A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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PRESTON UPON THE WEALD MOORS
The manor and township of Preston upon the Weald Moors lies 5 km. north-east of Wellington. It was originally subject to Wellington church but became a separate parish in the 13th century. (fn. 1)
Parts of the township's southern boundary are marked by the road from Preston to Hurleybrook, in existence by 1283, (fn. 2) and by Hurley brook. Ditches across the Weald Moors mark its boundaries on the west, north, and east. The eastern boundary partly coincides with the course of Humber brook and may have done so wholly until the 13th century. (fn. 3) As in Eyton and the other Weald Moors parishes some boundaries impinging on the moor may have been formally defined only at a relatively late date. (fn. 4) Disputes over rights on the Weald Moors in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, did not directly concern Preston, and maps drawn up for claimants c. 1580 showed the township's boundaries as well defined, with the possible exception of those on the northwest. (fn. 5) Preston township also included a detached part (probably the manor's original woodland) (fn. 6) to the south-east; its boundaries required elucidation in 1238. (fn. 7) Preston was in the forest of Mount Gilbert until 1301. (fn. 8)
The area of the ancient township (the subject of the present article) was 1,074 a. (424 ha.) including 84 a. in the south-eastern detachment. By 1842 fields amounting to 139 a., scattered mainly across the north and east of the township and mostly formerly owned by the Charltons of Apley, (fn. 9) were counted as part of Wellington parish. By then the south-eastern detachment too was fragmented by 11 a. of closes belonging to Wellington parish. (fn. 10) The complex parish boundaries thus produced may have been no older than the later 18th century. (fn. 11) They were rationalized 1883- 4 when the parts of Wellington parish in Preston township were added to Preston civil parish and Preston parish's fragments of the south-eastern detachment were assigned to Wellington and Wrockwardine Wood C.P.s. Preston thus became a civil parish of 990 a. (401 ha.). (fn. 12)
Preston township lies on glacial deposits overlying Permian breccia and sandstone and Triassic Bunter Pebble Beds on the northern edge of the east Shropshire coalfield. Both Preston village, in the centre of the township, and the Hoo hamlet to the south-east and near the boundary, lie on red marl and sand, with some sand and gravel to the east and west. North and south is boulder clay, giving way to peat and alluvium on the Weald Moors. (fn. 13) Preston village is an agglomeration of 19th-century brick farms, with scattered 18th century and later houses, grouped around a square of streets, within which is the churchyard. At the west end of the village are the Preston Trust Homes (Preston hospital until 1946), almshouses founded in the early 18th century. (fn. 14) About 1953 a small group of council houses was built south of the village. (fn. 15) Kinley farm, 1 km. west of the village, may have been the focus of a small medieval hamlet, 'houses' being noted there in 1650. (fn. 16) To the south-east lies Hoo Hall. Property boundaries east of it suggest that there was formerly a linear hamlet there, largely depopulated by 1842. Hoo Green lay between hall and hamlet. (fn. 17)
Roads run from the village in three directions: north-west through the Weald Moors to Kynnersley; south-west to Wappenshall; and south to join a road from Lilleshall to Hurleybrook, from which lanes lead off to the Hoo and Horton. The last named road, in part coinciding with Preston's boundary, existed by 1283. (fn. 18)
In 1086 there were 2 oxherds on the demesne and 3 villeins; (fn. 21) 8 householders paid the 1327 subsidy, (fn. 22) and 25 paid hearth tax in 1672. (fn. 23) In 1799 Preston was described as a 'very small village' of 170 persons. (fn. 24) By 1841 there were 247 inhabitants, (fn. 25) including 42 in the hospital. (fn. 26) Although by 1851 there were 63 (fn. 27) hospital residents, the parish population had fallen slightly. The 1883-4 boundary changes had little effect on population, which remained at the mid 19thcentury level until after the First World War. Thereafter, owing to agricultural mechanization, (fn. 28) population gradually fell, although it rose again in the 1960s, to 226 by 1981. (fn. 29)
The first part of the Shrewsbury Canal, opened in 1794, (fn. 30) cut the south-west corner of the parish, and the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal's Newport branch, built in 1835, bisected the township from west to east, following the edge of the Weald Moors. (fn. 31) The building of a bridge over the latter canal probably provided the occasion for the straightening and realignment of the road to Kynnersley; (fn. 32) there were two other bridges, both near Kinley. Immediately west of the village bridge was a canal keeper's cottage, to the east a winding pool and boathouse. (fn. 33) The canal was last used in the 1940s and partly filled c. 1970. (fn. 34) In the later 18th century one, or occasionally two, alesellers were licensed. (fn. 35) No later licensed premises are known.