THE inauguration of the John Corbett Way, which was held on June 12, affords us the opportunity to look back some 200 years.

Around that time the shift from a mainly rural society to a predominantly urban one threatened to destroy our passion for nature altogether.

TheIndustrial Revolution changed our relationship with the natural world forever.

In 1825 salt deposits were found in Stoke.

When John Corbett bought his first salt factory in the 1850s, his skill, hardwork and financial investment eventually brought success.

He became a very wealthy man and a great philanthropist.

He built good houses in the village for his workers, built St Mary de Wyche and the John Corbett School.

The people of Stoke Works were a hard working and friendly lot as they are today – the recent summer fete and Jubilee sing-along give positive proof.

Two hundred years after the greatest change in British society, we and the wildlife are together again.

We now look to the future. We have an opportunity to share Stoke’s wonderful canal network which has been so tastefully converted to leisure use and is well served by the many excellent hostelries. Let us take satisfaction that through the efforts of the parish council, which was successful in obtaining agrant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are able to inaugurate the John Corbett Way.

With the inauguration, we have handed to future generations the opportunity of seeing how the lovely village of Stoke has developed over the ages and its influence on how we deal with future challenges.

John Tidmarsh, Bromsgrove District Councillor for Stoke Prior