The Crown & Anchor and the missing straw pheasant …

• The devastation that a fire can cause to a thatched roof - the Crown and Anchor in 1937 - picture courtesy of Staffs Past Track
The devastation that a fire can cause to a thatched roof – the Crown and Anchor in 1937                                                          – picture courtesy of Staffs Past Track

Within Living Memory

with Philip Leason

of the Stone Historical & Civic Society

Carrying on down Station Road, we arrive at the iconic Crown and Anchor.  I often wonder just how many readers will have noticed the two dates above the door – 1675 and 1937.  The first refers to when the Crown & Anchor was originally built the second references when the upper part of the building was destroyed by fire,  rebuilt and opened in time for the Coronation of George VI on 12th May 1937.

In the 1972 an old garage which was next to the Crown & Anchor and had been used by Plant Taxi’s  was demolished and a dining room, new toilets and kitchen were built on to the Crown & Anchor. Of course the main feature of the Crown & Anchor is the thatched roof.  When it was last re-thatched, the thatcher placed a straw pheasant on the gable end but, it being Stone, someone climbed up the roof and stole it.

The Crown and Anchor was, naturally, a Joules house and when the brewery was taken over by Bass, documents relating to the assets were transferred to Bass. Unfortunately the deeds for the Crown & Anchor were lost – a director had to sign a statutory declaration to confirm that Joules had actually owned the premises.

I wonder if the original deeds ever turned up … if any readers know the answer to this, we’d be delighted to hear. Amazingly, despite virtually all of this area and the High Street is Grade II listed, we can’t find any reference to the Crown & Anchor being a listed building … again, if anyone knows why the Mill, The Crown and the Swan are all listed, but not the Crown & Anchor.

Across the road, on the corner of Newcastle Street and High Street, was the Co-op Butchers which was previously William Blakemans Butchers.  The interior of the shop was lined with white tiles and the meat was displayed in the windows on the High Street.

At the side of the shop on Newcastle Street was a counter that sold fresh fish. Unlike today, when everyone has a refrigerator, you ordered your joint for the weekend in the week and it was delivered to you on a Saturday (so that it would be fresh) by an errand boy (Remember the “boy Raymond” in Dad’s Army?) riding a bicycle with a wicker basket on the front.

One thing that everyone remembers about a Co-op shop is their mother’s “divi number” –  ours was 21024. Next to the Co-op we come to the office of the The Stone & Eccleshall Advertiser.  The editor was Robert (Bod) Musgrave who was also a Lay-Preacher at St. Saviours at Aston.  They also produced The Staffordshire Magazine which incorporated the Six Towns Magazine.

One of the features of the magazine was “Geraldine’s Diary” written by Geraldine Adamson which covered reports on most of the social events in the county.  When Geraldine retired the feature was taken over by another journalist who worked for the newspaper – Monica Belcher.  Monica was the wife of Bob Belcher who was the surveyor for Stone Urban District Council.

Outside work Monica was involved in running the swimming club and had a great interest in palmistry, a subject which she talked about at a great many clubs and societies in the area.  In the early days of Stone Festival the newspaper produced the Festival Programme (ED. Not so different to today then?)  When the newspaper closed the upper part of the premises were used by Etchurch who produced china, brass and silver plated articles – all engraved with churches. One of the offices was also used by the Stone reporter for the Evening Sentinel.

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 – if you have any photographs relating to the    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.

ED. Ironically, the Stone & Ecclehall Gazette – purely by happenstance, is now behind where the old Co-op used to be and runs parallel to the new Co-op.  I’m a big believer in synchronicity (Sting is too) … I see plans and patterns … a phrase originated by Koestler in his tome, Ghost in the Machine … another reference to Sting.  Ultimately what it all means is in life, things happen for a reason that isn’t always apparent at the time.