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Stafford pub names mark moments in history

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: May 24, 2014

The Albion inn - named after HMS Albion which was involved in the bombardment of Sebastopol

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A PUB crawl around parts of Stafford becomes almost like an historical trail with many hostelries bearing names which give clues to milestones in our country's history.

So get on your feet and walk around some of the pubs which have survived (and many which have not) and mark special events of the past by their names.

Take the Plume of Feathers established under a different name on Foregate Street in 1794, but in 1857 was so named to reflect the fleur-de-lis, the heraldic badge of the newly-created Prince of Wales that year - later to become King Edward VII. It closed in 1957.

The Rifleman at Stafford Common - closed six years ago - was originally called the Rifle Volunteer Arms and was opened in 1861, a year after the formation of a volunteer corps attached to the North Staffordshire Regiment.

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The old Albion inn on Marston Road opened in 1851 during the Crimean War in which HMS Albion was involved in the bombardment of Sebastopol. . . the old pub suffered a similar fate, demolished in 1965 and reopened in new premises a year later. Sadly, it too closed four years ago.

The late lamented Prince Albert pub on Friar Street was opened in 1841, a year after the marriage of Prince Albert to the young Queen Victoria. Sadly the pub was demolished after its closure in April 1978.

The Abercrombie on Gaol Road was built in 1812 and is a reminder that Major-General Sir Ralph Abercrombie commanded British forces in the Mediterranean fighting Napoleon's army a few years earlier.

Take a walk down South Street and at its junction with Peel Street, one would have found the Sir Robert Peel opening in the 1850s soon after the death of the parliamentarian who founded the Metropolitan police force.

Of course, the modern-day fad of renaming well-established pubs often obscures their history. . . take the Gate Inn on Weston Road, for instance, now called the Metropolitan bar but in years past marked an area where four gates were sited on the old turnpike road.

These pubs and many more are listed by John Connor his second book on the Inns and Alehouses of Stafford and he provides rich entertainment about the past and present.

Did you know, for instance, that an address on County Road once served as a Methodist chapel until 1848 when the Snow Hill chapel was built - and the old building was converted into the Black Horse, though it closed in 1932.

The Greyhound Inn was opened by Benjamin Tortoiseshell, a curious name and an individual with a variety of occupations including that of stay maker and the baker for the Stafford jail opposite.

Stafford's proud links with shoemaking was recognised in the naming of Crispin's Tavern, St Crispin being the patron saint of shoemakers, while the Curriers Arms on Sash Street referred to that craft of stretching and finishing tanned leather ready for use in shoes or saddles. The pub closed in 1913.

The Hop Pole Inn (Sandon Road) refers to the tradition of growing hop vines on poles while other trades are represented by the Joiners Arms (Marston Road) Plough Inn (Browning Street) and Railway Inn (Castle Street).

As in his first book, John Connor provides a valuable insight into the meanings of pub signs and a valuable reference for those who suspect that some of their ancestors may have been in the licensed trade.

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