The Early Development of Stroud from the 1600s

Lesson Plan

By Lois Francis

Using the  painting ‘A view from Wallbridge, Stroud’. (1780’s artist unknown. Displayed in Museum in the Park, Stroud. Postcards can be purchased from the museum ).

Photo:View of Stroud, 1700s

View of Stroud, 1700s

The Museum in the Park, Stroud

Learning Intention: To study different aspects of life of different people and examine causes and consequences of the growth of industrialisation in the Stroud valleys.


So that children can familiarise themselves with the painting, they can draw it in groups from memory.  Each group sends a representative up to the picture to memorise the detail. That representative returns to the group after looking at the picture for 1 minute and draws what they remember. As the activity goes on, the children will organise their viewing time with the aim of reproducing the picture.


Or      The children can jot down three things that they think are important in the picture. The class then draws up a list of important detail.


Or     The picture can be cut in half along the line of the waterway, and each group has a different half and is asked to work out what is happening in each half. Children can then be hot-seated and questioned by the rest of the class about the details in the picture.

Then each group uses prepared statements and sticks them to the areas of their part of the picture that they think the statements represent.

  • The area around Stroud had for centuries farmed sheep for their wool.
  • The steep valleys around Stroud allowed water to be used to power mills.
  • The Fullers earth found in the area helped to clean the wool of oil, so that the dye would hold.
  • Spinning and weaving went on in nearby cottages, mostly with people working in their own homes, both men and women.
  • The mills mostly ‘finished’ the cloth that people had woven in their homes.
  • Mules and donkeys would be used to transport the cloth from the cottages to the mills for dyeing.
  • At the mills the cloth was beaten by huge ‘hammers’ to make the cloth plump and tight.
  • At other mills teasels were used to brush the cloth.
  • Dye houses used open fires to heat the wool in the dye.
  • Cloth was hung out to dry on frames called tenter racks in fields and in drying racks with roofs.
  • As more mills were built in the Frome valley and Stroud became famous for its scarlet cloth, water -power was not enough.
  • People began to work in the mills rather than spin and weave at home.
  • Coal was needed to power the mills when steam engines were invented.
  • Not enough coal was brought by road to the mills and it was too expensive for the mill owners.
  • A canal was built to allow boats to bring coal to the mills.
  • The boats used were called ‘trows’ (rhymes with crows) and had sails to help them along the canal.
  • Men pulled them along the canal helped by sails, but later horses were used to pull the boats.
  • The masts had to be lowered at bridges.
  • Some places became wharves or ports where boats were loaded and unloaded.

Suggested Outcome

The groups of children come together and discuss the connection between the textile industry and the Stroudwater Canal.


Using a sheet of paper with the picture centrally placed on it, the children can write down what they think were the reasons for the building of the canal.




They can use PowerPoint and the picture scanned into a series of slides highlighting certain parts of the picture, and write a report.


Science and Design Technology Outcomes


Children can make models of overshot and undershot water wheels or wind mills and convert the drive from horizontal to vertical.


Children can also make models of the huge ‘hammers’ used to hammer the cloth from models using cams. (This is a useful website


Fabrics can be dyed using natural materials and weaving can be an ongoing craft project.

This page was added by Iris Capps on 17/04/2010.

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