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Gnosall History
J.C. Staton & Co. Ltd
When John Clarke Staton started to manufacture, and sell gypsum plaster in 1838, little did he realise that prior to the firm losing its identity a century and a quarter later, it would be the oldest surviving name in plaster in this country. The beginnings were small, and activities probably restricted to manufacturing a little plaster of paris, and floor plaster, and selling building materials. William White’s “History and Directory of Staffordshire” of 1851 lists the firm as:- “Staton, John Clarke, Co., plaster of paris, gypsum etc. manufacturers. Union Mill, BURTON ON TRENT” This building at one time known as the Steam Mill in Pinfold Lane (now Park Street) near to the present Orchard Street. Pinfold Lane was also where John Staton lived in 1846, and noted in the birth certificate of his second son, William Newton Staton. By the early 1860’s, the works had moved to Shobnall. The following advertisement appeared in “The Burton on Trent Times and General Advertiser” on May 31st, 1862:- J.C. STATON & CO. Manufacturers and deals in Roman, Portland, and Parian Cements, Plaster of Paris, and floor plaster. Grottostone, gypsum for manures, Blue Lias Lime & C. Drain pipes, Chimney Tops and firebricks. Stores: Station Street Works: Burton on Trent, Shobnall Mills It is probable that there had been a previous store in Moor Street. The Shobnall works were situated hard by the canal by which gypsum stone at first came from Chellaston twice a week. The barges unloading over the towpath directly into a receiving shed. There were many sources of supply at Chellaston, which had been a centre for alabaster and plaster for several centuries, but it is quite probable it came from land owned by a member of the Newton family. “Glover”, volume 2, part 1 of 1829 on Chellaston states that George Newton owned 28 acres of land from which gypsum was extracted. In the middle of the century Henry Newton was the owner of gypsum mines at Chellaston, and a small plaster business at Rugeley (Colton Mill). Very little is known about John Clarke Staton. It is probable he was tall and well built – cricket and cockfighting were his main interests, for which he travelled many miles by pony and trap. The name of Staton was not an old Burton one, but Clarke was, this may have been his mother’s maiden name. This kind of association was carried on by John Staton himself. In 1841 he married Miss Catherine Newton, and, of his children several had Newton for a Christian name. This practice was carried on for another two generations in the Staton family. The link of the two families was strengthened when William Newton left the family business at Rugeley in the hands of a Mr. Cox and joined his brother in law at Burton. In 1858 J.C. Staton, and William Newton were partners trading as J.C. Staton & Co., sharing profits equally. With the coming of the North Staffordshire Railway in 1848, it became easier to procure gypsum stone from Fauld. Horses and carts were used to convey the stone from the quarry the 3 miles to Sudbury station, and thence by rail a further eight miles to Shobnall. Expansion no doubt followed. More grades of plaster including Potters, and Keenes Cement were manufactured, the former on open hearths, the stirring done by hand. Keenes cement was made by the original formula, today known as the “Double Burnt” method. Dental plaster was also produced by baking the lumps of raw stone in flat bottomed ovens and named by the firm “Italian Fine Plaster” in acknowledgement of the formula. In 1870 there was an alteration in partnership when William Newton Staton, son of J.C. Staton, joined his father as co- partner, and upon the latters death, assumed full partnership. On coming to Shobnall William Newton gathered about him some several key men – Herbert Wright from Chellaston, and a local man, Arthur Newton became identified with the Statons. From Rugeley and Chellaston came plaster boilers and a miller, who all served the firm for many years. The miller, William Cooper with this white “Captain Kettle” type of beard, gave over 50 years service as did two of his sons who also were millers. Tom Keen, many years Foreman Boiler came from Chellaston, the Hodsons and Jack Taylor from Rugeley. Henry Newton, also owned a plaster business at Gnosall, and from here his son, Henry, born 1855, moved to Shobnall to act as agent. On 3rd March 1883, William Newton leased Shobnall Mill for 21 years to his two nephews, William Newton Staton, and Henry Newton, the younger, partners trading as J.C. Staton and Company. Meanwhile, during the 70’s, John Staton’s son and namesake, leased or bought the Fauld Quarry, succeeding two brothers named Orme, farmers of Fauld. This may have been the last of a family business. White’s “Staffordshire Directory” of 1834 names Sarah Orme as an Alabaster Dealer of Fauld. The 1851 edition similarly describes Henry Hill, and John and James Orme as farmers. Gypsum, mainly for alabaster, had been sporadically procured from the district for centuries. The Normans used it in the West Doorway of Tutbury Church in the 12th Century, and records show that John O’Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, had a monument erected in St. Paul’s Cathedral in memory of his Duchess in 1363 – the chief material being alabaster from Tutbury; the cost being including carriage, £486. T. Trafford Wynne for many years Mines Manager, and mining engineer at Fauld, wrote in 1905 that on the small hills around Castle Hayes between Tutbury and Fauld, may be seen the remains of shallow excavations, where blocks of alabaster had been extracted bodily in the past. During the latter part of the 16th Century the Burton School of Alabasterers was pre-eminent in the carving and polishing of alabaster monuments, and tombs, succeeding the Nottingham School who probably had difficulty in extracting suitable stone from Chellaston after many years of excavating. The main source of raw material for these “marbellers” was the Fauld, and Tutbury area, much of it from Duchy of Lancaster land. Whilst the foregoing is not directly concerned with the history of Statons, it helps in appreciating the background of the industry and area which John Staton now found himself associating with. The following is also of interest. Dr. Robert Plot visited Staffordshire in 1680 in connection with his “The Natural History of Staffordshire” published in 1685. In it he states “This sort of alabaster, but yet of coarse sort, is also found at Coton under Hanbury and there has of it been dug at Draycot in the clay; indeed the whole bank of red marle between the Forrest or Chase of Needwood, and the River Dove from Marchington to Tutbury has Alabaster in it; but that at Castle Hays is incomparably the best of which they make Gravestones, Tables, Paving Stones, Chimney Pieces, etc. and in smaller things, mortar and salts; they turn it also into Candlesticks, Plates, and Fruit dishes, or whatever the customer desires”. The doctor also describes the manufacture of plaster in those days. First they lay on the ground a stratum of wood (which is best) or a load of wood and coal mixed together, upon which they pile as much rough Alabaster: then firing the wood they let it burn together till it is out which makes the Alabaster so soft and brittle that it only needs to reduce it to powder, the greater part where of being separated from the smaller by sieve: the former mixt with water are used for flooring, and the finer for sealing and walling of houses. When they wet their floors, whether for dwelling for Moulthouses, they wet a whole tub full and throw it down together; but when they seal or prage with it, they wet it by degrees, which they call gageing; and in both cases they lay it on and spread it as fast as they can, for it hardens (as Plaster of Paris) in a very little time”. An improved form of this method was in use in the early nineteenth century at Fauld; until 1944 there were the remains of the brick Kiln and the threshing floor, where the burnt gypsum was beaten with flails. “Alabaster House” is a cottage standing at the end of the old lane leading to Shading Common and the now defunct Peter Ford works, and is near to Fauld Manor. As a boy the writer remembers reading the legend painted on the gable end but now obliterated. It read:- J.C. Staton and Company. Office. Burton on Trent Memories play tricks but his guess is that it also read “Founded 1789”. Referring, of course, to the Fauld Quarry. The Revd. Stebbing Shaw published his book “The History of Antiquities of Staffordshire” in 1798 and has this to say about Fauld. “The soil is mostly of a stiff nature, intermixed with marle and gypsum, these being some pits of the latter recently opened here”. This may have been the first commercial effort in the extraction of gypsum, and the beginning of the time when plaster would be more important than alabaster. Even so, for a long time so little plaster was made that it was the custom for a contractor ordering plaster to pay a lump sum to the mine owner and to install an agent at the scene of operations to ensure that the material was duly delivered on time. At the same time the prosperous Victorians made a lot of use of alabaster panels in public buildings and for ornaments in the home. In the book “The Natural History of Tutbury” (1857) by Sir Oswald Mosley, Bart and E. Brown, there was a coloured print of the Fauld quarry showing huge pieces of gypsum, and two workmen resting. This was no doubt the old quarry situated just west of the new H.M.S. plant at the British Gypsum Fauld Works. Now for the first time, the families concerned with Statons had a first class supply of stone near at hand and under their own jurisdiction. Many changes were on the way. In 1879 John Staton brought Joseph Foster from the Shellaston mines to drive an adit or tunnel into the side of the hill from the old quarry. The cost of removing the overburden was getting more expensive as the quarrying cut further into the side of the hill. There was also a short tunnel driven along side to provide a second entrance. Three years later Joseph Foster joined Peter Ford who had been extracting gypsum for alabaster from the hills around Fauld. For the restoration of Hanbury Church in 1880-1. Mr. Ford provided the alabaster and took an active part as sculptor. He then leased from the Duchy land on the Tutbury and Castle Hayes side of the quarry where Joseph Foster undertook the driving of another tunnel. The first portion of Peter Ford’s works for the manufacture of plaster and Keenes cement was built in 1883. A contributor to the “Pall Mall Budget” described a visit in 1889 to an alabaster mine, and was taken round by a Mr. Tipper. Mr. Tipper was probably the manager for Mr. Ford, and was the joint founder with a Mr. Eaton of the Needwood Plaster & Cement Company at Draycott in the Clay a mile or so northwest of Hanbury. The works and mine were opened about 1890. When Statons old quarry was abandoned is not quite clear. It may have been in the early 80’s. The new site was about half a mile to the west, nearer to the lower part of Hanbury Hill. This in itself brought about a new situation. Up to the Enclosure Act of 1801 all the 9,400 acres of Needwood Forest had been in possession of the Sovereign as Duchy of Lancaster, and had remained so since John O’Gaunt’s son become Henry IV in 1399, except during the Commonwealth period. Under the new Act, much of the area was disafforested, roads built, and most of it became the property of former freeholders, title holders, and copyholders leaving the Duchy with 3,225 acres. Thus, although the Duchy had and still possesses many acres between Fauld and Tutbury Castle some land to the west of the Fauld was owned by W.E. Bowers, of Stallington Hall near Blythe Bridge. Consequently royalties from the new site would be due to Mr. Bowers, who also leased Fauld Manor from the residence of J.C. Staton (Jun.) in 1905. A clue to the change of site was given by what are the probable first royalties paid to Mr. Bower. In 1884-5 the total was £8. 8.2. rising to £927. 14.2 in 1906-07. After this date the amount gradually fell, owing to the judicious buying of land in the Hanbury and Fauld district by the Company and Mr. Newton. The original royalty is not stated but as from April, 1904, it became 8¾d. per ton: as the total amount fell for two years following it was probably a reduction. The Franco-British Exhibition at the White City in 1908 would account for the high tonnage in 1906-7 and 1907-8. On 16th August, 1883, there was an agreement with the North Staffordshire Railway to carry gypsum stone from Sudbury Station to Shobnall for two shillings a ton in company wagons and one shilling and sixpence per ton in owners wagons. From the new site Joe Rowe supervised the drilling of the second (really the third) tunnel. Joe came with several other miners from Chartley and was mine foreman with Statons for many years. His grandson, Ernest Buckley, was the victim of one of the few fatal accidents under Statons. This tunnel was in operation until about 1935. Although it is not known what tonnage was extracted or continued to be taken from the old quarry the Bowers royalties doubled in 1887 and showed in the increase of production. In 1890-91 there were 10,859 tons of plaster produced. Even so this was probably less than during the previous three years. The last term was during the change from Shobnall to Tutbury. The Shobnall works were quite extensive in the 80’s. An illustration on the back of envelopes used by Statons showed this to be so. There were three bottle shaped kilns presumably for the manufacture of Parian or Keenes cement. A long building with four chimney stacks in line, no doubt where plaster was calcined, and an isolated building and stack probably for dental plaster manufacture. On the roadside was an office, and sheds for loading and unloading, the entrance to the latter being on the canal bank. Goods for loading by rail were taken by horse and cart were taken over the road to the Midland Railway siding. The main L. & N.W. Railway line is also seen in the background. Later, a siding was constructed directly into the works. Some of the buildings still stand and, in this year of 1969, are used as a store by an old established and well known firm of building contractors, Thomas Lowe and Sons of Burton on Trent and London. The second Thomas Lowe and Henry Newton were friends and business associates for many years. In 1889 Alfred Wilkins joined the firm, and for over 50 years he served as clerk and chief clerk. Among some invaluable notes Mr. Wilkins left was one that when he joined the firm Henry Newton was the sole manager, William Staton being a sleeping partner. The partnership was terminated in 1906. On the 9th November, 1988, W.E. Bowers leased a strip of land to Henry Newton (still referred to as “the younger”) for the purpose of building a tramway from the new site to Scropton sidings on the North Stafford Railway, some three miles by the route chosen but much less in direct line. Here the stone was to be loaded into company or own wagons for conveyance to Shobnall. For this purpose the Railway Company extended their water outlets and build two retaining walls. All other work was done by Statons, who also laid a branch line to the works of Peter Ford and Son and undertook to convey their goods to and from Scropton. This arrangement was continued until 1944. The tramway was opened in September, 1889 and soon two steam locos by Bagnalls of Staff. were in operation on its narrow gauge. From an old photograph, a railway enthusiast, and former employee of Bagnalls, dated the locos as being built in 1890 and 1891. When production started at Tutbury, and, as a result of some hard bargaining, the Railway Company agreed to charge eight pence per ton for the mile or so to Tutbury station if in owners wagons. There was an increase of 4 per cent in 1913, in 1920 it had risen to 1/11 ton and it fell in 1922 to 1/6 per ton. The removal to Tutbury was made possible by a contraction in the cotton trade. Woolcombing was the traditional industry of Tutbury followed by the spinning of silk. At the end of the eighteenth century silk was giving way to cotton, so the owners of the silkmill, John Botts & Co. petitioned the King in his right as Duchy of Lancaster, to utilise common land between the Little Bridge and the Great Dove Bridge for the purpose of spinning cotton. The prayer was granted, and the Duchy built a five storey, L shaped building, each arm being 100 feet by 30 feet. To provide power to drive two water wheels was diverted from the Little Dove at the south end of Butt Green or Common by means of a dam and a waste channel to empty in the Great Dove near to where the old ford had been. The mill was bought outright in 1823, there were extensions 1829, and new water wheels by Hewes and Wren to replace the old ones. There were further extensions in 1868 in the form of a single storey building 220 feet by 140 feet in the widest part. The roof was supported by cast iron columns ten feet apart with gangways of 20 feet, alternate columns serving as down pipes. This section was motivated by a Wren and Hopkinson steam engine. To provide more power two water turbines by Macadam of Belfast replaced the water wheels in 1880. Referred to as Bass and Wiggin and Gladstone they commemorated the two Liberal victories in the East Staffs Division, and the return to politics as Prime Minister of William Ewart Gladstone in the momentous General Election of that year. Alas! This service to cotton was short owing to the falling off of orders. In 1888 production was moved to the Tutbury Mill Co.’s other mill at Rocester, some miles up river, and the Tutbury mill stood empty for two years. This closedown no doubt led to unemployment, which led to a letter being sent to the Editor of the “Burton Chronicle” and published on 5th May 1889. It read:- Dear Sir, I cannot help but I must write to you. I have known you for many years and have always found you to be my friend. No doubt you will wonder who I am, but do not look at my signature until you have heard my complaint. I am getting on for a hundred years, and have been a good and faithful servant. There is plenty of work in me. I am a teetotaller and have been all of my life, now I regret to say I am out of work. I have plenty of water to drink but nothing to eat; my poor inside has nearly gone. Why? I cannot fathom. Cannot something be done for me? I have done well for my master, and will do so again; if only set going again would find employment for two or three hundred hands. Do all you can dear friends. Call a meeting and try to do something for me; otherwise I shall not know how to exist. Truly I am nearly broken hearted. Regretfully yours, THE OLD MILL. Help came from an unexpected quarter. Henry Newton was aware of the advantages of water power, and of the sound buildings. The good siding connection with the North Stafford Railway would be for the expanding Potteries trade, very advantageous, and the receiving of stone from nearby Scropton. Accordingly, he negotiated with Walter John Lyon representing the mill company who made a firm offer to lease the mill with a purchasing clause, which was later taken up. The lease became effective from first of July, 1890. Reconstruction work began immediately and it was possible to commence limited production in September. However, during the next spring misfortune struck when the weir broke down, or, to quote the opinion of the time “The Weir below up”. This artificial barrier on the main river ¾ mile up stream was probably built by Sir Edward Mosley in 1645 when he had a fleam cut close under the Castle Rough from the main river to replace the meandering branch known as the Little Dove. Originally forming the south boundary of Butt Green this stream formerly powered a corn mill, “The Mill under Shotwood” mentioned in Domesday, lower down stream, before it rejoins the main river. The weir had been ailing for some time. Thomas Webb, the cotton mill engineer expressed concern in his diary as far back as 1872. Repairs in concrete were carried out by Walkerdines of Derby, and a footway was built over the stream gates, replacing a footbridge 50 years nearer the mill. An echo of these repairs was heard in 1905 when Statons received a letter referring to the repair of the weir by the late owners. “The Executors of the late Thos. Webb” in June 1891. It was to the effect that the salmon pass was not according to the Board of Trade although satisfactory to the Trent Fishery Board. This in spite of the fact that no salmon had been seen in the river for nearly 20 years. For some months production was switched back to Shobnall where Arthur Newton had been left in charge. During this time the opportunity was taken to improve the Tutbury plant, Herbert Wright, the foreman, taking a leading part. There were now flat, circular open hearths, mechanically stirred for boiling Potters, Seconds and Thirds (afterwards renamed Pink) plasters, together with the Goodwin Barsby breakers and millstones for the final grinding. Dental and coarse baked plasters were made in flat bottomed ovens similar to the old bakers ovens. Calcining in this way was also the first stage in manufacturing fine, coarse and pink Keenes cement, and fine and coarse Pirian cements. The grinding was by edge runners. On resumption at Tutbury, William Newton moved from Rugeley to be Mill Manager, and on Shobnall becoming a depot, Arthur Newton took over the testing. D. Wilson joined A. Wilkins on the clerical staff, and when a new time recorder was installed about 1900, D. Wilson in his exquisite hand penned the notice attached. The recorder was in use for over 50 years, and with the original notice. Other long serve men who began in the early nineties included George Newton, William’s son, who was night foreman for many years, and retired after fifty seven years, and William Bridges, foreman boiler a long time, who was also skilled in the art of ropesplicing, keeping the many ropes, including the main drive of 360 feet, in good repair. The winter of 1894 was very cold; during the first part there were sixteen weeks of severe frost and the river was frozen solid. The story is told of former Tutbury cotton workers now at Rocester being surprised by Tutbury friends – they had skated all the way on the ice of the River Dove. Later in the year the Fauld miners undertook an export order probably unique in this country. Eighteen blocks of gypsum were sent to New York for alabaster pillars in a mansion then being built for Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt. Several of the blocks weighed 15 tons, and measured 14 feet 6 inches by 4 feet x 3 feet. One must admire the skill, ingenuity, and toil that enabled the Fauld miners to remove and transport the heavy blocks without the mechanical aids now known. Black powder was sued for blowing, the other tools being hand winches, steel feathers, augers, cross cut handsaws, and transported by pony and wagon. A driving accident in 1901 invalided John Staton, who soon afterwards retired to Bournemouth where he died. Henry Newton acquired the mine and proceeded to make a number of changes. His brother in law, T. Trafford Wynne, a mining engineer of worldwide experience, took charge of the mine, whilst William N. Staton, grandson of the founder continued as general foreman assisted by George Astle, then in the first few years of his half century of service at the mine. About this time came T.P. Eaton, later to be mill foreman at Tutbury for many years, followed by F.W. Robbets and W.C. Johnson, who, on returning from service in the Great War, took over the Potteries Agency until 1951. The old wooden railway bridge from the mill to Tutbury station was replaced by the present brick and steel structure in 1901: steam locomotives took the place of horses. The second one, a Manning Wardle of 1883 was in service until the 1950’s. About the turn of the century part of the original cotton mill buildings were occupied by a friend of Henry Newton, Henry Spurrier, for a light engineering business. When he moved he went to Leyland in Lancashire to form the Leyland Steam Boiler Co., the forerunner of the mighty Leyland Motors. A small lathe used by Henry Spurrier was in the mill fitting shop for many years. An important development took place in 1907 when the Gypsum Mines Ltd. negotiated for the acquisition of Statons, and, as a result, Henry Newton joined the Board of Gypsum Mines Ltd. J.C. Staton, Company continued to function as before and were incorporated as a Limited Company in 1909 with a nominal capital of £2,000. The first Directors were Henry Newton and T. Trafford Wynne, who also acted as Secretary. Although a Limited Company, the business was still very much a family concern; in 1911, for example, Leigh Hewton became assistant to his father, and Ben Newton, a nephew, took charge of the testing a little while later. A link with the past was severed in 1912 when the rights to supply gas to Tutbury were sold to the Burton on Trent Corporation. This undertaking had begun during the cotton mill days and carried on by Statons until this time when the gas works, which formed part of the mill premises, were dismantled. Just before and after the Great War, a source of pride was Staton’s Tug of War team. Captained by the “Jolly Blacksmith”, Tom Smith and over the years containing such stalwarts as Jim Oakey, Charlie Street, ‘Curly’ Hollins, ‘Crash’ Leedham (an unfortunate victim of a fatal accident), Buck Collier, Trevor Allen, Jimmy Harrison, Sam Birch, W. Collington, Alf Smith, Harry Coxon, and George Smith. Ably coached by George Astle with his own particular brand of forceful language many trophies were won. The Great War took a large part of the firm’s personnel, twelve of whom paid the supreme sacrifice. Of those who returned, twenty nine were present at a party given to them at Fauld Manor. After the war, Henry Newton placed a commission with Bridgemans of Lichfield for an alabaster altar in memory of his younger son, Lt. Trafford Newton, and his fellow members of the North Staffordshire Regiment who fell in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Intrinsically and delicately carved from Fauld stone this memorial is a beautiful addition to the South aisle of Tutbury Priory Church. With servicemen returning, things gradually got back to normal. Ben Newton resigned in 1920, and was succeeded by J.F. Newton, who was appointed Night Manager, a position he held until his untimely death as a result of a motorcycle accident in 1927. G.W. Allen joined the Company as a mining engineer enabling T. Trafford Wynne to take things easier at the Scropton Bank. In 1922 Major Leigh Newton, D.S.O., was appointed Managing Director; Henry Newton stayed as Chairman with undiminished interest as those employed in those days can testify. New comers to the staff included W.A. Smith, in 1919, who later succeeded F.W. Rabbots as Cashier and completed half a century of service, followed in 1925 by T.L. Coxon and later in the decade by George H. Hewton (grandson of Wiliam Newton, the first manager at Tutbury), and C.W. Balance. It is estimated that during the time of Tutbury Mill about 60 men completed between forty and fifty eight years service with the firm. The family tradition among employees has always been strong, not being confined to fathers and sons. At the mill at the same time were four Smiths, four Coopers, three Billings, three Bridges and three Becks; and at the mine four Billings, four Flints, three Archers, and three Smiths. One of the last named was originally with Henry Newton’s family at Gnosall. In the late twenties Leslie Smith was put in charge of the turbines and floodgates. For forty years he has combated high water, low water, floods, ice and leaves blocking the grids. At the time of writing he is still in charge but the turbines will not turn again, all shafts and wheels have been torn out. Restalls Adamantine Plaster was a retarded plaster to which the aggregate in the form of sand was added before sale; a heavyweight variety of the present aggregate plasters. The Hockley firm producing was taken over by Statons who manufactured the product for the Birmingham area between the wars. During this time Pink Plaster was also used in the making of partition blocks by Fred Jones & Company of London and Burton. This firm leased part of the Shobnall works for this operation and required the plaster to be delivered in jute bags, eleven to the ton. Up to the general use of paper sacks in the early thirties many firms insisted on using their own jute sacks weights varying according to the district of 22, 20, 14, 13, 12, 11 and 10 bags to the ton. In 1924 the old Racquets Court of cotton mill days were utilised to house two new style ovens for the making of Keenes cement. Owing to a decrease in demand for this commodity they were not restarted after the war. In the middle twenties drilling in the mine by compressed air was commenced although a large part of the stone was mined by hand until ten years later. For hauling purposes diesel locomotives appeared in 1932 to replace horses, the change over being completed by 1939. These locos were among the first diesels to be used underground in this country. The general strike of 1926 upset the smooth running of the mine and mill but experience of the Coal Strike of 1921 helped avert a stoppage. Existing coal stocks were good and were eked out by using wood, oil, sawdust, and ashes in order to keep producing. It was reported that the woods around the mine mouth were very much thinner by the time that the tramway locomotives were able to use coal again. The recession, which followed, hit the plaster trade, and for several years short time was the unfamiliar experience of Statons employees. Despite this the management looked ahead, and in 1928 began to produce a hardwall plaster by rotary kiln. Louis Kemp, a friend of the Newton family, and a Director of the Gypsum Mines Ltd. at Mountfield, took a leading part in the design and erection of the plant in cooperation with Major Newton. For many months Mr. Kemp was constantly at Tutbury until the teething troubles of the new anhydrous plaster, Statite, were overcome. In the year 1929, there were two illustrations of the disadvantages of water power. Sharp frosts prevailed throughout January, and at one time the mill dam was completely frozen over for a week or more. Salt was freely used on the turbines, but during one night they gradually slowed, and finally stopped. Several days elapsed before it was possible to free them. Heavy rains fell over a period in November, and a brook feeding the river Dove burst its banks south of Ashbourne. The flood water came overland flooding Hattan, and parts of Tutbury including the mill. Here fires were extinguished by the floods and work brought to a standstill. A wall of water entering from the cricket field prevented any effective action to restrain it; within minutes parts of the mill were under three feet of flood water. The mill area, the cricket field, and the Weir fields from an island bounded by the main river, the fleam, the mill dam and the tail water from the turbines. The first bridge from the road was opposite the Mill Farm entrance, according to a Bond dated 1785 for the purpose of: - “for all footpeople, Horses, Cattle, and Carriages to pass, and repass at all times”. When the new water wheels were installed in 1829 a new bridge was built about 30 yards down stream. It was a humpback type and, to anticipate the change to road traffic, it was lowered and strengthened again in 1929. From this bridge in summer the tree lined tail water presents a pleasant sight. The Horse chestnut trees were planted by W.J. Lyon about 1868. Just a hundred years later they were saved from partial destruction to make room for overhead electricity cables by a concerted effort by the people of Tutbury and their friends. After the Great War, gas lighting in the mill had been supplanted by electricity; the turbines driving the dynamo to provide direct current lighting. Mains electricity was taken for the Statite plant in 1928, the older part being wired for this supply in 1930. Supplies of broken gypsum stone to the manufacturers of Portland cement begun in the early thirties. By 1962, the weekly tonnage had risen to 4,000 tons. T. Trafford Wyne was the victim of a road accident in 1931, and died soon after as a result of his injuries. In that year, G.W. Allen was made Company Secretary and appointed to the Board in the following year. Prior to 1935, Henry Newton had been in poor health for several years, and during October he died. His passing was a severe blow to the firm, and to all who knew him. In over fifty years he had personified Statons; his business acumen and ability together with his forthright manner had built a small local business to what it now was. He had become an almost legendary figure in the district as he moved between Tutbury, Fauld and Scropton, firstly in a pony tub and latterly by motor car. His foresight was uncanny and his attention to detail served the firm and himself in good stead. Later in the year Major Leigh Newton D.S.O. succeeded his father as Chairman of the Company. In the smooth running of a business there is something more than the actual producing, and selling. From early times, Statons placed emphasis on providing houses to rent for staff members, and key workers. Many of these houses came into the possession of the firm by the purchase of land in Hanbury, Scropton and Tutbury. In addition Henry Newton had new houses build at the Little Bridge. Tutbury by Thos. Lowland Sons in 1901 and more in Burton Strut in 1910 by Geo. Hodges & Son. Another block built at Scropton included accommodation for the bailiff of Henry Newton’s farms at Scropton, and Fauld. Incidentally, it was the custom for the miners to help with the corn harvest, gathering, and preparing the straws for use in shot fixing. For many years the firms outing was eagerly anticipated. A special train transported members of the firm, and friends to a seaside resort. However, in 1924 and 1925, the Wembley Exhibition Centre was the venue. Statons had a great interest in the exhibition as hundreds of tons of Keenes Cement, and Plaster used in the construction came from the Tutbury Mill. In 1919 a Sports Club was formed with the backing of the management. During its short existence it was responsible for organising a successful cricket team for two years sharing the cricket ground with the Tutbury Cricket Club. Bad weather robbed the mill and mine team of the works Cricket Cup when appearing in the final against Nestles. The trophy was shared. Teams were entered in the Works Football Competition and successes were gained in the eleven a side and six a side tourneys. Stations always supported local efforts, and not in the least the sports clubs. H.L. Newton, W.C. Johnson, and T.P. Eaton were for many years Tutbury Cricket Club first eleven players and officials, G. Buxton, J. Tipper and S. Birch represented the second XI, the former two also acted as umpires. F.J Newton was also a first XI, as were W. Alcock, L. Starbuck, J. Billings and T.L. Coxon in the 30’s. The latter also played after the war. Local football teams were ably assisted by T.P. Eaton, A. Haynes, L. Francis, J. Billings, G. Buxton, H. Baker and A. Brettall. Hockey too was not forgotten, from the early days of the local club after the war. H.L. Newton, W.C. Johnson, A. Brettell and F.J. Newton were playing members. Later, D. Foster (then with Peter Fords) and T.L. Coxon enjoyed participating. In conjunction with Peter Ford’s First Aid classes were organised in 1938. This training was of tremendous help to those who served in the A.R.P. and Ambulance Service during the war.
Special thanks go to Jeremy Manners for permission to use the following history of J.C. Staton
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