Burton upon Trent – An Appreciation

Although I wasn’t born in Burton upon Trent, I have lived here for most of my life (since 2004, although I lived in nearby Swadlincote for thirteen years before that). Over the years, I have come to appreciate the town, its landmarks and its history.

Burton upon Trent

The town has a rich history, dominated by its beer brewing history when it was the home of some of the country’s most famous brewers; Bass, Ind Coope, Marstons, Thomas Salt & Co, Charrington, Worthington and many more. The water underneath the town contained a lot of gypsum, which was perfect for brewing beer. Breweries and malt houses dominated the town up until the late 1960s/early 1970s when many were lost because of modernisation and mergers. The town was famous for its network of private brewery railway lines which criss-crossed the town, all of which was closed in the 1970s. There were over thirty level crossings in the town, which caused some frustration for drivers and pedestrians alike. None of it remains, although some of the routes of the lines can still be traced today. For example, Worthington Way, which links High Street to Station Street, follows the alignment of a railway line which ran past the road leading to the library and terminated at sidings where the Meadowside Leisure Centre now stands.

Speaking of railways, the town has had several railway stations over the years, most of which have closed apart from the mainline Burton on Trent railway station. There were stations on the Derbyshire & Staffordshire Extension line at Horninglow, Stretton and Rolleston-on-Dove, all of which were closed to regular passenger services on January 1st 1949.

Up until the mid-to-late 20th century, the brewing families in the town wielded a lot of power and influence over the borough. In fact, up until the Second World War, the members of parliament representing Burton all came from the brewing industry, including Sir Michael Arthur Bass, 1st Baron Burton. He was arguably the most philanthropic of the brewing barons, donating his Liberal Club in King Edward Place to be the Town Hall, and paying the outstanding bill for the Ferry Bridge so it could become toll-free. His statue stands outside the Town Hall, although his view over Burton is somewhat obscured by trees these days.

It’s not only the Town Hall which is a fine example of architecture in Burton; the town is full of beautiful old and more modern buildings.

Being located in the National Forest, there’s no shortage of woodlands and nature reserves in Burton and the surrounding areas, including Barton Marina, Branston Water Park, Tucklesholme Nature Reserve and several smaller woods in the town, including Outwoods Woodland, Oaks Wood Park, Scalpcliffe Woods and the Brizlincote Valley nature walk. If that wasn’t enough, there’s the River Trent and its riverside paths, as well as the Trent & Mersey Canal which flows through the town.

I wouldn’t say that Burton on Trent is a perfect place; there are some less than desirable areas in the town and there seems to be a growing problem with graffiti, litter and vandalism. However, this blog is about showcasing the best of the town. It has become an attractive place for big companies to set up warehouses, with its excellent road and rail links and central England location. Companies such as Boots, Holland & Barrett, Hobbycraft and many more have distribution hubs in the town.

If you’ve never been to Burton upon Trent, and you want to visit, then there is a lot to see and do in the area. The world famous Alton Towers theme park is just a short distance away, and the town itself was home to the National Brewing Museum until its closure in 2022. Other major attractions within a few miles of Burton include the National Forest Adventure Farm, Claymills Pumping Station and Mercia Marina in Willington.

If you want to read more about some of the places mentioned, than all the blog posts are available in the Index Page. Thanks very much for reading.