Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/779

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

boots and shoes; there are ironworks, and salt is prepared from brine wells in the neighbourhood. These also supply baths. The parliamentary borough was extended in 1885, when the representation was reduced from two members to one. The town is governed by a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors. Area, 1084 acres.

In the beautiful well-wooded neighbourhood an interesting site is that of Stafford Castle, on a hill commanding a wide prospect. The existing ruin is that of an unfinished mansion dating from 1810, which replaced an old stronghold. Beyond it is an early encampment, Bury Ring.

Stafford (Stadford, Staffort, Stafforde) is said to have originally been called Betheney from Berthelin, a hermit who lived here. The first authentic mention of it is in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, where it is stated that Aethelflead, lady of the Mercians, in 913 built a fort at Stafford. It was a place of considerable importance in later Anglo-Saxon times, and the evidence of coins shows that a mint then existed here. Stafford is described as a borough in Domesday Book, and at the time of the survey it was the chief place in the county though many of the houses were “wasted.” The king received all the dues, two-thirds coming to him as king, the other third as earl of Stafford. From the Domesday Survey it appears that the Conqueror took certain land out of the manor of Chelsea in order to erect a castle at Stafford; this was destroyed in the wars of the 17th century. A charter from John in 1206 constituted Stafford a free borough. In 1399 the government was by bailiffs. In 1501 it was ordered that two bailiffs should be elected annually out of a council of twenty-five burgesses. Charters were granted by Edward VI. in 1551 and by James I. in 1605, the latter incorporating it under the title of the mayor and burgesses of the borough of Stafford: owing to irregularities in elections, another almost similar charter was given by George IV., under which the town was governed until 1835. In Elizabeth's reign Stafford was in a depressed condition owing partly to the decay of the cap manufacture which formerly had been considerable. Speed (d. 1629) states that Lichfield is “more large” than Stafford: in the middle of the 18th century the town had “greatly encreased of late by their manufacture of cloth:” about the same time the shoe trade began. Two fairs, to be held on St Matthew's day and on the 4th of December, were granted in 1261 and 1685 respectively, and are still kept up. There are now eight annual fairs in all.

STAFFORDSHIRE, a midland county of England, bounded N.E. by Derbyshire, E. by that county and Leicestershire, S.E. by Warwickshire, S. by Worcestershire, S.W. by Shropshire and N.W. by Cheshire. The area is 1171.2 sq. m. The county includes the valley of the Trent from its source to the point at which it becomes navigable, Burton-upon-Trent. It rises in the extreme north of the county, and follows a southerly course, turning eastward and finally north-eastward through the centre of the county. Its tributaries on the left bank follow a course roughly parallel with it; the chief are the Blythe and the Dove, which receives the Churnet from the west, and forms the county boundary with Derbyshire. The country between Trent, Churnet and Dove is undulating and beautiful; the hills rise to some 1800 ft. on the Derbyshire border in Axe Edge near Buxton, and continue by Mow Cop or Congleton Edge along the Cheshire border to the coal-bearing hills above the Potteries district. Dovedale, the name applied to a portion of the upper valley of the Dove (q.v.), attracts many visitors on account of its beauty, and is in favour with anglers for its trout-fishing. South of the Trent, about the middle of the county, an elevated area is known as Cannock Chase, formerly a royal preserve, now a wealthy coalfield, and the high ground, generally exceeding 500 ft., continues south to surround the great manufacturing district of south Staffordshire (the Black Country), and to merge into the Clent and Lickey Hills of Worcestershire. A small area in the north-west drains to the Weaver, and so to the Mersey, and from the west and south-west the Severn receives some small feeders and itself touches the county in the extreme south-west. The only considerable sheet of water is Aqualate Mere, in the grounds of the mansion of that name near Newport in Shropshire.

Geology.—The Pennine folding gently plicates the northern of two Carboniferous tracts interrupting the Midland Triassic plateau in Staffordshire, but affects the unconformable Trias less. It isolates the Pottery and smaller coalfields mainly in synclines, but elevates the western margin of the former anticlinally. A prolongation arches the South Staffordshire Coal Measures, with minor saddles disclosing Silurian inliers, intermediate formations being absent there. Faults depressing the Trias bound the southern coalfield on both sides, the northern Carboniferous westward. At Walsall Upper Llandovery Sandstone with Stricklandinia lens and Barr (Woolhope) Limestone (Illaenus barriensis) underlie Wenlock Shales, succeeded, as at Wren's Nest and Dudley, by Wenlock Limestone in two beds, honeycombed with old lime-workings and famous for trilobites. At Sedgley there follow Lower Ludlow Shales, Sedgley (Aymestry) Limestone (Pentamerus knighti) and some Upper Ludlow Shale. Carboniferous Limestone, with gently-sloping hills and deep valleys, enters the northern region on the east. It contains brachiopods and corals of the Dibunophyllum zone, with lead and copper, once worked at Ecton. Marine Pendleside (Yoredale) Shales, with thin limestones and higher sandstones, ascend around a central syncline and the northern margins of the coalfields into the Millstone Grit, whose four grits in massive escarpments, only the “First” and “Third” persisting westward, alternate with shales. The Pottery Coalfield, the centre of potteryf manufacture, though local clays now furnish only coarse ware and the “saggars” in which pottery is baked, includes 8000 ft. of Coal Measures, chiefly shales, clays and sandstones, diminishing southward. The Lower and Middle Measures (5000 ft.) contain the principal coals, about forty, with comparatively barren strata (1000 ft.) preceding the Winpenny, Bullhurst, Cockshead, Bambury, Ten-foot, and higher coals associated with “clayband” ironstones. The neighbouring Cheadle Coalfield comprises the lower 2000 ft., with the Crabtree, Woodhead and Dilhorne coals; two other little coalfields comprise only the lowest strata. The South Staffordshire coalfield has 500—1000 ft. of equivalent measures, with the Bottom, Fireclay, New Mine, Heathen, the composite Tenyard and other coals, besides ironstones to which the Black Country originally owed its hardware industry. Plants (Lepidodendron, Neuropteris heterophylla), fresh-water shells (Carbonicola acuta, C. robusta) and fishes are characteristic fossils; but the roof of the North Staffordshire Crabtree Coal (Lower Measures) and several higher bands yield marine goniatites, &c. Shales, pottery-clays and “black-band” ironstones with thin Spirorbis-limestones, Entomostraca and Anthracomya phillipsi (Blackband Series), succeed in the Pottery Coalfield. Then follow red brick-clays with ashy grits (Etruria Marls); white sandstones with Pecopteris arborescens (Newcastle-under-Lyme Series); red sandstones and clays with Spirorbis-limestones (Keele Series); paralleled in South Staffordshire respectively by Red Coal Measure Clays, Halesowen Sandstone, and beds like the Keele Series. Around this the Triassic sequence ascends outwards through Bunter (Pebble-Beds between Mottled Sandstones), Keuper Sandstone and Waterstones into Keuper Marl, which, containing gypsum and brine-springs, covers the central plateau, the sandstones emerging marginally and axially. The Pebble-Beds rise in Cannock Chase, and fringe the northern coalfields. Rhaetic outliers on Needwood Forest contain Axinus cloacinus. The Rowley and other doleritic sills and dikes invade the southern, one dike the Pottery Coalfield and the Trias.

Glacial drift partly conceals the rocks. Irish Sea ice, entering on the west, left boulder-clay with stratified sands, and mingled with local material, Lake District and Scotch erratics, and shells swept from the sea-bed. It threw down a gravelly moraine before the marginal hills of the Pottery Coalfield, and concentrated countless boulders between Rugeley and Enville. Barred northward by this ice, the Arenig glacier carried Welsh erratics across South Staffordshire to Birmingham. North Sea ice with Cretaceous and Jurassic debris reached east Staffordshire.

Agriculture.—Nearly four-fifths of the total area of the county is under cultivation, and of this more than two-thirds is in permanent pasture, cattle being largely kept, and especially cows for the supply of milk to the towns. Like most of the midland counties, Staffordshire is well wooded. The acreage under corn crops is steadily diminishing, and wheat, which formerly was the principal corn crop, is now superseded in this respect by oats, which occupies over one-half of the corn acreage, little more being under wheat than under barley. Turnips are grown on about half the acreage under green crops.

Manufactures.—The manufactures of Staffordshire are varied and important. Out of the three great coalfields in the north, south and centre (Cannock Chase), the two first have wholly distinct dependent industries. The southern industrial district is commonly known as the Black Country (q.v.); it is the principal seat in England of iron and steel manufacture in all its branches. It covers an area, between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, resembling one great town, and includes such famous centres as Walsall, Wednesbury, Dudley (in Staffordshire) and West Bromwich. The northern industrial district is called the Potteries (q.v.). Cheadle, east of the Potteries, is the centre of a smaller coalfield. Burton-upon-Trent is famous for its breweries. Chemical works are found in the Black Country, brick and tile works in the Black Country