How Brereton got its name

Brereton is a Saxon name. At first, it was always written BREREDON. This is made up by two Saxon words meaning Briar-Hill or the hill where briars grow.

The First People to Live at Brereton

In Saxon times, nearby Rugeley was a small village. When the Doomsday Book was written in 1086 there were only nine families living there. These families had to produce enough food to feed themselves and so they ploughed a small area round their homes, grew hay in meadows near the River Trent and left the rest of the land to be common and forest where animals could be turned out to graze. Brereton, or the hill where the briars grew, was part of this common.

As the number of people in the area increased, more food had to be produced and some of the common was ploughed up. In the twelfth century, more families moved to the place on the common called Briar-Hill. There they built houses and began to clear and plough land.

More Recent Times

Before 1950, Brereton and Ravenhill had a mainly rural landscape with wide views over the Trent Valley, and the old Brereton Colliery hidden away on the edge of Cannock Chase. There were many tough times between the two world wars when there were few motor cars, when not every household had a ‘wireless’, and television was almost unheard of.

It was in the 1950s and 60s, however, that the local scene dramatically changed with the building of Lea Hall Colliery and the Power Station. This industry brought many newcomers to the area with the resulting housebuilding boom and a demand for new facilities. Brereton’s vicar at the time, the Reverend Cason, wrote in the Parish Magazine of November 1958: “More and more this area in which we live becomes urban and not rural; day by day the industrial engulfs the agricultural”.

Since those fast moving days many more changes have taken place, many bringing new challenges. Who could possibly have forecast that the modern colliery once on our doorstep, that was built to last 100 years and in its heyday had over 2,000 employees, would close almost without warning and now be but a memory? Similarly it was just this year [2016] that news broke that the Power Station is to close.

In unravelling the several and complex parish boundaries and their changes over the years, the parish reveals a few surprises: not many people know that Brereton’s first Civil Parish stretched for 40 years from the Trent to near Hednesford and included the large World War 1 ‘Rugeley Camp’ on Cannock Chase. In another snippet we find the wife of pottery magnate, Josiah Spode, lived out much of her long widowhood at Brereton.

H.M.S. Brereton

As one of a series of ‘Ton Class’ minesweepers/hunters named after place names ending in ton, the 360 tons H.M.S. Brereton is recorded as being named after Brereton, Staffordshire. Launched in 1953 as H.M.S. Red Beetle, it finally became, after anothermname change, H.M.S. Brereton in October 1961 and was one of the last all wooden minesweepers.

It was taken out of service on 17th April 1991 and later scrapped, but a framed photograph of it hangs in the meeting room at St Michael’s Church.