occupation in prehistoric times (County Archeology).

Stone lies within the territory of the Iron Age Celtic tribe ‘the cornovii’ (people of the horn; perhaps a horned god or topographical feature) mentioned by Ptolemy 2nd century AD in Geographia. To the northwest of Stone lies one of their hill forts which overlooks the Trent and perhaps the salt production in the region.

The early history of Stone is unclear and clouded by the 12th century medieval romance concerning the murder of the Saxon princes Wulfad and Rufin by their father Wulfhere of Mercia who reputedly had his base near Darleston (Wulfherecester). The murder of Wulfad in the 7th century and his subsequent entombment under a cairn of stones is the traditional story (described as ‘historically valueless’ by Thacker 1985: 6).

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 (southeast of Derby), where the River Derwent joins the Trent and increases the quantity of water, then onwards by road. Prior to tarmac 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 and 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, and 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.

The town is home to two football clubs, Stone Old Alleynians F.C. of the West Midlands Regional League and Stone Dominoes F.C. of the North West Counties League. Both teams share a fully enclosed floodlit stadium at Yarnfield, named Springbank Park. Staffordshire County Cricket Club play Minor Counties Championship matches at Lichfield Road, as do the town’s cricket club, Stone Cricket Club.

The Stone Food and Drink Festival takes place the first weekend in October [8] and brings together the very best in local produce and cooking talent. It attracts in excess of 20,000 visitors to the town and runs for one week in total with the ‘main event’ on the town’s Westbridge Park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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