Explore the fascinating history of Madeley, Shropshire, England
Madeley is situated in the south of the East Shropshire new town of Telford, approximately forty miles west of Birmingham, a couple of miles north of the somewhat better known township of Ironbridge. (Prior to the building of the Iron Bridge, and for many years after, most of the Ironbridge area was known as “Madeley Wood”.)
Originally a thriving market and industrial town in its own right, Madeley has been somewhat submerged by the growth of the surrounding new town developments of Sutton Hill and Woodside, which together with other new housing built since the late 1960s, and the historic core of Madeley itself, make up the modern parish of Madeley. The many wooded pit mounts around the town are a reminder of its former importance as a mining town.
The Local Studies Group worked hard to gather this collection of personal memories and factual accounts. Unfortunately the group is no longer meeting (2016). A number of personal opinions are expressed within the site and some may seem controversial – they are the views of some longstanding Madeley residents and not of any ‘official’ body!
New venture – the website has just been updated (September 2016) to avoid having to use out of date software – thanks to Runtime of Wellington, Telford! Tidying and updating of the content will be happening soon, along with some new content.
An old postcard (we think from before the First World War) showing the Anstice Memorial Working Men’s Institute and, on the right, the old post office and print shop formerly run by John Randall.
On our section about Historic Buildings you can read more about the Anstice, as well as the Parkhurst Cinema, the Fletcher Memorial Centre, the Fletcher Methodist Church, the old Madeley Market Station, Madeley Court and St Michael’s Church.
You can also find out more about the High Street Primitive Methodist Chapel (now known as the Peoples Centre), Madeley Rest Room, Upper House, Madeley War Memorial and the Madeley Wesleyan School.
The Anstice/Madeley Wood Estate Sale 1926
We have the records of the sale of “four farms, and a hundred or so houses and cottages, as well as woodland, pit mounts and agricultural land.”
For instance …
LOT 8: A pair of well built Cottages with Gardens and Outbuildings, Nos. 15 and 16 Station Road, Madeley, extending to an area of 1 Rood 8 Poles or thereabouts … Sold to Beddoes £130
Read about notable local personalities such as Major C.A.L. Yate V.C., who heads the local Royal British Legion’s roll of honour, Charles Peskin, Reg Oliver, veteran miner Sam Cookson, who was still working at age 70 and, of course, Jack Smart. Recently added (2012) – Edith Pargeter, better known as Ellis Peters of the Brother Cadfael novels.
Especially fascinating are Jack Smart‘s reminiscences about local characters, including Billy Roberts, Postman (known to everybody as ‘Billy the Postman’); Mr. Harold R. Shaw, Headmaster, Madeley Church of England School; Doctor James McGavin, G.P; Mr. R.N. Moore, M.B.E., J.P. (founder of the Madeley rest Room); Mr. George Poole, Saddler, Cobbler, Leatherworker; Joseph Lewis, (‘Tiger Joe’), Strongman; ‘Coddy’ Smith’, Fishmonger and Greengrocer; Crimea Plant, Chimney Sweep; Ben Thorne, Pig Killer; Mr. James Owen, Surface & Underground Farrier (Jim was known as ‘Spitty Owen’); George Boden, Blacksmith and the Stodd Family, Drapers, Ironmongers & China Dealers.
We hope you enjoy: Rob Seymour‘s Childhood Memories of Madeley between the mid fifties and the early seventies, ‘A Madeley Childhood’ written by Gwen Groves (nee Dallow); Richard Corfield‘s memories of his childhood and the changes that came with the new town of Telford and the contribution of Brenda Brown (formerly Cain) who wrote to us from California with her memories of Madeley.
Especially fascinating are Jack Smart‘s reminiscences: A Madeley Life Story – Jack Smart’s memories of 80 years in Madeley. This is a good long read about Jack’s time in Madeley, in the RAF and down the pit.
We have had many requests for information about Madeley’s pubs – often from relatives or descendants of the people who kept them. So far we have found details of a total of 34 (we are sure there were at least a few more!). This section consists mainly of information provided by Kevin MacLean of Madeley, who has done a great deal of research on the subject, and has lent us the manuscript of a book he has been trying to get published.
The Madeley Wood Colliery, as was common elsewhere in coal mining, actually consisted of two separate pits — the Halesfield (circa 1861) and Kemberton (1864) Collieries, which were subsequently connected underground in 1939. The Halesfield shafts reached approximately 300 yards, the Kemberton pit was deeper at 364 yards. The whole colliery site, the former spoil heaps and the extensive railway sidings were levelled on closure in 1967 and the area is now a major industrial estate — Halesfield.
Is is a bird? Is it a plant? Read about the Backover Spotting Creeper!
The Coalport branch line, the main railway to serve Madeley for nearly a hundred years, came about as the result of an early Shropshire “new town” – the building of the nearby village of Coalport around 1794 to serve as an inland port for traffic on the River Severn and the Shropshire Canal.
The idea was for the products of the East Shropshire coalfield to be sent downriver to the ports of Gloucester and Bristol, in the famous “Severn Trows” (large shallow draught sailing barges, hauled by teams of either horses or men for much of the upstream journey), whilst other goods could be brought upstream on the return trip. Coalport itself had a famous china works, and was also the home of an early chemical works – Lord Dundonald’s Tar Distillery, initially using tar from the “Tar Tunnel” at Coalport as a raw material.
The Coming of the New Town
The events described in our section ‘The Coming of the New Town’ happened just over 30 years ago — well within living memory. To many people living locally, this memory is clear, painful and liable to arouse anger.
Most of the sources are contemporary with the events — news items and articles from the then local weekly newspaper, The Dawley Observer, official reports from the Dawley, later Telford Development Corporation endorsed by the official history of the New Town, written by Maurice de Soissons in 1991. Other sources are the words and memories of Madeley people as recorded in ‘The Madeley Book’, which was also published in 1991 and as collected now.
Madeley from pre-historic times! This section also contains a timeline of significant events from 727 to 1998.
For instance: In 1269 Madeley became a town – Henry III granted a Charter for a weekly market and annual fair… In 1832 an epidemic of cholera reached Madeley, the first occurring on a barge at Coalport … In 1853 Madeley Cricket Club was formed …
A number of individual pages do not fit into any particular categories – you may find some of these ‘odds and sods’ among the most interesting! Visit our ‘Miscellany’ section to read about Madeley’s sporting history, a ‘Description of Madeley in 1863‘ (From the Post Office Directory of Shropshire, 1863) and a reproduction of a number of advertisements from editions of the St. Michael’s Church Parish Magazine from between 1911 and 1914 – you could buy anything from a new car (T Dorsett on Park Street offered Crossley, Austin, Belsize, Darracq, Overland, Ford, Alldays & Rovers) to a gas mantle (“The Celebrated Madeley Mantle”, 21/2d each, also from T Dorsett).
Put the kettle on, settle down and read more!