Stroud, Gloucestershire

Stroud, Gloucestershire

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Stroud
latitude= 51.7443
longitude= -2.2151
civil_parish= Stroud
population = 12,690 [UK 2001 census data for Stroud Civil Parish. Source: [ Neighbourhood Statistics] .]
shire_district= Stroud
shire_county = Gloucestershire
region= South West England
constituency_westminster= Stroud
post_town= STROUD|postcode_district = GL5
postcode_area= GL|dial_code= 01453
os_grid_reference= SO851051

static_image_caption=Stroud town centre from Rodborough Fort

Stroud is a town and civil parish in the county of Gloucestershire, England. It is the main town in Stroud District.

Situated below the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hills at the meeting point of the Five Valleys, the town is noted for its steep streets and cafe culture. The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town in all directions, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west.

Although not formally part of the town, the parishes of Rodborough and Cainscross lie adjacent to Stroud and are often considered part of it. The three parishes had a combined population of 23,644 at the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001.


Historically, Stroud is known for its involvement in the Industrial Revolution. It was a cloth town; woollen mills were powered by the small rivers which surge through the five valleys, and supplied by Cotswold sheep grazed on the hills above. Particularly noteworthy was the production of military uniforms in the trademark "Stroudwater Scarlet" colour. There was a significant Jewish presence in the 19th century, linked to the tailoring and cloth industries. [ [ The Jewish Community Of Stroud, 1877-1908] Jewish Community and Records UK, Harold Pollins 1996. Accessed November 2006] . Similarly, the area was made home by a sizable Huguenot community in the 17th century, fleeing persecution in Catholic France [ [] The Pierre Chastain Family Association - Huguenot & Protestant Reformed Chronology] .

Stroud was a fairly major industrial and trading location in the nineteenth century, and so needed transport links. It first had a canal network in the form of the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal, both of which struggled to survive until the early 20th century. These canals are now being restored as a leisure facility by a partnership of British Waterways and the [ Cotswold Canals Trust] (formerly the Stroudwater, Thames and Severn Canal Trust) with a multi-million pound Lottery grant. Stroud railway station (on the Gloucester-Swindon "Golden Valley" line) was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Though there is much evidence of early historic settlement and transport, Stroud parish was originally part of Bisley, and only began to emerge as a distinct unit by the 13th century, taking its name from the marshy ground at the confluence of the Slad Brook and the River Frome called ‘La Strode’ and was first recorded in 1221. The church was built by 1279, and it was assigned parochial rights by the rectors of Bisley in 1304, often cited as the date of Stroud's foundation.

Many historic buildings and places of interest can be found in the area. They include the neolithic long barrows at Uley, Selsley Common and Nympsfield to the west; Roman era remains at Frocester, West Hill near Uley, Woodchester and Calcot Manor; the medieval buildings at Beverston Castle; and the outstanding Tudor houses at Newark Park and Owlpen Manor. Woodchester Mansion is a masterpiece of the Gothic Revival by local architect Benjamin Bucknall.

From 1837 to 1841, Stroud's MP was Lord John Russell of the Whig party who was later to become Prime Minister. Russell was one of the most important politicians of his day, responsible for passing many acts of parliament such as the Public Health Act of 1848, but he is mainly remembered as one of the chief architects of the Reform Act 1867. This act, also known as the Second Reform Act, gave the vote to every urban male householder, not just those of considerable means. This resulted in the electorate being increased by 1.5 million voters. Lord Russell is remembered in the town by two street names, John Street and Russell Street, as well as in the name of the Lord John public house.


There is still a small textile industry (the green baize cloth used to cover snooker tables is made here), but today, the town functions primarily as a centre for light engineering and small-scale manufacturing, and a provider of services for the surrounding villages.

The Stroud and Swindon Building Society has its headquarters here. Stroud is also home to the headquarters of the renewable energy provider Ecotricity.

Farmers' Market

A farmers' market, launched in 1999, takes place every Saturday at the Cornhill market. It was nominated for the national "Farmers' Market of the Year" in 2001 and won it in 2007. It also won the Cotswold Life magazine award for the best farmers' market in Gloucestershire in 2003, 2004 and 2005.


The town is home to two of Gloucestershire's last remaining state grammar schools: Marling School for boys and the Stroud High School for girls. They continued on long after the comprehensive school became the norm in secondary education, and their future was the subject of long-running controversy; they were among the first schools to "opt out" and become grant-maintained. The two schools now share a mixed sixth form, called the Downfield Sixth Form, which works in a three-way consortium with Archway Sixth Form and Stroud College and attracts pupils from many surrounding schools.

The town's other secondary schools are Archway School, a comprehensive school located in the Paganhill area, and Thomas Keble School in Eastcombe.


With novelists Sue Limb, Jilly Cooper, Jamila Gavin, Katie Fforde, and national newspaper journalists like The Guardian 's food critic Matthew Fort following in the footsteps of Rev W Awdry, and W H Davies by making the Stroud area their home, the town is steadily gaining a reputation as a magnet for literary talent. Two of its most famous sons are the authors Laurie Lee, whose most notable creation Cider with Rosie is set in the nearby Slad valley, and Booker Prize-winning author Alan Hollinghurst.

Character and amenities

Visitors and locals say that there is a unique and 'laid back' air to the town, which is home to a significant number of artists, authors and poets. Stroud has a significant 'bohemian' community that dates back to the early part of the twentieth century, and today includes a number of people who pursue 'alternative' lifestyles. Britain's first purpose-built cohousing community was built in the town. [ [] The Guardian - 'Pulling down the fences']

"Stroudie" (sometimes spelt "Stroudy") is a locally used term for residents of Stroud. There is a stereotype of the Green Party-supporting Stroudie, generally opposed to genetically-modified produce, oil companies (Esso in particular) and McDonalds, though one has now opened, after much protest. Stroud was one of the birthplaces of the Organic food movement and was home to Britain's first fully-organic café, Woodruffs. For many years Stroud has hosted a fringe festival on the second weekend in September. The town also now hosts regular monthly Vintage Fashion, Textile and Accessories Fairs in the Stroud Subscription Rooms, and is holding an International Textile Festival in 2008.

The Green Party came to national prominence here in the early 1990s when a new large Tesco supermarket was planned for the vicinity of Stratford Park. This would have led to the removal of a long line of mature trees. After a long running battle a compromise was eventually found.

Stroud has a strong community of independent shops and cafés, which provide the mainstay of the retail experience in the town. Alongside this, the town centre has recently witnessed two controversial developments in the form of a new cinema (which replaced the bus station) and a branch of McDonalds which, when plans were unveiled in 2004, came against a lot of opposition from locals. The success of small businesses has, in recent years, caused a number of national retail chains to open outlets in the town.

In March 2008, a community radio station, Stroud FM, was launched in the town, broadcasting 24 hours a day on 107.9FM. The station, staffed by volunteers and funded by donations, has an output mainly focused on local news and music, but also plays a range of national and international music.

The Subscription Rooms in the heart of the town centre provide a venue for entertainment and also house the local Tourist Information Centre. In addition to the farmers' market there is a smaller market held in The Shambles, an area adjacent to the steep High Street. On the fringes of the town are Stratford Park, originally the park of a small stately home, now home to a leisure centre with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and the Museum in the Park, a museum of the history and culture of the Stroud valleys.

Stroud acts as a centre for many surrounding villages and small market towns including Minchinhampton, Amberley, Slad, Bisley, Stonehouse, Woodchester, Painswick, Chalford, Thrupp, Sheepscombe, Nailsworth, Dursley and Oakridge.

Famous inhabitants

The town's most famous children and residents are mainly authors and artists:
* W. V. Awdry, creator of "Thomas the Tank Engine", moved to the area
* Leo Baxendale, creator of Minnie the Minx lives nearby
* Isabella Blow, fashion stylist extraordinaire, lived in Edge, nearby
* Edwin Beard Budding, (1795-1846) inventor of the lawnmower and adjustable spanner, born and died in Stroud
* John Canton (1718–1772), physicist
* Lynn Chadwick, sculptor
* Jasper Conran, designer and son of Terence Conran lives nearby
* Jilly Cooper, author, moved to the area
* William Moseley, young actor (star in "The Chronicles of Narnia")
* Katie Fforde, author, moved to the area
* Damien Hirst, artist, has a studio in Chalford
* Alan Hollinghurst, author, born in Stroud
* Jamila Gavin, children's author, moved to Stroud
* Jenny Joseph, writer of "I Shall Wear Purple" lives in nearby Minchinhampton
* Laurie Lee was born in Stroud and bred in the Slad Valley, the setting of "Cider with Rosie"
* Ted Milton, poet, puppeteer and founder of the band Blurt
* Robert Charles "Jack" Russell, former Gloucestershire and England cricketer, and now artist.
* Matthew Fort, food writer, critic, and Guardian food columnist
* Eamon Hamilton, frontman of Brakes and former keyboard player of British Sea Power, was raised in Stroud.
* Emma Samms, actress, lives in Stroud
* Sade, musician, lives nearby
* Tom Smith, lead singer of Editors, was born in Stroud.
* Keith Allen, actor, comedian, singer, writer, and father of singer-songwriter Lily Allen, has a home in Lypiatt and is often seen in town.
* Tamzin Malleson, actor, grew up in the area, attending Archway School, and now lives in Lypiatt.
* Peter Hennessy, English historian of government and Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary, University of London, attended Marling School.
* Colin Prockter, actor, moved to Stroud from London. Co-wrote the TV programme "Luna" and has recently been in "Doctor Who".
*Alan Thornhill, Sculptor
* Tim McInnerny, actor (probably most famous for his roles in BBC TV's "Blackadder"), attended Marling School.
* Jamie Hornsmith, Bass Guitarist of The Rakes and award winning print artist.
* Sir Martin Evans, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was born in Stroud.


The current Member of Parliament for Stroud is David Drew of the Labour & Co-op Parties. For further details see the article on the Stroud constituency.

The local newspaper is the "Stroud News & Journal", a paid-for weekly Newsquest title with a circulation of around 19,000.

A rival weekly newspaper, [ Stroud Life] was launched in 2008.

Twin towns

* Saint-Ismier, Isere, France
* Stroud, Oklahoma, USA
* Duderstadt, Lower Saxony, Germany
* Stroud, New South Wales, Australia

Songs about Stroud

* "Stroud, The Town Of Make Believe" by Blurt, on the album "Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hit"


External links

* [ Stroud Town Council]
* [ Stroud District Council]
* [ Stroud District Tourism Site]

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