Banner

Back to the English Counties Page
Facts

STAFFORDSHIRE

Owlbut

Owlbut

Break
FUN FACTS

Staffordshire is the 18th largest county or metropolitan borough in England.
Staffordshire has the 17th highest population in England.
Staffordshire is in 25th place for density of population.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. Tamworth Castle is a Norman castle, funnily enough in the town of Tamworth in Staffordshire. Originally the site was used by Offa, the ruler of Mercia, who built a palace there. The Vikings destroyed the palaces several times, they were briefly rebuilt, but in 1080 Robert Despenser, a steward to William the Conqueror, built a typical wooden motte and bailey castle. It is one of the best preserved motte and bailey catles in the country. Later the castle was rebuilt in stone and that is the building that you can see today.

    Over the years the moat on the town side fell into disuse but in 1810 a new gatehouse was built. A mill was built and this was painted by J M W Turner in 1832 and you can see his watercolour on the right. In 1897 Tamworth Castle was sold to Tamworth Corporation for the people of Tamworth, at a cost of three thousand pounds. It opened as a museum two years later in 1899. The Royal connection since Norman times is quite large as the castle was visited by Henry I, Henry II, Henry III, Edward II, Edward II and James I who was accompanied by his son, later to be Charles I.

  3. Staffordshire Eats
  4. The Staffordshire Oatcake, known locally simply as an oatcake, is basically a thick pancake. It is made from oatmeal, flour and yeast and cooked on a griddle or, in older days, probably on a hotplate over an open fire. They were a major part of the diet of the 18th and 19th century pottery workers.

    Wives and older women would make these cakes for the workers, make far too many and then sell the extra ones from the windows of their houses or in the local market. The oatcakes can have a variety of fillings such as cheese, tomato, onion, bacon, sausage, and egg. Some people sell them with sweet fillings such as golden syrup, jam or banana, although traditionalists don't like this. One of the advantages of the oatcakes is that, once made and prior to any filling, they can be reheated, the old-fashioned way being to steam them between two plates over a saucepan of water.

    After a steady decline over the last 50 years there now seems to be an oatcake revival. Take advantage of it.

  5. Staffordshire VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born in Staffordshire in the last 100 years:-
    Robbie Williams (Singer), the late Sir Stanley Matthews (Footballer), Anthea Turner (TV Presenter), Phil Taylor (World Champion Darts Player), the late Ian Fraser Kilmiste, better known as Lemmy (Founder of Motorhead), Eddie Hall (World's Strongest Man 2017) and Nick Hancock (Actor, Comedian and TV Presenter).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Doxey Pool is a small pool of water measuring about 50 by 33 feet. It can be found close to the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border on a rocky ridge known as the Roaches. It is a weird area for several reasons. The pool always seems to be full of water despite there not appearing to be any visual supply. Some locals claim that the pool is actually bottomless or connected by an underground supply to another pool nearby known as Blakemere.

    Other people claim that the pool was man made and as a tribute to the Goddess Brigid. She was associated with the coming of spring and fertility and there is an altar overlooking the pool which might, they say, have been used for some pagan ceremonies.

    The pool is also said to be the home of a mermaid called Jenny Greenteeth, also known as the blue nymph. It is said she fell in the pool on a foggy day while on the ridge and has since been enticing unsuspecting suspects down to the pool and their watery grave. In 1949 Miss Florence Pettit claimed to have seen a weird creature emerge from the water just as she was about to take her morning swim.

    It is also possible you might see other strange creatures although they may now be extinct. During WWII five wallabies escaped from a private zoo and managed to breed in the area despite the harsh winters. Sightings are very rare but one was reported in 2015. It could be that there was once a colony of about 50 so..... who knows?

  9. It Happened Here
  10. In the late 19th century a German scientist, Justus von Liebig, discovered that brewer's yeast, that is yeast used to make beer, could be concentrated, bottled and eaten. In 1902 a company was founded in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, where the brewer's yeast was readily available, to sell the product. At first the product was sold in a casserole dish and a French casserole dish is called a Marmite and so the company took the name of the Marmite Food Extract Company. You can see a marmite on the jar. By 1907, the product had become successful enough to warrant construction of a second factory at Camberwell Green in London. The original recipe contained salt, spices and celery. Later folic acid, vitamin B12, thiamin and riboflavin were added in high concentrations.

    Marmite now comes in many flavours and is sold all over the world. You can buy Marmite flavoured crisps, rice cakes, flavoured cashews notes and even mini-cheddars. Some people say it can protect you against mosquitoes; I assume you spread it on. For those that have never tried it I have to tell you, in the jar, it is a dark brown sticky paste with a very salty, powerful taste, Yes I have tried. The marketing slogan they use is "love it or hate it". I would say I am indifferent to it, neither liking nor hating.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. PLEASE DON'T WATCH THE VIDEO CLIP TILL YOU HAVE READ ALL THE SECTION.

    Staffordshire is another drive-through county in this virtual journey. I have never stayed there and, indeed, I may not even have stopped there, except of course at traffic lights and other necessary places. However, from my youth, I knew, don't ask why but I think we learned this at primary school, that Staffordshire, and more importantly Stoke-on-Trent, was known as The Potteries. It was a place where, in the early 17th century, an industry making porcelain, earthenware and stoneware grew up. It originlly centred on six towns, namely Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstal which now make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent. It came about because of the local availability of clay, salt, lead and coal, all necessary in making pottery.

    By the late 18th century North Staffordshire was the largest producer of ceramics in Britain. However, although some production remains it is nowhere near the levels of the 18th and 19th centuries. You may have heard of some of the potteries that existed. Wedgwood, Spode, Doulton, Moorcroft and Mintons are probably the most famous.

    However, this is called Richard Remembers and so when I starting writing about The Potteries I was reminded of something from my youth. We didn't have TV in the way you do now. We had two channels and sometimes there needed to be an interval between programmes on the BBC to allow changes between studios and sometimes there was a breakdown in a studio. To cover these gaps, and they happened quite often, the BBC produced some short interlude films, the most famous of which, and how this story fits here, was known as The Potter's Wheel film. It showed Georges Aubertin throwing a pot on a wheel and then making the pot although if you watch closely he never completes the pot, he just keeps remaking it. The music was called The Young Ballerina by Charles Williams. You may now spend 5 minutes waiting for the next programme. Ah, life as it was.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. I wanted to be a bit different this week. You won't find a Honey Buzzard in Staffordshire and even if they were there, you wouldn't know about it. The Honey Buzzard is a large bird of prey and similar to the Buzzard. However there are only 41 breeding pairs in England and so their nesting sites are kept secret to protect them from stupid people, cruel people, who might take their eggs for their own collection. The bird is a summer visitor to its breeding sites and spends the winter in Africa.

    They are up to 60 cms in length, have a wingspan up to 150 cms and can weigh between 600 grams and just over one kilogram. They eat the insect larvae of wasps and bees. They have wide wings and a long tail. Their feathers are different colours depending on their age with adults being mainly greyish-brown on the upperparts and whitish underneath. They have yellow legs and a short, black beak which is hooked. I just wanted you to know that not all birds are safe from extinction so please don't frighten any of any breed that might be nesting. We need to breed.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip into Staffordshire check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020