A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
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Lying south of Burton, Branston was originally a small village beside the river Trent but spreading in the 19th century along the Burton-Lichfield road. There is much 19th- and 20th-century housing along Clays Lane north of the village and along Burton Road to the east. Elsewhere the land is mainly farmland, with the former Sinai park in the northern part of the township.
Formerly a township in Burton ancient parish, Branston was later a civil parish covering 2,482 a. (1,004.5 ha.). (fn. 1) On the south-east the boundary runs down the middle of the Trent, and the first part of the southern boundary with Tatenhill parish running west from the river apparently followed the line of a Roman road; (fn. 2) further west the boundary followed Tatenhill brook and on the north part of Shobnall brook.
When Burton municipal borough was created in 1878, it gained 25 a. from Branston, lying in two parts on the north side of the Burton-Leicester railway line, (fn. 3) and that area was transferred to Burton Extra civil parish in 1894. (fn. 4) The rest of Branston was in Tutbury rural district until the creation of the East Staffordshire district in 1974. A boundary change in 1985 transferred land on the north side of the main road at Rough Hay to Anslow civil parish and land bounded by the Trent and Mersey canal and Tatenhill Lane to Tatenhill civil parish. At the same time Sinai Park House and the adjoining land was added to Burton. As a result the acreage of Branston civil parish was reduced by 267 a. (108 ha.) to its present 2,190 a. (887 ha.) (fn. 5)
The underlying rock is mudstone, overlain on the east side of the township with alluvium and river terrace deposits and on the higher ground of Sinai park with boulder clay. The soil is mostly a permeable loamy soil. (fn. 6) Branston village lies at 154 ft. (47 m.), only two feet above the level of the river. The land barely rises until the escarpment which runs along the northwest side of the township, Sinai Park House standing on the 300 ft. contour. The highest point is 356 ft. (108.5 m.) at Rough Hay.
Six people in Branston were assessed for tax in 1327. (fn. 7) The adult population listed in an Easter Book probably of the 1550s was 122. (fn. 8) In 1660 eighty-nine adults were assessed for poll tax, excluding servants. (fn. 9) The population was 281 in 1801, rising to 373 by 1811 and 412 by 1821. (fn. 10) By 1831 it had fallen to 382 but was 441 by 1841. It then rose steadily, reaching 577 by 1871. By 1881 it had grown more sharply to 991, mainly as a result of new housing in the Burton borough part of the township. (fn. 1a) The population excluding that area was 893 in 1891, (fn. 2a) falling to 801 by 1911 but rising to 837 by 1921 and 1,089 by 1931. In 1951 it was 2,143, and it continued to rise thereafter, reaching 2,794 by 1961, 3,344 by 1971, and 3,895 by 1981. Following the 1985 boundary change, the population fell to 3,348 in 1991.
Main Roads The Roman Ryknild Street ran through the township. Its line north of Branston village partly survives as Clays Lane, which in the late Middle Ages ran to Outwoods, in Horninglow, and was known, at least in Burton Extra, as Cellarers Lane. (fn. 3a) Gallow bridge, which took the medieval road between Burton and Lichfield over the stream marking Branston's southern boundary existed by 1395. It was a county bridge by 1830. (fn. 4a) The road was turnpiked in 1729, and by 1759 there was a tollgate with house at the junction with a road to Tatenhill. (fn. 5a) The southern stretch of the road in Branston beyond the Gate inn was replaced in the late 1960s by the A38 bypass, from which a link road to Burton met Main Street beside the Blacksmiths Arms. Traffic continued to pass through Branston until Wellington Road, running directly to Burton from the A38 bypass, was constructed in the late 1980s. (fn. 6a) The western half of the Tatenhill road, beyond its junction with the access road to Lawns Farm, was stopped up in 1823. (fn. 7a)
Fords The river Trent was forded at several points along its course in Branston township. Near the southern boundary Robin Hood's ford, so called in 1546, was presumably part of a route to Walton-on-Trent (Derb.) which in the later 18th century ran south from the village. (fn. 8a) The ford was probably that used by Edward II when he crossed the river to confront rebels at Burton in 1322. (fn. 9a) Two other fords recorded in 1738, one a short distance to the north and the other near the village, corresponded with gaps in the steep bank on the Derbyshire side of the river. (fn. 10a) Only the ford near the village was shown on a map of 1758. (fn. 11) A crossing shown in 1759 near the boundary with Burton Extra township was marked as a ferry on a late 18th-century plan. (fn. 12)
Canal and Railway The Trent and Mersey canal, the Burton section of which was completed by 1770, runs through the centre of the township. (fn. 13)
The Birmingham-Derby railway line through Branston was opened in 1839, with a station south of the point where it ran across Main Street from 1889. The station was closed in 1930. (fn. 14)
Branston Village The name Branston is Old English and means an estate belonging to a man called Brant, a personal name of Scandinavian origin. (fn. 15) The medieval village stood near the river, its situation possibly determined by proximity to a ford. (fn. 16) A timberframed house beside the river, whose remains were still visible in the late 18th century, had been the home of the Sanders family; Daniel Sanders (or Saunders) was the wealthiest taxpayer in Branston in 1660, although by then resident at Cauldwell (Derb.). (fn. 17) The site was later occupied by Trent House, so called in 1851 and converted into the present Riverside Hotel in the 1960s. (fn. 18)
By the later 18th century the village stood at the east end of Old Road, which with Warren Lane formed the line of the medieval road between Burton and Lichfield before Main Street was laid out to the north in the early 19th century. (fn. 19) A new village centre then developed along Main Street. A Congregational chapel was opened in 1834, (fn. 20) and there was a post office by 1871. (fn. 21) Two rows of terraced houses, Cambridge and Anglesey Cottages, to the south near the Gate inn date probably from the 1880s, and Arizona Cottages south of the chapel are dated 1889. Houses and bungalows on the east side of Main Street date from the 1970s and later, as do houses in Old Road.
A public house mentioned in 1789 was by 1818 called the Gate inn. (fn. 22) It presumably stood on the site of the present inn of that name at the southern end of the modern village, and took its name from the nearby tollgate set up after the Burton-Lichfield road was turnpiked in 1729. (fn. 23) By 1818 there was another inn a short distance to the north. Then called the White Hart, it was known as the Anglesey Arms by the earlier 1830s and still existed in 1918. (fn. 1b) A third inn, the present Blacksmiths Arms at the junction of Main Street and Old Road, existed as a beerhouse called the Smiths Arms in 1851. (fn. 2b)
Branston Hall A farmhouse at the southern end of Clays Lane owned by the Allen family in the later 18th century was replaced in the earlier 19th century by a house which by 1839 was called Branston Hall. (fn. 3b) It was bought by Crosse & Blackwell in 1921 as a hostel for single women employed at the company's newly-opened factory on Burton Road. (fn. 4b) Later a private house again, it was demolished in the earlier 1960s and the Leamington Road private housing estate was built over the site. (fn. 5b)
Clays Lane Area Clays Lane itself was developed for private housing in the 1930s, and after the Second World War the rural district council built houses in small side estates: Bridgford Avenue (late 1940s, including some Swedish-style timber houses), and Festival Road (early 1950s). Council houses in Cotswold Road date from the later 1960s and include old people's bungalows. To the north the privately-built Harwood Avenue estate dates from the 1970s, and further houses were built at the top end of Clays Lane in the early 1990s. The road was then extended to Wellington Road, where a Morrisons supermarket opened in 1995. (fn. 6b) Land to the west along the A38 bypass was developed in the 1990s as a business park called Centrum 100, which includes the headquarters of Bass plc's corporate services and a Holiday Inn. (fn. 7b)
Burton Road Area Residential development along Burton Road started in the late 19th-century with detached houses at the end near the borough boundary. The earliest were Branstone Lodge and the Elms, in existence by 1882; they were demolished in the earlier 1960s, when houses were built on their sites in Lonsdale Road. (fn. 8b) Other large houses on the north side of the road date from the late 1880s and 1890s, and include a group of three decorated with brick medallions. In the early 1920s a group of 30 houses called Wayside, designed in an Arts and Crafts style by Aston (later Sir Aston) Webb, were built for workers at the newly-opened Crosse & Blackwell factory on Burton Road. (fn. 9b) Other houses along the south side of Burton Road date from the 1920s and 1930s, (fn. 10b) and a side estate called the Links dates from the 1980s. In the late 1990s houses were being built and plots prepared along Regents Park Road, which skirts the factory site.
Outlying Areas By 1834 there was a beerhouse beside the canal west of Branston village, probably on the site of the present Bridge inn. (fn. 11a) Houses to the east along Tatenhill Lane date mostly from the 1930s and are now approached from the village by a subway under the A38 bypass. There are also houses of the 1930s on the west side of Lichfield Road on the township's southern boundary. (fn. 12a)
The rising ground on the western edge of the township was parkland in the Middle Ages, called Sinai after a house there used for blood-letting by the monks of Burton abbey. (fn. 13a) Postern House Farm on the park's western edge existed by the later 18th century, but Lawns Farm on its southern side is first recorded only in 1824. (fn. 14a) There was a settlement called Old Pool Green in 1564 just inside Branston township, on a road north from Tatenhill village to Callingwood; a house there stood on the south side of the road in the mid 18th century. (fn. 1c) The present Pool Green Farm on the opposite side of the road dates from the early 19th century.
At Rough Hay in the north-west corner of the township there was a cottage called Hobridding by 1546, (fn. 2c) and the present Rough Hay Farm probably stands on the site of a house in existence by the early 18th century. (fn. 3c) The present Acorn inn at the crossroads was opened in the mid 1880s. (fn. 4c) Houses in Postern Lane and along the south side of Henhurst Hill, the name of this stretch of the main road from Burton, date from the 1940s and later. A council estate was built in Aviation Road, off Henhurst Hill, in 1955, and a private estate to the west in Henhurst Ridge in the 1960s.
Services As in Burton, mains water was supplied by the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company. Houses at the east end of Burton Road were connected to Burton corporation sewers in 1914 or shortly afterwards. Elsewhere in the township sewage was emptied into cesspools until the later 1930s, when the corporation's sewers were extended. (fn. 5c)
In 1834 a wake for Branston was held on the Sunday nearest Old Michaelmas Day. It seems no longer to have been held by 1851. (fn. 6c)
Burton golf club, established at Stapenhill in 1894, moved to a course in Branston south of Burton Road in 1897, and it converted a roadside farmhouse into a clubhouse. After the club moved to its present grounds at Bretby (Derb.) in 1907, the course was taken over by Branston golf club, which survived until 1917 when the clubhouse was requisitioned by the government, probably as a hostel for workers at a newly-opened ordnance factory in Branston. (fn. 7c) The course was re-opened in 1974 and later extended to 18 holes. Temporary accommodation was replaced in 1994 by the present clubhouse, which is also a leisure centre for what in 1999 was called Branston Golf and Country Club. (fn. 8c)
A cricket ground on the south side of Burton Road was used from 1954 by Burton Working Men's cricket club, formed in 1947 and at first playing on a ground in Stapenhill. In 1981 the club changed its name to Trentside cricket club, and it still used the Branston ground in 1999. (fn. 9c)
A disused quarry in the south of the township was opened as Branston Water Park in 1989. (fn. 10c)