A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9, Burton-Upon-Trent. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2003.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Lying north of Burton beside the river Dove, Stretton was a small village until extensive housing development took place in the second half of the 20th century. There is still much farmland, however, on the west and east sides of the village.
Formerly a township in Burton ancient parish, Stretton was later a civil parish covering 1,247 a. (505 ha.). (fn. 4) Despite its proximity to Burton, it did not become part of the municipal borough in the 19th century but was in Tutbury rural district until the creation of the East Staffordshire district in 1974.
The boundary on the south-east side of the township ran up the west arm of the river Trent and then up the river itself, where it formed the county boundary with Derbyshire. The county boundary on the north-east side followed the river Dove in the Middle Ages, (fn. 5) but by the late 16th century it ran mostly along the mill stream which leaves the river near Dove Cliff. That was still the boundary in the later 18th century, even though the bridge over the Dove was then a joint county responsibility. (fn. 6) By the 1820s the boundary no longer ran the full course of the mill stream but deviated southwards to the river Trent. It was restored to the line of the river Dove in 1991. (fn. 7)
A boundary change in 1985 added some land on the north and west sides of the township respectively from Rolleston and Outwoods civil parishes, but transferred the whole of the area east of the railway line to Burton. (fn. 8) In 1991 land from Egginton (Derb.) was added to Stretton in order to restore the county boundary to the course of the river Dove, and the area of Stretton civil parish then became its present 1,115 a (451 ha.). (fn. 9)
The underlying rock is mudstone, overlain on the west side of the township with bands of alluvium, river terraces, and glacial gravel. The soil is a slowly permeable fine loam mixed with some clay. (fn. 10) The land lies at its lowest, c. 143 ft. (43 m.), beside the river Trent. Stretton village stands at 176 ft. (54 m.), and the land continues to rise to the west, reaching 200 ft. (61 m.) on the boundary.
Nine people were assessed for tax in 1327. (fn. 11) The adult population listed in an Easter Book probably of the 1550s was 106. (fn. 12) In 1660 seventy adults were assessed for poll tax, excluding servants, and in 1665 twentyfour households were assessed for hearth tax, with a further thirteen households too poor to pay. (fn. 13) The population was 330 in 1801, rising steadily to 374 by 1821, 410 by 1841, and 472 by 1861. It was 484 in 1871 and then rose more sharply to 698 by 1881 and 825 by 1891. It was 857 in 1901 but had fallen to 804 by 1911 and to 789 by 1921. In 1931 it was 904. With pre- and post-war housing expansion, the population had reached 1,934 by 1951, 2,222 by 1961, and 4,258 by 1971. A slight fall to 4,151 by 1981 was reversed by renewed housing development and in 1991 the population was 7,329. (fn. 1)
Main Roads The Burton-Derby road was turnpiked in 1753, and by 1757 there was a tollgate just over the north side of the mill stream. (fn. 2) Beech Road was the main route to Stretton village until Princess Way was laid out in the earlier 1980s along the line of a dismantled railway. (fn. 3)
Bridges There was a bridge carrying the Derby road over the river Dove between Staffordshire and Derbyshire by at least the earlier 13th century, when it was called Egginton bridge after the adjoining parish in Derbyshire. Later in the same century the bridge was rebuilt and maintained by John of Stretton, prior of Burton abbey, after whose death the inhabitants of Egginton refused to make a contribution to its upkeep, claiming that responsibility rested with the abbey: an inquest of 1256, however, found that the bridge was maintained by the alms and legacies of the whole neighbourhood (patria). (fn. 1a) Still called Egginton bridge in 1294, it was known as Monk bridge in 1394 when the Crown granted a chaplain permission to collect alms for its repair. The chaplain built himself a chapel on the bridge, and in 1398 a chantry was established there dedicated to St. Anne, evidently in honour of the queen. (fn. 2a) By the mid 16th century Egginton parish was at least partly responsible for its upkeep: two of its church bells were sold in 1548 to raise money for repairs. By the late 17th century the bridge was a county responsibility shared by Staffordshire and Derbyshire, who widened it in 1775. (fn. 3a)
A new bridge over the Dove was built on the north side of Monks bridge when the road was realigned in the 1930s, and it was retained when the A38 bypass was opened in the late 1960s. (fn. 4a) Monks bridge survives as part of a slip road.
What was called Small bridge in 1301 was presumably a bridge over the mill stream to the west of the river Dove. It was known as Little Monks bridge in 1762, when it was repaired at the cost of the lord of the manor. (fn. 5a)
Canal and Railways The Trent and Mersey canal, whose Burton stretch was completed by 1770, runs through the centre of the township. It is carried over the river Dove by an aqueduct. (fn. 6a)
The Birmingham-Derby railway line running diagonally across the east side of Stretton was opened in 1839. (fn. 7a) A station called Stretton and Clay Mills on the North Staffordshire Railway Co.'s branch line between Tutbury and Burton was opened in 1901 on the west side of Stretton village. It was closed for passengers in 1949 and demolished in 1964. The track was removed after the line was closed completely in 1968, and the northern stretch running into Rolleston was converted in 1972 into a country walk named the Jinny Nature Trail after the train which ran between Tutbury and Burton. The southern stretch of the line was relaid in the earlier 1980s as a road called Princess Way. (fn. 8a)
Stretton village The name Stretton is Old English and means an estate or village beside a Roman street (straet), a reference to Ryknild Street which ran diagonally across the township. (fn. 9a)
The present village lies on higher ground some distance west of the Roman road, on a site possibly first occupied in the 13th century when Burton abbey was expanding its direct landholding in the area. (fn. 10a) In the later 18th century houses were clustered around a large green, (fn. 11a) where the present Anglesey Arms public house, so called by 1891, existed as the Marquis of Anglesey in 1834. (fn. 12a) A church was built in 1838 and a National school opposite it in 1842. (fn. 13a) By the late 19th century the village had spread southwards along the west end of Beech Road, and some council houses were built there and in Church Lane and Hillfield Lane in the early 1920s. (fn. 14) Council houses at the east end of Beech Road near its junction with Derby Road and private ones in closes off the east side of Derby Road were probably built in connexion with the opening of the Pirelli rubber works near by in 1929. The Beech hotel existed by 1932. (fn. 15)
The village began to expand rapidly in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the rural district council built houses in Clay Mills Road and Dovecliff Crescent, at the north end of Church Road. Further council houses were built in Hall Green Avenue in 1957 and in an extension, Priory Lands, in 1968; the Jordan Avenue private estate on the east side of Church Road also dates from the 1960s. (fn. 16) A shopping centre to cater for the increasing population was built c. 1970 on the site of a farmhouse in the angle of Church Road and Hillfield Lane. (fn. 17)
There was considerable private house building in the 1980s in Guinevere Drive and Lancelot Drive (on the west side of Church Road), and in Athelstan Way and Britannia Way (on respectively the north and south sides of Bitham Lane). The Western Park estate beside the Trent and Mersey canal off Princess Way was built in the early 1990s, and in the late 1990s the Stretton Park estate was being laid out on the north side of Hillfield Lane near the canal.
Clay Mills After the corn mill north-east of Stretton village was replaced by a forge in the mid 18th century, a settlement known as Clay Mills developed near by along the Derby road. (fn. 18) About a quarter of the township's population lived there in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 19) Dovecliff Hall In the 1790s Thomas Thornewill, the owner of a forge converted from Stretton corn mill, built himself a house beside the river Dove at Dove Cliff in the north of the township. (fn. 1b) The grounds in the late 1840s covered 39 a. (fn. 2b) Thornewill was succeeded in 1843 by his son Edward (d. 1866), (fn. 3b) whose widow Mary continued to live at Dove Cliff until her death in 1880. (fn. 4b) In 1881 their son, Edward John, sold the estate to William Joseph Smith of Alvaston (Derb.), who also bought the family's iron works at Stretton. Smith died in 1891, and in 1897 his widow Frances sold Dove Cliff house with 55 a. to Hugh Spencer Charrington, a Burton brewer, already the tenant. (fn. 5b) Charrington died apparently in 1921, and the house remained unoccupied in 1928. (fn. 6b) It was a hotel in 1932, but seems to have been a private house again by 1936. (fn. 7b) Known as Dovecliff Hall by 1987, it was opened that year once more as a hotel, still its use in 1999. (fn. 8b)
Built of red brick with stone dressings on a square 5bayed plan, the two-storeyed house has a hipped roof, sash windows, and external doorways with Ionic colonettes. The north projecting porch was added, probably when the house was re-ordered internally in the 1890s or early 1900s.
Wetmore Hall Farm Wetmore Hall Farm on the township's southern boundary existed by the later 1750s, and was probably built to replace a house a short distance to the south at Wetmore, in Horninglow. (fn. 9b) The house in Stretton was rebuilt in the earlier 19th century, and a barn survives dated 1818 with the initials of members of the Harrison family, the tenants. (fn. 10b)
Services As in Burton, mains water was supplied by the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company, and houses were connected to Burton corporation sewers from the late 1930s. (fn. 11b) Clay Mills pumping station was built in the early 1880s as part of a new sewerage system for Burton. (fn. 12b)
The Paget Lodge of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) was established in 1882. It was amalgamated in 1989 with the newly-formed Trent Lodge in Burton. (fn. 13b)
A village hall was built on the south side of Church Road in 1960, and was named the Priory Centre when extended in 1987. (fn. 14a)