STROUD, a market town in the Stroud parliamentary division of Gloucestershire, England, 102^ m. W. by N. of London. Pop. of urban district (1901), 9153. It is served by the Great Western railway and a branch of the west-and-north line of the Midland. It lies on the steep flank of a narrow and picturesque valley and traversed by the Thames and Severn and the Stroudwater canals, which unite at Wallbridge close by. The church of St Lawrence is modern excepting the tower and spire. The Elizabethan town-hall and the school of science and art, commemorating Queen Victoria, are noteworthy. Stroud is the principal seat of the west of England cloth manufacture, the industry extending to Stonehouse and other places in the vicinity. Stroud has also silk-mills, dyeworks, breweries, foundries, and a manufacture of umbrellas and walking-sticks.
There is no evidence of the existence of Stroud before the Conquest, and in 1087 it was still part of the manor of Bisley, from which it was separated in the reign of Edward II. It became a centre of the cloth trade in the Tudor period, and in 1607 Henry, Lord Danvers, lord of the manor, obtained a charter from James I., authorizing a weekly market. During the 18th century the commercial importance of the town increased, though, owing to its distance from any of the great highroads and to the localization of the clothing trade in scattered factories near water power, it was never a great centre of population. By the Reform Act of 1832 Stroud became a borough and returned two members to parliament until 1885, when it was merged in the Stroud division of Gloucestershire. The manufacture of very fine broadcloth and of scarlet-dyed cloth has been carried on in the Stroud valley for centuries, the town being a distributing centre only, until the adoption of steam power and the erection of cloth factories in the town about 1830 led to considerable growth. Pin-making was introduced in 1835, carpet- weaving and iron-founding before 1850. Markets on Friday and Saturday are held under the grants of 1607 and 1832.
See Victoria County History: Gloucestershire; P. H. Fisher, Notes and Recollections of Stroud (1871); T. D. Fosbrooke, Gloucestershire Records (1807).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)