Within Living Memory

image of village flood
with Philip Leason of the Stone Historical & Civic Society

Paints, distempers, enamels, brushes, varnishes, white lead, wallpapers and borders … DIY in Stone in the 1950’s

Last month we took time to look back at the history of the War Memorial in Granville Square -this month we stay in the Square to remind us of some of the businesses which were based there. One business on the Square which I failed to mention and which several eagle eyed readers have brought to my notice (it’s gratifying to realise just how many readers follow this column), was Fashion Wise. They were based on Station Road, where the estate agents is today, opposite to Wetherspoons.. They also took bookings for Cheadles Taxis.

The buildings which now form part of Tim Toft’s Violin shop were built in 1820 and some readers will remember when they were the offices of Walters and Welch Solicitors. When they ceased trading from the address in the 1980’s the cellars turned out to be a revelation.

Down there were a number of deed boxes which had not been opened for quite a considerable time. Under the supervision of the County Records Office each box was duly opened. For local historians there was a jewel of a find – a box full of various object associated with Earl St. Vincent including his hat.

Apparently towards the end of his life the Earl suffered from severe head colds and so he had a special hat made with extra padding in the top and flaps that went down over his ears. As a print by Charles Turner, dated 1822 shows) and this was indeed the hat that the Earl wore … and over 150 years later, here it was.

The discovery was reported in the press and sadly for Stone, someone came forward with the necessary paperwork and claimed the objects. A few years ago a group of members of the 1805 Club visited Stone for a “Earl St. Vincent Weekend” and I had the singular pleasure of showing them some items associated with the Earl in the Council Chamber including a copy of the print of him wearing the hat.

I explained about how the hat had been found and was told by one of the visitors that she knew where the hat now was. A few weeks later I received some photographs of the hat from the person who now owned it – apparently the new owners had put the hat for sale and this person had purchased it for £7,000 to add to his collection.

And next to Walters and Welch were offices of Stubbs & Co. Ltd., Corn Merchants. These premises were later to become a small coffee shop known as “The Little House.” Apparently the wood panelling for the café had been rescued from an old building that was being demolished in Stafford. Does anyone know where it came from? And adjoining “The Little House.” they were two shops. The first was that of H. S. York, Electrical Engineer who later moved to premises in the High Street where Age Concern U.K. is today.

Next door to York’s was the paint merchants of J. W. Preston. In 1948 they ran an advertisement proclaiming that they have a wide selection of “paints, distempers, enamels, brushes, varnishes, white lead, wallpapers and borders.”

How decorating products have changed!

Eventually Preston’s took over both of the premises and then these premises were taken over by H. G. Paints and Wallpapers who in 1969 advertised that they had “over 2000 patterns of wallpaper to choose from in our showroom.”

Stone Girl Guides in Granville Square in 1958
Stone Girl Guides in Granville Square in 1958 – waiting for a bus to take them to the Stone Division Guide Camp at Beaudesert on Cannock Chase. In the background is H S York which well now know as Granvilles. … pic courtesy of Staffordshire Past Track

I hope that the above will be back memories to some readers and will be of interest to others.Please help us to keep the heritage of Stone alive for generations to come. If you have any photographs relating to anything mentioned here please contact Staffordshire Past Track.

All photographs will be treated with the utmost care and returned safely to their owner after they have made digital copies.