A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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GROWTH OF SETTLEMENT.
There were 6 villeins, 4 bordars, and 4 serfs in the manor in 1086, (fn. 1) and 11 inhabitants paid the 1327 subsidy. (fn. 2) In 1642 the adult population was 330 or more, (fn. 3) in 1660 poll tax was paid by 340, and in 1672 tax was paid on 174 hearths in 61 houses; (fn. 4) the adult population was 451 in 1676 (fn. 5) and little more 35 years later. (fn. 6)
In the 18th century population grew rapidly as industry expanded. There were perhaps c. 340 families by 1753, (fn. 7) half or more in Madeley Wood and possibly a fifth in Coalbrookdale. (fn. 8) Marriages increased in the late 1750s and early 1760s (fn. 9) when baptisms also greatly outstripped burials. (fn. 10) By 1782 estimated population was 2,690: 560 families in 440 houses. By 1793 it was 3,677 (851 families in 754 houses), and in 1801 it was 4,758 (942 families in 921 houses). (fn. 11)
Population grew steadily 1801-61, stabilized in the 1860s at a peak of c. 9,470, then, owing to the area's economic decline, fell for half a century reaching 7,398 in 1921. Over the next forty years, perhaps as a result of wartime increases, the censal population averaged 7,687. The civil parish was abolished in 1966, (fn. 12) when its redevelopment by Madeley district committee and the new town development corporation (fn. 13) was beginning to produce a vast increase trebling the population to some 20,800 by 1981. (fn. 14)
The open fields of the original settlement at Madeley were accessible from two southward loops (the later Church Street and Station Road) out of the Wenlock-Shifnal road; the church and probably the early farmsteads stood by the loops. (fn. 15) Cottage Farm, Station Road, belonging to generations of Bowdlers, was probably the last such farmstead: its c. 70 a., sold for building in 1965, lay south-east of the town and ran up to the Sutton Maddock boundary. (fn. 16) The Little Hay, or Webb's tenement, a timber-framed house at the eastern end of Church Street near Market Place, was sold with 47 a. in 1705; (fn. 17) its wide main range contains a central cruck truss perhaps formerly spanning an open hall, and there is a cross wing with jettied gables. Other substantial houses were later built in the area. On the western arm of Church Street the 17th-century Upper House, mostly of stone but with some timber framing, was tenanted by the Wolfes until 1690 and owned by their heirs the Heatherleys 1705-65; (fn. 18) in the 18th century it was extended by wings at right angles to each end, and it was further enlarged and much refitted in the earlier 19th century. Opposite Upper House, Madeley Hall was built for the Ashwoods in the early 18th century. (fn. 19)
Northward growth was confined by the manorial demesne, though on the north back lanes led to parts of the open fields: Shooting Butts Lane (later Bridle Road and Victoria Road) (fn. 20) on the west and a lane between Burnt Hill and Little field on the east; the latter met a lane running north from the Wenlock-Shifnal road (there called High Street). A house on the corner of the lane and High Street incorporates a small timberframed, late medieval open hall with a twostoreyed south end. At its north end is a later cross wing; the south end was extended in brick in the early 19th century and behind it cottages were added later in the century and subsequently incorporated into the house. (fn. 21) Between Shooting Butts Lane and the main road the Villa was built c. 1820 with a main front of three bays; it incorporates older materials and cellar walls. (fn. 22)
The grant of a weekly market in 1269 (fn. 23) stimulated the growth of a new town east of Madeley, along the road to Shifnal: burgage tenements ran off what became the lower part of High Street, Bridge Street, and Prince Street. (fn. 24) In the 1320s 25 tenants held some 52 burgages by charter in 'the town of the new market of Madeley'; another 7 burgages, in the lord's demesne, were held by 4 life tenants. (fn. 25) The new town did not expand much thereafter. (fn. 26) In 1677, however, the unlicensed building of three cottages in the new town was presented at the manor court. (fn. 27)
Squatter cottages were built along the roads from Madeley to Lincoln Hill (fn. 28) and to Lightmoor (fn. 29) and there were a few more distant ones, such as that beside the Bridgnorth-Wellington road near the Sutton Maddock boundary. (fn. 30)
The second settlement in the parish, just over two kilometres west of Madeley, was in Coalbrookdale, where assarting was in progress in the earlier 13th century. (fn. 31) Inhabitants are mentioned in 1274 and 1327 and perhaps a separate field of Caldebrook, with those of Madeley, in 1322. (fn. 32) One of the two manorial reeves elected in 1380 was for Caldebrook. (fn. 33)
There was a bloomsmithy in Coalbrookdale by 1536 (fn. 34) but in 1700 the 'whole village' comprised no more than a furnace, five houses, and a forge or two. (fn. 35) Most of the houses may have been near Upper furnace but one, White End, was lower down the dale near the Great forge. (fn. 36) There was at least one farmstead (fn. 37) in the valley some way below Upper forge pool: the substantial timber-framed house of 1636, (fn. 38) divided into cottages by 1786, (fn. 39) was known as Rose Cottage in 1980, when it was partly a workshop. It had been much altered internally; a substantial central brick chimney stack, its hearth lintel bearing monograms similar to those on the Old furnace, was probably an early 18th-century insertion. (fn. 40) The timber-framed Yew Tree Cottage, Dale End, is much restored. (fn. 41)
Before Abraham Darby's arrival in 1708 Coalbrookdale's environs were 'very barren' with 'little money stirring'. By the 1750s the quickening of the Coalbrookdale Co.'s enterprises had filled the valley bottom with works, railways, and houses comprising a settlement perhaps approaching 400 inhabitants. (fn. 42) The Darbys had built themselves houses in the upper dale and, from the 1740s, a random scatter of workers' cottages appeared along the valley, some in terraces like Tea Kettle Row, (fn. 43) others in converted farm buildings. (fn. 44) Severn House, Dale End, was built c. 1757 by George Goodwin, master collier and partner in the Madeley Wood Co. (fn. 45) Next to it Eastfield House existed by c. 1815. (fn. 46) By the early 19th century houses and gardens spread out at either end of Upper furnace pool: westwards where imposing houses were built near the Darbys' along what became Darby Road, and eastwards at Woodside and up Lightmoor dingle. Among the cottages on the eastern side of the upper dale were 34 in five rows built by the Coalbrookdale Co. in the 1780s and early 1790s: less spacious than Tea Kettle Row, they had, like it, brewhouses. Lower down were more cottages and gardens around Upper forge and Boring mill pools; some of the dwellings there in 1827 were in former industrial buildings. (fn. 47) Many buildings in Coalbrookdale from the 1770s incorporated cast-iron features, including window frames and chimney pots. (fn. 48)
Madeley Wood, on the southern edge of the parish sloping down to the Severn, remained largely woodland and common pasture until the 18th century, (fn. 49) though there was mining in the area by the early 14th century (fn. 50) and cottages were proliferating in the 17th and 18th centuries. The master grubbers who worked for Sir Basil Brooke in the earlier 17th century lived in Madeley Wood (fn. 51) near his pits; (fn. 52) so probably did their workmen. Of eight cottages built unlicensed 1674-7 three or four were in Madeley Wood. The builders were apparently fined c. £10 a year until presentment, (fn. 53) an arrangement probably guaranteeing what was in effect prompt registration and thereafter tenure for a small rent. Madeley Wood was the manor's last extensive common waste and thus the probable location of most, if not all, of the 16 cottages presented in 1715 as built without licence on the waste; 9 of them also involved illegal inclosure. Next year 12 cases were presented, 2 aggravated by inclosure. (fn. 54) By 1711 about half of the parish's population lived in Madeley Wood; they were mainly cottagers, most households with servants being in Madeley and Coalbrookdale. (fn. 55)
After the break-up of the manorial estate in 1705 increasing numbers of cottages in Madeley Wood were occupied by freeholders or on long leases. John Pitt and John Ashwood, steward and bailiff of the manor, bought 70 or more cottage properties in 1705 (fn. 56) probably as a joint speculation; (fn. 57) at least two thirds, probably more, seem to have been in Madeley Wood. By the earlier 1730s the lords of the manor were granting 99-year leases of cottages or of land for cottages, and Richard Reynolds evidently continued the practice in the 1780s; there were forty such leaseholds by 1774, many, perhaps most, in Madeley Wood. (fn. 58) Cottages were divided or extended for new generations; new ones were often built in the corners of the irregular plots, which were themselves divided into separate gardens with minutely defined rights of way. Brewhouses were sometimes common to the dwellings multiplied on one plot. (fn. 59)
Two main concentrations of cottages had formed in Madeley Wood by the mid 18th century. One was around the Green, (fn. 60) 2 km. southwest of Madeley town: there the Golden Ball was licensed in 1728 (fn. 61) and J. W. Fletcher's first Methodist meetings were held in 1762. (fn. 62) The name Madeley Wood later clung to that locality. (fn. 63) Settlement probably straggled west along the road to Lincoln Hill (later Belmont Road and Hodgebower), where 17th- and early 18th-century cottages remained in 1974. (fn. 64) There were cottages near the Brockholes and the Foxholes c. 1710. (fn. 65) Belmont House, a fashionable villa of 1753, (fn. 66) was built where the cottages began to thin out in the west. South-east of the Green lanes led downhill to Bedlam Hall, a brick Jacobean building, and the Lloyds, a large timber-framed house dated 1621. (fn. 67) Bedlam was the name of the riverside jumble of cottages built near the Madeley Wood Co.'s furnaces from 1758; (fn. 68) public houses opened in 1763 and 1780. (fn. 69) The Lloyds, so called in 1726, (fn. 70) or Lloyds coppice, was a wide tract of wood and waste, originally the eastern part of Madeley Wood, extending from the Green and Bedlam to the Washbrook. It remained largely unbuilt (fn. 71) but there were coalpits there by the earlier 18th century. (fn. 72) Before the end of the century there was probably a small riverside settlement at the Lower Lloyds. (fn. 73) New Buildings, an L-shaped terrace of 16 cottages, with outside privies, (fn. 74) was erected there in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 75) Madeley Wood Hall was built nearby in the early 19th century for the Anstice family, previously of Bedlam Hall. (fn. 76)
The other main settlement in the early 18th century was at the west end of Madeley Wood. It ran from Dale End along the Wharfage, a riverside lane (fn. 77) 'leading into Madeley Wood', (fn. 78) to the ferry where the Iron Bridge was built 1777-80. (fn. 79) Its growth conformed to the haphazard development of the whole Madeley Wood area. Robert Phillips (d. 1771) (fn. 80) left his children four freeholds there (presumably produced by subdivision), the leasehold tenement he lived in, and a garden which he had inclosed and held under the lords of the manor. (fn. 81) The Phillipses were ground colliers. Their properties were bounded by houses described as new in 1745 and 1760. (fn. 82) From the ferry a track (later called High Street, where a cruck was uncovered in 1969) (fn. 83) started uphill and perhaps went as far as the Green. (fn. 84) Other early houses were obliterated by the development of a small town (fn. 85) between the two earlier settlements during the sixty years after the Iron Bridge opened in 1780. (fn. 86)
Heart of the new town, and earliest laid out, was the area at the end of the bridge, where the Tontine inn was built in the 1780s and a market place provided. Away from the bridge growth was haphazard, (fn. 87) probably along existing hillside tracks. (fn. 88) The Reynoldses, lords of the manor, owned the area; they sold or leased land but took little initiative in its development. (fn. 89) Used as an address, (fn. 90) the bridge soon gave the growing town its name. By the 1830s Ironbridge was a busy port. Focus of the area's 'professional and commercial pursuits' in 1837 and with a population of c. 3,000 in 1841, (fn. 91) it yet never became a selfsufficient town: municipal, social, cultural, and educational institutions were shared with Coalbrookdale, Madeley, and Much Wenlock, (fn. 92) and from the mid 19th century a hundred years of economic stagnation blighted it. Away from the few fashionable residential areas such as Church Hill and Hodgebower (fn. 93) unhealthy 'back-to-earth' houses spread over the hillside (fn. 94) and by 1912 'tiers of dirty cottages' above riverside tips of industrial refuse formed a dull and squalid town whose deterioration was not halted before the 1960s. Madeley district committee attempted modest improvements in the town centre in the late 1950s (fn. 96) but a more ambitious scheme, after the committee acquired the Square and market in 1961, was deferred when Dawley new town proposals became known later that year. (fn. 97)
The growth of new industrial settlements, notably Coalport and Aqueduct, was stimulated by the building of the Shropshire Canal's Coalport branch through the east end of the parish in 1789-92. (fn. 98) Richard Reynolds bought c. 20 a. of riverside near Preen's Eddy bridge 1787-8. A canal terminus opened there in 1792, and the name Coalport was in use by 1794. The owners also improved road communications. From 1793 William Reynolds (d. 1803) controlled development, and between 1797 and 1800 several factories and 30 houses were built. By 1797 Coalport was Shropshire's most important river port, promising to rival Stourport. (fn. 99) By 1851 it had a population of 343. The main employers were the china manufacturers, with an élite work force which included many single women. (fn. 100) North of Coalport in the 1830s the Madeley Wood Co. built canalside terraces for the workers in its new Blists Hill ironworks. (fn. 101)
At Aqueduct, named from the canal crossing of the Bridgnorth-Wellington road near the parish's northern boundary, there was little housing or industry, except Gilbert Gilpin's chain works, before 1840, when James Foster began to mine his Madeley Court estate. He brought workers from Wombridge and built terraces in Foster's Row along the turnpike road. By 1857 there was a population of 393, mostly depending on the nearby mines and ironworks. (fn. 102)
Like Ironbridge, the settlements at Madeley Wood, the Lloyds, Coalport, and Blists Hill all stagnated between the mid 19th and mid 20th century. Even in Madeley and Coalbrookdale old industrial premises were converted to housing; (fn. 103) those places, however, fared better than the riverside, offered better housing sites, and were consequently the scene of the district committee's first housing schemes. It built 44 council houses 1925- 30 at the west end of Madeley in a triangle between Park Lane, Ironbridge Road, and West View Terrace; 46 more were built in Coalbrookdale 1929-31: 20 in Paradise, 22 in Dale Road, and 4 at Woodside. (fn. 104) Another 16, the first part of Beech Road, were built along the road from Madeley to Lincoln Hill. (fn. 105)
The pace of building quickened from 1933 as slums and overcrowding were tackled. (fn. 106) Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale were dealt with first by building 82 houses at Wrekin View 1935-7. (fn. 107) North and east of Madeley, 82 houses in Coronation Crescent were built 1936-40 and 48 in Tweedale Crescent 1939-40. (fn. 108)
After the war building was resumed, to clear slums and relieve the housing shortage. Progress was at first slow and concentrated in Madeley. In 1946 and 1947 27 prefabricated bungalows were put up in Victoria and Station roads, (fn. 109) pre-war schemes were completed by 6 houses in Tweedale Crescent and 2 at Wrekin View, (fn. 110) and the Rookery estate (20 houses) was built in the grounds of Tinsley House, (fn. 111) a building of c. 1883. (fn. 112) In the 1950s a major slum clearance programme for Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge was made possible by the extension of Beech Road and the building of Roberts and School roads. There, on the high land above Madeley Wood, 100 houses were built 1951-4 and another 16 in 1956 and 1959-60. (fn. 113) At the same time a large estate was begun off Church Street, Madeley, comprising Anstice Road, South Drive, and Upper Road, with 68 houses 1951-4 and 80 more in the later 1950s. (fn. 114) In the 1960s slum clearance was furthered by new building in Coalport at Riverside Avenue in 1961 (fn. 115) and in Coalbrookdale with 58 houses at Sunniside and 10 more for sale, 1962-3, (fn. 116) and 12 bungalows were added at Wrekin View in 1961. (fn. 117) Much the biggest housing programme ever carried out by the district committee, however, was achieved at Madeley in the years 1962-6: Joseph Rich Avenue (24 dwellings) and Meadcroft (20 old people's bungalows, one of them the ward's thousandth council house, and a warden's house) were built between Victoria Road and Park Street, (fn. 118) while east of the town, either side of Queen Street, Cuckoo Oak and Hills Lane estates provided 485 dwellings and 14 shops. (fn. 119) Most housing was for local people but some miners' families, moved from north-east England at the National Coal Board's request, were settled at Hills Lane. (fn. 120)
Between 1966 and 1974 Dawley U.D.C. started eight housing schemes (208 dwellings) in the old Madeley ward. Three were modest additions to the district committee estates but four others developed areas off New Road (32 dwellings) and Bridle Road (106). Slums had been largely cleared by the end of 1973 (fn. 121) when houses near the Brewery inn, Coalport, were demolished. (fn. 122) The Bridle Road scheme included 30 old people's sheltered dwellings. There were 163 such dwellings in Madeley by 1979: 61 built by Telford development corporation on its estates, 52 by private trusts, and 50 by the local authority, which was then providing 34 more at Madeley Hall. (fn. 123) Two dozen more off Church Street, Madeley, were completed by the development corporation in 1981. (fn. 124)
The development corporation's first housing estates were built around Madeley: (fn. 125) Sutton Hill (1,233 houses partly in Sutton Maddock ancient parish) in 1966-9, Woodside (2,420 houses) 1968-73, (fn. 126) and Brookside (1,792 houses partly in Stirchley ancient parish) 1971-5. (fn. 127) The planned increase of population in Madeley's immediate neighbourhood necessitated the redevelopment of its centre. Parkway, a bypass, was built 1967-8, and between 1968 and 1970 new shops and flats were built round two pedestrian squares obliterating the west end of Park Avenue. (fn. 128) The rest of central Madeley was included in a conservation area in 1980. (fn. 129)
Speculative building played little part in the growth of 20th-century Madeley before the 1960s. (fn. 130) Bennett Road (c. 1960), off Queen Street, (fn. 131) and Bostock Crescent (c. 1962), Aqueduct, (fn. 132) were private. Later the new town corporation encouraged private housing, (fn. 133) and estates were built around Glendinning Way, around St. Michael's church and in Station Road, Madeley, to the south of Sutton Hill estate, and at Madeley Wood.
At Madeley Wood in 1976 the development corporation and a private builder began to restore old cottages and build new houses on Jockey Bank (fn. 134) as part of the planned regeneration of the Severn Gorge. The scenery of the Gorge and Coalbrookdale and the area's historic importance and dereliction led to the designation of a conservation area, (fn. 135) covering Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale in 1971 and extended in 1974 and 1980 along the riverside from Madeley Wood to Coalport and up the Washbrook valley to include Lee dingle, Blists Hill, and the centre of Madeley outside the redevelopment of 1968-70. (fn. 136) In the later 1970s the corporation restored many buildings in the centre of Ironbridge, (fn. 137) notably on the Wharfage and in High Street, effecting improvements deferred since 1961; (fn. 138) Wrekin district council assisted in improving the Square. (fn. 139) Meanwhile by 1979 the achievements of Ironbridge Gorge Museum and the bicentenary of the Iron Bridge had focussed national and international attention on the area. (fn. 140) New residents were attracted, property values rose, and the gentrification of Ironbridge was noted as an inevitable result of the cultivated growth of prosperity. The decay that had earlier seemed squalid began to seem romantic. (fn. 141)