A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
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In 1086 there was land at Stretton for 2 ploughteams, but in fact 6 were being worked, of which one was on the demesne and 5 were worked by 8 villani and 2 bordars. There was 28 a. of meadow. The value of the manor had been £3 in 1066 and later £1, but was £2 in 1086. (fn. 19) In the early 12th century there was enough demesne land for three, or two 'very strong', ploughteam, and the tenanted land was held almost equally by villeins who owed fixed labour services and by rentpayers. (fn. 20)
Medieval Grange and Tenants In the early 14th century the abbey worked some of its demesne in Stretton as a grange, and a granger for Stretton was chosen at the manor court in the mid 1320s. (fn. 21) There was apparently still a grange there in the later 15th century. (fn. 22)
The abbey, however, also made grants of arable land to lessees in fee farm. Abbot Niel (1094-1114) gave six bovates to Orm of Okeover and his heirs, and that grant was confirmed by later abbots in favour of Orm's son Ralph and Ralph's son Hugh. (fn. 1) Abbot Niel's successor Geoffrey (1114-50) granted William of St. Albans five bovates formerly held by Gamel of Stretton, together with a further six bovates, meadow called 'Prevosteshalh' (reeve's nook), and a copse (virgultum) of pear trees, and later abbots confirmed the grant to William's son Reynold. (fn. 2) By the later 13th century Orm of Okeover's holding had descended to his greatgrandson William, who in 1270 began to dispose of small pieces of land, including selions behind the hall (aula). (fn. 3) In 1275 William sold the rest of his estate to the abbey, which immediately parcelled most of it out to rent-payers. (fn. 4) Customary tenants at that period were mostly single virgaters, a number of whom also rented small intakes of land from the waste. (fn. 5)
Inclosure Some 75 a. of open-field land belonging to copyhold tenements had been inclosed piecemeal by the end of the 16th century, and by 1643 waste formerly shared with tenants in Horninglow had also been inclosed. (fn. 6) Further piecemeal inclosure evidently took place before the remaining open land was inclosed in 1773 under an Act of 1771. It then comprised 109 a. in Wood field and 13 a. in New field, on the west and south-west sides of the village; 90 a. called Stretton moor to the south-east on either side of the Derby road, and 11 a. called Knab common near the river Trent in the south-east part of the township; and 38 a. of meadow along the mill stream. (fn. 7)
Modern Farms Inclosure did not result in the creation of new farms and most of the farmhouses continued to be located in the village. About a third of the farmland was arable in 1826, with barley as a major crop, presumably for use in Burton breweries. (fn. 8) The largest farm in 1851 was that at Wetmore Hall (213 a.); 3 others ranged between 192 a. and 120 a., but there were also 8 farms of 90 a. or less. Moderately-sized farms were still characteristic in 1918. (fn. 9)
Of the 211.3 ha. (522 a.) of farmland returned for Stretton civil parish in 1988, grassland and rough grazing covered 143 ha. The main crops were barley (29 ha.), wheat (18 ha.), and potatoes (4 ha.); 12 ha. were sown with oilseed rape. Dairying was important, and there were 141 head of cattle. Of the seven farms returned, only one was over 50 ha.; three were between 30 and 50 ha., one between 20 and 30 ha., and one (a nursery) under 2 ha. The seventh was a poultry farm with over 63,000 hens on the east side of the mill stream, opposite the site of the iron works. (fn. 10)
A mill recorded in the early 12th century may have stood on an island in the river Dove. (fn. 11)
In 1301 the abbey had land next to a weir (fn. 12) which apparently controlled the flow of water into a manmade mill stream which left the river near Dove Cliff. A mill in that area was called Cliff mill in 1342 and Clay mill in 1395. (fn. 13) About 1733 the mill was closed down because the corn mills on the Trent at Winshill were considered sufficient for the needs of the manor and the buildings were allowed to deteriorate. (fn. 14)
In 1755 the ruined corn mill on the mill stream was let to Thomas Thornewill, the owner of a spade factory in Burton, partly as a blade mill for grinding edge tools but also for conversion to a forge for hammering and plating iron. (fn. 15) After Thomas's death in 1786, the works seems to have been continued by his brother and business partner Francis (d. 1807). Later in 1807 the freehold of what by then was called Clay mill forge, comprising iron works and slitting mills, was bought by Thomas's son, also Thomas, who ran the works eventually separately from the Burton factory which passed to Francis's sons. (fn. 16) The younger Thomas, who lived near by at Dove Cliff, died in 1843, and the works eventually passed to his grandson Edward, who in 1881 sold it together with Dove Cliff to William Joseph Smith. The Smith family continued what was called the Clay Mills Ironworks Co. until 1920, when the executors of Smith's widow sold it to Joseph Hill, a Derbyshire iron merchant, who ceased operations there in 1925. (fn. 17) By 1928 the works was used for grinding material for the pottery industry by W. Podmore & Sons, still there in 1940. (fn. 18)
In 1892 English Grains Co. Ltd. built a factory on the east side of Derby Road to convert wet grains and other byproducts from breweries into animal food. (fn. 1a) In the 1930s it also manufactured 'Yestamin', yeast-based vitamin tablets for the popular market. (fn. 2a) After the introduction in 1962 of a cereal feeding block called 'Rumevite', the company was renamed Rumenco in 1965 and it continued under that name in 1999, manufacturing a wide range of feeds. (fn. 3a)
The Italian-based Pirelli Ltd. opened a factory on the west side of Derby Road in 1929 to manufacture pneumatic rubber tyres for cars and solid tyres for buses and trucks. From 1934 it also made rubbersoled footware, notably house slippers. The footware division was closed in 1990, and in 1995 tyre production was transferred to the company's plant at Carlisle. The Stretton factory, however, remained open in 1999, supplying the Carlisle plant with chemical compounds and also operating as the company's main distribution warehouse. (fn. 4a)