History Monthly: The old Joule’s clock
The clock that was once over the entrance to Joule’s Brewery in Stone has returned to the High Street after restoration. In February’s History Monthly, Philip Leason – the chairman of Stone Historical Society – looks back at the history of the clock and of the brewery itself…
It was in 1780 that Francis Joule took over a brewery in Stone which was apparently on the site of the old brew house used by the cannons of the priory from the 12th century. The cannons drank ale as part of their daily diet, as the brewing process involved boiling the water it was safer to drink than water itself or milk. The cannons apparently had an excellent reputation for the quality of their ales. It was their custom to mark their casks with the sign of the cross – the stronger the ale the more crosses used (the more blessings from God).
When Francis Joule took over the brewery he used the Red Cross as his trademark. When the registration of trademarks was introduced in 1876 there was a concern amongst companies that the one they had been using may be registered by a competitor before they themselves could register it. So steps were taken to ensure that the trademark was registered as soon as possible.
For example, in the case of Bass, an employee slept out on the steps all night to ensure that they were the first to register the red triangle. In the case of Joule’s, someone went to London by train and queued and the “red cross” was in fact the 6th trade mark to be registered, thus giving Joule’s the sole right to use it. The Red Cross appears in the centre of the clock.
The clock is in the form of a barrel and the green was a specially mixed colour known as “Joule’s Green” which was used on the livery of their transport fleet and on its public houses. The clock replaced an early circular clock which was located on another part of the brewery office building. When this was found to be beyond repair in the late 1960s Joule’s commissioned the barrel clock.
It is interesting to note that Joule’s made and repaired all of their own wooden barrels and the cooperage yard was located where the Crown and Anchor car park is today.
Joule’s was very successful and over the years won various awards for the quality of its beers. In the early 1970s, however, the company was acquired by Bass Charrington and the brewery closed on 31st October 1974.
The clock was then moved above the Off Licence known as “Joule’s of Stone” and later Augustus Barnett. In 1983 the clock was officially presented to the town and was received by myself as the then town mayor.
When the shop closed the clock started to fall into disrepair and it was decided by a group involved in the Food and Drink Festival (including the late Brian Blundell and John Moss) to get it repaired and reinstated. So four years ago the clock was removed and repaired and restored.
However, due to various problems the clock could not be returned to any of its former locations and hence the new metal post.
Below the clock is the Latin motto “Sit Saxum Firmum” meaning “Let the stone be firm” which is taken from the Town Crest. The crest was designed by Henry Pidduck and Sons of Hanley for the badge on the chain worn by the Chairman of Stone Urban District Council and which is now worn by the Town Mayor. The original art for the crest is now displayed in the Town Council offices.