A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Weavers lived in Hadley township in the 17th and early 18th centuries. (fn. 1) James Burroughs was making rope by 1870 (fn. 2) and the business continued until the 1930s. (fn. 3) His ropewalk was behind Ketley Wesleyan Methodist chapel. (fn. 4) Sandpits at Ketleysands were exploited in the 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 5) By the mid 19th century there was some concentration of shops and public houses in Hadley village and a scattering along the north side of Watling Street. (fn. 6) Retailing grew in the village considerably in the 20th century. (fn. 7) A bank sub-branch opened c. 1920 (fn. 8) and in the 1970s Hadley was developed as one of Telford's seven district shopping centres. (fn. 9) Coal and iron were exploited in Hadley from the later 18th century but in 1982 the main employers were engineering and brick works established in Hadley in the later 19th century. They faced severe difficulties, and unemployment ran high. (fn. 10) Some hope of improvement lay with Telford development corporation's industrial estates at Hortonwood (opened 1979) (fn. 11) and Trench Lock (opened 1982). At the former, much of which lay in Hadley and Horton, (fn. 12) it was estimated that 6,500 jobs could eventually be created. (fn. 13)
In 1086 Hadley and Horton were poor and wooded. (fn. 14) Hadley had probably emerged through recent woodland clearance (fn. 15) and in 1086 a league of woodland remained, apparently over most of the township's northern and south-eastern parts. (fn. 16) Until the early 12th century Hadley wood extended eastwards beyond the later township boundary as far as the king's wood (later called Wrockwardine wood), but William of Hadley granted the eastern part to the canons of Wombridge (fn. 17) and it became part of Wombridge parish. In 1086 Hadley's recorded tenants were eight bordars, an indication of recent assarting. (fn. 18) The manor had been worth 37s. in 1066 but was waste soon afterwards, perhaps by destruction c. 1070. (fn. 19) By 1086, however, it was worth 15s. and taxed at 2 hides. There were two serfs and a ploughteam on the demesne, but only ½ ploughteam among the bordars and room for 2½ more teams. Horton was still waste in 1086 and taxed at 3 virgates. Horton had 1 ploughland but ½ league of woodland, apparently on the south and east, (fn. 20) and a hay (perhaps an inclosed wood).
Until 1301 both townships were within the jurisdiction of Mount Gilbert forest. (fn. 21) The arable nevertheless expanded. In 1262 and 1271 the lord's widow was amerced for cultivating oats on an acre of land and another small parcel, (fn. 22) and in 1271 eight Horton tenants were amerced for assarting ½ a. of wood belonging to Peter of Eyton (III) in Horton (presumably at Horton's wood) (fn. 23) to enlarge one of their fields, and for sowing the assart with oats and winter corn. (fn. 24) In the later Middle Ages arable, probably in open fields, lay north-west, east, and south of Hadley village, (fn. 25) and at Horton arable fields (fn. 26) seem to have lain north and south of the village. (fn. 27) Both townships had considerable areas of meadow and pasture. (fn. 28) Most of the north-east part of Hadley was imparked before c. 1277, (fn. 29) presumably from former woodland.
Hadley may have been slow to recover from the agrarian crises of the 14th century. In 1404 the underwood of the park was worth nothing; probably there were no purchasers. (fn. 30) There were 80 a. of arable in demesne, all lying fallow, and 10 a. of meadow worth 10s. a year. Rents amounted to £10 13s. 4d. annually. (fn. 31) The lord leased the park before 1557, (fn. 32) and in 1623 it was leased as pasture; (fn. 33) parts, at least, were held by farmers a century later. (fn. 34)
In the later 17th and earlier 18th century the farmers of Hadley and Horton practised mixed husbandry. (fn. 35) All kept cattle, and herds averaged c. 12, rather more than in Wellington parish as a whole. (fn. 36) The largest recorded herd had 37 animals. The larger farmers usually made cheese and butter for sale. Some oxen were kept as draught animals. The larger farms had sheep too, in flocks averaging c. 30, near the parish average. (fn. 37) There were 57 sheep in the largest recorded flock. Two or three pigs were usually kept, and a few horses. The smaller farms were sometimes held by craftsmen. Concern for the arable's long-term fertility was reflected in a Hadley lease of 1725 forbidding its impoverishment by 'overmuch tillage'. (fn. 38)
By 1842 Hadley and Horton were wholly inclosed and still predominantly agricultural. (fn. 39) The two largest farms in Hadley were Hadley Park farm (273 a.) and Wheatley Grange farm (76 a.), which both lay in the north. They were compact and were run from houses standing amidst their fields: it therefore seems likely that both were formed by large-scale, late-medieval inclosure of former woodland. (fn. 40) Hadley Park farm, however, had been more than doubled in size since 1772. (fn. 41) Hadley had 12 other agricultural holdings over 25 a. in 1842; they averaged 42 a. (fn. 42) Those smaller farms were much fragmented and run from houses in the village street, and thus seem to have been formed by the gradual inclosure of dispersed open-field holdings, probably completed c. 1700. (fn. 43) The failure to rationalize the boundaries of the smaller farms (fn. 44) presumably implied a lack of co-operation among the township's many small freeholders: (fn. 45) in 1842 Hadley's 12 agricultural holdings between 25 a. and 75 a. were held of 23 different owners. There were 12 other agricultural holdings (6-21 a.) occupied by residents, of whom some were tradesmen. Seven small agricultural holdings (2-20 a.) were held by nonresidents.
In Horton the three agricultural holdings over 25 a. in 1842 consisted of two farms (110 a. and 91 a.) run from houses in the village street and 35 a. held by a non-resident. The farms were fragmented, but with pieces less dispersed than in Hadley. Four other agricultural holdings (4-17 a.) were occupied by residents (three of them in the village street) and three (14-24 a.) by nonresidents.
Some improvement in the layout of farms was achieved later in the century. By 1861 Hadley Park farm had been further enlarged to 316 a. (fn. 46) Manor House farm, Hadley, which thereby lost an outlying 19 a., received by 1882 an additional 15 a., making it a compact unit. (fn. 47) At Horton John Hayward's farm lay in seven pieces in 1842, but by 1913 was compact. (fn. 48)
In Hadley arable exceeded meadow and pasture by about 3 to 2 in 1842, but on residents' farms over 25 a. the ratio was usually more than 2 to 1. In Horton it was about 3 to 1, and applied to all three holdings over 25 a. By the late 19th century a movement from arable to livestock had taken place. In 1842 arable formed 81 per cent of land on Manor House farm (34 a.), Hadley; forty years later it formed only 39 per cent. (fn. 49) The change was elsewhere less marked. In Horton, John Hayward's 91-a. farm was 78 per cent arable in 1842, 73 per cent in 1913. (fn. 50)
In the 1930s Hadley and Horton townships were still predominantly agricultural. (fn. 51) By 1940 Hadley Park farm had increased further, to 345 a. It was 41 per cent arable, compared with 64 per cent in 1842, and its livestock included c. 100 cattle and c. 300 pigs. (fn. 52) In 1941 Joseph Sankey & Sons Ltd. bought the farm in order to extend its works, and the house became the general manager's residence; (fn. 53) only a small proportion of the farmland, however, was converted to industrial use. In 1968 most of Horton lay in Hoo Hall farm (480 a.), which was devoted to livestock. (fn. 54) By 1980 there was hardly any agricultural land in Hadley south of Hadley park, but Horton had lost little. (fn. 55)
A water mill at Hadley recorded in 1086 (fn. 56) and 1590 (fn. 57) was presumably on Ketley brook, but by 1842 it had gone. (fn. 58) A brick-built windmill at Hadley Park was converted to water power before 1792. (fn. 59) By 1842 it had been replaced by a steam mill east of the village, (fn. 60) which closed before 1882. (fn. 61)
Bricks and tiles.
Tiles were being made at Horton in 1681. (fn. 62) In 1767 George Forester leased Brick Kiln leasow, Hadley, (fn. 63) to a Hadley brick maker. (fn. 64) Another brick yard lay near Watling Street in 1842 (fn. 65) but by 1882 it had closed. There was then a brick and tile works immediately south-east of Hadley village, which closed before 1901. By that time (fn. 66) B. P. Blockley had opened the Ragfield Tileries (fn. 67) at New Hadley, next to the Coalport branch railway. The works specialized in blue and red bricks. Before 1912 Blockley built another works, the Hadley Tileries, nearby. (fn. 68) Blockleys Ltd. (fn. 69) added a third works in 1935. By 1963 the factory produced 20 million facing bricks a year, (fn. 70) and in 1964 there were 155 employees. (fn. 71) There were c. 500 by 1973. (fn. 72) Some signs of falling demand were noted (fn. 73) but in 1980 further expansion was planned. (fn. 74)
Coal, ironstone, and fireclay.
These occurred only in the south-eastern extremity of Hadley township, in deep strata, (fn. 75) but by 1766 the Revd. Samuel Roe, lord of Hadley, owned coal works in the manor. (fn. 76) In 1791 John Wilkinson (d. 1808) bought an estate in the coal area and developed mines in association with his New Hadley ironworks. By 1809 the estate had at least 24 active pits, some with pumping and winding engines. (fn. 77) By 1820 Thomas Jukes Collier & Co., in which James Foster was the active partner, were operating mines in Hadley. In 1825 the company bought 61 a. in Hadley Lodge farm and the Vallens, with their minerals, and in 1831 bought the Wilkinson estate (65 a.) and mines. (fn. 78) The New Hadley ironworks was closed but minerals were needed at the partners' Wombridge works. (fn. 79) By the 1840s, however, the Hadley mines, under Foster's sole ownership from 1837, were nearing exhaustion. (fn. 80) The Lilleshall Co. bought them with the estate in 1860 in order to expand its coal department but they proved uneconomic. (fn. 81) In 1870 most of the nine pairs of shafts produced only ironstone. (fn. 82) By 1882 there were only three working mines and at least 25 abandoned shafts. (fn. 83) Twenty years later one shaft was working, at New Hadley; (fn. 84) B. P. Blockley had acquired it from the company. (fn. 85) It closed, however, before 1925. (fn. 86)
John Wilkinson built an ironworks (fn. 87) in the coalfield part of Hadley, with two furnaces blown in c. 1804. Probably intended to replace the Willey works, it had little success. (fn. 88) In 1813 John Bradley & Co. (i.e. John Bradley and James Foster) agreed to buy all the iron for 7 years, (fn. 89) and from c. 1820 Thomas Jukes Collier & Co. seem to have operated the New Hadley works. It closed, however, before 1825. (fn. 90)
After the Wellington-Stafford railway was built in 1849 three firms established themselves at railside sites. The Haybridge and Trench works were managed in the 19th century by local Wesleyans, one of whom, Lt.-Col. James Patchett, ruled Hadley in the manner of a benevolent squire. (fn. 91) His Trench Iron Works had worker shareholders (fn. 92) and, by the 1920s, trade-union representation. At the Hadley Castle Works, however, there was no union recognition until the 1940s. (fn. 93)
The Haybridge Iron Co. (later Flather Bright Steels Ltd.) (fn. 94) was formed in 1864 with Benjamin Talbot as managing director. (fn. 95) The Wellington timber merchants Richard Groom and his son R. A. Groom both served as chairman. (fn. 96) The works made wire rods (fn. 97) and by the 1930s iron and steel bars and sections. (fn. 98) In 1950 much of the output was for export. (fn. 99) There were 307 employees in 1964, (fn. 100) and in 1974 business was expanding, (fn. 101) but the works closed in 1983.
The Trench Iron Works opened in 1866. The company failed in 1869, and in 1872 the Shropshire Iron Co. bought the works and extended it. In 1879, using Lilleshall Co. pig iron, it was able to produce 400 tons of wire rods and 100-150 tons of wire a week. (fn. 102) The Patchett family had the controlling interest from 1873 and James Patchett was managing director from the 1870s (fn. 103) until the general strike of 1926. (fn. 104) The works closed in 1931, making c. 400 men redundant. (fn. 105) In 1942 K. J. & A. Sommerfeld Ltd. (later Sommerfeld Flexboard Ltd.) (fn. 106) acquired the works (fn. 107) and made emergency runways and portable roadways. From 1947 they also made steel building components and furniture. (fn. 108) There were 136 employees in 1964, (fn. 109) and by 1967 the firm had worldwide exports. (fn. 110) From c. 1973 part of the site was occupied by a firm dealing in scrap metal and motor spares, (fn. 111) which remained in 1982. Sommerfelds moved to Doseley c. 1979. (fn. 112)
In 1871 the Castle Iron Works, (fn. 113) based on designs by Karl Siemens, was opened by Nettlefold & Chamberlain (fn. 114) of Smethwick. (fn. 115) In 1879 it was making wire and 400-500 tons of bar iron a week. (fn. 116) In 1886, however, Nettlefolds Ltd. left Shropshire, where costs, especially wages, were high, and sold the works to Benjamin Talbot, whose firm went bankrupt in 1888. (fn. 117)
In 1900 G. F. Milnes & Co. Ltd. of Birkenhead, tramcar builders, opened the new Castle Car Works on the site. (fn. 118) There were c. 700 employees, (fn. 119) and 701 tramcars were completed in 1901. (fn. 120) Demand fell, however, and the works shut in 1904. In 1905 the United Electric Car Co. Ltd. bought them and leased them to the Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage & Wagon Co. Ltd. of Birmingham. In 1908 falling orders again forced a closure but most of the employees were offered jobs in the Birmingham area. (fn. 121)
In 1910 Joseph Sankey & Sons Ltd. of Bilston (later G.K.N. Sankey Ltd.) (fn. 122) bought the works and imported 100 employees from the Black Country. The Hadley Castle Works specialized in motor vehicle wheels and bodies and expanded with the British motor industry. After the First World War additional products included chassis frames, office furniture, and washing machines. (fn. 123) There were c. 1,500 employees in 1939. (fn. 124) The works grew sevenfold in the years 1948-60, becoming Europe's biggest manufacturer of motor vehicle wheels. (fn. 125) From the early 1970s the wheel division suffered from falling demand (fn. 126) and in the late 1970s the works entered a sudden decline. In January 1978 the workforce, 6,250, (fn. 127) was the largest of any Telford firm. (fn. 128) Four years later it had been cut to 2,550. (fn. 129)
In 1924 James Clay (Wellington) Ltd., agricultural machinery and implement manufacturers, moved their Wrekin Foundry from Wellington to a site beside the Ketley branch railway. From 1929 the firm was a subsidiary of Allied Ironfounders Ltd. (fn. 130) By 1958 it had moved to part of the Sinclair Iron Co.'s site in Ketley township (fn. 131) and by 1960 (fn. 132) Aga Heat Ltd., another Allied Ironfounders subsidiary, had moved from Smethwick to extended buildings at the Hadley site, to make solid-fuel cookers and domestic water heaters. In 1962 Allied Ironfounders Ltd. turned the factory into its Aga Works, to make motor-vehicle and other small castings as well as domestic appliances. There were 231 employees in 1964. (fn. 133) The company's Shropshire concerns became part of Glynwed Foundries Ltd. in 1969. In 1975 the foundry closed (fn. 134) but the works continued as the Aga-Rayburn division of Glynwed Appliances Ltd. (fn. 135)