Stroud from the air
|Population||13,259 (parish 2011)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South West England|
|Weather chart for Stroud|
|temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: Selsley Weather (Average, 2005–2009)
Situated below the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills at the meeting point of the Five Valleys, the town is noted for its steep streets, independent spirit and cafe culture. The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west. It lies 10 miles (16 km) south of the city of Gloucester, 14 miles (23 km) south-southwest of Cheltenham, 13 miles (21 km) west-northwest of Cirencester and 32 miles (53 km) north-northeast of the city of Bristol. London is 106 miles (171 km) east-southeast of Stroud.
Although not formally part of the town, the parishes of Rodborough, Cainscross and Ebley are contiguous with Stroud and are often considered as official suburbs.
Stroud acts as a centre for surrounding villages and small market towns including Amberley, Bisley, Chalford, Dursley, Eastington, King's Stanley, Leonard Stanley, Minchinhampton, Nailsworth, Oakridge, Painswick, Randwick, Selsley, Sheepscombe, Slad, Stonehouse, Thrupp and Woodchester.
Stroud is known for its involvement in the Industrial Revolution. It was a cloth town: woollen mills were powered by the small rivers which flow through the five valleys, and supplied from Cotswold sheep which grazed on the hills above. Particularly noteworthy was the production of military uniforms in the colour Stroudwater Scarlet. The area became home to a sizable Huguenot community in the 17th century, fleeing persecution in Catholic France, followed by a significant Jewish presence in the 19th century, linked to the tailoring and cloth industries.
Stroud was an industrial and trading location in the 19th century, and so needed transport links. It first had a canal network in the form of the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal, both of which survived until the early 20th century. Restoration of these canals as a leisure facility by a partnership of Stroud District Council and the Cotswold Canals Trust is well under way with a multimillion-pound Lottery grant. Stroud railway station (on the Gloucester–Swindon Golden Valley Line) was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Though there is much evidence of early historic settlement and transport, Stroud parish was originally part of Bisley, and only began to emerge as a distinct unit in the 13th century, taking its name from the marshy ground at the confluence of the Slad Brook and the River Frome called "La Strode", and was first recorded in 1221. The church was built by 1279, and it was assigned parochial rights by the rectors of Bisley in 1304, often cited as the date of Stroud's foundation.
Historic buildings and places of interest in the area include the neolithic long barrows (Uley Long Barrow) at Uley, Selsley Common and Nympsfield to the west; Roman era remains at Frocester, West Hill near Uley, and Woodchester; the medieval buildings at Beverston Castle; and the outstanding Tudor houses at Newark Park and Owlpen Manor. Woodchester Mansion is a masterpiece of the Gothic Revival by local architect Benjamin Bucknall.
From 1837 to 1841, Stroud's MP was Lord John Russell of the Whig party, who later became Prime Minister. Russell was an important politician: he was responsible for passing Acts of Parliament such as the Public Health Act 1848, but he is mainly remembered as one of the chief architects of the Reform Act 1867. This Act, also known as the Second Reform Act, gave the vote to every urban male householder, not just those of considerable means. This increased the electorate by 1.5 million voters. Lord John Russell is remembered in the town in the names of two streets, John Street and Russell Street, as well as the Lord John public house.
At the 2001 UK census, Stroud civil parish had a total population of 12,690. For every 100 females, there were 96.4 males. Ethnically, the population is predominantly white (98.2%). 20.6% of the population were under the age of 16 and 8.3% were aged 75 and over; the mean age of the people of the urban area was 39.5. 92.6% of residents described their health as "fair" or better, similar to the average of 92.8% for the wider district. The average household size was 2.4. Of those aged 16–74, 24.5% had no academic qualifications, lower than the national average of 28.9%. Of those aged 16–74, 2.6% were unemployed and 28.4% were economically inactive.
Character and amenities
Stroud has a significant artistic community that dates back to the early 20th century. Jasper Conran called Stroud "the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds"; the Daily Telegraph has referred to it as "the artistic equivalent of bookish Hay-on-Wye"; while the London Evening Standard likened the town to "Notting Hill with wellies". The town has the largest and most diverse number of creative artists, musicians and authors outside London.
The town was one of the birthplaces of the Organic food movement and was home to Britain's first fully organic café, Woodruffs. The Biodynamic Agricultural Association is based in the town.
For many years Stroud has hosted a fringe festival on the second weekend in September. A new committee took over in early 2015 and now holds the festival on August Bank Holiday each year. The festival has been expanded to cover art and literature, as well as a diverse range of unsigned bands. With a number of outdoor stages, and the majority of the venues in town taking part, over 400 performers can be seen free of charge over the course of the weekend. The town also hosts an annual series of lectures and exhibitions on contemporary textiles and textile culture called SELECT, run by Stroud International Textiles. This is the UK's only festival to celebrate the diverse culture of textiles.
The Stroudwater Textile Trust was founded in 1999 to link the past and present of textiles in the Five Valleys and to manage the opening of several mills in which historic textile machinery, including a working waterwheel, has been restored and is demonstrated. The Trust has produced a DVD, Rivers of Cloth, using archive film and interviews which was due to be released in early 2011 and a photographic survey of surviving woollen mills was undertaken for a book, Wool and Water, and was due to be published in 2012.
Stroud has a strong community of independent shops and cafés. The town centre has seen two controversial developments: a new cinema (which replaced the bus station) and a branch of McDonald's which, when plans were unveiled in 2004, came against opposition from locals.[did it attract enough support to remain open until 2016?]
The Subscription Rooms in the heart of the town centre provide a venue for a wide variety of entertainment like Stroud Ceilidhs http://stroudceilidhs.co.uk and also house the Tourist Information Centre. There is also a small theatre, the Cotswold Playhouse, which is home to the amateur Cotswold Players; it occasionally hosts visiting professional companies.
On the fringes of the town are Stratford Park, originally the park of a small local weaver, now home to a leisure centre with an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool, and the Museum in the Park, a museum of the history and culture of the Stroud valleys.
The Redlers industrial estate is the site of the original Dudbridge Mills, located directly beside the River Frome. From the mid-18th century onwards it housed the three mills of Daniel Chance, who sold it in the mid 18th century: one corn; one gig and a dyehouse with eight drying racks. It was acquired in 1794 by John Apperley, whose family used the site for wool and cloth making for the next 140 years. In 1801 an industrial accident killed a young worker.
Stroud citizens have a history of protest going back to the Stroudwater Riots of 1825. In the late 1970s Stroud Campaign Against The Ringroad prevented Gloucestershire County Council's attempt to introduce new traffic plans. A few years later Stroud District Council tried to demolish 18th century buildings in the town centre. Stroud High Street Action Group, with some rooftop protests and a high court judgement, demonstrated against this. The restored buildings are now a feature of the High Street. After a short occupation a compromise was reached in the demolition of buildings in Cornhill with many being saved, including one identified as a medieval house. This campaign led to the formation of the Stroud Preservation Trust. which has been instrumental in saving many of the town's oldest buildings like Withey's house, the Brunel Goods Shed and the Hill Paul building.
Stroud Save The Trees Campaign came to national prominence in August 1989 when Stroud District Council tried to implement a road-widening scheme by a midnight raid on thirteen trees it wished to fell within the perimeter of Stratford Park. However local people got wind of the 'secret' and were there first to protect the trees. After a stand-off that lasted till dawn the police called off the operation on the grounds of public safety. The following year instead of road-widening the first 'traffic calming' in the county was installed. The trees remain to this day.
A few years later Stroud District Council planned to fell the only mature tree in the town centre – the hornbeam on the Subscription rooms forecourt. A quickly mobilised citizenry persuaded them otherwise and the hornbeam survived.
In 2000 Stroud District Council gave permission for the Victorian landmark Hill Paul building to be demolished. After thwarting demolition, local activists formed a company and sold enough shares at £500 each to take an option on the building, which they passed on to a local developer. The building has now been restored and converted into apartments (see photo on the right).
The Save Stroud Hospitals Taskforce has been campaigning since spring 2006 against a range of cuts to health services in and around Stroud, with thousands of people taking part in street demonstrations. Stroud Maternity Hospital was saved in September 2006.
The Uplands Post Office branch in Stroud was one of 26 in the county to shut as part of a nationwide programme to cut losses. Following local opposition, the Post Office agreed to talks with civic chiefs to look at how it could reopen. The town council agreed to provide £10,000 of funding for the service in 2008 and up to £25,000 for 2009. In November 2008 it was confirmed that Stroud has become only the second place in Britain to save one of its Post Offices.
However, despite the protests, Tesco opened a store near Stratford park in 1989, McDonald's built a fast food restaurant at Rowcroft in 2005 and soon after, the bus station was replaced with a cinema.
In September 2010 the BNP scrapped plans to move their national media centre to Stroud after protests by local residents.
In February 2012 NHS managers agreed to halt plans for Stroud General Hospital to be run by a social enterprise after local residents mounted a legal challenge in the High Court.
There is still a small textile industry (the green baize cloth used to cover snooker tables and the cloth covering championship tennis balls is made here), but today, the town functions primarily as a centre for light engineering and small-scale manufacturing, and a provider of services for the surrounding villages. Stroud is a Fairtrade Town.
The Stroud and Swindon Building Society had its headquarters here until it merged with the Coventry Building Society on 1 September 2010. The building is now the headquarters of the renewable energy provider Ecotricity.
Damien Hirst owns the 'Science' facility in Stroud which produces his art.
In September 2009, the Stroud Pound Co-operative launched the Stroud Pound as an attempt to reinforce the local economy and encourage more local production. The currency's design follows that of the Chiemgauer, in being backed on a one-for-one basis by the national currency, having a charge for redemption which is donated to local charities, and including a system of demurrage to encourage rapid circulation.
A farmers' market, launched by Jasper Conran and Isabella Blow on 3 July 1999, takes place every Saturday at the Cornhill market. It was nominated for the national Farmers' Market of the Year in 2001 and won it in 2007 and 2013. It also won the Cotswold Life magazine award for the best farmers' market in Gloucestershire in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010. The market featured in an episode of BBC TV's The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain in September 2009, and won the Best Food Market award at the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2010. It is certified by FARMA.
In addition to the farmers' market there is a smaller market held in The Shambles, an area adjacent to the steep High Street. John Wesley preached from a butcher's block in The Shambles on 26 June 1742. opposite one of the oldest existing buildings in Stroud, the Old Town Hall. Originally called the Market-house, this was built in 1594 and is still in occasional use today.
Public bus transport in Stroud is run by Stagecoach, operating from its depot on London Road, and Cotswold Green. Some of these routes deployed from Stroud are Stagecoach gold, including the 63 to Gloucester and the 66S/E/Q/Y.
The town is also served by Great Western Railway trains from Stroud railway station, with frequent services to Gloucester, Cheltenham, Swindon, Reading and London. The railway link was established in 1845. Up to then, Stroud had its own time which was set by a sundial at the top of Gloucester Street. There was also an observatory across the road from the hospital where now is a car park. As Stroud time was roughly 9 minutes behind GMT and people kept missing the train, a railway clock was put up in 1858 at the bottom of High Street. It was later moved across King Street to the top of Gloucester Street. The clock fell into disrepair over the years. It was finally saved by Captain Michael Maltin, who restored the clock in 1984 and found a new home for it in the Stroud library.
National Express coaches serve the town on routes 327 (Bath Spa – Scarborough) and 445 (Hereford – London Victoria). Stroud also lies on the traffic-free section of Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 45.
Stroud was connected to the canal system when the Stroudwater Navigation opened in 1779. It then became part of a through canal route from Bristol to London when the Thames and Severn Canal added a route over the Cotswolds in 1789. The canal closed in 1954 but the Cotswold Canals Trust is leading a project to reopen the entire length of the trans Cotswold route. A visitor centre and restored lock are located in the town.
Novelists Sue Limb, Jilly Cooper and Katie Fforde, children's authors Jamila Gavin, John Dougherty Cindy Jefferies and Clive Dale, poet Jenny Joseph, plus national newspaper journalists like The Guardian's food critic Matthew Fort following in the footsteps of the Rev. W. Awdry, and W H Davies have made the Stroud area their home. Two of its most famous sons are the authors Laurie Lee, whose most notable creation Cider with Rosie is set in the nearby Slad valley, and Booker Prize-winning author Alan Hollinghurst. Poets such as Dennis Gould, Jeff Cloves, Philip Rush, Ted Milton, Michael Horovitz, Frances Horovitz and Adam Horovitz have grown up, lived and/or live in the area.
Stroud is home to the Bardic Chair of Hawkwood, an annual competition held at Hawkwood College in May to select that year's Bard who then has the responsibility to promote the bardic arts in the Stroud area. Culture is otherwise reflected through the very diverse artists, musicians, authors and other creatives that comprise the largest community of artists/creative people outside London. It is also characterised by ethnic cultural diversity, with residents of Caribbean, African, Asian, Chinese and Arab identities among those of white British origin. The presence of different ethnic groups has also seen various Middle Eastern languages being spoken.
- Saint-Ismier, Isère, France
- Stroud, Oklahoma, USA
- Duderstadt, Lower Saxony, Germany
- Stroud, New South Wales, Australia
Songs about Stroud
- "Stroud, The Town of Make Believe", on the album Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hit, by post-punk band Blurt, founded in Stroud in 1979.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Stroud.|
|Following the Cotswold Way|
|14 km (9 miles) to
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