Stonehouse History Group

Welcome to the web site for Stonehouse History Group

- promoting  interest in the History of Stonehouse & the locality.

Stonehouse Court Fire Post Office Opening 1990

There was a serious fire at Stonehouse Court on 30th May 1908.  It is believed that the fire started from a smouldering kitchen fireplace beam and was fed by the gas system which was piped to every room. This photograph shows the burning building from the rear.

The Court had been purchased in 1906 by Arthur Winterbotham, who commissioned major alterations designed by noted architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Much of the newly restored interior was destroyed in the fire. Winterbotham had it rebuilt again to a similar design but many historic features were lost.

The “Shadow Factories” came to Stonehouse in 1938, as part of the preparation for the Second World War. Sperry’s Gyroscope Company moved to Bond’s Mill from their factory in Brentford to avoid air attacks. The Bond’s Mill factory was engaged in the manufacture of gyrocompasses, altimeters and other instruments for aircraft, and searchlight systems.

In 1939/40, a new factory was built for Hoffmann’s Bearings at the Bristol Road end of Oldends Lane. They produced large numbers of roller and ball bearings for military purposes. Many of the workers came from the parent factory at Chelmsford and stayed on in Stonehouse after the war.

The population increased dramatically, and by 1951 was 4232.

In memory of the men who fell in the Great War, the War Memorial Cross was unveiled on the green by Miss Emily Davies, and dedicated by the Rev. R. P. Waugh, August 12, 1919. The ceremony was attended by a large crowd.

The Memorial was refurbished in the summer of 2009 which made it look as good as it did in 1919.

The Post Office in Queens Road was built in 1933. The opening

ceremony on 2nd November 1933 was performed by Sir Stephen Tallents, Public Relations Officer to the General Post Office.

Those present:- Leo Blick, Captain B D Parkin, Robert Perkins MP,

W A Sibly JP, Lady Marling, and A S Winterbotham.

It was noted that the building was erected for Stonehouse people by a Stonehouse firm, (A. R. Blick & Son), using Stonehouse bricks.

The Millennium Stone was erected in the High Street.

The design represents a doorway from one millennium to the next or from the

present to the future; it also recalls the stone house after which Stonehouse is

believed to be named.

On it are carved symbols of the town and the area using several of the ideas

suggested by members of the public during the research phase of the project. Children (or very keen adults) are able to climb through the opening.

Population of Stonehouse approx. 7500

Millennium Stone

The Regal Cinema in Gloucester Road was built in 1937, it replaced the old Regal in the Laburnum which burnt down.

The Regal was closed in 1959 and converted to a panel beating factory not long after.

The Cattle Trough was presented to the Stonehouse Parish Council by the Band of Mercy in September 1914. It became known as the Horse Trough.

It was located at the junction of Bath Road and Bristol Road. In the early 1990s it was moved to the opposite side of Bath Road when the new Horsetrough Roundabout was built for the Ebley Bypass.


The Park Estate was built in 1951 to cater for a growing population after the war. Midland Road, Severn Road, Park Road and later Festival Road.

While the foundations were being dug out, sand and gravel were found, an indication that centuries ago the site was at the margin of a river.

Population of Stonehouse 4232


On Easter Monday 1915 an open day was held and the public were invited to inspect the conversion of Standish House before it commenced its new role as a Red Cross Hospital.

It had been previously unoccupied by its owner Lord Sherborne.Mary King had approached him to ask if he would let it be used as a hospital for soldiers injured during the First World War.

The first intake of patients were 31 wounded soldiers, the staff had 2 hours notice to arrange transport for them from Stonehouse station.

The building of the 6.3 mile section Moreton Valance Section of the M5 commenced June 1969, completed in March 1971. The l contract was awarded to Costain for a price of £5.5 million.

A railway bridge at Haresfield was constructed as an advance contract by Turriff. There were two interchanges on the section, an elevated roundabout at Stroudwater, and with the A419, where only South facing slip roads were provided. The disused Stroudwater canal was filled in adjacent to the interchange.

Where the main carriageway crossed the disused Gloucester Aviation Airfield it made use of the main runway which had been designed to cope with the Javelin Jet Planes; the taxi ways were broken out and restored to farm land and the material used in backfill to structures. The bridges at the Stroudwater Interchange had decks requiring 1,380 cu.yds of concrete.

These decks were constructed in a continuous concreting operation over 24 hours (unusual at that time) by making use of mobile concrete pumps. The earthworks required approximately 1,794,000 cu.yds. of excavation and the importation of about 372,600 cu.yds. of filling material. In addition to the railway bridge there were twelve other bridges.


The foundation stone for Wycliffe Chapel was laid in May 1911.

The Chapel, which cost £2300, was shared by the school and the Methodist church and opened on 19th October 1911.

The chapel burned down in November 1939 and was rebuilt with participation of the schoolboys in the 1950s.


Wycliffe Chapel clock tower and spire were added to the chapel in 1921,

ten years after the chapel was built, in memory of Old Wycliffians who gave their lives in the Great War.

Willow Tree Green was purchased for the town and the willow tree planted.


Standish House Sanatorium was opened 6th July 1922 by the then Duchess of Beaufort. It had a total of 140 beds divided into Men’s and Women’s Blocks, a Children's Block with 40 beds and a Recreation Hall, all housed in Wooden huts reclaimed from aerodromes abandoned after World war I.

The Parish Council started considering electric street lighting and by 1932 the Lighting Act was adopted for the whole parish.

By 1930 the SE part of town was supplied with electricity and the rest of the town by the early 1940s.

Electric street lamps were not put in until 1951 and the first ones lit in 1952.

Population of Stonehouse about 2300


Elgin Lodge was demolished in 1987 to make way for the new Elgin Mall shopping complex.

When Elgin Mall first opened there was a cafe and many shops including a sports shop, a picture framing shop and a card shop.

There are now only two shops, the rest is housing.


The Wycliffe Memorial Bridge at Ryeford was opened in 1935. The bridge was given to the school by Mr Hubert Batchelar in memory of his wife and father-in-law.

The Wycliffe Crest in the centre of the bridge was designed by teacher Edward French.

The bridge is used by Junior School pupils to cross the Ebley Road.

Stonehouse - A Time Line - One Thousand Years

Monday 18th June 1990 Stonehouse Parish became Stonehouse Town. The Post office building contains the Town hall offices.

The new Stonehouse Secondary Modern School opened in King’s Road. It was a state of the art school offering a wide range of practical subjects.

It later became Maidenhill Comprehensive School.


A new look High Street - In the summer of 2011 major installation works were carried out on the High Street to convert it to the concept of “shared space”.

This included resurfacing work as well as measures to improve safety and driving conditions for motorists. The scheme transformed a section of Stonehouse High Street into a 'shared space' zone, and was completed in August 2011.

Features to improve the look of the area were also added, including trees.

As well as addressing safety concerns in an area with a high accident rate, it  met the town council's objective of improving the area for shoppers and visitors. It was delivered with funding from the town council, the county council and local developers.

On the 21st November 1939 one of the Wycliffe teachers was waiting for a bus at 12.30 pm when he saw a wisp of smoke rising from a corner of the chapel roof. On entering the building he found the heating chamber full of smoke and a joist of the floor above in flames.By 1.00 pm the roof had collapsed, only the tower and spire were saved.

The building remained in ruins until the 1950s when it was rebuilt.


In 1952 the teachers and boys started to rebuild Wycliffe Chapel. A simple stone laying ceremony on May 16th 1953 was performed and was broadcast on the B.B.C.

Stone was used from St Peter’s Church at Frocester which had been closed since the war. Timber from Seaview pier in the Isle of Wight was used for the main trusses which would support the roof. Wood from disused barges 100 years old found on the banks of the River Itchen were used for the rafters.

Chairs were made from oak from old railway trucks. The boys assembled them and added their names to brass plates on the back of each chair. The second hand organ was purchased from a church in London which had been bombed.

The Chapel was dedicated by the Bishop of Gloucester on 6th June 1958.

Maidenhill School opened in 1957 and was described as a ‘Palace of Education’. Previously students in Stonehouse had attended Stonehouse County Secondary School in Elm Road.

By 2012, it was decided that a refurbishment of the main building should be completed. In February 2014, after 18 months of building work, Maidenhill School's £3.8 million refurbishment was complete.

There has been a massive transformation both inside and out. The old 1950s classrooms have been revamped and the impressive new Learning Resource Centre is situated at the heart of the school. There are attractive spaces for students to socialise both inside and out as well as new conference and meeting rooms. Maidenhill had already benefited from a modern sports hall, fitness and dance suites and a performing arts studio. Now, this has been joined by the new ultra-smart main school building.