Stirchley: Growth of settlement

Pages 184-185

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

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Stirchley remained a very small agricultural community until the 19th century. The parish contained 7 households in 1563 (fn. 1) and only 3 farms and 5 cottages in 1612. (fn. 2) In 1672 hearth tax was paid by 11 inhabitants (fn. 3) and the parish was said to containc. 10 houses a century later. (fn. 4) As industry spread into the parish in the early 19th century, population rose from 143 in 1801 to a peak of 333 in 1871. The largest decennial increase, almost 100, was in the 1820s when new collieries and ironworks were opened. In the late 19th and early 20th century, as the coal and iron industries failed, the population declined steadily, dropping to 166 in 1931, the last date for which census figures for the ancient parish are available. (fn. 5) Stirchley was included within the designated area of Dawley new town in 1963 and by 1979 the population housed in the area of the ancient parish had risen to c. 7,000. (fn. 6)

In the later 13th century the parish contained at least two settlements: Stirchley, presumably near the church, and 'Oulmeyre', probably near the later Holmer Farm. (fn. 7) Grange Farm, a third medieval settlement, originated as Buildwas abbey's grange and was probably established after the abbey acquired the manor in the mid 13th century.

The Brands (later Upper Brands) was built c. 1660 (fn. 8) and from then until the 19th century the parish contained only four principal farmsteads (Stirchley Hall, near the church, and the outlying farmsteads of Grange farm, Holmer, and Brands) and a cluster of cottages and smallholdings around the church.

The increase in population in the early 19th century resulted in small but significant changes to the settlement pattern. Two houses in Stirchley, leased by the Botfields, the Dawley ironmasters, were converted into 15 cottages for industrial workers in 1803, (fn. 9) and at Mount Pleasant 5 houses, inhabited by labouring families in the mid 19th century, had been built before c. 1815. (fn. 10) Six houses were under construction in the parish in 1821. (fn. 11) As industrial activity continued during the mid 19th century more groups of houses were built for workers in the collieries and ironworks. Northwood Terrace, a row of 4 brick houses, was built in the 1840s to house the ironworks managers and was consequently known as Clerks Row, (fn. 12) and nearer the ironworks the Furnace Houses (later demolished) were built for foundry workers c. 1858. (fn. 13) The population increase at the time coincided with the first appearance of a licensed alehouse, the Rose and Crown, converted from an existing house in the 1840s. (fn. 14) There was shop in the village by 1841. (fn. 15)

The mid 19th century also saw the division of Brands farm into three smaller holdings, which resulted in the construction of Holmer House c. 1835 (fn. 16) and Lower Brands in the 1860s. (fn. 17) Thereafter, apart from a group of council houses built near Grange Farm c. 1950, (fn. 18) there was little development until 1970.

After Dawley (later Telford) development corporation acquired almost all the parish, between 1964 and 1969, (fn. 19) the landscape changed dramatically. The farmsteads of Upper and Lower Brands, Holmer House, and Holmer were demolished as new housing estates were built over much of the south and east parts of the parish. In the Brookside estate, straddling the boundary between Stirchley and Madeley ancient parishes, 1,792 corporation houses were built between 1971 and 1975, (fn. 20) and 500 private houses were built from 1972 on parts of the former Stirchley Hall farm south and south-east of the old village. (fn. 21) In Stirchley residential district schemes comprising 948 corporation dwellings were completed between 1975 and 1977 on the former Lower Brands and Holmer House farms; the district was focused on a centre, east of Mad brook, containing health, sports, and social facilities, schools, and a new church. At Randlay, in the north-east, schemes comprising 507 corporation dwellings were completed between 1977 and 1978 and private houses were under construction in 1979. By then most of the surviving open land had been converted to ancillary 'urban' uses. The derelict industrial land in the north-west had been designated for recreational use as part of Telford's town park, while the western side of the Mad brook valley below Grange Farm was occupied by playing fields. Mad brook was dammed in the south-east corner of the parish in 1968-70 to create a balancing reservoir known as Holmer Lake. (fn. 22)


  • 1. B.L. Harl. MS. 594, f. 161v.
  • 2. L.J.R.O., B/V/6, Stirchley, 1612.
  • 3. Hearth Tax 1672 (Salop. Arch. Soc.), 87.
  • 4. L.J.R.O., B/V/5, visit. return of 1772.
  • 5. V.C.H. Salop. ii. 227, 231.
  • 6. Inf. from the archivist, T.D.C.
  • 7. Buildwas abbey's est. was described c. 1284 as 'the vills of Sturcheley and Culmeyre [recte Oulmeyre?]': S.P.L., Deeds 2651; cf. Cartulary of Shrews. Abbey, ed. U. Rees (1975), ii, p. 249. Rog. of Hulemor occ. 1271 (P.R.O., E 32/147), Ric. of Oulemor 1327 (T.S.A.S. 2nd ser. i. 187), both in Stirchley contexts.
  • 8. S.P.R. Lich. v (3), 4, 14.
  • 9. S.R.O. 513, box 17, deed of 1813 reciting lease of 1803; M.U.L., Botfield papers, cash acct. bk. 1795-1804.
  • 10. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 208; P.R.O., HO 107/906; /1998.
  • 11. S.R.O. 1345/58.
  • 12. P.R.O., HO 107/906; /1998; RG 10/2752.
  • 13. P.R.O., RG 9/1856, using place and date of birth of children as evid. for removal of fam. to Stirchley and, by implication, date of construction of hos.
  • 14. P.R.O., HO 107/906; /1998.
  • 15. P.R.O., HO 107/906.
  • 16. O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.); S.R.O. 1268, tithe map.
  • 17. P.R.O., RG 9/1856; RG 10/2752.
  • 18. Reg. of Electors, Wrekin Co. Const. 1949-51.
  • 19. T.D.C., Stirchley deeds (various properties).
  • 20. Rayska, Dev. of Stirchley.
  • 21. Telford and Wrekin News, May 1979, p. 4; T.D.C., Stirchley Hall deeds.
  • 22. Telford and Wrekin News, May 1979, p. 4; Rayska, op. cit.; D. G. Fenter, 'Bldg. Development carried out in Telford by the Development Corp.' (TS. in S.R.O. 3763).