A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Until the 19th century Wellington parish apart from the three coalfield townships depended on agriculture and its associated occupations, with Wellington town as the centre for marketing and professional services. Manufacturing firms established themselves in the town in the 19th century, encouraged by the arrival of main-line railways. Prominent in those new industries were Wesleyan Methodists, (fn. 1) especially the Grooms, (fn. 2) and early 20th-century Wellington had a numerous middle class. (fn. 3) In the mid 20th century, however, most of the Victorian manufactures ceased or moved away. In the 1960s Wellington town was still the chief shopping centre between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, but its retail trades were in decline and many of the inhabitants worked in Shrewsbury. (fn. 4) Under Telford new town (designated in 1968) it was planned that Wellington should continue as a shopping, professional, and business centre, though second to the new centre at Malinslee. (fn. 5) Shopkeepers' fears that Telford's new centres, especially that at Malinslee, would draw trade from Wellington town (fn. 6) seemed by 1982 to have been partly realized. (fn. 7)
Two southern townships, Arleston and Watling Street, lay partly on the coalfield and belonged to the Forester family. Mining there did not affect either place to the degree observable in the three coalfield townships. Nor was Aston's rural character altered by the establishment of F. L. Cox & Co.'s Overley chemical works (fn. 8) c. 1970. (fn. 9) Walcot, too, remained rural despite the presence from 1927 of the Allscott sugar factory.
In 1086 Wellington manor with its berewicks, and Leegomery and Wappenshall, in Leegomery manor, included much land capable of supporting herds and crops, and was far more developed than nearby Lilleshall, an area of similar size. (fn. 10) On Wellington manor there were 6 ploughteams on the demesne and 9 among the tenants, who included 12 villeins, 12 oxherds, and 8 bordars. The manor was taxed at 14 hides, and its value, £18, had dropped little since 1066. (fn. 11) The number of bordars suggests that much woodland had been cleared, (fn. 12) probably most recently around Apley and Leegomery (as the name element leah indicates). The rest was probably open country much earlier, as the element tun in Arleston, Aston, and Wellington suggests. (fn. 13)
Woodland still covered much of the Wrekin and Wellington hay in the late 12th century (fn. 14) (though Domesday did not record it) and it was continuous with that of Little Wenlock. (fn. 15) Moreover in 1611 the name 'Wellington forest' was still applicable to a large wooded area. (fn. 16) In 1190 Shrewsbury abbey and Wenlock priory, having held the Wrekin woods in common, divided the woods and pannage, nevertheless allowing intercommoning throughout the woods for certain vills, one of which, Aston, lay in Wellington parish. In 1234 Wenlock ceded its share to Shrewsbury. (fn. 17) In the 13th century the whole parish except Dothill, Walcot, and Wellington townships lay within the forest jurisdiction of Mount Gilbert (fn. 18) and agricultural improvement was therefore to some extent controlled though not prevented. (fn. 19) In 1301 the forest parts of the parish were disafforested except for Wellington hay. (fn. 20) The hay was the only woodland that the Crown had preserved and inclosed for hunting; nevertheless the keeper had been allowed an assart in it, the men of Wellington could pasture their livestock there most of the year, and pannage was sold. (fn. 21)
Wellington manor had land for 9 more ploughs in 1086, (fn. 22) presumably in the waste. At Aston a freeholder in the 1230s quitclaimed two wastes, 'Aylwyesmor' and 'Bradelemor', to Shrewsbury abbey, with liberty to ditch, inclose, and convert them, but reserved such arable and meadow as had already been reclaimed from them. (fn. 23)
By the later Middle Ages each township except Wellington hay (later Watling Street) and Apley had a set of open arable fields. (fn. 24) Wellington, the most populous, had three large fields: (fn. 25) Wrekin field on the west, Smallbrook field (fn. 26) on the north, and Poolyhill (or Pooly) field on the east, renamed Windmill field shortly before 1665. (fn. 27) The township seems to have contained virtually no woodland and the one considerable area of waste was probably Bradley moor, (fn. 28) between the town and Wrekin field. Arleston too had three fields: Windmill field on the east, Lawley field, presumably on the south-east, and Mill field, probably on the north-west. (fn. 29) On the south-west Arleston's steeply rising ground had some woodland and much rough grazing. Aston's open fields lay around the main settlement, (fn. 30) Down field north, Sich field west, and Wood field east. (fn. 31) In the south-east of the township the steep western flank of the Wrekin, its summit, and the upper slopes descending on the east comprised extensive pastures, wastes, and woods. (fn. 32) Even Dothill, probably the smallest township, had three oper fields. (fn. 33) Walcot had two, Bucknall field on the west and Mill field on the east, (fn. 34) with other land in Wide field, (fn. 35) an open field in Charlton township. (fn. 36) Walcot had virtually no woodland; waste and rough grazing seem to have lain in the far west around Clipsmoor (fn. 37) (which extended into Charlton) (fn. 38) and Walcot waste, (fn. 39) and in the east around Buttington hill. (fn. 40) Leegomery township had three open fields: Mack field on the northwest, Mill field on the north-east, and Wellington (or Dairy) field, (fn. 41) presumably on the south. (fn. 42) There was waste on the west side of the township at Lee Holme moor, (fn. 43) which extended into Apley, (fn. 44) and much on the rising ground south of the fields, (fn. 45) around Chockley. (fn. 46) Wappenshall had three open fields: (fn. 47) Brick Kiln (or Brick) field east of the main settlement, Park field, adjoining Apley park and so named by 1649, on the southwest, (fn. 48) and Middle field, perhaps on the south. (fn. 49) Northwards of Wappenshall's fields lay the Weald Moors, a waste where Wappenshall originally intercommoned with other townships and manors. (fn. 50) By 1520, however, Wappenshall had acquired exclusive rights over the nearest part, thus named Wappenshall moor, (fn. 51) which nevertheless had no visible boundary and was subject to claims of common by tenants of Wrockwardine manor. (fn. 52)
A variety of tenures co-existed in the earlier 14th century. In 1315 Edward Burnell had 12 free tenants paying rent in Wellington manor. (fn. 53) Even smallholdings might be held by feudal tenure. In 1346, for example, John, son of Thomas the shepherd, held 1/8 virgate of the lord of Wellington in fee, owing fealty, relief, and rent. A less privileged tenant of Wellington manor at Wappenshall c. 1315 held for life by deed in return for services. In 1345 his son fined to hold the land on the same terms after his father's death 'according to the custom of the manor'. Other tenants of the manor at that time, presumably copyholders, paid an entry fine, held for life, and owed heriot. (fn. 54) Burnell had 8 customary tenants at Arleston in 1315, owing 59s. rent between them. (fn. 55) There were 12 tenants for life at Apley in 1384. (fn. 56) Neifs were narrowly restricted to servile tenure: one of Wellington manor in 1346 buying from the lord land previously held freely was required to hold it unfreely (native). (fn. 57) In 1541 there were tenants at will on Haughmond abbey's former estate at Walcot, (fn. 58) but also at least one large leaseholder. (fn. 59) In 1540 there were tenants at will, copyholders, and two large leaseholders on Shrewsbury abbey's former estate at Aston. (fn. 60)
While every township seems to have included arable and pasture in the later Middle Ages, livestock was necessarily more important at Arleston, Aston, and Wappenshall, where woodland or pasture were most plentiful. Aston had a woodward in the earlier 14th century, (fn. 61) and it was presumably grazing and pannage that had almost denuded the Wrekin by the 1530s. (fn. 62) Seven townships had common rights, including pannage, on the Aston part of the Wrekin in 1583 and pannage was still let in 1651. (fn. 63) In 1598 arable exceeded permanent pasture by 2 to 1 on farms in Leegomery township (fn. 64) but farmers there could rent additional pasture at Wappenshall moor in the same manor. (fn. 65) The Wellington manorial estate favoured most kinds of farming, for it included parts of Arleston and Wappenshall and grazing and pannage in Wellington hay, as well as extensive arable in Wellington township.
During the 16th and 17th centuries commonable lands were consolidated and inclosed piecemeal, and by c. 1725 the open fields and commons had virtually disappeared. Conversion of arable to pasture was often the aim. (fn. 66) Gradual adjustments had to be made in open-field regulations. It was ordered c. 1638 that inquiry be made at Walcot whether exchanges and inclosures had left enough open land in the fields to sustain the old stint of sheep, 16 for each tenant. (fn. 67)
At Apley and Dothill, each with one principal freeholder, parks were created. At Apley a small park existed by 1610, (fn. 68) and in 1663 Francis Charlton kept it for grazing his horses. (fn. 69) By the early 19th century it covered most of the township. (fn. 70) Dothill park was created after 1626. It contained c. 170 a., about half the demesne, (fn. 71) and in 1758 was stocked with deer. (fn. 72) At Arleston the name Park leasows, recorded in 1635, (fn. 73) probably referred to a small inclosure, (fn. 74) as perhaps did the Park in Wellington township, mentioned in 1663. (fn. 75)
Inclosure of arable was completed earliest in townships under single ownership: at Dothill by 1626, (fn. 76) at Walcot by 1666, (fn. 77) at Apley by c. 1676. (fn. 78) Aston had open fields in 1653. (fn. 79) Arleston, Leegomery township, and Wappenshall, each with more than one important freeholder, still had open fields c. 1676 (fn. 80) but none fifty years later. (fn. 81) In Wellington township, with two large freehold estates and many smaller ones, the surviving open-field arable, a considerable acreage, was inclosed by agreement in 1702. (fn. 82)
Inclosure of common pastures likewise proceeded gradually towards their virtual extinction by the earlier 18th century. Parts of Wappenshall moor were held in severalty by 1520, (fn. 83) and the whole by 1605. (fn. 84) Further inclosures of the Weald Moors by Wappenshall inhabitants in the earlier 17th century were resisted by the commoners of Wrockwardine manor. (fn. 85) At Walcot at least part of the waste was inclosed by 1583, (fn. 86) and by 1666 all the permanent pasture was held in severalty. (fn. 87) At Aston pasture near the Wrekin called Abbot's moor was inclosed by 1577 (fn. 88) and common rights on the Aston part of the Wrekin were disputed by the lord in the 1650s. (fn. 89) In Wellington township Bradley moor was at least partly inclosed by c. 1676, (fn. 90) and Lee Holme moor, in Apley and Leegomery, was held in severalty by 1680. (fn. 91) In the 1750s the only common in the parish was said to be that at the foot of the Wrekin, (fn. 92) in Aston township. (fn. 93) It seems to have been inclosed in 1811. (fn. 94)
By the early 18th century surviving woods had been inclosed by the manorial lords and were carefully managed. In 1726 William Forester had 448 a. of woodland in hand in Arleston and Watling Street townships, (fn. 95) and by 1752 the lower slopes of the Wrekin, partly in Aston township, had been planted with conifers. (fn. 96) When letting farms the Foresters and Charltons normally reserved any wood or underwood to their own use. (fn. 97)
In the late 17th and early 18th century farms varied widely in size, but were often under 50 a. Walcot consisted almost wholly of five farms, of between 60 a. and 105 a. in 1666. (fn. 98) In 1664 Leegomery consisted mainly of seven farms between c. 40 a. and c. 100 a., (fn. 99) but in 1734 three were amalgamated in one of c. 240 a. (fn. 100) At Wappenshall c. 1676 the Charltons had one farm of 206 a. (held of the Leveson-Gower estate) and two others of 29 a. and 16 a. The rest of their land there was let to farmers living in other townships, in amounts up to 14 a. In Wellington township the six biggest holdings on the Charlton estate ranged only from 11 a. to 41 a. (fn. 101) In Watling street township the Foresters had three large farms in 1726: 244 a. (part of the demesne, with other land), 162 a. (Newhouse farm), and 126 a. (Buckatree farm). In Arleston, Watling Street, and immediately adjacent parts of other townships they had ten other farms of between 32 a. and 96 a., and eight holdings, with resident tenants, of 5 a.–19 a. Other Forester land was held there by farmers living elsewhere, in amounts up to 18 a. (fn. 102)
By the early 18th century most agricultural land was probably held by lease. On the Wellington manorial estate copyhold tenure had ceased by the late 17th century. (fn. 103) Farms on the Charlton estate were usually held by lease c. 1721. (fn. 104) Other tenures nevertheless subsisted. At Walcot all but one of the farmers were tenants at will in 1666 (fn. 105) and in Wellington township there were many small freeholders. (fn. 106) Early 16th-century leases seem often to have been for long terms of years, (fn. 107) but by the century's close were usually for three or fewer lives, (fn. 108) often subject to a long term of years, (fn. 109) fixed in the mid 17th century at 99. (fn. 110) In practice a lease for three lives was expected to last c. 21 years (fn. 111) on the assumption that each generation of the tenant family would have it renewed well before expiry. (fn. 112) Leases on those terms remained usual for farms until the late 18th century. (fn. 113)
Except perhaps in Wellington township, most farmers in the later 17th and earlier 18th century had sheep, cattle, and arable crops together. (fn. 114) There seem to have been especially large flocks of sheep in Aston, (fn. 115) where the Wrekin afforded common grazing. (fn. 116) In Leegomery seven farmers had a total stint of 240 sheep in Mack field in 1664, (fn. 117) and as many as 142 sheep were kept by a Leegomery dyer in 1698. (fn. 118) Cattle were kept for milk rather than beef, and several farmers made cheese in commercial quantities. In Wellington township, however, a high proportion of the milk seems to have been drunk or made into butter. Many farmers also kept a few pigs. In the earlier 18th century arable cultivation was being improved by landlord regulations. By 1716 some leases required the land to be properly manured (fn. 119) and in 1741 an Apley lease forbade its impoverishment by 'over much tillage'. (fn. 120) In the 1750s both dung and lime were used on the land. A plough named after its inventor, one Lummis, was then in general use. (fn. 121) By the 1750s the Foresters' tenants had to cultivate 'in course and not out of turn', were forbidden to take more than four crops in one course, and had to sow clover with the fourth crop. (fn. 122) Clover was being sown at Wappenshall by the 1720s. (fn. 123) Turnips were being grown by the 1660s but were not an important rotation crop in the earlier 18th century. The usual arable crops in the later 17th and earlier 18th century were wheat, barley, oats, and peas; smaller amounts of rye, vetches, clover, beans, and potatoes were grown. Mixed grains, sown in spring, were commonly used in addition to autumn-sown wheat. (fn. 124)
The early 18th-century disparity of farms remained in the earlier 19th, and in both periods reflected the nature and size of the different townships. In the larger ones, Aston, Arleston, Walcot, and Watling Street, arable exceeded pasture and meadow by about 2 to 1 in 1842. (fn. 125) In those townships the average size of tenant holdings over 25 a. was 83 a. and the biggest tenant holding in one township was 206 a., in Aston. A few tenants had land in more than one of those townships, up to 266 a. A third of single-township holdings over 25 a. were under 50 a.
In Apley, Dothill, and Wappenshall pasture and meadow exceeded arable by about 2 to 1 in 1842. At Apley the resident landlord kept 88 per cent of the land as a park, and the only holding over 25 a. had 37 a. At Dothill, where the landlord was not resident, 74 per cent (240 a.) was in one farm, with no other holdings over 25 a. Similarly at Wappenshall 94 per cent (372 a.) was in the hands of one tenant.
Wellington township was unlike the others. The large arable fields of the 17th century were mostly pastoral by the 1750s. (fn. 126) In 1842 pasture and meadow exceeded arable by 6 to 1. There were 530 a. of agricultural land (fn. 127) but no large farms. A few tenants were purely agricultural (fn. 128) but at least two thirds had trades or professions in the town. (fn. 129) Farming may have provided some with a secondary income; (fn. 130) others needed a little pasture or meadow to carry on their trades (fn. 131) or for their horses. (fn. 132)
In the later 19th and earlier 20th century Apley, Dothill, Leegomery, and Wappenshall continued to consist mainly of one holding. (fn. 133) In the other townships there was a gradual increase in the average size of farms over 50 a. (fn. 134)
By c. 1800 the Forester and Leveson-Gower estates, and probably others, had adopted the principle of annual tenancies, (fn. 135) though some leases survived long: a 1737 lease of 222 a. at Leegomery was still in force in 1802, and a 1756 lease of 194 a. at Wappenshall lasted until c. 1829. (fn. 136)
In 1801 wheat accounted for 43 per cent of recorded cereal acreage, barley for 31 per cent, and oats for 26 per cent. Turnips and rape were then widely grown, as were potatoes. (fn. 137) Rotations on the Leveson-Gower farms were centrally recorded by 1820, (fn. 138) as on the Forester estate by the 1840s. (fn. 139) The 'Norfolk' rotation (wheat–turnips– barley–clover), with occasional variations, was generally used.
From the mid 19th century the area of agricultural land diminished considerably, (fn. 140) and in 1968 much of what remained lay in Apley home farm (469 a.) and Leegomery House farm (241 a.), which were mainly arable and Eyton farm (655 a.), a mixed enterprise that included Wappenshall. (fn. 141) In the late 19th and early 20th
Sources: P.R.O., MAF 68/143, no. 14; /1340, no. 11; /3880, Salop. nos. 232, 239–40; /4945, nos. 232, 239–40. century farmers moved from cereals to livestock, though sheep farming declined. From 1927 they were helped by the fodder by-products of Allscott sugar factory, (fn. 142) and turnips and swedes gave way to sugar beet as the main root crop. In the mid 20th century, although pig production increased, livestock farming was widely superseded by barley growing.
In 1086 Wellington manor had a mill worth 12s., (fn. 143) perhaps at Walcot. (fn. 144) By 1315 Wellington township had a windmill, (fn. 145) and one stood by the 17th century on the west side of Mill Lane. (fn. 146) It closed in the later 19th century. (fn. 147)
Walcot had a mill by 1141. (fn. 148) In the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries both fulling and corn milling took place at a site on the Tern. (fn. 149) The mills, which lay on the Rodington side of the parish boundary in 1842, (fn. 150) were rebuilt in 1761 and extended in 1886, (fn. 151) by which time fulling had ceased. (fn. 152) Corn milling finished c. 1927 and the buildings were demolished in 1961. (fn. 153)
Leegomery (or Lee) (fn. 154) mill was worth 12s. in 1258 (fn. 155) and stood on a leat by Ketley brook. (fn. 156) In 1842 it was driven by both steam and water, (fn. 157) but in 1912 by water alone. (fn. 158) Flour milling ceased in 1914 but grinding for farmers continued until 1945. (fn. 159) The buildings were gutted by fire in 1978. (fn. 160)
Arleston had a water mill in 1603, (fn. 161) perhaps near Mill yard, north-west of the hamlet, but there was none by 1842. (fn. 162) Mills of Francis Forester 'in Watling Street' were mentioned in 1666. (fn. 163) A windmill near the Vineyard, Wellington, in 1808 may have been short-lived. (fn. 164)
Field names west of the town indicate two shelling mills, (fn. 165) perhaps of the 18th century.
Markets and fairs.
Wellington provided a convenient outlet for the surrounding countryside's surplus produce and supplied the area with craft goods. Those functions were greatly stimulated by the town's markets and fairs, which were favoured (at least until the 1920s) by road and rail communications. Wellington's market survived the early competition of Shrewsbury and Newport markets and impeded the rise of such potential rivals as High Ercall (market granted 1267) and Madeley (1269).
In 1244 Giles of Erdington was granted a Thursday market in Wellington manor, and the Crown renewed the grant to the lord in 1283, (fn. 166) 1514, (fn. 167) and 1692. (fn. 168) The 1514 and 1692 renewals included a court of pie powder, but no record of its business is known. In 1856 the Wellington Market Hall Co., formed in 1841, (fn. 169) bought the tolls from Lord Forester. (fn. 170) In 1864 it was superseded by the Wellington (Salop) Market Co. Ltd. and a subsidiary market, on Saturday, was authorized. (fn. 171) In 1960 (fn. 172) the Wellington (Salop) Markets (Successors) Co. Ltd. superseded the 1864 company. Another subsidiary market day, Tuesday, was introduced in 1970. (fn. 173)
By 1680 a market hall, open beneath, (fn. 174) stood in the middle of the broad southern end of Church Street, (fn. 175) which then served as the market place. (fn. 176) The hall was c. 12 metres north-south and c. 6 metres east–west. (fn. 177) It was presumably timberframed, for it was dismantled and sold (fn. 178) c. 1800. (fn. 179) There was afterwards no cover for women selling butter, eggs, etc., (fn. 180) until 1848, when the company built a town hall (fn. 181) off Butchers Lane (fn. 182) with an open butter market beneath. (fn. 183) General markets remained in the street until 1866. The company then opened a large market hall and yard on the site of the town hall (then rebuilt), and in 1868 added a corn exchange. A covered potato market was included in the 1866 building (fn. 184) and there was a wholesale vegetable market in 1890. (fn. 185) Butter was being sold wholesale in 1927 (fn. 186) and the corn exchange remained active until the eve of the Second World War. (fn. 187)
The general market had 105 permanent stall holders in 1975. It remained popular despite competition from Telford town centre's new hypermarket, (fn. 188) and Wellington retailers considered its drawing-power vital to Wellington's survival as a shopping centre. (fn. 189)
The market grant of 1244 included a fair on 10–12 June, and the renewal of 1283 mentioned a second on 28–30 August. (fn. 190) Under the renewal of 1514, however, the second fair was on 5–7 November, (fn. 191) presumably for fatstock. The renewal of 1692 mentioned only one fair, beginning 18 March, (fn. 192) presumably for store animals, (fn. 193) but the other fairs continued, being held in 1727 on 24 June and 10 November. (fn. 194) The June fair was noted for cart-horses. By 1772 the dates had changed to 29 March, 22 June, and 17 November. (fn. 195) The first was said in 1802 to be on 2 March, (fn. 196) but it was on 29 March again by 1825 and lasted three days. (fn. 197) By 1835 a fourth fair was added on 29 September and was noted for butter and cheese. The fairs were otherwise mainly devoted to livestock. (fn. 198) In 1825 the cattle fair was on the Green (fn. 199) on the north side of the churchyard. The horse fair was held on a separate site, probably at the bottom of Tan Bank, by the late 17th century, (fn. 200) and at the 'top' of New Street in 1825. (fn. 201)
It became desirable to withdraw livestock from the weekly markets, and from c. 1840 the four traditional fairs were therefore supplemented by fairs on the last Thursdays of all other months (changed to Mondays in 1841). (fn. 202) By 1851 the December fair was held on the Monday week before Christmas. (fn. 203) From that year the fairs increasingly took the forms of auctions and in 1855 moved to a railside Smithfield (fn. 204) south-east of the station, (fn. 205) provided by the auctioneer John Barber. After the 1866 cattle plague it was replaced (fn. 206) in 1867 by a new Smithfield (fn. 207) next to the railway off Bridge Road, (fn. 208) provided by the market company. (fn. 209) By 1879 sales were held there every Monday and the traditional fairs had ceased. (fn. 210)
In the later 19th century Wellington's sales had the advantage over Newport's and Shifnal's of good rail links both to the stock fattening areas of south and east Shropshire and to the butchers of Birmingham and the Black Country, (fn. 211) and in 1890 Wellington was second only to Shrewsbury in frequency of sales. (fn. 212) In 1910 there were 22,000 cattle and 56,000 sheep sold, but by 1950 only 3,000 and 11,000. (fn. 213) With increasing use of motor transport Wellington lost its former advantage and was especially difficult of access by road from south of the Severn. Over the same period, having prospered as one of the leading Midland fatstock markets, Wellington's sales suffered from a movement in east Shropshire towards dairy and cereal farming. (fn. 214) Nevertheless in 1981 Wellington's remained predominantly a fatstock market; in that year 2,100 cattle were sold, 7,200 sheep, and 5,400 pigs. (fn. 215)
By 1927 there were sales of breeding ewes and store lambs every September. (fn. 216) From the 1850s wool sales, the largest in the Midlands, had been held just outside the town (fn. 217) every June or July, with 50,000–60,000 fleeces a year in the 1920s, (fn. 218) but they ceased in 1938 (fn. 219) and local sheep farming declined markedly thereafter. (fn. 220) Barber & Son held monthly horse sales at their Wrekin Horse Repository, (fn. 221) Market Street (fn. 222) (opened 1891), (fn. 223) but had ended them by 1927. (fn. 224)
Trades and industries.
The surnames Chaloner, Mercer. Shearman, Tailor, Teyntour, and Walker occurred in the town in the earlier 14th century, (fn. 225) and in the 17th and 18th there were many dyers, mercers, and tailors. (fn. 226) Walker Street (fn. 227) may have housed fullers, and by the late 17th century fulling was done at Allscott and Walcot mills. (fn. 228) In the 17th and 18th centuries spinning and weaving were carried on, mostly at a domestic level and outside the town, using local hemp, flax, and wool. (fn. 229) Hempen cloth was then among the chief commodities at Wellington markets and fairs. (fn. 230) In the earlier 19th century the town's drapers, tailors, and clothing retailers remained numerous but local cloth manufacture had probably ceased. (fn. 231)
The surnames Barker and Corvisor occurred in the town in the 14th century (fn. 232) and Shrewsbury tanners were selling hides at Wellington market in the early 15th. (fn. 233) Between the 16th and 18th centuries the town had many leather workers (fn. 234) and by the late 17th century manorial leather inspectors were elected. (fn. 235) There was a tannery in Walker Street in 1690. (fn. 236) Tan Bank (fn. 237) is said to have been the site of another. (fn. 238) The town had a tannery in 1804 (fn. 239) but the office of leather sealer lapsed in 1811. (fn. 240) Other tanneries worked in the mid 19th century but none later. (fn. 241)
The surnames Carpenter and Cooper in the 14th century (fn. 242) indicate the presence of another range of essential crafts. Other trades in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries were bell founding, rope making, and nailing. Bell founding was carried on by the Clibury family from c. 1590 to c. 1682 and their business continued into the next century under John Bradshaw. (fn. 243) The foundry was said to have been near the later Charlton Arms, Church Street. (fn. 244) There was more than one roper in Wellington manor by 1688. (fn. 245) John Barney set up in New Street in the 1820s (fn. 246) and Edward Barney succeeded him; his shop was in New Street, his ropewalk in Water Lane. (fn. 247) By 1842 Thomas Heywood had the business (fn. 248) and his family continued rope making until the 1900s. (fn. 249) The Wellington Rope Spinning, Saddlery, & Harness Co. were rope makers in Glebe Street from the 1900s to the 1920s. (fn. 250) Wellington was noted for nails by the 18th century. (fn. 251) There were workshops in 1724 (fn. 252) and a Naylors Square in 1772. (fn. 253) Richard Emery was a lessee of nailers' shops in New Street in 1783, and his son was a nail manuacturer there from 1809 (fn. 254) until at least 1828. (fn. 255) The town had ten shops in 1842, many of them in or near New Street, (fn. 256) off which lay Nailors Row. (fn. 257) Some nail making continued until late in the century. (fn. 258)
At the end of the 18th century there were no regular local banking services. In 1805, however, Thomas Eyton, receiver-general of Shropshire and a local landowner, (fn. 259) formed a banking partnership at Wellington with two industrial entrepreneurs, John Wilkinson and Joseph Reynolds. (fn. 260) The bank offered assistance to local industrialists. (fn. 261) By 1828 the firm was Reynolds, Charlton & Co., with premises in the Market Place. (fn. 262) In 1836 the bank united with others in Coalbrookdale, Newport, and Shifnal to form the Shropshire Banking Co. (taken over by Lloyd's Banking Co. Ltd. in 1874), (fn. 263) with a branch in Church Street. (fn. 264) Three other banks (eventually incorporated in the main clearing banks) opened branches in the town between 1863 and 1926. (fn. 265) By 1856 there were five solicitors in the town, some of whom also undertook public business arising from Wellington's role as an administrative centre, such as clerkships to the divisional magistrates, the county court, and the canal and railway companies. One, for instance, was superintendent registrar, another county coroner and deputy steward of Bradford hundred court. (fn. 266)
Printing in Wellington began a little later than in some other Shropshire towns. F. Houlston & Son, booksellers, began printing and publishing c. 1805, specializing in religious and educational works. (fn. 267) Their best known authors were Mrs. Lucy Cameron and her sister Mrs. Mary Martha Sherwood. The firm transferred most of its publishing business to London in the 1820s (fn. 268) but (as Houlston & Son) (fn. 269) continued printing in Wellington. (fn. 270) Robert Hobson acquired the Wellington business (later Hobson & Co.) (fn. 271) c. 1850. (fn. 272) He started the town's first newspaper in 1849. (fn. 273) The printing side of the business ceased c. 1974. (fn. 274) Benjamin Smith was printing in New Street by 1821 (fn. 275) and until the 1870s. (fn. 276) James Keay was a printer in the same street by 1851 (fn. 277) and the business continued until c. 1907. (fn. 278) John Jones (later John Jones & Son) (fn. 279) began printing c. 1878 at the Lawns. (fn. 280) The firm moved to King Street c. 1930, (fn. 281) where it remained until c. 1973. (fn. 282) In 1982 there were at least three small printers in the town, all recent arrivals. (fn. 283)
In the 19th century industries on a larger scale than any previously known in Wellington began to establish themselves in the town and its outskirts. They comprised malting and brewing; the extensive timber yard and works of the Groom company, a business that contributed perhaps more than any other to Wellington's commercial growth in the 19th century; (fn. 284) several engineering firms, including one (S. Corbett & Son) with a national reputation for agricultural machinery; and brick and tile manufacturers.
Malt was milled in Wellington in 1601 (fn. 285) and malt mills were mentioned in 1663 (fn. 286) and 1759. (fn. 287) Some 17th- and 18th-century public houses seem to have brewed for wholesale (fn. 288) and in 1771 John Espley gave his occupation as brewer. (fn. 289) There were fifteen maltsters in 1828 (fn. 290) and malting was on a large scale in 1851, (fn. 291) when the first of several large brewing concerns, the Shropshire Brewery, was founded by Richard Taylor. (fn. 292) In the 1870s it passed to Anslow & Wackrill (fn. 293) (later J. G. Wackrill). (fn. 294) The premises were in Watling Street, opposite the Old Hall. (fn. 295) The brewery passed to Potter & Co. (later Potter & Cockburn) in the 1890s (fn. 296) and to N. Butler & Co. of Wolverhampton in 1912, (fn. 297) when it closed. (fn. 298) In 1877 (fn. 299) Edwin Pitchford & Co. opened the Union Brewery (fn. 300) in the former workhouse, Walker Street. (fn. 301) The Union Brewery Co. belonged to Benjamin Garbett by 1891 (fn. 302) and remained in business until c. 1920. (fn. 303) The Red Lion Brewery Co. opened premises in New Church Road c. 1907 (fn. 304) and seems to have closed in the 1920s. (fn. 305) The last surviving brewery was the Wrekin Brewery established by Thomas Taylor in Market Street in 1870. (fn. 306) He sold the Wrekin Brewery Co. (fn. 307) in 1901 (fn. 308) and the Murphy family controlled it 1921–66. (fn. 309) In 1921 it owned 24 licensed and 9 beer houses, mostly in east Shropshire; (fn. 310) in 1966 it had 201 houses. The brewery closed, however, in 1969. (fn. 311) Malting had long remained a significant local industry. There were four maltsters in the town in the later 19th and early 20th century, and in 1941 only Wellington, Shrewsbury, and Wem had more than one. (fn. 312) In Wellington, however, none remained by 1969. (fn. 313)
Herbert Phillips set up as a mineral-water manufacturer at Mill Bank c. 1890. H. Phillips & Co. may have passed c. 1907 to O. D. Murphy (later O. D. Murphy & Sons Ltd.) who moved the business in 1912 to the former Shropshire Brewery. (fn. 314) It closed in 1969. (fn. 315)
In the 1840s Wellington was the county's prin cipal chair-making centre (fn. 316) and in 1842 at least sixteen men in New Street traded as chair makers, wood turners, coopers, joiners, cabinet makers, timber merchants, or wheelwrights. (fn. 317) One of them was R. G. Groom, a former basket maker (fn. 318) and by 1835 the founder of a timber business (fn. 319) that was to make the Grooms the town's leading family. (fn. 320) In the 1850s Groom & Sons became Richard & Thomas Groom, (fn. 321) the founder's sons (fn. 322) having succeeded him. In the 1870s, as Richard & Thomas Groom & Sons, the firm was also making turned goods, (fn. 323) and by 1882 had the railside Shropshire Works (formerly of John Dickson & Co.) (fn. 324) off Bridge Road, consisting of saw mills and a bendware and turnery factory. (fn. 325) In 1883 Thomas Groom founded the Wrekin Chemical works in Limekiln Lane to produce chemicals from wood. Complaints of stench caused removal of the works to Stirchley in 1886. (fn. 326) The products of R. Groom, Sons, & Co. ranged from clothes pegs to heavy civil engineering timbers, and Grooms were reputedly the country's largest timber buyers. (fn. 327) The firm remained at Bridge Road until c. 1970. (fn. 328)
Francis Stone set up as a cabinet maker and furniture broker in New Street c. 1845. (fn. 329) By 1870 he had moved to Crown Street (fn. 330) and was there succeeded by Richard Stone. (fn. 331) The latter also had the Crown Works, Cemetery Road, by 1891, (fn. 332) and another branch at Oakengates by 1900. (fn. 333) As Richard Stone & Sons Ltd., later the Crown Works (Wellington) Ltd., (fn. 334) the firm set up c. 1910 as wholesale cabinet makers at a new Crown Works in Orleton Lane (fn. 335) beside the railway (fn. 336) and remained there until c. 1940. (fn. 337)
About 1895 Henry Addison & Co. (formerly H. & S. Addison), makers of church and school furniture, opened their railside Waterloo Works (fn. 338) in the former Springhill foundry in Orleton Lane, (fn. 339) remaining there until c. 1940. (fn. 340)
Engineering firms began to be established in the early 19th century. John Edge, a blacksmith in Walker Street in 1821, (fn. 341) was a brass founder by 1824, (fn. 342) and in 1842 William Edge was making agricultural machinery in the same street. (fn. 343)
By 1838 Margaret Jones & Son had an iron and brass foundry on the north side of Newhall Street (later Foundry Lane). (fn. 344) By 1851 it belonged to William Mansell. (fn. 345) Known as the Wrekin Foundry by 1891, it then occupied c. 2 a. and made industrial machinery. (fn. 346) In the 1900s it passed briefly to Duncan Sinclair (fn. 347) and then to James Clay & Co., (fn. 348) agricultural engineers, later James Clay (Wellington) Ltd., (fn. 349) who moved the Wrekin Foundry to the Ketleybrook area in 1924. (fn. 350)
By 1851 William Edwards & Son (later John Edwards & Co.) (fn. 351) had an iron foundry (fn. 352) on the other side of Foundry Lane. (fn. 353) In the 1890s it became a factory for bread-making machinery. (fn. 354) By 1913 the site seems to have passed to a firm of motor engineers. (fn. 355)
In the early 1850s Samuel Corbett, a blacksmith in King Street, (fn. 356) set up in Park Street as an agricultural implement maker. (fn. 357) By the 1870s, as S. Corbett & Son, the firm's agricultural machinery business was flourishing. (fn. 358) By the 1890s Corbetts were among the country's best known manufacturers (fn. 359) and they continued at Park Street until 1974. (fn. 360)
S. Corbett & Son had an ironmongery business in Church Street, which passed in the 1890s to W. Corbett & Co. By 1909 that firm was making galvanized iron tanks in Alexandra Road. (fn. 361) In the 1920s or 1930s it acquired new premises nearby, (fn. 362) the Alexandra works, (fn. 363) where it remained as W. Corbett & Co. (Wellington) Ltd. in 1982. (fn. 364)
William Botwood was a coach builder at Tan Bank in 1851, (fn. 365) and in 1870 E. C. Clift, formerly of Leominster, (fn. 366) was a partner in Clift & Dawson (later Clift & Son), (fn. 367) coach builders, also of Tan Bank (fn. 368) and perhaps successors to Botwood. (fn. 369) By the 1890s their Excelsior Carriage Works was exporting to the empire. (fn. 370) The firm made motor-car bodies by 1913 as the Excelsior Motor and Carriage Works. Duncan Campbell acquired it in the later 1920s (fn. 371) but ceased coach building in the 1940s. (fn. 372)
In the 1870s Richard and Thomas Haynes were making agricultural implements in Foundry Lane. (fn. 373) The firm (later Haynes & Bromley) (fn. 374) set up in Bridge Road in 1882 (fn. 375) and by 1909 were ironmongers, agricultural implement dealers, and agricultural engineers. (fn. 376) By the 1960s as John Bromley & Co. (Wellington) Ltd., reputedly the county's oldest agricultural hardware merchants, they traded throughout Shropshire (fn. 377) but c. 1970 they closed. (fn. 378)
The Victoria Sheet Metal Co. began in Victoria Street (fn. 379) in 1921 (fn. 380) and moved in the 1940s to the vacant Crown Works. (fn. 381) In 1949 the firm began to specialize in making tractor cabs and by the 1960s was one of the country's leading makers. (fn. 382) It left for Broseley c. 1972. (fn. 383)
By the mid 17th century bricks had been made at several sites (fn. 384) but probably intermittently. In 1738 St. John Charlton paid for the making of 50,000 bricks and 17,500 tiles at Apley. (fn. 385) In the later 18th century, however, demand justified continuously working kilns centrally sited. In 1763 Brooke Forester let a kiln in Wellington for 21 years to a tenant who would supply him with bricks and tiles for repairs anywhere in the parish. (fn. 386) In 1842 Wellington had at least six brick makers, most of them in New Street, (fn. 387) including Richard Corbett, who also owned a brick yard in Wrekin Road. (fn. 388) John Corbett occupied it in 1851 (fn. 389) but it seems to have closed soon after. (fn. 390) In the 1870s another Richard founded the Haygate Brick Works in Haygate Road, (fn. 391) which remained in production until the 1890s. (fn. 392) By 1870 John Millington, a brick and tile maker and coal merchant at Ketley, (fn. 393) established the Marquis Coal & Tilery Co. with a railside brickworks off Orleton Lane (fn. 394) but production ceased before 1891. (fn. 395)
In 1916 Johnson Bros., of Birmingham, bought the former Central Hall, New Street, (fn. 396) and it became the Wrekin Toy Factory. (fn. 397) By 1922 it belonged to the Chad Valley Co. Ltd. as the Wrekin Toy Works. (fn. 398) In 1972 there were over 150 employees (fn. 399) but by 1975, when it closed, only 78. (fn. 400) In 1926 Norah Wellings, a former designer at the Wrekin Toy Works, (fn. 401) began making dolls at the former Baptist chapel, King Street, (fn. 402) renamed the Victoria Toy Works. (fn. 403) It closed c. 1959. (fn. 404)
Quarries, mines, and sandpits.
Carboniferous limestone outcropped in Watling Street township in a band stretching north-eastwards from the Little Wenlock boundary to Steeraway. (fn. 405) In 1240 the Shrewsbury Dominicans received lime from the king's new kiln under Mount Gilbert (fn. 406) and in 1255 the king had two oak-fired kilns in Wellington hay. (fn. 407)
In the later 17th century the Steeraway kilns, all on the Forester estate, were coal-fired. Lime was sent north as far as Cold Hatton (in Ercall Magna) and west as far as Hunkington (in Upton Magna). Production fluctuated widely: 120 'hundreds' were sold from Steeraway in 1685, but in the next year only 39. (fn. 408) In 1716 output was 121 hundreds (726 loads), (fn. 409) fewer than at the Little Wenlock kilns. (fn. 410) A railway linked Steeraway to the Watling Street by the late 1730s. (fn. 411)
In the 18th and 19th centuries management of the limeworks was in the same hands as at Little Wenlock. (fn. 412) Limestone extraction was stimulated by local iron making. In the 1800s there was at least one deep shaft. In 1842 a 45-ft. seam was being worked and 100 men and 20 boys were employed. (fn. 413) Fluxing limestone was probably exhausted by the mid 19th century; Ketley was importing it from Wales by 1837. (fn. 414) Agricultural and building lime was nevertheless still needed and in 1882, when mining resumed at Steeraway, there were several shafts, levels, and kilns. (fn. 415) There were 22 employees in 1883 and 4,400 tons of stone were extracted in 1886. In 1900, however, 7 workers remained and mining ceased. (fn. 416) The kilns closed c. 1918. (fn. 417)
Much of Arleston township, with the adjoining part of Watling Street township, all within the Forester estate, lay south of the Boundary fault (fn. 418) and thus on the coalfield. They were the only parts of the parish, outside the three coalfield townships, where coal and ironstone mining occurred.
In the 1680s there was mining at Arleston, Arleston sough, and Short Wood. (fn. 419) In 1690 Short Wood yielded at least 555 stacks of coal and 166 dozens of ironstone and in 1691 Arleston sough produced at least 446 stacks of coal. At both sites the pits were sometimes leased, (fn. 420) as in 1712 when Sir William Forester let pits near Short Wood to two colliers from Oakengates. (fn. 421) Short Wood, however, was excluded from Richard Hartshorne's lease of 1718; (fn. 422) its coal was probably reserved for the nearby limekilns or for landsale, for by the late 1730s the coal and lime works were linked to each other by a railway that led northwards to the Watling Street. (fn. 423) Clod coals from Upper Short Wood and Birch Coppice, both in Watling Street township, (fn. 424) were included in the Forester contracts of 1740, 1750, and 1756 with the Coalbrookdale partners. (fn. 425) Other coals were sent to Shrewsbury via the Watling Street until the Shrewsbury Canal opened in 1797. (fn. 426)
From 1798, and possibly from 1784, the coalpits at Short Wood and Upper Short Wood were leased to the tenants of the limeworks (fn. 427) but mining may have ceased in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 428) From 1798, perhaps from 1777, coal and ironstone north and east of Arleston hamlet were among minerals leased to the Coalbrookdale Co. (fn. 429) Pits were worked there in the early 19th century (fn. 430) but none by 1882. (fn. 431)
In the early 20th century some small private pits were opened. Two shafts and a level were in use at Short Wood in 1925 (fn. 432) and there was a mine there in 1945. (fn. 433) In 1953 the Brandlee Colliery Co. opened an adit mine at Short Wood, which employed c. 25 men and produced c. 200 tons of coal a week. It closed in 1970, the last private mine in east Shropshire. (fn. 434) In the 1950s opencast working began at Upper Short Wood (fn. 435) and in 1977 north-west at Limekiln Lane, where 400,000 tons of power-station coal were expected. (fn. 436)
Igneous rocks for hardcore and roadstone (fn. 437) were being quarried at the Ercall and Lawrence's Hill, both in Watling Street township, by 1882. (fn. 438) In 1982 there were similar quarries at the Ercall and at Maddock's Hill (fn. 439) nearby (opened 1936). (fn. 440) Sandpits at Ketleysands were exploited in the 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 441)
The Shropshire Beet Sugar Co. Ltd. opened Allscott sugar beet mill in 1927 (fn. 442) in Walcot township. It passed to the British Sugar Corporation Ltd. (later British Sugar P.L.C.) in 1936 (fn. 443) and remained the county's only such factory in 1982. Its sugar output rose from 6,487 tons in 1927–8 to 19,555 tons in 1930–1 and beet-growing in north-east Shropshire expanded correspondingly. Thereafter acreages grown, and consequently tonnages of sugar refined, fluctuated with the weather and the market. (fn. 444) The factory underwent considerable expansion and technological improvement between the 1940s and the 1980s. In 1950 there were 200 permanent and c. 250 seasonal employees and annual sugar production was c. 25,000 tons, with large tonnages of molasses and pulp. (fn. 445) In 1981–2 annual production of sugar was c. 45,000 tonnes (c. 49,600 tons) with corresponding amounts of molasses and pulp. The increased output was achieved with only 220 permanent and 90 casual employees. (fn. 446)