It’s Staffordshire Day

So today has been officially designated as the day to celebrate my home county. That’s not a bad thing as we’re pretty poor at celebrating our achievements in these parts. Perhaps it’s a Midlands thing. Birmingham is a great city with fantastic food, culture and industrial history but it always seems to be – in the words of Jona Lewie – in the kitchen at parties, while noisier northern conurbations are better at shouting louder and dancing.

Stuart Maconie describes our county as a bit of an enigma. It is. We’re not really the West Midlands although we’re in that government region. We used to have Wolverhampton and Walsall in the old county and even Birmingham suburbs, but they’re now West Midlands. This means (old) Staffordshire actually has an impressive 6 professional football teams – Wolves, WBA, Stoke, Walsall, Port Vale and Burton Albion. And a much larger and diverse population than the current 1 million. Our diversity in accents is pretty impressive too. A Stokie sounds worlds away from Cannock despite growing up just 25 miles apart.

Perhaps we’re a bit of a staging post. Unless you’re stopping for Alton Towers you’re likely to be hurtling through on the West coast mainline or the M6. But we have beautiful parkland and countryside. Quite a bit of the Peak District is in our county. We have our religious and spiritual places – the wonderful Lud’s Church, Lichfield Cathedral and ancient houses where persecuted Catholics hid between walls and stairs. We have a reservoir which gave its name to (Rudyard) Kipling as his parents courted there.

We have riverbanks where Izaak Walton fished and a young Carol Ann Duffy wrote verse. The Gunpowder Plotters hotfooted it here for their final shootout. We’ve got miles of canals, a terrific heritage of arts and crafts. We make amazing beer and we eat food made for the Gods – bacon and cheese oatcakes.

We gave the world Josiah Wedgwood and Reginald Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire.

And Sir Stanley Matthews, and Robbie Williams and Shane Meadows. And Olympian swimmer Adam Peaty and actor Paddy Considine.

Without Staffordshire there would’ve been no Men Behaving Badly (Neil Morrissey) or Sweet Child O’ Mine (Slash). Try to imagine that.

I’ll leave you with a few snaps of the place rather than the people. You’re welcome to visit. We might call you duck (a term of endearment), but really we’re happy without too much fuss. Have a beer. Munch on an oatcake. Simple pleasures. Perhaps we prefer it that way.

Staffs and Worcs canal, Baswich
Essex Bridge, Great Haywood
Deer on Cannock Chase
Fingerpost on the Chase
Trent and Mersey canal, Stone
Stone railway station
Almshouses, Stafford
Window, Bethesda Street, Hanley
Arnold Bennett, Potteries author
Lichfield cathedral
Cannock Chase
Shire Hall, Stafford

7 thoughts on “It’s Staffordshire Day

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