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Staines

 

Staines is an urban area in the Borough (Hundreds) of Spelthorne (Speletorne or Spelethorne 2 spellings noted). The main towns in Spelthorne are Staines (Stanes), Ashford (Exeford), Stanwell (Stanwelle), Shepperton (Scepertone), Sunbury (Sunbarie). Staines is the administrative centre of the Borough and has the largest shopping area. Spelthorne is a district of London, that has a population of approximately 90,000, and covers 21 square miles.

(words in brackets are from the Domesday Book. c.1086.)

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Bridges

Staines has been around since the Ice Age....... well the Thames has, if not the town itself! The River Thames was formed as it is today when the Ice Age ended, and archaeologists have found evidence that there were people living where Staines is now located even back as far as then. However the most historical finds are from Roman times.

It seems that Staines has always had bridges over the Thames, in fact when the Romans came in AD 43, they called their settlement Ad Pontes which means the Bridges. They made a new bridge over the river where the main London to Silchester road ran. For many centuries Staines was the only bridge crossing the Thames from London Bridge, so it was very important.

John and George Rennie made the present bridge that has been widened in recent years. When it was built in 1832, there was nothing much more than horse and cart traffic using it, now there are hundreds of vehicles a hour going over it. What a feat for it still to be standing. You know there used to be a sign on the bridge back in 1861 that said if anyone interfered with or damaged the bridge they could be sentenced to penal servitude for life! Seeing how strong the bridge is I wouldn't think anyone ever got into that situation....

I remember another bridge when I was a small child, it was on the Egham side (upstream) of Staines bridge, and it was very rickety. It was built in 1939 as a spare in case the main bridge was bombed, and to carry extra troop traffic across the Thames. The Callender-Hamilton 'Bailey' bridge was changed to pedestrian only in 1947 and was torn down in 1959. I often have dreams about that bridge, and always I am afraid that it will fall into the water.

Another bridge we have in Staines over the river is the railway bridge in Thames Street, that one is made of iron and of course is fairly modern, probably Victorian.

There have been other bridges built over the Thames in Staines (one in 1797 and the other in 1803) but they didn't last too long although their remains can still be seen. It is said that those bridge builders were not qualified to build such an undertaking.

History

ICE AGE = (circa. 10,000 BC). Evidence of people living here.

NEOLITHIC STONE AGE = (4,000-3,000 BC) Lake or Pile Dwellers remains found

BRONZE AGE = (1,700 BC) Findings of bodies from this age

IRON AGE = (circa. 750 BC), Findings of occupation on higher grounds

ROMAN = (43 - 406 AD) Many findings in the area.

Ad Pontes was changed to Staines after the Romans left, actually it was called Stane back then, the name (Anglo-Saxon) meant 'stones' and historians believe that was because when the town was sacked the bridge was partially destroyed leaving piles of stones in places. Another theory is that the stones were the Nigus (Negan) stones that were a Druidic circle in Staines. There will be more about this on the Churches page.

The area was already settled by the Trinobantes Tribe when the Romans arrived, and the Tribe joined with Boudiccea, the Iceni Tribe and the Catuvellauni Tribe to fight the invaders in the area and south-east England. During the Battles Pontes was destroyed, burned, which has shown up in the archaeological digs in the town. However during the Roman occupation Pontes did expand as has been shown by the remnants in the recent excavations.

I remember in the 1970's a dig was going on at the old Barclay's Bank site and I went and helped, various items were found on that site that showed the expansion of the town, and that happened in Roman times. I can't say I dug anything up but it was an interesting few weeks. During that era digs were going on in different areas, such as the Friends' Burial Ground and the Mumford & Lobb site, because Staines was being developed yet again, and many of the old buildings were being torn down and the new happening one way system and Elmsleigh Centre was being built.

Staines has always been a Market town even in Roman times, and history says that a market has been held in Staines since the iron age. I remember the market always being in the Town Hall square, and walking around it when I was a kid. It always amazed me because of the aroma that came from the stalls. Christmas even now has to have that smell of the market; celery, tangerines, and all the fruit and veg that goes with it. In 2001 the market moved it's location and is now held in the High Street. The smells have changed since I was a kid, now you get the aroma of hot dogs and donuts instead of the traditional ones, but the market continues in Staines.

In Victorian times the Circus came to town, there is an old picture of elephants and camels walking along Clarence Street to the High Street, also another picture of a young boy standing close to a dancing bear in the High Street. Back in those days the circus and fairs used to set up close to the railway in the High Street. Another annual event in Victorian times was the Staines Fair. This took place along the High Street, where the vendors, often gypsies, lined up to sell their wares............ Looking at pictures of that time it doesn't look too different to the market of today that is held in the same place.

The Linoleum Manufacturing factory started in 1864, and by 1930 covered 45 acres. The Lino employed many local people over the years, including my own father who worked there after the war. I used to go to the Christmas party there every year and also the summer sports party out on the grounds. Where the Lino used to be is now the new 'Two Rivers' shopping centre. The footpath to the furthest shops is where the Old Hale Mill used to be and the river Colne still runs thru the area.


Staines High Street 1947

Today Staines is known for a TV personality who hangs with the 'Staines massive';

Ali G!

Of course Ali G may come from Staines but for some strange reason he insists it is in Berkshire! Believe me it isn't, it is in what was Middlesex and is now Surrey. Please excuse his ignorance he is not the normal for Staines people.

Sasha Cohen, (Ali G) is actually very educated and sounds normal when he speaks as Sasha. His movie which was made in Staines, will be in theatres in March 2002. Go see it if you are able. You may even get to see me in it as we were watching some of the filming in the park. Oh no did I really admit that!


 


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Site created by Pipestone Spirit Design

Copyright Gloria Hazell & Wyllow Trevellyon

All information on this site was researched using the following sources:
Borough of Spelthorne Council, Spelthorne Museum, 'Up Pontes' by Christine Lake, 'Staines an Illustrated Record' by M.M. Smithers, 'Snapshots of Staines' by J.L. & D.M. Barker, 'Middlesex within Living Memory' by the Middlesex Federation of Women's Institutes, 'The Commons of Staines, The Facts' by the Assn for the Preservation of Staines Moor, 'Staines in Old Picture Postcards' by Barry Dix, 'Doomsday Book - (Midelsexe) Middlesex' translated by John Morris and Sara Wood. Memories and experiences of Gloria Hazell.

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