Stroud: Local government and public services

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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'Stroud: Local government and public services', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 134-136. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]


A book of evidences of Over Lypiatt manor compiled c. 1725 transcribes and extracts a number of court rolls, the earliest for 1457. (fn. 1) Only two original court rolls of the manor apparently survive, for 1581 (fn. 2) and 1724; to judge from the number of tenants' deaths reported at the latter date, no court had been held for some years. (fn. 3) The court baron of Thomas Freame's Nether Lypiatt manor was mentioned in 1649, (fn. 4) but no court rolls for that, the Hospitallers' Nether Lypiatt manor, or Paganhill manor, are known to survive. In the case of Paganhill the fragmentation of the manor probably caused an early demise of its court. Frankpledge jurisdiction over the whole parish was exercised by the Bisley hundred court at which tithingmen for each of the four tithings of the parish made presentments in the 1540s. (fn. 5)

The accounts of the two churchwardens survive for the period 1623-1715, (fn. 6) and vestry minutes for 1762-83 (fn. 7) and 1807-56. (fn. 8) By the 1770s there were four overseers of the poor, one responsible for each tithing. (fn. 9) The parish officers were empowered to build poorhouses in 1677, (fn. 10) and in 1724 the parish made an agreement with Thomas Poole of Minchinhampton, joiner, for the construction of a workhouse, planned as a long range of two storeys and attics with 16 bays of windows. It was built at the upper end of Silver Street. (fn. 11) The paupers in the workhouse were usually employed in one of the branches of the cloth industry. A master of the workhouse appointed in 1725 was given a loan of £50 to enable him to employ them in card-making and was allowed £20 a year out of their earnings and a weekly maintenance allowance of 18d. for each person. (fn. 12) In 1774 a broadweaver and in 1797 a linen-weaver contracted to manage the poor in the house. (fn. 13) In 1803 there were 65 paupers in the house who earned £88 in that year, about a fifth of what it cost to keep them. (fn. 14)

The general burden of poor-relief was eased by the contributions from the Stroud feoffees, while the frequent apprenticeships made by the parish officers in the 18th century were financed in part by the funds of two other charities. (fn. 15) In 1827 the parish had a grant of £150 from the Committee for the Relief of the Manufacturing Classes which was used to employ paupers on a programme of road and footpath improvement. (fn. 16) A salaried officer called the inspector of the poor was employed at the beginning of the 19th century; the office was discontinued in 1810 but a salaried assistant overseer was employed from 1815. A doctor was retained from 1817. (fn. 17) In 1773 the vestry took action to enforce the badging of paupers, (fn. 18) and in 1829 the weekly pay of a pauper who had been seen in a public house was ordered to be discontinued. (fn. 19)

The numerous poor who periodically became chargeable on a parish where the cloth industry dominated the economy were said c. 1775 to be not particularly burdensome, although it was then noted that, whereas £328 had once sufficed for poor-relief in years when trade was good, since 1766 around £500 had been needed; (fn. 20) the rise in the cost of relief had evidently continued in 1791 when a broadweaver contracted to farm all the poor of the parish for £800 and their earnings. (fn. 21) By 1803 the cost of relief had risen to £1,567, (fn. 22) and in the 1820s and 1830s it was usually over £2,000. (fn. 23) In 1803 the number of paupers receiving regular relief outside the workhouse was 259 and the number occasionally relieved 288; (fn. 24) between 1813 and 1815 the numbers on permanent relief were about the same but there had been a considerable reduction in the numbers on occasional relief. (fn. 25) In 1836 Stroud became the centre of the Stroud union. (fn. 26) A new workhouse for the union was built in 1837 (fn. 27) at the east end of the town on the north side of the Bisley road. A large complex of stone-built blocks centred on a chapel, it could house up to 500 paupers. (fn. 28) It was decided to let the old Stroud parish workhouse as a police station in 1839, (fn. 29) but it was apparently later sold.

The powers of the vestry over the administration of the town, to some extent curtailed by the Stroud feoffees' ownership of the market-place, continued until 1825 when a street improvement Act was passed. The jurisdiction of the commissioners appointed under the Act extended to as much of the parish as lay within a radius of a mile from the parish church. (fn. 30) In 1856 the powers of the commissioners were superseded by a local board of health, (fn. 31) and Stroud became an urban district in 1894. (fn. 32)

The improvement commissioners made contracts for paving the streets and laying sewers in 1825 and 1826. (fn. 33) In 1833 they lit the streets with gas supplied by a company formed in that year by a group which included William Stears, a Leeds gas engineer, the clothiers Thomas and Samuel Marling, and the iron-founder John Ferrabee. The company, which built its works in the south part of Paganhill tithing near Fromehall Mill, also laid on supplies to mills and shops in the parish. (fn. 34) In 1858 it was incorporated as the Stroud Gas Light and Coke Co., and an Act of 1864 gave it powers to enlarge its works and extend its area of supply. (fn. 35) Part of the eastern end of the parish was supplied by the Brimscombe and Chalford Gas Co. which had been formed by 1822, (fn. 36) and whose undertaking was acquired by the Stroud company in 1936. (fn. 37) By 1863 the Stroud local board of health had carried out a system of drainage and built a sewage works next to the gas-works at Fromehall. (fn. 38) The U.D.C. was empowered to supply electricity in 1903, (fn. 39) but it was not until c. 1916 that a supply was laid on to the town, and it was carried out by a private undertaker, J. H. Edwards, under powers granted in 1912. (fn. 40) An 'engine-house' built adjoining the new blind-house in Nelson Street in 1830 was presumably for a public fire-engine, and in 1838 the Stroud feoffees paid money to the improvement commissioners towards the cost of a new engine. (fn. 41) The board of health was maintaining a small permanent brigade in 1868 when it also lent its support to the formation of a volunteer brigade. (fn. 42)

Water supply for the town before the later 18th century was from wells, the chief of which were Gainey's Well north-east of the town, Hemlock's Well to the south which was in use by 1618, (fn. 43) and a well at the Cross. A pump drew the water from the well at the Cross by 1720 when money was assigned for its maintenance, but it later fell into disuse and was removed before 1826. A new pump erected by the improvement commissioners in 1839 did not function satisfactorily and was later converted to a drinking-fountain. (fn. 44) In 1744 Richard Arundell obtained permission from the lord of Over Lyppiat to convey water by pipes from a house called Snows to the town. (fn. 45) The scheme was never completed but c. 1769 Benjamin Grazebrook laid leaden pipes from Gainey's Well to a reservoir near the Cross and supplied houses in the lower part of the town in return for annual payments. (fn. 46) By the early 19th century another system had been built to supply the upper part of the town from springs near Kilminster Farm. In 1834, the Stroud Water Works Co. proprietors of Grazebrook's works, purchased the other concern from its owner William Hopson. (fn. 47) In 1864 the company sold its works to the board of health, (fn. 48) who in 1882 were supplying the town from Gainey's Well and large reservoirs built at the junction of the new and old Bisley roads. (fn. 49) In 1882 the new Stroud Water Co. was incorporated and empowered to supply the surrounding parishes and the outlying parts of Stroud parish by means of a pumping station at Chalford and a reservoir on Minchinhampton common, (fn. 50) and from 1890 the Stroud U.D.C. took water from the company to supplement its own supply. (fn. 51) In 1938 the urban district's and the company's concerns were merged in a joint water board for the district. (fn. 52)

A dispensary supported by subscriptions was established at Stroud before 1755, and from 1823 was housed in a building on the corner of Bedford Street and George Street; a casualty hospital was built adjoining it in 1835. (fn. 53) In 1875 a new 30-bed Stroud General Hospital, built by public subscription, was opened south of Trinity church. (fn. 54) It was enlarged in 1890 and a new wing added in 1919. (fn. 55) The General Hospital remained independent of the joint hospital board formed before 1897 by the Stroud U.D.C., the Stroud R.D.C., and the Nailsworth U.D.C.; the board maintained an isolation hospital for smallpox cases in Bisley parish and in 1904 built a new infectious diseases hospital at Cashe's Green near Randwick. (fn. 56) A burial board was formed in 1855 and a cemetery laid out east of the town by the Bisley road. (fn. 57)


  • 1. Glos. R.O., D 745/M 1.
  • 2. Ibid. D 2043.
  • 3. Ibid. D 745/M 2; the death of Eliz. Clutterbuck, owner of the Thrupp House est., which had taken place 23 years earlier, was among those presented.
  • 4. Ibid. D 1157, Clutterbuck fam., deeds of Minchinhampton and Nether Lypiatt 1649-1801.
  • 5. S.C. 2/175/11-12.
  • 6. Glos. R.O., P 320/CW 2/1.
  • 7. Ibid. P 320/VE 2/1.
  • 8. Ibid. 2; P 320A/VE 2/1-3.
  • 9. Ibid. P 320/VE 2/1.
  • 10. Ibid. Q/SO 1, f. 160v.
  • 11. Ibid. D 914/5; cf. ibid. D 1180/10/40, which names that part of the street as Workhouse Street.
  • 12. Ibid. D 1842/H 3/1.
  • 13. Ibid. P 320/VE 2/1, entry for 1774; P 320A/OV 9/1.
  • 14. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 170-1.
  • 15. See pp. 144-5; Glos. R.O., D 914/31.
  • 16. Glos. R.O., P 320A/VE 2/2.
  • 17. Ibid. P 320/VE 2/2.
  • 18. Ibid. 1.
  • 19. Ibid. P 320A/VE 2/2.
  • 20. Rudder, Glos. 711-12.
  • 21. Glos. R.O., P 320A/OV 9/1.
  • 22. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 170-1.
  • 23. Poor Law Returns (1830-1), p. 66; (1835), p. 64.
  • 24. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 170-1.
  • 25. Ibid. 1818, 144-5.
  • 26. Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. p. 523.
  • 27. Fisher, Stroud, 330.
  • 28. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 900.
  • 29. Glos. R.O., P 320A/VE 2/3.
  • 30. Stroud Improvement Act, 6 Geo. IV, c. 6 (Local and Personal).
  • 31. Fisher, Stroud, 65.
  • 32. Census, 1901.
  • 33. Glos. R.O., D 1347, Wyatt solr., office papers.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Ibid. Q/RUm 314; Stroud Gas Act, 27 & 28 Vic. c. 40 (Local and Personal).
  • 36. Glos. R.O., D 1347, deeds of mills at Bourne 1756-1872, mortgage assignment 1860.
  • 37. Index to Private and Local Acts, 1801-1947 (H.M.S.O. 1949), p. 683.
  • 38. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1863), 347; Glos. R.O., Q/RUm 314.
  • 39. Glos. R.O., Q/RUm 577.
  • 40. Ibid. 597; Stroud and Mid-Glouc. Dir. (1916), 33; cf. Index to Private and Local Acts, p. 786.
  • 41. Glos. R.O., D 914/14.
  • 42. Libby, Stroud, 88.
  • 43. Glos. R.O., D 1842/T 1.
  • 44. Fisher, Stroud, 29-32; 14th Rep. Com. Char. 76-7.
  • 45. Glos. R.O., D 745/M 4.
  • 46. Fisher, Stroud, 30; cf. Glos. R.O., D 745/M 5.
  • 47. Glos. R.O., D 1347, Wyatt solr., office papers.
  • 48. Fisher, Stroud, 31.
  • 49. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Glos. XLI. 16, XLIX. 4 (1885 edn.).
  • 50. Glos. R.O., Q/RUm 442; Stroud Water Act, 45 & 46 Vic. c. 81 (Local).
  • 51. Glos. R.O., IN 2; cf. Richardson, Wells and Springs of Glos. 119-20, 197.
  • 52. Index to Private and Local Acts, p. 879.
  • 53. Fisher, Stroud, 177-8, 183.
  • 54. Libby, Stroud, 47-50.
  • 55. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1927), 332.
  • 56. Ibid. (1897), 306; (1906), 308.
  • 57. Fisher, Stroud, 331.