Burton Upon Trent
Burton Abbey was established in 1004 by Wulfric Spott, Earl of Mercia.
In the mid 1500s the main source of employment was agriculture, with only Alabaster carving, cloth making and brewing being other trades of any prominence. The population was around 1,000, and this included the surrounding villages of Winshill, Stapenhill, Horninglow, Wetmore, Shobnall, Stretton and Branston. Astle families were prominent firstly in the woollen cloth industry, and when this declined in the late 1600’s they survived by switching to the manufacture of cheap worsted gowns called tammies. Benjamin Astle and his sons Benjamin and John, ran a successful tammy-weaving business in the town from around 1755-1808.
Felt and hat making grew as an industry in Burton around 1700, and Francis Astle was very influential and successful in the trade. In 1709 he established a a house and shop in New Street , “fit for a hatter, there being conveniences and room for the employment of 24 men.” In his will he gave land worth £6 per year to clothe yearly for ever six poor boys, scholars in the school of Richard Allsopp, with coats, waistcoats and breeches of grey cloth together with hats, shoes and stockings. This charity would continue, and was combined with others in 1869 under the title Burton Endowed Schools contributing to the creation of the Grammar School in 1875.