Early Tramroads near Telford – Part 8 – Malinslee Part 4 – the East side of Malinslee in the vicinity of the later Coalport (LNWR) and Stirchley (GWR) Branches

The area covered by this article is the area on the East side of Savage & Smith’s tracing [1: p164] and is as shown in the adjacent extract.

They included the line of the Coalport Branch on their plan (the continuous thin black line with circular dots). The Stirchley Branch was a little to the East of the Coalport Branch. It ran down past the Randlay Brickworks towards Old Park Ironworks which were South of the bottom end of Randlay Pool. Savage & Smith grouped the two ironworks in the vicinity under one title of ‘Stirchley Furnaces’.

It should be noted that the Shropshire Canal pre-dated the Coalport Branch but was on very much the same line as the railway. Small deviations in the alignment remain visible in the 21st century, particularly the length close to Hinkshay Pools and that close to Wharf and Lodge Collieries.

Tramroads on the remainder of the tracing [1:p164] are covered in previous articles, particularly those noted below.

The tramways alongside first the old Shropshire Canal and the later LNWR Coalport Branch were not all operational at the same time. However, Savage and Smith were highly confident of the routes of most of these tramways. Only a few lengths are shown as dotted on these plans. The solid red lines are those which they could locate relatively precisely.

As can be seen on these drawings, the lines associated with the Shropshire Canal Coalport Branch and the later LNWR Coalport Branch railway are shown as solid red. The lines shown with the longer red dashes are translated from the 1836 Shropshire Railway Map. The scale of that map is relatively small – just ½” to a mile. The shorter red dashes denote lines as drawn on the 1833 1” Ordnance Survey. Enlarging from both of these maps leaves room for discrepancies to be introduced.

Savage and Smith highlight many of these lines on a 1″ to the mile map representing tramway additions between 1851 – 1860. During that decade their 1″ plan shows the Shropshire Canal as active to the North of Stirchley but without a northern outlet to the wider canal network. At the southern end of the active canal, the Lightmoor branch to the South of Dawley Magna suggests that much of the movement of goods on the canal was related to the Lightmoor Ironworks and the Lightmoor Brick and Tile Works. Unless there was only local movements during this period, perhaps associated with the Priorslee Furnaces and any other works in that immediate area.

Tramway/Tramroad changes in the 1850s. [1: p95]
An enlarged extract from Savage & Smith’s 1″ to a mile plan of the Malinslee area (1851-1860), showing some of the tramroad routes alongside the Shropshire Canal. [1: p95]
The Ordnance Survey of 1881/1882 published in 1888. The lettered locations match those on the Savage & Smith extract above. Further details are provided below. [2]

Savage & Smith provide notes about the Tramways/Tramroads close to the line of the LNWR Coalport Branch (and the Shropshire Canal Coalport Branch). They comment: “By 1856, there is a considerable amount of industry along the canal from Hinkshay to Shedshill. The upper reservoir at Hinkshay had appeared before 1833, but the site of the lower reservoir was in 1856 just a small canal basin with a line running to it probably from Langleyfield Colliery. A line from Jerry Furnaces to the ironworks at the rear of New Row crosses it at right angles and a common type and gauge of rail cannot be assumed. This second railway from Jerry Furnaces reverses and continues in to Stirchley Furnaces. … To the north of Stirchley Furnaces the line runs on the west side of the canal on the towpath. There is a branch near Stone Row, perhaps to pits; to Randley Brickworks and perhaps to pits to the north of the brick- works; to Wharf Colliery and Lodge Colliery; past Dark Lane Foundry; to old Darklane Colliery and Lawn Colliery with a branch to old Darklane Brickworks. After a reverse the line carries on to Dudleyhill Colliery and Hollinswood Ironworks ” [6: p166]

The tramroads marked are:

  • A: Tramroads in the immediate area of Stirchley Ironworks.
  • B: A line to the North of Stirchley Ironworks on the West side of the Canal, on or alongside the towpath.
  • C: a branch near Stone Row which probably extended further than shown by Savage & Smith to Wood Colliery to the Northwest of Stone Row.
  • D: a looped branch probably serving Wharf Colliery, Darklane Foundry, Lodge Colliery, Little Darklane Colliery and Lawn Colliery.
  • E: a short branch to pit heads to the Southwest of Randlay Brickworks, perhaps also serving the Brickworks.
  • F: Tramways around Old Darklane Colliery.
  • G: a short branch serving the Brickworks at Hollinswood.
Another enlarged extract from Savage & Smith’s 1″ to a mile plan of the Malinslee area (1851-1860), showing their remaining tramroad routes close to the Shropshire Canal. The red letters match those on the 6″ Ordnance Survey plan immediately below [1: p95]
An extract from the 1881/1882 Ordnance Survey published in 1888. The redlines drawn on the extract match those drawn by Savage & Smith on their plan above. In the period from 1855 through to 1880 the profile of theland in this vicinity was markedly altered by the construction of the railways shown on the map. Lines to A, B, C and D have all gone by 1881. The line to E connects with the line running East-southeast from Priorslee Furnaces and shown on plans below. [2]

By the 1860s, Savage & Smith show that the Shropshire Canal was no longer in use. Between the 1870s and the turn of the 20th century, some further minor additions to the network in the immediate are of Stirchley and just to the South of Oakengates associated with the Priorslee furnaces can be seen on their 1″ to the mile

Tramway/Tramroad changes between 1876 and 1900. [1: p99]

The later changes to the tramroad/tramway network relate partly to the coming, in 1861, of the Standard-Gauge LNWR railway branch to Coalport. Stirchley and Jerry Furnaces – on the 1876-1900 map, have tramroad links to the railway.

The tramroad/tramway network changes to permit access to the LNWR line close to Stirchley. The locations marked with red letters match those on the OS map extract below. [1: p99]
The Ordnance Survey of 1881/1882 published in 1888. The lettered locations match those on the Savage & Smith extract above. [2]
  • A: Langley Fields Brickworks, at on e time this line extended Northwest towards St. Leonard’s, Malinslee to serve Little Eyton Colliery.
  • B: Langleyfield Colliery.
  • C: Jerry Ironworks – serve by two different lengths of tramroad, one at high level and one at low level.
  • D: A connection which crossed the old Shropshire Canal to a wharf running alongside the LNWR Branch.
  • E: a line connecting Stirchley and Oldpark Ironworks to the network and so providing access to the wharf at D.
  • F: access to an ironworks to the Northwest of Hinkshay Row.
  • G: A line which curved round the West side of Hinkshay Pools to provide access to another length of wharf alongside the LNWR branch close to Dawley & Stirchley Railway Station. This is not shown on the plan drawn by Savage & Smith.

The lines noted above were all walked when I was looking at the immediate area for an earlier article (https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1).

The other changes between 1876 and 1900 relate to Priorslee, where tramroads are shown to the Southeast of Priorslee Furnaces. The 6” Ordnance Survey of 1903 shows the bottom arm at this location linking Darklane Colliery to the Furnaces. The upper arm is shown on the 6” Ordnance Survey of 1885 as serving a colliery adjacent to the Lion Inn. The tramroad link to the colliery is not shown on the later survey.

The tramroad/tramway network changes associated with Priorslee Furnaces. The locations marked with red letters match those on the Ordnance Survey extract below. [1: p99]
The 1880/1882 Ordnance Survey published in 1885 showing the Oakengates/Priorslee area. The locations marked by red letters match those highlighted on the Savage & Smith extract above. [3]
  • A: Priorslee Furnaces.
  • B: Darklane Colliery.
  • C & D: tramroads serving a colliery adjacent to the Lion Inn..
  • E: the tramroad access from Priorslee Furnaces.

Telford in the 21st century

The area covered by these maps has been dramatically altered by the construction of Telford Town Centre. The centre of Telford sits directly over the area covered by this article. This is demonstrated by the side-by-side image provided below. 21st century satellite imagery is set alongside the 1901 Ordnance Survey.

The National Library of Scotland provides a version of its mapping software that allows two different images to be placed side by side and geographically related to each other. The image on the right covers the same area as that on the left. [4]

There is nothing to be gained by attempting to walk most of the routes covered in this article. However, some limited areas can still be seen (topographically) roughly as they were. That is true of the Priorslee area, Northeast of the town centre and the area North from Stirchley to the North end of Randlay Pool. Most of the second of these two areas is the subject of earlier articles (https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1, https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/24/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-6-malinslee-part-2-jerry-rails, and https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/08/11/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-7-malinslee-part-3). The remainder of this article focusses on the area around Priorslee Furnaces. (NB: these tramroads really fall into another series but we will pick them up again when we look at the area around Oakengates and Priorslee)

The area around Priorslee Furnaces in 1901 and in the 21st century. By 1901 the Furnaces made use of the Mineral railway to their Southside rather than access to the tramroad along Holyhead Road. On the 1901 mapping the tramroad link into the works ahs been cut. This suggests that the line along Holyhead Road was probably no longer active by 1901. [5]
Facing Northwest along Holyhead Road in June 2022. The access road from the A442 Queensway is ahead on the left. The old tramroad would have run roughly where the footpath is on the left. [Google Streetview]
Turning through 180 degrees and now looking Southeast, the tramroad was on the south side of the road. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
A little further to the Southeast and the tramroad was still alongside Holyhead Road (B5061). [Google Streetview, June 2022]
we are now running alongside the site of what were Priorslee Furnaces. There was a tramroad access from the site to the tramroad running alongside Holyhead Road. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Further Southeast the tramroad continued to follow the verge of Holyhead Road. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
East of Priorslee Furnaces the tramroad ran on the South side of Holyhead Road. A branch headed South towards Darklane Colliery. The ‘mainline’ only contiued a short distance further East. [6]
Further Southeast and now approaching the modern roundabout shown on the side-by-side image from the NLS above. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking Southeast across the roundabout towards Shiffnal Road. The tramroad alignment remains on the south side of the road. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
On the other side of the roundabout and now on Shiffnal Road. The tramroad ‘mainline continues Southeast toward Stafford Colliery, the branch heads towards Darklane Colliery and, as it is under modern buildings cannot be followed on the North side of theM54. Photos of the area it travelled on the South side of the M% can be found further below [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Both the Darklane branch and the ‘Mainline’ terminate in these images. The DarkLane route cannot easily be found on site, apart from the approximate location of what would have been its at-level crossing of what was once a road and is now a footpath. That to the Stafford Colliery near the Red Lion Pub can still be followed! [7]
For a short distance further the tramroad remained alongside the old road before turning sharply to the South along what is now a footpath and cycleway. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking South from Shiffnal Road along the footpath/cycleway which follows the route of the old tramroad to Stafford Colliery. [Google Streetview, June 2022]
Looking South from a point 100 metres or so along the footpath/cycleway which follows the route of the old tramroad to Stafford Colliery. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]
The approximate limit of the tramroad heading South. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]
This view from the Eastbound carriageway of the M54 shows the footbridge which carries the path that followed the line of tramroad. The Stafford Colliery was on the North side of what is now the motorway. Somewhere close to the top of the motorway cutting is the location of two tramroad arms which ran approximately East-West serving the Stafford Colliery site. [Google Streetview, November 2022]
Looking North along the line of the footbridge which crosses the M54. Shiffnal Road is ahead beyond the site of the old Stafford Colliery. The redlines are indicative of the tramroads serving the colliery. [Google Streetview, March 2021]

The tramway/tramroad route which led to Darklane Colliery crossed the line of the M54 a short distance to the West of the modern footbridge.

Looking North across the M54, on the approximate line of the old tramroad/tramway. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]
Looking approximately in a northerly direction. The old tramway ran approximately as shown by the red line. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]
Turning through around135 degrees to the East this is the view along the line of the tramway/tramroad. The alignment is roughly as shown by the red line. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]
The tramroad ran on a line which now runs from the rear of Syer House towards the Volkswagen dealership on Stafford Park 1. It would have passed the spoil heaps from Darklane Colliery as it did so. Darklane Colliery straddled the line of Stafford Park 1.
Sketch of the old tramroad route on the modern ‘Street Map’ of the immediate area. [8]
The footbridge over Stafford Park 1 sits over the site of Darklane Colliery. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]
Looking East along Stafford Park 1 which is spanned by a modern footbridge. The photograph is taken from within the site of Darklane Colliery. [My photo, 2nd February 2023]
Two views looking South over the site of Darklane Colliery from the footbridge spanning Stafford Park 1. [My photo, 2nd February 2023]
This final photograph looks North along the footpath/cycleway and shows the approximate route of the tramway/tramroad which terminated a short distance to the East of the modern footpath. [My photograph, 2nd February 2023]


  1. R.F. Savage & L.D.W. Smith; The Waggon-ways and Plateways of East Shropshire; Birmingham School of Architecture, 1965. Original document is held by the Archive Office of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 1st February 2023.
  3. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594308, accessed on 1st February 2023.
  4. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=15.0&lat=52.67809&lon=-2.44688&layers=6&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 1st February 2023.
  5. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17.0&lat=52.68634&lon=-2.44238&layers=6&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 1st February 2023.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17.0&lat=52.68432&lon=-2.43633&layers=6&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 1st February 2023.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=17.0&lat=52.68130&lon=-2.43190&layers=6&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 1st February 2023.
  8. https://streetmap.co.uk/map?x=505180&y=249173&z=0, accessed on 2nd February 2023.

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