Dawley: Communications

Pages 106-107

A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



Great Dawley was crossed from north-west to south-east by the main Wellington-Worcester (and Bridgnorth) road, turnpiked 1764. (fn. 1) In 1752 the road entered the parish at Dawley Bank and ran by Dawley Green Lane (later Bank Road and King Street), Dun Cow Bank (New Street), and Finger Lane to Southall. (fn. 2) By the early 19th century it had been diverted from Lawley by Ball's Hill, near Heath Hill, to Dawley Green. (fn. 3) The parish's commercial centre grew up at the junction between the old and new routes at Dawley Green, the road through the settlement being known at High Street by 1851. (fn. 4) A second major route was the Wellington-Coalbrookdale turnpike, opened c. 1817. (fn. 5) Across the south-west corner of the parish it was made by improving a road that followed parts of the former Horsehay-Coalbrookdale waggonway. (fn. 6) The stretch along Loamhole dingle was known as Jigger's Bank, at the foot of which was a tollhouse. (fn. 7) The Wellington-Worcester turnpike was diverted to follow the new road, a new section being built c. 1827 from the older route at Ball's Hill to the new road at Lawley. (fn. 8)

Brandlee Lane, the road from Dawley Green to Horsehay, was described in 1780 as the road to Much Wenlock. (fn. 9) It seems to have been taken over as a private toll road by the Coalbrookdale Co., who put up a turnpike gate at Horsehay, but it was transferred to the parish in 1840. (fn. 10) The scattered nature of both early agricultural settlement and 18th- and 19th-century industry gave rise to a complex network of minor lanes, tracks, and footpaths by the early 19th century. (fn. 11)

From 1970 the road pattern underwent major changes. The centre of Dawley was bypassed in 1976 by the new Spring Hill Road skirting from Heath Hill to Portley, and in 1980 High Street was pedestrianized. New major roads in the Old Park and Dawley Bank areas linked the Wellington-Bridgnorth route to Telford town centre and the new housing estates in Malinslee.

The growth of industry in the late 18th and early 19th century superimposed a new network of communications on the existing road pattern. The earliest industrial routes were the wooden railways built c. 1755-6 to link the Coalbrookdale Co.'s new Horsehay furnaces to their mines in Ketley and Lawley and to Coalbrookdale itself. That from Ketley and Lawley was 16 ft. wide and entered the parish at Dawley Bank; it ran northwest of Dawley Green to Horsehay. (fn. 12) That from Horsehay to Coalbrookdale ran a short distance through Little Wenlock parish before re-entering Dawley and running down Jigger's Bank to Coalbrookdale. (fn. 13) Both had rails of oak or ash in the 1760s, replaced by iron rails from the 1770s. (fn. 14)

In 1788-9 the Hollinswood-Southall length of the Shropshire Canal was built down the eastern edge of the parish, a branch from Southall by the head of Horsehay dingle to Brierly Hill, at the head of Coalbrookdale, being opened c. 1792. (fn. 15) Building capital was raised principally from the local coal and iron masters, over 30 per cent being subscribed by the Coalbrookdale Co. partners. The canal became the main artery for the coal and iron industries, linking Coalbrookdale and Horsehay to Old Park, Ketley, and Donnington. At the Brierly Hill canal terminus two shafts were sunk 120 ft., down which iron crates were lowered to a tramway driven into the hill at the head of Coalbrookdale. The disadvantages of transhipment at Brierly Hill led first to the replacement of the shafts by an inclined plane in 1794 and, c. 1801, to the construction of a railway along the towpath from Brierly Hill to Horsehay. Thereafter the canal south-west of Horsehay fell into disuse.

Further railways were built from mines and ironworks in Dawley to wharves on the canal. The longest were the Coalbrookdale Co.'s waggonway from Brandlee to Dawley Castle wharf, with feeders from Portley and Deepfield collieries, built by 1817; (fn. 16) that from Old Park ironworks to the canal at Hinkshay, probably built by 1812; (fn. 17) and that from Coalbrookdale by the Lightmoor valley to the canal near Dawley Castle, built in 1810-11. (fn. 18)

The canal remained the central line of freight transport until standard gauge railways reached the area in the 1850s. The Madeley branch of the Shrewsbury & Birmingham Railway (later G.W.R.), opened in 1854, cut across the southern edge of the parish at Lightmoor. (fn. 19) The Wellington & Severn Junction Railway, in which the Coalbrookdale Co. held about three quarters of the shares, was laid from Ketley Junction to Horsehay in 1857 and thence to Lightmoor c. 1858. An extension to Coalbrookdale opened in 1864. There was a station at Horsehay with 10 sidings serving the area's ironworks and other industries, and halts at Lightmoor (from 1907), Doseley (from 1932), and Green Bank (from 1934). (fn. 20) The line closed to passengers in 1962 and to goods in 1964, (fn. 21) but the section from Horsehay to Light moor was reopened for freight in 1965. (fn. 22) The Coalport Branch Railway (later L.N.W.R.), built along the line of the canal down the eastern edge of the parish, opened in 1860. (fn. 23) Dawley was served by Malinslee station, at Dark Lane, and Stirchley (from 1923 Dawley and Stirchley) station, in Stirchley. The line closed to passengers in 1952 and entirely in 1964. (fn. 24) Between 1908 and 1959 the G.W.R. had a goods line, originally called the Old Park line, between Hollinswood and Stirchley. (fn. 25)


  • 1. 4 Geo. III, c. 81.
  • 2. J. Rocque, Map of Salop. (1752).
  • 3. R. Baugh, Map of Salop. (1808).
  • 4. S. Bagshaw, Dir. Salop. (1851), 376-7.
  • 5. 57 Geo. III, c. 12 (Local and Personal); B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 208.
  • 6. Cf. S.R.O. 1224, box 259, plan c. 1750, deed of 1750; box 260, deed of 1755; Baugh, Map of Salop.; B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 208; Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. (1981), 82.
  • 7. S.R.O. 1560/1.
  • 8. S.R.O., dep. plan 219.
  • 9. S.R.O. 327, box 5, ct. r.
  • 10. S.R.O. 1560/5, May 1840.
  • 11. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 208; O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.).
  • 12. S.R.O. 2374, box 1, deed of 1756.
  • 13. S.R.O. 1224, box 259, plan c. 1750, deed of 1750; box 260, deed of 1755; M. J. T. Lewis, Early Wooden Rlys. (1970), 259, 271-2, pl. 60; Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. (1981), 82.
  • 14. S.P.L., MS. 332, pp. 172, 217, 242; Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 123.
  • 15. For this para. see C. Hadfield, Canals of W. Midlands (1969), 153, 157, 159; Trinder, op. cit. 128-36.
  • 16. S.R.O. 2224/1.
  • 17. S.R.O. 2374, box 3, rental of 1812; O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.).
  • 18. I.G.M.T. Libr. 1978/169.
  • 19. R. Christiansen, W. Midlands (Regional Hist. of Rlys. of Gt. Brit. vii, 1973), 270.
  • 20. Ibid. 156-7; 271; cf. S.R.O., dep. plan 350; J. M. Tolson, 'In the Tracks of the Iron Masters', Railway Mag. xci. 373-8.
  • 21. C. R. Clinker, Clinker's Reg. of Closed Stations 1830- 1977 (Bristol, 1978), 65, 75.
  • 22. Christiansen, W. Midlands, 157.
  • 23. Ibid. 158; cf. S.R.O., dep. plan 367; Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. (1981), 153.
  • 24. Clinker's Reg. 37, 91; Shropshire Star, 26 Sept. 1979.
  • 25. Christiansen, W. Midlands, 157.