Madeley in old picture postcards

Madeley in old picture postcards

:   A.G. Eaton
:   Shropshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4821-4
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Madeley in old picture postcards'

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This, once small, Shropshire town of Madeley, now part of Telford, lies on the top of a hili overlooking the world famous Ironbridge Gorge but has a history centuries longer than the cast iron bridge that now draws tourists from all over the world.

During the period 1880-1930 Madeley was part of the Borough of Wenlock. The boundary of the town ran from Chapel Lane, Aqueduct, through what is now Brookside and then down through Halesfield to the Mad Brook. It followed the brook towards Broekton, crossed the Bridgnorth road and headed towards Hay Farm. It then went across country to theCoalport road, on to the Ironbridge bank and continued up through Madeley Wood, across the back of what is now Woodside to Lightmoor bridge. From here it followed the railway line a short distance before cutting across country, back to Aqueduct. Although Madeley covered a considerable area this book deals primarily with the town itself, Madeley began sometime around the eighth century as a settlement in a clearing in the woodland that covered the area, nearby ran a stream, the Mad brook. Madeley means pasture by the meadow. The town grew during the thirteenth century as land was developed by the Priors of Wenloek Abbey. In 1269 Henry III granted the Priors the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. During the Civil War Madeley was sympathetic to the crown and Charles II, whilst fleeing from the Battle of Worcester was sheltered from the pursuing Parliamentarian army by Mr. Woolfe, the owner of Upper House. In February 1645 the town was a Royalist garrison but was abandoned a year later when Shrewsbury feil.

During its history many other notabie people have been as-

sociated with Madeley. The Reverend John Fletcher, vicar of Madeley from 1760 to 1785, was a close associate of John Wesley during the rise of the Methodist Church. In 1784 he also established the first Sunday School in Shropshire. Abraham Darby In, creator of the worlds first iron bridge, lived and worked in the parish. (Coalbrookdale and the areas now known as Ironbridge were part of the parish of Madeley until 1845 when the parish of St. Lukes, Ironbridge was formed.) A Scottish engineer and road-builder after whom the new town is named, Thomas Telford, designed the octagonal parish church in 1796. The Anstice family, owners of the Madeley Wood Company, had the Anstice Memorial Hall built and when it was opened in 1869 it was believed to be the first working men's club in the country.

An amateur geologist, John Randall, who spent most of his life as a painter of Coalport china, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geological Society for his work on local rock formations. Randall started writing local history books at the age of 49 and from about the age of 61 worked as a printer, was alocal councillor and ran the local post-office. It was there, at the age of 100, that 'Shropshire's Grand Old Man' finally died. More recently alocal bakery owner, R.N. Moore, was responsible for starting the first meeting place for old people. Known as the Rest Room it began in 1929 with weekly meetings in the Anstice Hall but had its own pre mises built in 1934 on ground nearly opposite the Anstice. When Telford Development Corporation wanted to redevelop Madeley centre an agreement was reached to build a new Rest Room in Church Street before the old one was demolished, and there it stiJl thrives.

Coal, the souree of Madeley's wealth and the reason for its subsequent decline, was being mined locally by 1322 and ironstone by 1540. The boom time in mining, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, saw Madeley's population mushroom from around 500 to nearly 9,000 with the consequential increase in the development of the town. Around the turn of this century there were over a dozen operational mines rin ging the town but during 1967 the last of the mines was closing. This rapid decline in employment potential led to an exodus which left the town in a neglected state. It was this situation that led the government to enlarge their plans of redeveloping Dawley to include the industrial waste lands of surrounding districts, thus Telford New Town was conceived.

The basic idea of the new town was that Madeley would become a new District Centre which would serve housing are as at nearby Sutton Hili and Woodside. Industrial production would be centred on the old canal basin at Tweedale and disused workings of the Halesfield Colliery. Such massive development would generate more traffic so it was decided to build a by-pass around Madeley and prevent through traffic by making the new shopping centre a pedestrian precinct.

'Ruined it they have, ruined it!' 'It ina the place it used to be.' These are comments that might be expected from anyone over sixty when asked how they feel about the changes that have taken place in their town during their lifetime. However, comments like these are forthcoming from almost anybody who remembers 'old Madeley', and not perhaps without some justification. Madeley around the turn of the century was little different from the Madeley in the eariy

1960's but the last twenty-five years or sa have seen major, some would say catastrophic, changes at the hands and bulldozers of Telford Development Corporatien (T.D.e.). Whilst some parts of the town have remained largely undisturbed by the passage of time, many of the fine buildings illustrated in this book have long since disappeared because of the creation of Telford New Town. History will record whether the events of the 1960's were for better or worse but nothing can be done to replace what has been lost, so the buildings, the people and the moments captured in a split second can be the only lasting memorial to a once proud and prosperous town. In compiling this book of postcards and photographs I have been privileged to talk to many of Madeleys older residents, to share their experiences and borrow their unique photographic records of the tewn's history. To these people I am greatly indebted and offer my sineere thanks. I hope that as they glance through the book old memories will be rekindled and old stories will be retold with a new enthusiasm. To the younger generation who only know the modern Madeley with its pedestrianised shopping centre, and to the new arrivals in the town I would say take a carefullook at the photographs and try to appreciate just how much of the town has been lost forever, how much the character of the town has changed and you might just begin to understand why the older generation lament at the passing of time.

Alan G. Eaton

July 1989

1. The old Court House pictured here from the south-east side around 1900 has a long history. It is thought to have begun as a grange to the priory of Wenloek in the thirteenth century and was then surrendered to Henry VIn in 1540. Four years later it was sold to Robert Brooke who became speaker of the House of Commons and remained in the family until1705 when it was sold for f 5,400 to Mathias Astley of Staffordshire. Folklore teIls of the monks joining the Old Court House to Buildwas Abbey, which lies on the other side of the River Severn some four miles away as the crow flies, with a tunnel. With air shafts such a feat may have been possible but the geology of the area is such that a tunnel would be virtually irnpossible to construct.

2. Astley leased the house mainly to tenant farmers until1821 when James Foster bought it and began mining in the area. The final tenant, Mr. Barnett, bought the estate and farmed it until it was finally sold to the development corporation in 1964. Much of the building shown on these first three postcards was built by the Brooke family in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. By the rnid-twentieth century the house had fallen into decay but T.D.e. are restoring it with a view to openingit as a hotel in in the autumn ofl989. This postcard from around the turn of the century shows detail of the gate house and the later-built cottages beyond.

3. Postcards of the Old Court House are fairly cornmon among collections but this one dated 1897 is unusual. Taken from the west, it shows not the court yard as the postcard states, but the walled garden with its magnificent sun dia!. To the left of this picture, the north of the house, are large ponds created when the Wash Brook was diverted after the original fish ponds became filled with slag. Every old house has its ghost stories; John Randall, in his book 'History of Madeley' tells of monks in black habits 'grinning down from the rafters' andof an old woman who had the power to change into a hare.

4. There were two main colliery eompanies operating in the area: the Madeley Wood Colliery, who owned mines all around the town and the Madeley Court Colliery, who owned mines around the historie manor home. Madeley Court House was bought by James Foster, a Stourbridge ironmaster, in 1828 but he turned his attention to mining the mineral deposits rather than living in the horne. The eoal and ironstone extraeted was transported via the adjoining eanal to Fosters furnaces at Wombridge. In 1843 he built three furnaees nearby which worked until 1902, being finally dismantled two years later. In 1892 sixteen hundredweight of coal from this pit would have cost four shillings (20p in today's money) to buy. This photograph from about 1906 shows one of the pumping engines at one of the cernpany's seventeen pits, which finally closed in 1911.

5. The Madeley Wood Company was one of the few large multi-industry companies in the area. It began as a sideline business started by Richard Reynolds, who was a manager at the Coalbrookdale Company. Working from Madeley Wood the company operated coal, ironstone, fireclay, brick clay and limestone mines as weil as brickworks, tileworks and blast furnaces. During the nineteenth century the company prospered, but after 1900 the business went into a rapid decline until in 1920 the company's last remaining mine at Kemberton was sold. This photograph of the mine rescue 'C' team in 1914 shows very clearly the apparatus the men had to work with, including the cage containing the canary. The gentleman in the centre, behind the stretcher, J .T. Evans, features on picture sixteen.

6. Blessers Hili (later called Biests Hili, now Blists Hili) Furnaces pictured around the turn of the century. In 1832 William Anstice moved his ironworks from the Bedlam Furnaces at Madeley Wood 10 the Biests Hili site to make use of the nearby Shropshire Canal. This helped the Madeley Wood Company to become more profitable after the depression that followed the Napoleonic Wars. The three blast furnaces erected in 1832, 1840 and 1844 were 50 feet high, 13 feet in diameter with a 5 foot hearth. In 1908 the furnaces produced a total of 12,000 tons of iron per year and finally ended production after the miners strike of 1912. The rebuilt furnaces now form part of the Blists Hili Museum.

ones. t Mr.

7. This photograph, taken at BIests Hili around 1890, shows the coke hearths. In the background ean be scen the mine headgear, engine house and haystack boiler. In the foreground coal from the nearby collier is being coked by stacking it around smal! pillars, covering and partially firing it. The coke was then used in the blast furnaces, shown on the previous page, as the heat souree for turning iron are into pig-iron. It was a successful substitution of coke for charcoal in the blast furnaces of Abraham Darby in 1709 that led to the rapid growth of mineral workings in the Madeley area.

8. From the mid-eighteenth century until 1967 many Madeley men were employed in mining for coal and ironstone at over thirty pits that sprang up along the rich Coalbrookdale seams. The men pictured here , around 1890 with their ponies Ben and Turpin, worked at the Blests Ril! and Shaws (or Shawfield) collieries. These ponies were raised and lowered through the shafts of the adjoining pits as required. Shaw's pit was worked until about 1916 and in the latter years of its life, when mainly fireclay was being produced, it was worked alternately month by month with the Blests Ril! pit. The men on the photograph constitute practically the whole workforce as the pit rarely employed more than about twenty men from 1870 onwards.

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