The Golden Fleece Reopens (with a 1906 inn sign revealed during renovation)

The Golden Fleece 1906

Stroud, like so many places a century or so ago,

Was an unconscious microcosm of the whole nation,

The sloping slate roofs of the red-bricked terraces,

The new suburban villas with their monkey puzzle trees,

The grand country houses with their uninterrupted views,

The old stone cottages with their vegetable plots,

The farms, the barns, the byres, the stables, the milk churns,

The dry stone lanes, the holloways, the footpaths,

The ginnels, the alleyways, the new name streets,

The orchards, the commons, the hedgerows, the fields,

The rivers, the streams, the springs, the brooks,

The canals, the wharves, the railway lines, the gaslights,

The bridges, the viaducts, the factories, the mills,

The forge, the furnace, the foundry, the smithy,

The pubs where the Liberal landslide general election results were discussed:

397 Liberals, 156 Conservative and Unionists, 29 Labour, 82 Irish Nationalists.

In the Golden Fleece, talk turned to reform and the hope of old age pensions,

The hope of avoiding the workhouse, the ideas of national insurance;

Optimism was in the air – no one foresaw the Home Rule Crisis,

The reactionary obstructiveness of the House of Lords,

The suffragettes’ direct action,

The Triple Industrial Alliance of miners, dockers and railway workers,

The publication of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists,

Their deaths on the Western Front and in Gallipoli a decade later;

All was merriment in the Golden Fleece in 1906,

Godsell & Son Brewery:  ‘The best beer in town’,

And with free trade victorious at the general election,

Then tobacco should stay cheap,

What was there to worry about?

The navy and the Empire and cheap beer and tobacco,

This was the golden age of Edwardian Britain.