Uttoxeter in pictures - 1976 and 2016
PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 June 2016 | UPDATED: 09:47 17 June 2016
A look through Derbyshire Life's archives inspires a visit to the town situated midway between Derby and Stoke-on-Trent
In his 1978 Shell Guide to Staffordshire, Henry Thorold described Uttoxeter as ‘a frontier town’ between Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Preceding this by two years Derbyshire Life highlighted its history and charm in a town feature by the late Rosemary Riggott, noting that, although separated from Derbyshire by the River Dove, ‘its heart is in Derbyshire’.
There have been many changes in the last 40 years, some of the more obvious include: new housing estates; new bypasses of the town and the town centre with two of the islands adorned by impressive metallic sculptures; a pedestrianised main street; at least three new supermarkets; and a retail development on the edge of the town centre with an entertainment centre with ‘ice rink, cinema and 8-lane tenpin bowling alley with glow lighting’ – no less.
A recent visit showed that although a lot has changed, Uttoxeter has managed to keep its identity and its charm. The cattle market may be no more but popular markets still bring the elegantly refurbished market place to life several days a week. The churches, memorials, timbered houses, blue plaques in honour of famous past sons and daughters, and even the bunting remain. There are still interesting independent shops and cosy places to enjoy a coffee or a pint, and – most importantly – whether you’re exploring the town or passing through on the way to enjoy some horse racing, you will receive a warm and friendly welcome.
THE MARKET PLACE
The Market Place. In 2006-07 the Market Place was part of a major project to refurbish several of the town centre’s main streets. Today the memorial (right) to the ‘penance spot’ where in 1780 Dr Samuel Johnson stood for several hours in the rain for refusing as a youth to help his father, has been joined by the Millennium Monument. Inscriptions round the edge record Uttoxeter’s history and achievements – a recent addition is the name of the town’s celebrated swimmer Adam Peaty who will be spearheading Team GB in Rio this summer. Inside the monument a time capsule contains examples of products from the town’s chief industries and work by local schoolchildren, while on top a brass panel shows the planets in the position they were as the year 2000 dawned and functions as a sundial.
In 1845 Henry Bamford set up an ironmongery business in Uttoxeter Market Place, this became Bamfords Ltd. In 1958 Bamford’s became a public company and by 1976 it was employing 700 people with premises covering 20 acres. It had achieved worldwide recognition and Queen’s Awards for export achievement in 1966 and 1967. The company went into liquidation in 1981 and today part of the site has been re-developed and the rest is awaiting development. The company is remembered today in a plaque on the bridge from where the photograph was taken which reads ‘Bamford Bridge named by the people of Uttoxeter 6 December 2006’.
High Street – today this section of the busy street has been paved and traffic excluded. What you can buy in the shops might have changed but the attractive street scene with its mix of old and new remains pretty much the same – and the red, white and blue bunting still flies.
CHURCH OF ST MARY’S
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and the war memorial (now protected by bollards and with commemorative poppy wreaths). A chequered history, the original church – built between 1325 and 1350 – was damaged by fire in the 17th century, pulled down with the exception of the tower and spire and rebuilt in 1828, renovated in 1877 and further restored in 1956. On the war memorial plaques commemorate the 178 men of the town who died in the First World War and the 45 who gave their lives in the Second World War. In 1991 a plaque was added to remember Sgt M Dowling, killed while on active service in the Gulf War.
The railway arrived in Uttoxeter as part of the North Staffordshire Railway’s Crewe to Derby line in 1848, followed by the Churnet Valley Line in 1849 and the Stafford and Uttoxeter Railway in 1867. By the end of the 19th century the town’s three stations had been amalgamated into this one. A fire destroyed the station building in 1987 and today the town is served by the Crewe to Derby line managed by East Midlands Trains. It offers the bonus of direct access to Uttoxeter Racecourse and alongside station volunteers have created a pretty garden with a display board of photographs of the station ‘back in the days of steam’.
Carter Street. The characterful timber-framed cottage in the centre of the photograph was built in 1628 and is Grade II listed. In the mid 1800s it was home to Uttoxeter’s man of letters, Francis Redfern, who wrote a definitive history of the town. It is now Redfern’s Cottage; Museum of Uttoxeter Life. It opened as a heritage centre in 1987 and in 2010 the building and its collections were leased by the council to the Uttoxeter Heritage Trust. It re-opened as Redfern’s Cottage; Museum of Uttoxeter Life. Currently under redevelopment, it is open Tuesday to Saturday, 1-4pm.