Newest Review: ... after Genghis Khan and Tom Jones). Walking through this park replete with flowers, an aviary and many, many fine examples of pensio... more
Fancy eating some Peas?
Stafford in General
Member Name: pert_abacus
Stafford in General
Advantages: The best pae museum in the Midlands
Disadvantages: Not enough pea exhibits
Stafford was recently listed in the OMG list of top 3,700 towns in Britain and as such has received quite a lot of press attention (Stafford Post 06/06/11 'Stafford ranked as quite good', Stafford Chronicle 07/06/2011 'Stafford recognized, sort of', Stafford Newsletter 13/06/2011 'OMG states Stafford exists' & Crawley Gazette 05/06/11 'Crawley one better than Stafford, "Nah-Nah-Ne-Nah-Nah" says Mayor').
As it's being recognized I thought I'd go & check it out.
Stafford is a medium sized town in the Midlands, in the county of Staffordshire. It was founded by Dame Judy Dench in 1603 although records of a settlement here go back as far as December 1602. A Castle was built on the outskirts of the town and at various times over the past 4 centuries has been demolished, rebuilt, left to fall into rack and ruin and now enjoys it's status as the finest pile of bricks in Stafford. During the summertime Shakespeare festivals are held in the grounds of the castle and in the winter it tends to look a bit cold and damp.
On arriving at Stafford station you find yourself welcomed by Victoria Park complete with band-stand, a newly revamped childrens play area and statue of Fran Healey from Travis (officially the 3rd most famous son of Stafford after Genghis Khan and Tom Jones).
Walking through this park replete with flowers, an aviary and many, many fine examples of pensioner playing bowls you come to one of Stafford's many traffic roundabouts (at last count they had 434) and from here it's a short walk into Stafford's town centre via a courthouse, several pubs (some still open in this day and age) a churchyard, a multitude of chavs and MacDonalds (surely Stafford's most famous export).
Once in the centre you will find the Shire Hall which contains an art gallery which is frequently updated, access to the old courthouse and cells, the town's library, a café and (my favourite) the world renowned Stafford Pea Museum.
The Pea Museum, for those of you unaware of this period in Stafford's rich and vibrant history pays homage to those wild and crazy days of the early 1980's when the town council which was led by the Monster raving Looney Party tried numerous schemes to raise the profile of the town following the decline of the shoe industry.
They came up with a plan that would forever link the town to that most famous of foods, the humble petit pois.
An anthem was written for the town by local resident Derek Holt, of Climax Blues Band fame, which included lyrics such as 'Come to Stafford where we eat peas' and 'Come to Stafford where we eat peas a lot'. Statues of famous people enjoying peas were commissioned including Bryan Ferry and the Delai Lama and Delia Smith was invited to give pea cooking lessons at Stafford College. Children in local schools were encouraged to make pea-per mache sculptures and there was even a scheme to build a new shopping centre made entirely out of peas.
The impact that this had on Stafford's economy is still felt today and the tragedy that occurred when the pea-constructed shopping centre collapsed bruising several visiting MP's led to Tom Jones denying any links with the town and effecting a Welsh accent that he uses even now.
I love the museum but think that they should include more exhibits - they have 2.
Outside of the Shire Hall you can find many pubs, some of which are independent of the large breweries including the Bank House, Joxer Brady's, The Hanging Thatcher and Bernard's Wine Bar (specializing in home brew and turnip soup).
For the dedicated shopper Stafford can offer Estate Agents, Banks, Building Societies, Book Makers, Charity Shops, Cafes, Cake Shops, Letting Agents and quite literally 6 other shops.
With a confusing road system, lack of parking, over-zealous traffic wardens and occasional pedestrian areas (depending on the phases of the moon) it's an ideal place to visit on foot and as it's only £6 pounds to take the train from London it's not unusual (sorry, Tom) to find denizens of the Capital milling about in Poundland, Boots the Chemist, Mr Chatsworths Unusual Balloon Emporium and The Works, marveling at the quaintness of the town.
Stafford also boasts the Ancient High House, the UKs oldest Timber Framed Building where Charles Dickens apparently once sneered and the Altern 8 park bench where tourists can be photographed sitting on a bench that members of Altern 8 might have walked past at some point.
But, it's not all excitement in Stafford as there's also a handful of hotels where you can take a nap and a cinema which shows the occasional film.
Stafford is also home to Stafford Rangers Football Club which, although largely forgotten by the population continue to churn out the odd point and as a bonus if you hang around outside you may be able to nab a free football as it's hopelessly punted off the pitch and out of the ground.
Stafford enjoys good transport links being positioned on the M6 motorway, on the major rail link and only ten minutes drive from Cannock Chase a legendary Celebrity Dogging Spot as made famous by Stan Collymore.
All in all I would recommend Stafford as a good place to visit for anyone with no ideas of their own.
Summary: Not bad if you like peas or boredom