Lilleshall: Communications

Pages 146-147

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

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Two important thoroughfares served the parish from an early period. Watling Street formed its southern boundary, and in 1398 the canons of Lilleshall claimed that hospitality to travellers along it was a serious drain on their income. (fn. 1) The Lilleshall section was part of the length from Shrewsbury to Crackleybank that was, in 1726, among the first Shropshire roads to be turnpiked. (fn. 2) By 1808 there was a tollgate at Redhill. (fn. 3) The Lilleshall part was disturnpiked in 1875 (fn. 4) and became a main road in 1878. (fn. 5) In 1931 the part then in St. George's civil parish was superseded as a main road by the St. George's bypass. (fn. 6) In 1983 the rest was part of the trunk road from the first part of the M 54 (fn. 7) to the M 6.

The Wellington-Newport road crossed from south-west to north-east. It was evidently in use by 963 when, at a place called 'eotan ford', it crossed Headford brook, which formed the parish boundary in the north-east. (fn. 8) In the later Middle Ages the ford gave its name to one of Lilleshall's open fields. The road linked the parish's principal medieval settlements. Near the western parish boundary it was called Trench Way in 1288 (fn. 9) and Trench Lane in 1717. (fn. 10) It was turnpiked in 1763. (fn. 11) By 1804 there were tollgates north and south of Lilleshall village, at the junction with the Edgmond road and at Haybrook bridge. (fn. 12)

Until the early 19th century a road from the southern end of Lilleshall village street led southeast, passing north of the grange house and the abbey, to Hilton (Staffs.), in Sheriffhales, where it joined the road from Shifnal to the London- Chester road. In 1717 it was called Manor Lane. (fn. 13) Between 1804 and 1813 the Lilleshall part was re-aligned to begin on the Wellington-Newport road at Honnington and run south of the Grange and abbey to Hilton. (fn. 14) It was turnpiked in 1823 (fn. 15) and disturnpiked in 1867. (fn. 16) Called Lilyhurst Road in 1949, (fn. 17) it was a minor road in 1983.

The road west from Lilleshall past Lubstree park to Preston upon the Weald Moors was probably the 'Lubbesty' mentioned in 1283 (fn. 18) and the via de Lubsty of 1428-9. (fn. 19) The last element of the name is likely to be OE. stig, 'a path, a narrow road'; (fn. 20) if so the road may be pre-Conquest. It seems to have existed by the early 13th century, when 'Hundefordehull' existed where the road crossed Humber brook, (fn. 21) presumably by a ford. The road was mapped c. 1580 as the way from Lilleshall to Wrockwardine. (fn. 22) In 1717 it was called Preston Way near Lilleshall and Kingstreet Way west of Donnington. (fn. 23) By 1817 that western part was called Humber Lane. (fn. 24)

Another road, in use by 1717, (fn. 25) ran NNW. from the north end of Lilleshall to Brockton and Edgmond. Willmore Lane, so called by 1717, (fn. 26) ran east from Lilleshall past Willmore Grange to Little Hales and Chetwynd Aston. It was in use to Little Hales by 1594. (fn. 27) In the 19th century, however, the part east of Willmore pool seems to have fallen into disuse. (fn. 28)

A lane north-west from Lilleshall, called Moor Lane by 1596, (fn. 29) ended in 1649 at Moor green on the edge of the Weald Moors. (fn. 30) About 1810 it was extended across the moors to Kynnersley, (fn. 31) and the new length was known by 1881 as Kynnersley Drive. (fn. 32)

The Donnington Wood Canal, the first in Shropshire, was built between c. 1765 and 1767 for Earl Gower & Co. It ran north-east from the Donnington Wood mines to the London-Chester road at Pave Lane (in Edgmond), where a coal wharf was built. (fn. 33) At the same time a branch was cut from Hugh's Bridge, on the main line, to Collier's End, at the Lilleshall limeworks. At Willmore bridge, on the branch, another branch was made northwards to limeworks at Pitchcroft (in Edgmond). The Pitchcroft branch itself had two short branches north-west to other parts of the Lilleshall limeworks. (fn. 34) Coal could travel from Donnington Wood via the branches to the limekilns, and lime and limestone to Donnington Wood or Pave Lane. After the Donnington Wood furnaces opened in 1785 limestone could travel directly to them, and when the Old Lodge furnaces opened in 1825 a short connecting arm was cut to the main canal. (fn. 35) At Hugh's Bridge the limeworks branch, which was at a lower level than the main line, at first terminated in a tunnel, in which goods were raised and lowered between the levels through vertical shafts. By 1797 that arrangement had been superseded by an inclined plane.

The Donnington Wood end was joined c. 1788 to the Wombridge Canal, which provided a link with coal and ironstone workings at Wombridge, and from c. 1790 with the new Shropshire Canal. From 1794 the junction also gave indirect access to the new Shrewsbury Canal. (fn. 36)

The limeworks branch and its incline were last used in the 1870s. (fn. 37) Thereafter the main canal was little used north of Muxton Bridge, (fn. 38) and most of it closed in 1882. (fn. 39) South of Muxton Bridge the canal was redundant by 1904. (fn. 40)

The Humber Arm, an offshoot of the Newport branch of the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal (part of the Shropshire Union Canal from 1846), lay wholly within the parish, beginning in the north-west corner and ending at the duke of Sutherland's Lubstree wharf on Humber Lane, which opened in 1844. The arm gave the Lilleshall Co. a more direct outlet to the national canal network than before, and it carried out quantities of coal, pig iron, and fluxing limestone before the local railways opened. Tramways linked the wharf to the company's various works. (fn. 41) In 1870 the Shropshire Union Railways & Canal Co., anxious to divert traffic from its Trench incline, agreed to lease the wharf from the 3rd duke, and brought a revived traffic to the Humber Arm. The Lilleshall Co. then built a standardgauge railway to replace the tramways. The 5th duke closed Lubstree wharf in 1922 when the S.U.R.C.C. was absorbed by the L.M.S.R., and the Humber Arm was formally abandoned in 1944. (fn. 42) In its last years Lubstree wharf was used for bringing in cheese from Cheshire and taking out coal, a traffic called the 'Cheshire run'. (fn. 43)

The S.U.R.C.C.'s Wellington-Stafford railway line passed through the parish. Its station at Donnington, opened in 1849, (fn. 44) was closed for passengers in 1964, and for freight in 1965. (fn. 45) Between Donnington and Newport, however, the line was used for freight until 1969, and the Wellington-Donnington section afterwards remained open for the use of the Central Ordnance Depot and the Midland Iron Works, which had private sidings. (fn. 46)


  • 1. Hist. MSS. Com. 4, 5th Rep., Sutherland, p. 450.
  • 2. 12 Geo. I, c. 9.
  • 3. R. Baugh, Map of Salop. (1808).
  • 4. Ann. Turnpike Acts Continuance Act, 1875, 38 & 39 Vic. c. 194 (Local).
  • 5. Highways and Locomotives (Amendment) Act, 1878, 41 & 42 Vic. c. 77.
  • 6. Below, Wombridge, Communications.
  • 7. Below, Wellington, Communications.
  • 8. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, iii, no. 1119; T.S.A.S. lvi. 29.
  • 9. S.R.O. 972, box 220, deed.
  • 10. Ibid. parcel 234, middle map of Lilleshall.
  • 11. Below, Wellington, Communications.
  • 12. S.R.O. 38/15.
  • 13. S.R.O. 972, parcel 234, middle map of Lilleshall.
  • 14. Ibid. parcel 238, map of 1813; 38/15.
  • 15. 4 Geo. IV, c. 47 (Local and Personal).
  • 16. Ann. Turnpike Acts Continuance Act, 1867, 30 & 31 Vic. c. 121.
  • 17. O.S. Map 1/25,000, SJ 71 (1951 edn.).
  • 18. P.R.O., C 143/6, no. 14.
  • 19. L.J.R.O., B/C/5, Lilleshall abbey acct. r. of 1428-9.
  • 20. Eng. P.N. Elements (E.P.N.S.), ii. 152.
  • 21. Eyton, viii. 258.
  • 22. T.S.A.S. liv, pl. facing p. 258.
  • 23. S.R.O. 972, parcel 234, N. and middle maps of Lilleshall.
  • 24. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 208.
  • 25. S.R.O. 972, parcel 234, N. map of Lilleshall.
  • 26. Ibid. middle map of Lilleshall.
  • 27. S.R.O. 38/104.
  • 28. C. & J. Greenwood, Map of Salop. (1827); O.S. Map 6", Salop. XXXI. SW. (1887 edn.).
  • 29. S.R.O. 38/109.
  • 30. S.R.O. 1910/486.
  • 31. S.R.O. 38/15; 972, parcel 233, Lilleshall map of 1816.
  • 32. O.S. Map 6", Salop. XXX. SE. (1886 edn.).
  • 33. Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 126.
  • 34. Ibid.; S.R.O. 38/15; /17, f. 65.
  • 35. Shropshire Mag. May 1954, 21.
  • 36. C. Hadfield, Canals of W. Midlands (1969), 41; Trinder, op. cit. 126-7, 132, 138, 140-1.
  • 37. Hadfield, op. cit. 238; D. R. Adams and J. Hazeley, Survey of the Church Aston - Lilleshall Mining Area (Salop. Mining Club Acct. vii, 1970), 51.
  • 38. Shropshire Mag. May 1954, 21.
  • 39. Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 260.
  • 40. Shropshire Mag. May 1954, 21.
  • 41. Trinder, op. cit. 253, 255-6.
  • 42. Hadfield, Canals of W. Midlands, 239, 242, 250-1.
  • 43. Inf. from the late Mr. R. W. Ward.
  • 44. R. Christiansen, W. Midlands (Regional Hist. of Rlys. of Gt. Brit. vii, 1973), 270.
  • 45. C. R. Clinker, Clinker's Reg. of Closed Stations 1830- 1977 (Bristol, 1978), 39.
  • 46. Ibid.; Christiansen, op. cit. 159, 271; local inf.