Category Archives: Telford’s Railways

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 6 – Malinslee Part 2 – Jerry Rails …

The featured image shows a typical Tramroad, it is not from the Telford area but from the Little Eaton Plateway in Derbyshire. The rails and waggons will be very much like those in use on the tramroads in and around Malinslee.

Just South of our home in Malinslee are the Hinkshay and Strichley areaa. I have already posted about a walk from our home down the line of the erstwhile tramway which served Little Eyton Colliery which was not more than a couple of hundred yards from St. Leonard’s Church, Malinslee. That tramway crossed the Hinkshay Road close to the location of what was the White Hart Inn. There was a significant network of tramways in that immediate area.

Those linking directly to the tramway from Little Eyton Colliery to the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal and later to the Coalport Branch of the LNWR were covered in that previous post:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1 [1]

The rails in this vicinity were know locally as Jerry Rails, probably because the White Hart was known locally as the ‘Jerry’. In the 1861 census the White Hart was called the ‘Tom and Jerry’

The White Hart Inn at Hinkshay was previously known as the ‘Tom and Jerry’. The highly informative Dawley History website tells us that “this photograph was taken of the White Hart from off the “Jerry Mount” at Hinkshay. The road that ran between, and which crossed the Hinkshay Road, was called the “Jerry Rails” and the pub was knick-named the “Jerry”. Also, a furnace near Stirchley Pools was called the “Jerry Furnace”. … It can clearly be seen in the 1861 census, that the pub was originally called the “Tom and Jerry” and so we can safely assume that the name stems from this, and that the other places, and road, were named after the pub and not the other way round. … ‘Tom and Jerry” was a name formerly used for roistering young men about town. … ‘Tom and Jerry’ is also the name of a hot mixed drink containing rum, brandy, egg, nutmeg and sometimes milk. … The pub is mentioned in the 1896 Licensing returns, when John Breeze was landlord, and is listed in the 1841 census, where Thomas Summers was landlord. In Bagshaw’s 1851 directory we find Thomas Summers listed as a Maltsters, Farmer and Victualler at Hinkshay. The 1861 census clearly names the pub as Tom & Jerry, but in 1871 it is called the White Hart. In Kelly’s 1913 and 1926 directories, Walter Harper was the landlord.” [2] Incidentally, the long brick building is a row of cottages built for the workers at the nearby Ironworks. Futher similar housing can be seen to the left of the image, behind the goalposts. [2]
This image shows the ‘White Hart’ in its earlier guise. It would have appeared like this when known as the ‘Tom and Jerry’ [18]

This article follows a tramway route which ran from the Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station on the LNWR Coalport Branch around the Hinkshay Pools across the back of the White Hart Inn (behind the row of cottages in the above picture) and then into the Stirchley Ironworks site.

Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station

Dawley and Stirchley railway station was opened in 1861 and closed to passengers in 1952. [3] When it was opened, it was given the name ‘Stirchley’. The station was renamed Dawley & Stirchley in 1923, although closed to passengers as early as 1952 the line was not closed to freight until 1964. Although the goods service which originally served Coalport was restricted to only travelling to Dawley and Stirchley Station in 1960.[4][5]

The London and North Western Railway Society comments on the standard-gauge Coalport Branch as follows: “The first half of the route was originally part of the Shropshire Canal which the LNWR bought in 1857 and filled in, the line opening four years later. The passenger service, referred to locally as the Dawley Dodger, consisted of four trains on weekdays, the journey taking 30 minutes. It was withdrawn in 1952 but a string of private sidings between Wellington and Stirchley helped to keep that section open a further twelve years.” [5]

Through Telford Town Park and on through Dawley and Stirchley Station, the old railway line is now part of The Silkin Way. [6][7]

Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station was in close proximity to the old hamlet of Stirchley. This map extract is taken from the 1881/82 6″ Ordnance Survey mapping which was published in 1888. Note the location of the Goods Shed on the East side of the Station site and the presence of a tramway line North of the Station platform on the West side of the line. Note also the presence, on the down (East) side of the line, of a platform and waiting shelter. [8]
This extract from a later survey (25″ OS Map of 1901/02) shows the station and goods yard in greater detail. [9]
These two images show the station location at an enlarged scale. The station provided a passing loop but, by the turn of the century, only one platform face. The downside platform has been removed. (This is confirmed by Bob Yate in his book about the Shropshire Union Railway. [15: p179] It might have been possible to load waiting goods wagons from the tramway track at a higher level on the upside of the line without impeding traffic on the other line. North of the station the old tramway route turned away to the left. The point providing access to the tramway line is shown at the top of the higher of these two map extracts. [9]
Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station looking South towards Stirchley Lane Bridge from the track-bed of the Coalport Branch. [10]
Roughly the same view taken from alongside the remaining platform at Dawley and Stirchley Station but using a telephoto lens. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Dawley and Stirchley Railway Station from Stirchley Lane Bridge. [Google Streetview]
Dawley and Stirchley Station Information board. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The station site from a little further North, just after the footpath and station were refurbished, © Copyright Richard Law, 2014 and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-SA 2.0). [11]
Dawley and Stirchley Station looking North in 1932 from Stirchley Lane Bridge. The red line shows the approximate location of the tramway tracks just North of the station. It is likely that the old tramway route was replaced by a standard-gauge line at some stage in the second half of the 19th century, after the LNWR’s Coalport Branch was opened. [12]
In this extract from the 25″ OS Map surveyed right at the start of the 20th century, the tramroad/tramway alignment can be seen bearing away to the left from the bottom of the extract. There is, however, a connection to the Coalport Branch evident at the top of the extract which suggests that by the turn of the 20th century the connection and by inference the tramway was now definitely an edge-railway of standard-gauge. [13]

The Tramway

In the first half of the 19th century, before the LNWR branch line was built the tramway had a wharf on the Western bank of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal which was sited a little to the Northwest of the location of the point at the bottom of the map extract above. When the Coalport Branch of the LNWR was built the tramway was extended a little to run alongside the standard-gauge railway.

This map of the Stirchley area in 1838 was developed to show the relative arrangement of different land-holdings in the Stirchley area. Its value to us is that it clearly shows (at the left of the image) the wharf where tramway/waggonway loads could be transshipped onto canal barges or tub-boats. This location approximates to the railway point on the map extract directly above this map, (c) British History Online. [14]

From, what was, the canal wharf, the tramway turned away West of the Canal to skirt the western flanks of the Hinkshay (Stirchley) ponds.

The 6″ 1881/82 Ordnance Survey, published in 1888, shows the tramway running Northwest alongside the Pools and then turning through North to Northeast adjacent to the Jerry Furnaces. [8]
The same area on the 25″ 1902/02 Ordnance Survey. The Ironworks to the Northwest of the Pools has now been demolished and the tramway sidings associated with it have been removed. [16]
The same area in the 21st century on the ESRI World Topo images provided by the National Library of Scotland. Re-wilding has taken place a very little of the topography can be made out. Two of the Pools are easy to pick out. The Coalport Branch of the Shropshire canal ran along the East side of the larger, more Eastern Pool and the railway alignment was a little further to the East. [16]
Looking North along the Silkin Way. The tramway turned away to the left having run parallel to the old railway at a higher level for a short distance. The land to left of the line can be seen in this image to be a little higher than the old Coalport Branch formation. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The difference in level is more obvious in this image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The footpath which follows the old tramway route leaves the Silkin Way towards the right of this picture just to the left of the modern waste-bin. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Almost immediately the tramway crossed the disused Canal. This picture looks North along the Canal. It seems as though some minimal provision was made for drainage as the water does not seem to be stangnant. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

David Clarke, in his survey of the railways of the Telford area says that the GWR’s Stirchley Branch was “a freight only line of 1.5 miles (2.4km) and was formally known as the Old Park branch. The branch had no signal box and was operated by one engine in steam, with the train crew holding a token to give them possession of the line. The line … served Randlay Brickworks and the large complex that was Old Park Ironworks as well as Grange Colliery. The branch was initially worked by the Haybridge Iron Company. On the Ordnance Survey plan for 1902 it is described as a mineral line, and by then Grange Colliery was closed and disused. From 1908, the Great Western Railway took over the maintenance and workings of the branch.” [58: p37] “The branch closed on 2nd February 1959, prompted by bricks no longer being sent out by rail from Randlay Brickworks. The sidings specifically for the Stirchley branch had been removed by November 1962.” [58: p38]

Looking South towards Dawly and Stirchley Station along what was the line of the Canal. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking across the line of the Canal towards the Silkin Way. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking Northwest along the line of the old tramway with Hinkshay Pools on the right. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

Immediately to the Northwest of the Pools was and Ironworks, shown on the map extracts above. It was already disused in the 1880s and does not feature on the 1901/02 OS map of the area. A relatively complex trackwork layout was still present in the 1880s, by 1901/02 just a single line curves round to the North east and runs along the Northern side of the Pools.

The next map below shows the continuation of the tramway as it crosses the tramway route covered in my earlier post [1] and then heads towards Stirchley Ironworks.

This next map extract from the 6″ 1881/82 Survey shows the Tramway we are following running across the North side of Hinkshay Pools and crossing the tramway covered in my earlier post. [1] The White Hart Inn, which in a previous guise resulted in these tramways becoming know as Jerry Rails, is at the top left of the map extract. The ‘row’ of properties at top-centre of the extract were know as ‘New Row’. The complex in the top right of the extract is Stirchley Ironworks. [8]
Approximately the same area as it appears on the 25″ Survey of 1901/02. [17]
The main features of earlier times are marked on the modern satellite image of the same area. Stirchley Ironworks are not marked but as the older maps show, the building were both above and below the more northerly tramway route. [17]
Looking back to the West from the location of the tramway junction, the approximate alignment of the old tramway is marked by a red line. The erstwhile Ironworks were directly ahead of the camera. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Turning through 180°, this image shows the tramway route heading towards Stirchley Ironworks. [My picture, 15th June 2022]
An extract from the plans drawn up by Savage & Smith which shows the route of the tramway from the Jerry Furnace to the Stirchley Ironworks. [60: p164]

Before we look in detail at the Stirchley Ironworks site and the area immediately around it – some background information will probably be helpful. …

Telford Town Park’s website provides a preliminary introduction to the area as part of its walking trails:

  • Stirchley Forge and Rolling Mills – The Hinkshay Works, Stirchley Forge and Rolling Mills are all Archaeological remains of buildings that can be found in the park today. They were all sold off to the Haybridge Iron Co. In 1873. The works were rebuilt in 1876 and a nail factory was established on the site in 1874/5 until 1885. The forge and rolling mill continued in use until it closure in approximately 1900.
  • Stirchley Chimney and Furnaces: The Iron Works were established in 1790 by Thomas Botfield, originally with two blast furnaces, a forge and a mill. The Chimney was constructed of Randlay brick and is approximately 209 feet high and is still standing. This is a permanent reminder of the industry that used to occupy the Town Park. There is a small opening on the western side of the Chimney and it was connected to the furnaces by a tunnel. The ironworks were blown out in 1885, however the forge and rolling mill continued in use until its closure in 1900.” [19]
  • Shropshire Canal: The Silkin Way, running north to south through the centre of the park, was formerly the Shropshire Canal and the Wellington and Coalport railway. In 1788/9 the Coalport branch of the Shropshire Canal was built along the western edge of Stirchley, through the centre of the Park. It was designed to link the key industrial centres of the area with the River Severn.” [19]

Stirchley was an agricultural community until the beginning of the 19th century when coal and ironstone mining, iron founding, and brick making were started close to the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. for much of what follows, I have replied on the comprehensive notes provided by British History Online which in turn took the notes from ‘A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.’ [20]

Industry came to Stirchley as a result of a partnership between I. H. Browne, owner of most of the parish, and the Botfield family, the Dawley ironmasters who had established collieries and ironworks on Browne’s Old Park estate in Dawley in the late 18th century.” [20]

Between 1811 and around 1843, “they established collieries, ironworks, and a brickworks on their Stirchley royalties. … In 1856, … the land, mineral rights, and plant were leased to the Old Park Iron Co., [21] which continued the industrial operations in Stirchley until it was wound up in 1871. [22] By 1900 mining and ironworking had ceased. A chemical works, occupying one of the former ironworks, flourished until 1932 and brick making and the crushing of furnace slag for road metal continued until the 1960s.” [20]

British History Online tells us that by 1822, Coal was being mined at four collieries, [23] “and by 1840 [24] there were five collieries in the parish [of Stirchley]: Randlay pits, sunk in 1820; [25] Cuxey’s Wood pits, sunk 1834-5; [26] Forge pits, sunk 1825-6; [27] Grange colliery, probably opened by 1833; [28] and the original shaft at Stirchley pits. The extent of seams that could be worked was restricted by the Limestone fault, east of which the coal lay deeper. … After the Old Park Iron Co. was wound up in 1871 the mines were leased to the Wellington Iron & Coal Co. Ltd. in 1874 [29] but by 1879 had reverted to the landowners, the Cheney family. [30]  By 1881 all the pits except Grange colliery had been closed. [31] Despite the lease of mineral rights to Alfred Seymour Jones of Wrexham in 1893, Grange colliery was closed in 1894.” [32][20]

British History Online notes that Ironworkingwas started in the parish c. 1826 by the Botfield brothers. Blast furnaces were built at the south end of Randlay reservoir (or Randay pool) [33] and a forge and rolling mill were opened probably c. 1828, west of the Shropshire Canal on land purchased from Lord Darlington in 1826. [34] The blast furnaces were leased with the mining royalties to the Old Park Iron Co. after Botfield’s lease expired in 1856. [35] After the company was wound up in 1871 the furnaces were leased in 1874 to the Wellington Iron & Coal Co., which failed in 1877. [36] The furnaces passed back to the owner of the site, Edward Cheney, who kept them in blast for a few years, but they were shut down by 1885. [37] The forge and rolling mills, which were Botfield’s freehold property, were sold by Beriah Botfield’s trustees in 1873 to the Haybridge Iron Co., [38] which rebuilt the works in 1876 and established a nail factory on the site in 1874 or 1875. [39] The nail factory was sold to John Maddock in 1876; he moved his operations to Oakengates two years later but nails continued to be made at Stirchley for a few years under different proprietors. [40][41][42] The factory had closed by 1885 [43] but the adjacent forge and rolling mills continued to be operated by the Haybridge Co., the rolling mill closing finally c. 1900.” [44][20]

Brick working and Clay working ran in parallel with the mining of Coal and Iron ore as those mineral deposits were found primarily in boulder clay and marls. “The Botfields were manufacturing bricks in Stirchley in 1808-9, [45] … Randlay brickworks … which continued to manufacture bricks until 1964 or later, had been established by the Botfields by 1838. [46] … Clay was obtained on site from an extensive pit, which was enlarged after the purchase of more land in 1905 and used until 1969. [47] In 1964 the brickworks employed 91 [48] (fn. 79) and the three kilns produced c. 300,000 bricks a week.” [49][20]

In 1886, Thomas Groom leased the site of the former furnaces and “transferred his Wrekin Chemical Works to Stirchley … The chemical works extracted wood naphtha and tar from timber supplied by the Grooms’ yard at Wellington and converted the residue into charcoal. Acetate of lime and sulphur were also manufactured.  Groom’s successor, George Wilkinson, bought the site in 1904 and the works closed in 1932.” [50][51][52][20]

The arisings from the former furnaces were deposited in slag heaps and were “exploited as a source of aggregate for road building and concrete manufacture from the 1890s. The mounds south-west of the Wrekin Chemical Works were leased in 1893, and purchased in 1907, by H. C. Johnson, a Wrexham quarry owner, who had built a slag crusher on the site by 1901. [53] The industry expanded during the 1920s when most of the slag mounds in the parish were acquired by Tarslag (1923) Ltd. and the Bilston Slag Co. (1924) Ltd.” [54]

The British History Online notes continue: “By 1925 there were four slag-crushing plants in the parish, [55] the largest being Tarslag’s works, employing up to c. 130 men, which both crushed the slag and coated it with tar and bitumen. Tarmac Ltd., which succeeded the Bilston company, also manufactured ‘Vinculum’ concrete walling blocks at Stirchley from c. 1925 to c. 1935, and Tarslag operated a short-lived concrete plant there as well. Impurities and the variable quality of the slag led to the closure of the works. [56] By the Second World War most of the slag mounds had been exhausted and Tarslag’s crushing and coating plant closed in 1941. Tarmac continued to remove slag from Stirchley for processing elsewhere until c. 1964.” [57]

That is more than enough general industrial history for our present purposes. It illustrates the diversity of activity in the immediate area between Hinkshay Pools and Randlay Pool which is just a little further to the Northeast. The plan below illustrates, schematically, the industry in the immediate area.

Significant sites in the immediate area of the Hinkshay/Stirchley and Randlay/Blue Pools have been superimposed on this enlarged extract from Google Maps. Detail has been omitted for clarity. [Google Maps]

The history of the tramways and railways is relatively complicated. Tramways, predated the standard-gauge railway but in this area, rather then just becoming feeders to the railway network, a number were converted into standard-gauge Mineral Railways which could remain in private hands or, as in the case of the tramway/railway route to the West of the Coalport Branch and running to the West of Randlay Pool, they were taken over by the larger rail companies and in some cases, therefore became a part of British Rail!

The Coalport Branch was an LNWR branch line and then became a part of the LMS. The Mineral Railway was taken over by the GWR and worked in direct competition with the LNWR line.

David Clarke, in his survey of the railways of the Telford area says that the GWR’s Stirchley Branch was “a freight only line of 1.5 miles (2.4km) and was formally known as the Old Park branch. The branch had no signal box and was operated by one engine in steam, with the train crew holding a token to give them possession of the line. The line … served Randlay Brickworks and the large complex that was Old Park Ironworks as well as Grange Colliery. The branch was initially worked by the Haybridge Iron Company. On the Ordnance Survey plan for 1902 it is described as a mineral line, and by then Grange Colliery was closed and disused. From 1908, the Great Western Railway took over the maintenance and workings of the branch.” [58: p37] “The branch closed on 2nd February 1959, prompted by bricks no longer being sent out by rail from Randlay Brickworks. The sidings specifically for the Stirchley branch had been removed by November 1962.” [58: p38]

Stirchley Ironworks

Stirchley Ironworks, 1881/82 on 6″ OS Mapping. Tramways remained in place at this date. The route we have been following enters from the bottom left of this image. to the North of the tramway, New Row is visible. In between the tramway and New Row a solid line runs parallel to the general direction of the tramway but a few 10s of metres to the North. It is marked with a red-dashed line on this map extract [8]
The wall referred to above is shown in these two pictures which were taken facing Northwest around the turn of the millennium, © Richard Foxcroft 2002. [59]
Three arches are visible in the second picture. The first picture is of the most westerly of the arch openings and is a tunnel which runs back some metres under what was New Row and beyond, © Richard Foxcroft 2002. [59]

The Exploring Telford website contains a lot of speculation about what this tunnel was originally used for. [59] The undergrowth has had plenty time to establish itself by the time the next two pictures were taken in 2022.

Looking North towards the tunnels/arches in June 2022. The information board is missing in this image. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
Pushing trough the undergrowth it was possible to find the tunnel, now properly protected for safety reasons. In the past (2007) it was explored by ‘cat_bones’ who posted pictures of the interior on the 28DL Urban Exploration website. [60]

Returnign to the tramway that we are following, it branches in two as it enters the immediate site of Stirchley Ironworks. This can clearly be picked out on the 1881/82 6″ OS Map extract above. There is a stub branch running East from the junction which approaches a cast iron bridge which would have spanned both the old Canal and the later railway. On the 1881/82 map, the tramway stops short of the bridge.

The truncated tramway branch on the South side of Stirchley Ironworks led towards a Cast Iron Bridge supported on brick piers. The bridge remains in place in the 21st century. It is not immediately obvious where the tramway might once have gone on the East side of the bridge. [8]
The Stirchley Ironworks Bridge, this image shows the bridge in the 21st century from approximately the end of the tramway as surveyed in 1881. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
The Stirchley Ironworks Bridge, this image shows the bridge in the 21st century from the North on the Silkin Way. The Ironworks buildings sat off the right of this image, nearside of the bridge. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
The Stirchley Ironworks Bridge, this image shows the bridge in the 21st century from the South on the Silkin Way. The Ironworks Buildings sat beyond the bridge on the left. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]

The Northern arm of the tramway passed between the two main buildings on the site before crossing the Canal/railway on another bridge (which has not survived into the 21st century) as shown below. …

Enlarged extract from the 6″ survey of 1881/82. [8]
The modern footpath in this image drifts round to the right through what would have been an Ironworks building. the tramway bore right between the furnaces and another ironworks building. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
The approximate line of the tramway heading East. The whole site of the Stirchley Ironworks has been re-wilded, the buildings long-gone. Only foundations to the wall facing the Silkin Way can be seen. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]
Foundations of part of the Stirchley Ironworks. The building elevation stood immediately alongside the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal and hence directly next to the later railway. [My photograph, 21st June 2022]

Using the maps and satellite images provided by the National Library of Scotlad it is possible to identify the location of the old bridge over the Canal/Railway but all that can be seen from the Silkin Way is thick undergrowth. I was unable to find any remnants of the old structure.

On the East side of the Canal/Railway the tramway line drifted round to the Northeast before entering what was the site of Old Park Ironworks. By 1881/2 there was a significant network of rails on the Old Park Ironworks Site. …

The Old Park Ironworks site in 1881/82 as shown on the 6″ Ordnance Survey published in 1888. [8]

At this time, the site of the Old Park Ironworks was still active as an Ironworks. But by the time of the next survey, after the turn of the century, it had closed. At the time of that next survey the site was a chemical works. The network of tramways had been significantly rationalised as can be seen below.

6″ OS Map surveyed in 1901/02. The tramway lines around the Old Park Works have been severely rationalised. The Works is now Wrekin Chemical Works. The line that served Grange Colliery has been removed. Some very limited tramway lines remain on the slag heaps South of the Works. [61]
6″ OS Map surveyed in 1925. Further rationalisation has occurred. The lines have been extended where necessary to serve the various slag works which are now present on the site. All are served by the GWR’s Stirchley Branch which replaced the tramways to the North of the site. [62]

In Part 3 of our look at the tramways around Malinslee, we will look at the tramways North of Stirchley. There is still a lot to look at both to the West and towards Oakengates.

References

  1. https://rogerfarnworth.com/2022/06/15/ancient-tramroads-near-telford-part-4-malinslee-part-1
  2. http://dawleyhistory.com/Pubs/White_Hart_Hinkshay/White_Hart.html, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawley_and_Stirchley_railway_station, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  4. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/cd-content/themes/dawley_heritage/gui/Dawley-Leaflet.pdf, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  5. http://www.lnwrs.org.uk/BygoneLines/Coalport.php, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  6. https://www.telford.gov.uk/info/20465/walking/5220/silkin_way_walking_route, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  7. https://www.telford.gov.uk/downloads/file/3060/silkin_way_-_walking_and_cycling_route, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  8. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  9. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.65765&lon=-2.45133&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  10. http://www.dawleyhistory.com/Postcards/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station%20.html, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  11. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3933743, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  12. http://www.dawleyhistory.com/Postcards/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station/Dawley%20and%20Stirchley%20Station%20.html, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  13. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.65952&lon=-2.45156&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  14. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp185-189, accessed on 18th June 2022.
  15. Bob Yate; The Shropshire Union Railway: Stafford to Shrewsbury including the Coalport Branch; Oakwood Press, Usk, 2003.
  16. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.66038&lon=-2.45267&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 19th June 2022.
  17. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.66225&lon=-2.45188&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 19th June 2022.
  18. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/hinkshayvillage/755/the-jerry-public-house, accessed on 19th June 2022.
  19. https://www.telfordtownpark.co.uk/info/34/walking_trails, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  20. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985; accessed on 21st June 2022.
  21. Shropshire records office (S.R.O.) 14/3/8; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  22. S.R.O. 1265/280; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  23. The Botfields’ mines were assessed for the par. rate at £134 6s. 8d., at £33 6s. 8d. for each pit: S.R.O. 1345/60; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  24. S.R.O. 1816/26; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  25. At O.S. Nat. Grid SJ 705 081: inf. from Dr. Brown; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  26. At SJ 701 077: W. Howard Williams, ‘Dawley New Town Hist. Survey: Industries’ (TS. 1964), addns. and corr. (1965), p. 6 (copy in S.P.L., accession 5202); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  27. At SJ 696 071: S.R.O. 1011, box 425, R. Garbitt to E. Bloxam, 20 Dec. 1861; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  28. At SJ 701 071: O.S. Map 1″, sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  29.  S.R.O. 1265/285; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  30. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 417; Kelly’s Dir. Salop. (1885), 963; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  31. O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  32.  S.R.O. 1265/269; 1345/62; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  33. At O.S. Nat. Grid SJ 700 074: Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 241; O.S. Map 1″, sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.). Called ‘Old Park Iron Works’ on O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  34. At SJ 696 072: S.R.O. 1265/261; O.S. Map 1″, sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.); S.R.O. 1011, box 425, W. Botfield to E. Browne, 14 Aug. 1827. Chain making at Old Park (above, Dawley, Econ. Hist.) is wrongly located in V.C.H. Salop. i. 479 at Stirchley furnaces; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  35. S.R.O. 14/3/8; 1265/279; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022
  36. S.R.O. 1265/285, 287; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022
  37. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 417; cf. Kelly’s Dir. Salop. (1885), 963; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  38. S.R.O. 1265/261;https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  39. Ibid. /263; Salopian and W. Midland Monthly Illustr. Jnl. Apr. 1875; Nov. 1876 (copies in S.P.L.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  40. S.R.O. 1265/264; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  41. S.R.O. 1404/1; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  42. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1879), 417; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  43. S.R.O. 1345/62; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  44. S.R.O. 1404/1; Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ addns. and corr. (1965), p. 5; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  45. Manchester University Library, Botfield papers, cash acct. bk. 1804-10 (https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/search/archives/0d54e8ed-1fe5-3d1e-85fb-7a61bf1efb7e); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  46. At O.S. Nat. Grid SJ 703 080: ibid. /6a; Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ p. 10; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  47. Telford Development Corporation, (T.D.C.), Randlay brickworks deeds; and O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1889, 1903, and 1929 edns.); inf. from Dr. Brown; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  48. J. H. D. Madin & Partners, Dawley New Town Rep. No. 2: Interim Proposals (Sept. 1964), map 14 and cap. 6, sect. 1, app.; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  49. Dawley Observer, 4 Feb. 1966; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  50. S.R.O. 1404/1; V.C.H. Salop. i. 479 n.; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  51. Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ addns. and corr. (1965), p. 4; cf. S.R.O. 1268/3, sale partic. of 1904; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  52. Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ p. 39; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  53. S.R.O. 1268/3, sale partic. of 1904; O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1903 edn.); T.D.C., Stirchley deeds (Tarmac property); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  54. T.D.C., Stirchley deeds (Tarmac property); J. B. F. Earle, A Century of Road Materials (1971), 19; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  55. O.S. Map 6″, Salop. XLIII. NE. (1929 edn.); https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  56. Inf. from Mr. S. J. Insull, Dudley; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  57. Williams, ‘Dawley Hist. Survey: Inds.’ p. 43; inf. from Mr. Insull, and from Mr. C. C. Wallis, Tarmac Roadstone Holdings Ltd.; https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/salop/vol11/pp189-192, accessed on 21st June 2022.
  58. David Clarke; Railways of Telford; Crowood Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2016.
  59. http://www.telford.org.uk/general/hinkshay.html, accessed on 21st June 2022.https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/28-04-07-hinksay-tunnel-telford.12775, accessed on 22nd June 2022.
  60. 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.
  61. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594467, accessed on 24th June 2022.
  62. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594464, accessed on 24th June 2022.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 5 – Newdale Bridge

The featured image above shows Newdale Bridge after some path work improvements were undertaken. [1]

Newdale Bridge is one extant remnant of the old tramway which probably ran between Ketley and Horsehay. The images below show its location. The bridge is recorded by Historic England as a Grade II listed structure (No. 1025096). It was listed on 8th April 1983. [5]

The Wrekin Local Studies Forum records this bridge in these words: “An extensive network of tramways was built, with horses pulling small waggons laden with coal, firclay and other minerals, connecting various mines to foundry sites. Pioneered by Abraham Darby II, Newdale Tram Bridge, crossing over Ketley Dingle, was built in 1759 around the same time [as] Darby’s revolutionary idea for the first purpose-built workers’ village, New Dale, with a small foundry, various cottages and the impressive long row consisting of 17 back-to-back dwellings.” [6]

Newdale Village has long-gone but the tramway bridge has been retained.

An extract from the ERSI World Topo Map as used by the National Library of Scotland. [4]
This first image shows the immediate vicinity of the Bridge in the 21st century. The blue line represents the line of the tramway. The redline represents the Wellington to Severn Junction Branch of the GWR which is now a part of the Ironbridge Way public footpath. Newdale Bridge is sited just to the West of the route of the old railway. It is clear that the tramway ran across the line of the old railway, perhaps going under a low bridge, although it did predate the railway and may have been cut by the construction work for the standard-gauge line. [2]
An extract from the 6″ OS Mapping of 1882 which was published in 1887. Newdale Bridge crossed the stream just to the West of the standard-gauge line and to the East of Newdale. Without further research it is difficult to be sure of the tramway alignment away from the immediate vicinity of the Bridge. The mapping suggests that the tramway and the road on the East side of Newdale was cut by the building of the railway. In all probability the tramway used to run North-South alongside what was to be the route of the new railway as shown below. However, by the time of the 1882 survey the tramway rails had been lifted. [3]
The same location but with the probable/possible tramway rote added as a red line. [3]
21st century housing to the West of Newdale Bridge. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Ironbridge Way, the old Wellington to Severn Junction Railway, looking North from close to Newdale Bridge towards the M54. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Ironbridge Way, the old Wellington to Severn Junction Railway, looking South from close to Newdale Bridge towards Morrison’s Supermarket which has been built over the line of the old railway. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking West from the Ironbridge Way over Newdale Bridge. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking East along the spandrel walls of the two arched Newdale Bridge. [My photographs, 9th June 2022]
Looking West at low level along the spandrel walls of Newdale Bridge. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking South towards Newdale Bridge from the adjacent footpath. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]
Looking East at low level along the spandrel walls of Newdale Bridge. You will note that all the low level pictures of the bridge are taken from the North side. The southern side is inaccessible because of thick undergrowth. [My photograph, 9th June 2022]

References

  1. https://lawleyoverdale-pc.gov.uk/2016/01/12/new-access-path-and-bridge-at-newdale-dingle, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=17&lat=52.68305&lon=-2.48177&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  3. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594296, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  4. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/find/#zoom=16&lat=52.68537&lon=-2.48139&layers=102&b=1&z=0&point=52.68014,-2.47846, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  5. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1025096, accessed on 17th June 2022.
  6. http://www.wlsf.org.uk/local-history-month/lhm-lawley/lawley6, accessed on 17th June 2022.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 4 – Malinslee Part 1

Around 100 yards from our home in Telford there was once, many years ago, a colliery that was served by a tramway/waggonway.

Little Eyton Colliery was already disused by the time the survey was undertaken in 1881/1882 for the 6″ OS Maps published in 1888. The tramway had not yet been lifted, so it appears on the map extract below.

The Mindat.org website tells us that the colliery was owned in 1890 by the Haybridge Iron Co. It was in the ownership of the Stirchley Coal & Iron Co. from 1895 to 1896 and was back in the hands of the Haybridge Iron Co. by 1900. [3]

The Dawley History Website tells us that the  Chartermaster in 1869 was Edward Bailey. [4]

There was a mining accident in 1869 at the Little Eyton Pit. … The Wellington Journal on Saturday 17th April 1869 carried this report:

The Late Fatal Accident. – On Saturday last an inquest was held at the Bull’s Head Inn, Lawley-bank, before J. Bidlake, Esq., on the body of Joseph Oliver, aged 37 years, whose death we recorded in last week’s Journal, when the following evidence was adduced:– John Oliver, son of deceased, deposed : My father worked at the Little Eyton Pit. Edward Bailey is chartermaster. It was a coal pit. I have worked at the pit a month. I have been driving. On Thursday morning, about nine o’clock, I was taking a draught of coal to the bottom of the shaft. I saw my father lying at the bottom with the basket on him. There was a lid on the basket, and another lid lying by the side of him. I ran off and told James Poole. I had seen my father about ten minutes before at the bottom. There was no one with him. He did not speak to me when I found him under the basket. I saw that his head was cut on the top, and also behind. He was lying on his back. One end of the basket was sticking up against the shaft, the other end on his stomach. The lids are about 2 ft. long. The lids on being sent down are tied under the tackler. – James Poole said : I work at the Little Eyton Pit. The last witness came and told me that his father was under the basket at the bottom of the shaft. I went there and found him. The deceased was lying at the bottom, with his head in the shaft, and not in the road. There was one lid in the basket not fastened, and one by him. He was about a yard from the side of the shaft. Three or four lids are generally sent down at a time. They are not usually lashed. There was no lasher round the basket when I saw the deceased. The lids are about three quarters of a yard. The pit is 200 yards. The hooker-on generally calls for lids. He had called for some that morning. I told him to do so, and he told me that he had done so. This was about half an hour before I found him. – John Perks said : I am banksman at the Little Eyton Pit. On Thursday morning deceased shouted for some trees and lids. I sent some down. I remember sending the last two lids down. It would be about half-past eight. I shouted “Joe” when I sent them down, but I got no answer. They were put under the tackler between the squares. We lash the trees. I have known of lids falling out before. I did not hear this drop or the skip catch. The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed.” [4]

Little Eyton Colliery as surveyed in 1881/82 for the 6″ OS Maps of 1888. The tramway leaving the map extract at the bottom right runs from the colliery towards the Wellington to Coalport Branch of the LNWR (later LMS). Before the coming of the railway, the tramway will have had wharves on the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. The railway company made use of the route of the Canal but as we will see, the horizontal.alignment of the canal was not always suitable for the railway. There is also a length of tramway running from the pit head out onto the slag heap. It leaves the map extract to the North of the other line. [1]

By the time of the next OS survey of Malinslee, just after the turn of the 20th century, all traces of the tramways at the colliery site have disappeared.

Little Eyton Colliery site at the turn of the 20th century.  No tramway infrastructure remains at the site. The colliery slag heap remains and will continue to be a feature of the local landscape into the 21st century. [2]
The same area in the 21st century as it appears on the ESRI World Image, Background map as provided by the National Library of Scotland. The large green sward of land surrounded by mature trees is the old colliery site and slag heap. The land remains significantly higher than the immediate locality and has been ‘rewilded’ to provide s pleasant meadowland and wooded area. [2]

The next few photographs show the Little Eyton Colliery site in the 21st century.

Three photographs of the Little Eyton Colliery and Slag Heap site in the 21st century. [My photographs, 15th June 2022]

Leaving the colliery, the tramway followed the route of what is now Matlock Avenue.

The 6″ OS Map shows the area before anyone conceived of the housing developments of the mid-to-late 20th century which swallowed up Langley Farm. [6]
As the tramway ran Southeast it served Langley Brickworks and Langleyfield Colliery. Both sites had private sidings, those for the Pit were more extensive than those at the brickworks. It was followed, on the journey, by the road linking Little Eyton with the White Hart Inn which was known locally as the ‘Jerry Inn’. [6]
Looking Southeast along Matlock Avenue. The red line shows the approximate route of the old tramway which heads down a ginnel between two different housing developments ahead. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking South east along the line of the old tramway. The footpath runs between two housing estates and provides access to Telford Town Park. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The area around Matlock Avenue and the route of the old tramway as it appears on Satellite images from April 2021. [Google Earth]
Looking Southwest at the corner of the Brickworks site. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The Brickworks Site looking Southwest onto the site from the line of the old tramway. The trees ahead have been allowed to grow across the site of Lawley field Colliery and its Slag Heap. The old tramway ran down the line of a modern footpath off to the left of this image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Details of the surveyed tram tracks at the Brickworks. The extract comes from the 6″ OS Map above. [6]
Two images from the site of Langleyfield Colliery which has been allowed to revert to nature. [My photographs, 15th June 2022]
The tramways serving the Langleyfield Colliery site. The extract comes from the 6″ OS Map above. [6]
Looking Northwest along the line of the old tramway towards Matlock Avenue. The route continues to be a surfaced footpath running along the western edge of Telford Town Park. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The same footpath, this time looking to the Southeast. The railings ahead are at Hinkshay Road. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

The Dawley History website provides the following information about the Langleyfield site:

Langleyfield Collieries Ownership:

Coalbrookdale Company 1803 – 1826
Langley Field Company 1826 – 1856
Beriah Botfield 1856 – 1872
Haybridge Company 1872 – 1885
The site records the pit(s) having been sunk in ca. 1803 and closed ca. 1885. [7]

The website quotes Malcolm Peel, in his book, ‘The Pit Mounds of Dawley’ says that at Langleyfield: “There were at least ten shafts working at various times between 1803 and 1885, and they produced coal and ironstone. This large colliery was originally owned by the Coalbrookdale Company and in 1826 was sold to the Langley Field Company in which George Bishton and Adam Wright were partners. The colliery, ironworks and brick yard established here by Bishton and Wright were bought by Beriah Botfield in 1856, and after the breakup of the Botfield Empire the colliery was owned by the Haybridge Company.[7][8]

In addition the Dawley History site highlights a short article in the Shrewsbury Chronicle on Friday 25th March 1836 advertising an auction of property at the Jerningham Arms Inn, Shiffnal, on Tuesday, 12th April, 1836, “at four o’clock in the afternoon, in one or more lots, or shares, and subject to such conditions as shall be determined on at the time of sale.” [7]

The sale included, freehold, around 30 acres of land and “two dwelling houses, with nine Cottages for workmen, Warehouses, Shops, Stables, Outbuildings, Yards, and Gardens, and several pieces or parcels of Land thereto belonging, situate at Langley Field, in the parish of Dawley Magna, in the county of Salop, … with the Mining works thereon erected, and the valuable Mines of coal, and iron-stone, clay, and other minerals under the same.” [7]

Also for sale were “two blast furnaces, one bridge house, two casting houses, one blast engine sixty horse power with four boilers complete, three cupolas (one at work as a foundry, and has a good casting house and stove, and the fires are blown from the blast engine), one steam engine to wind materials to the top of the furnaces, a blacksmith’s shop, an air furnace for heating boiler plates, and a punching engine, three machines for weighing coals and stone, three field winding engines, several shafts down to the mine, two stoves, one oven, one kiln for making bricks, and a mill for grinding fire clay, and every other possible convenience for carrying on the mines and works in full vigour.” [7]

According to Eddowes’s Journal, and General Advertiser for Shropshire, and the Principality of Wales – Wednesday 21st August 1844, the site was up for sale once again.

Of interest to us, in addition to a glowing and detailed description of the site and items for sale, is the following paragraph:

The property is intersected with tram roads in every requisite direction, and is admirably arranged for carrying on the works at as little expense as possible, and contains within itself every convenience required for making superior iron, and the whole of the works may be put into full operation in a very short space of time, at a comparatively trifling outlay.” [7]

Elsewhere, the Dawley History site notes that the tramway was in use in the early 19th century. It was “known locally as the Jerry Rails. The now demolished nearby public house, The White Hart, was referred to in the 1861 census as the ‘Tom & Jerry’, called locally the ‘Jerry’. The name was obviously associated with the tramway and other features in the area.” [5]

The junction of Hinkshay Road and the public road from Little Eyton. The now demolished White Hart In dominates the junction which was also a significant tramway junction. The line we have been following enters the extract from the top left and encounters a trailing connection with the lines serving Langleyfield Colliery. Two lines leave our tramway route at the road junction. One of these, runs Northeast towards what is now Telford Town Park. Another runs Southwest for a short distance. A passing loop can be seen on this line just before it exits the map extract. Our line continues in a Southeast direction. [6]
Approximately the same area as in the map extract above but this time from April 2021 rather than the 19th century
The view across Hinkshay Road from the North. The ginnel ahead is the route of the tramway that we are following. Tramways branched right and left from this location along Hinkshay Road. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking back across Hinkshay Road from the South. The footpath following the line of the old tramway is protected by metal gates. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking along Hinkshay Road from the West across the location of the tramway junction. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking West along Hinkshay Road. One of the tramway branches ran on the North (left) side of the road for a short distance. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking West a little further along Hinkshay Road. The tramway once ran directly in front of these cottages before running off to the left. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
On the 6″ OS Maps the tramway can be seen curving away to the North of Hinkshay Road at this point. It seems to terminate in the vicinity of a church but probably served the collieries which stood on the North side of Hinkshay Road at this point. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

We have explored the branch tramway which ran to the East on Hinkshay Road, we return no to look at the branch which runs to the West.

Looking to the West, towards Dawley on Hinkshay Road. The branch tramway ran, as far as I can ascertain, on the North (right) side of the road as far as the most distant houses that can be seen in this picture. [Google Streetview, May 2019]
The tramway remained on the North side of Hinkshay road until taking a sharp left to run South towards an Ironworks. The route South is just beyond the low wooden rails on the grass area to the left of the road in this view. [Google Streetview, May 2019]
Looking back North across Hinkshay Road from the route of the old tramway. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Another extract from the 6″ OS Map. Hinkshay Road runs across the top left corner of the extract. The old tramway branch terminated at what was, in the 1880s, a disused Ironworks (Jerry Furnaces). It appears that the works were served, probably at two different levels from the North and the East. We will look at the tramway from the East a little later in this article. [6]

Returning to the junction on Hinkshay Road we continue our journey along the route of the tramway from Little Eyton Colliery.

The old tramway route from Hinkshay Road runs along the metalled access to the modern car park at Hinkshay Pools. This view looks along the route from a point just South of Hinkshay Road. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Close to the modern carpark we reach the point of another tramway junction. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
This extract from the 6″ OS Map surveyed in the early 1880s Sows the tramway crossing. The Ironworks that we have just encountered above (Jerry Furnaces) appear on the left of this image. South of those Works a tram road runs South past Hinkshay Pools which are given a blue wash on the map. In the bottom right of the extract, the line of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal is just visible. Our tramway route crossed the Canal on a bridge. The tramway running from the Ironworks on the left of the extract and crossing our route is a tramway which served Stirchley Ironworks. We will come back to this tramway in another article. [6]
Looking West towards the location of the Ironworks. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking East along the line of the tramway towards Stirchley Ironworks. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
This satellite image from early 2022 shows the approximate alignment of tramways in the vicinity of Hinkshay Pools as they are known locally (despite Google Maps calling them Stirchley Pools). Worthy of note is the green line which represents the standard-gauge Coalport Branch of what was the LNWR. The wharves alongside that railway were the terminus of the tramway that we have been following. Wharves were provided at a level above the Coalport Branch to allow easy loading of materials. The blue line shows the alignment of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. The canal, at this location, can still be picked out as an elongated pool running close to the Hinkshay Pools. Also of interest is the name given to the estate road in the top left of this image. As we have already noted, the tramways in this vicinity were know as ‘Jerry rails’. [Google Maps]

We continue heading Southeast from the tramway ‘crossroad’ in the 6″ extract following the line between the Hinkshay Pools.

The access road swings to the right to enter the car park. The tramway ran ahead probably just to the left of the road as it disappears around the vegetation. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
Looking North from the Southern edge of the car park at Hinkshay Pools. The approximate line of the tramway is marked by the red line on the right side of the image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
In this image we are facing South at the same location as the image immediately above. The tramway followed the unsurfaced path round to the left. One of the Hinkshay pools is visible on the right of the image. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The display board at Hinkshay Pools. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The reference on the top right of the display board to the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal is important as the canal ran along the East side of the Pools. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
One of the Hinkshay Pools. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
A remnant of the Coalport Branch of the Shropshire Canal. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The tramway was carried over the line of the canal on an arched culvert which at least permitted ongoing drainage. Originally wharves would have existed along the side of the canal but once the railway was built the canal and its wharves would no longer have been required. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
This is the location of the Hinkshay Pools as drawn on a map of tramways taken from research undertaken by R.F. Savage & L.D.W. Smith and kindly made available by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Archive Office. It suggests that there was an additional tramway branch which ran out between two of the Pools. [9: p164] Savage and Smith say that the Lawleyfield Colliery had a wharf at this location in the early 1800s and that the lower pool was originally a canal wharf. [9: p166]
Looking South-southwest along the line of the Canal. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]
The remnant of the Canal on the North-northeast side of the tramway/footpath. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

Immediately to the West of the Canal the tramway we have been following divided in two to access a wharf/wharves alongside the Coalport Branch of the LNWR.

A siding, accessible from both ends, was provided along side the Coalport Branch as can be seen in this extract from the 6″ OS Maps of 18888 (surveyed in 1881/82). The rail-side tramway track would have been at a height above the railway siding which allowed easy offloading of the waggons, probably by hand. [6]
Looking back to the West from the line of the Coalport branch along the tramway alignment. [My photograph, 15th June 2022]

In Part 2 of this review of tramways in the Malinslee area, after wandering South down the Coalport Branch to the site of Stirchley and Dawley Railway Station we will return along the ‘Jerry Rails’ past the Hinkshay Pools on their Southern side, past the Hinkshay Ironworks and then on round to the Stirchley Ironworks site and then follow where they lead.

References

  1. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  2. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16.283180148750237&lat=52.66806&lon=-2.45904&layers=6&b=1, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  3. https://www.mindat.org/loc-379142.html, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  4. http://dawleyhistory.com/Mines/Little%20Eyton/Little%20Eyton.html, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  5. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/walk1/208/site-5a-s-o-jerry-rails-line-of-tramway, accessed on 15th June 2022.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/view/101594470, accessed on 16th June 2022.
  7. http://dawleyhistory.com/Mines/Langleyfield.html, accessed on 16th June 2022.
  8. Malcolm Peel; The Pit Mounds of Dawley; Dawley Heritage.
  9. 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.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 3 – Ketley Tramways/Plateways/Waggonways and Canal – Part 1. …

This is a first look at the Ketley area just a few miles from where we live in Malinslee.

This was a short walk which encompassed a variety of industrial remains. The route taken is shown by the thin red line on the satellite image below ….

I parked close to the church of St. Mary the Virgin in Red Lake and walked North up Shepherd’s Lane, turning left into Hill Top. Hill Top becomes Red Lees. The route of Red Lees was crossed by a high-level tramway which probably linked a colliery to what is now called Ketley Paddock Mound and was a colliery slag heap. the extract from the 1882 25″ OS Map below shows the location.

Tramway Bridge abutments or piers shown on the 1882 25″ OS Map. [1]

It seems to me to be unlikely that the tramway which used this bridge was directly associated with a larger network of tramways in the area. The map extract shows other short sections of tramway immediately at the colliery location and is seems highly likely that there was a need to cross Red Lees at high-level to reach the large slag heap to the North of the lane.

The view Northwest on Red Lees on 2nd June 2022. The shaping of the stonework to the right of this image suggests that it was a pier and that the bridge was therefore a two span structure. [My Photograph]
The view Southeast along Red Lees on 2nd June 2022. [My photograph]

Recently, reading ‘A Ketley Mon’ by Terry Low, I came across an older photograph at this location. It was taken in 1906 and shows the pier probably at its fullest height. It seems as though it was originally built in masonry and, at a later date, extended upwards in brick. Whilst it is impossible to be sure what this means, it suggests that there was a need at some stage to lift the line of the tramway. An obvious explanation for this would be the growth of the slag heap which is to the right of the picture below.

Red Lees in 1906, looking Northwest. The old colliery was to the left of this image, the slag heap to the right. In all probability a timber deack was used to carry the tramway rails. Each span would have been made up of a horizontal deck supported at third points by raking timber props. [Photographer not known – Alan Harper collection][2: p27] The image also appears on the Historic Ketley website. [5]

Walking Northwest from the location of the tramway bridge, it was apparent that this section of Red Lees followed a straight course. Possible explanations for this include:

  • the development of the colliery and the slag heap required an established right of way to be redrawn to accommodate the work. I cannot find maps early enough to look at what predated the industry at this location; or
  • Red Lees itself, may have been part of the route of a tramway.

It would be interesting to be able to test these ‘theories’, if earlier detailed maps were available.

Red Lees to the Northwest of the tramway bridge remains looking to the Northwest on 2nd June 2022. [My photograph]

We know from early maps that the Ketley Canal once crossed Red Lees to the East of Ketley Hall.

A extract from a hand drawn map which was posted on The Ketley History Group on Facebook. The Ketley Canal is shown in blue on the sketch map and crosses Red Lees immediately adjacent to Ketley Hall which appears far-left on this extract.[3]
This image appeaars on the website of the Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound. It also shows the canal route passing under Red Lees just East of Ketley Hall. [4]
In this image taken from the National Library of Scotland’s website the 25″ OS Map, published in 1902, is placed immediately alongside precisely the same area on modern satellite imagery. The canal arm is right at the top of the image. The wider area at the western end of the remaining canal was a wharf. [6]
This image shows the two images above superimposed on each other. The old wharf can be seen to be under the site of modern housing on the North side of Red Lees, with the Hall to the South. According to the earlier images, the canal continued down the East side of the Hall passing approximately through the first ‘e’ in ‘Ketley Hill. It will then probably have run along the property boundary line which is shown leaving the image to the bottom left. [7]
This picture shows a map of Ketley Paddock Mound which is on display on the South side of the nature reserve. The blue dotted line, superimposed on the image, shows the approximate line of the canal as it passes under Red Lees. The present length of the canal arm is shown in light blue on the original sign board. The Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound’s website can be found here. [My photograph, 2nd June 2022]
A view from Red Lees footpath looking Northwest to where it widens out to become a road. There is a slight rise in the road surface just in front of where the pedestrian is walking. This is the most likely location for what would have been an arched bridge, now buried and inaccessible. [My photograph, 2nd June 2022]

I followed Red Lees down to the junction with the B5061, before walking back along Red Lees following what probably was a tramway route which then drifted away from Red Lees to the Northeast as shown on the satellite image below. The Ketley History website says the following: “Behind the Victorian school building that is now Ketley Community Centre, there is a footpath that leads down to Red Lees and this is also the line of a tramway, probably to serve the coal wharf that was situated on Ketley Canal where School Lane meets Red Lees now.” [5]

Tramway route(s) imposed on a satellite image of Ketley. [Google Maps]
The view Northwest towards the junction with the B5061. [My photograph]
The view from Red Lees along the line of the probable tramway. [My photograph]
The view Northeast along the line of the tramway. [My photograph]
Further along the tramway route with what was Ketley primary school in sight. [My photograph]
Looking along the route of the tramway to what was the Canal Wharf area. The old school buildings are on the left. [My photograph]

I walked along School Lane to the B5061, which, incidentally was the A5 and so was Thomas Telford’s trunk road to North Wales, and so it carries the name ‘Holyhead Road’.

The Ketley Canal

The Ketley Canal was about 1.5 miles (2.4km) long. It linked the Shropshire Canal, in the small town of Oakengates, with Ketley Iron Works. It was built in the late 18th century (around 1788) and required the construction of an inclined plane to lower and raise tub-boats a little over 70ft between the level of the Works and the higher ground that it travelled over from Oakengates. [8]

The inclined plane was the first effective inclined plane in the UK. [9]

The canal predominantly carried coal and ironstone in horse-drawn tub-boats. These tub-boats where in use across Shropshire and beyond. They “were rectangular in plan, 19 feet 9 inches long x 6 feet 2 inches wide made of wrought-iron plates rivetted together. An inclined plane consisted of two rails laid parallel to each other, on each of which ran a cradle raised or lowered by a wire rope and capable of carrying one tub boat at a time. The descending cradle assisted in balancing the weight of the ascending one and the extra power required was supplied by a stationary winding engine. A boat descending an inclined plane entered a chamber where it was manoeuvred over a submerged cradle. Once in place, the boat was secured to the cradle in readiness for its journey down the plane. The cradle was then hauled up over a sill and onto the plane, at which point it was still inside the chamber. When everything was ready it commenced its descent, which required just a few minutes, and a small number of workmen were able to complete the whole operation.” [12]

The inclined plane lasted in service until 1816, closing with Ketley Iron Works. The length of canal between Ketley and Oakengates remained open for more than 60 more years until the 1880s.

“One tub-boat is preserved in the Blists Hill Victorian Town museum. It was rescued from a farm in 1972, where it was in use as a water tank. Before its discovery, it was thought that all tub boats on the Shropshire Canal were made of wood.” [13]

This tub-boat is on display at Blists Hill Museum near Ironbridge in Shropshire.

The canal ran on the north side of Holyhead Road. A few hundred yards to the West of Shepherd’s Lane the canal passed under the Holyhead Road. It “clung to the southern side of the main road for a few hundred yards … but then it moved away from the road, heading westward at the backs of what are now gardens on Holyhead Road until it reached Shepherd’s Lane.” [9]

The Eastern portal of Shepherd’s Lane Tunnel is still visible in a private garden. [4]

The canal entered a short tunnel under Shepherd’s Lane and emerged into Ketley Paddock Mound (as it is now called). The length of canal which is preserved in the nature reserve can be reached from a number of directions.

The route I took was to walk East along Holyhead Road to the bus stop adjacent to one entrance to Ketley Paddock Mound. The bus stop is a delight! It was painted in 2018 by Fran O’Boyle and funded by the Ketley Parish Council and the Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound. [10][11]

The bus stop which is owned by Ketley Parish Council is outside Ketley Paddock Mound was decorated in 2018. It was created by Fran O’Boyle and funded by the Parish and the Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound. [10][11]

And I then entered the nature reserve through the gate visible in the photograph above. Immediately inside the gate is another public information board. The image below is an extract from my photograph of the board. …

Entering the nature reserve from Holyhead Road, the path climbs through open meadow and paddock. It curves round a small pond before the remaining section of the Ketley Canal is reached.

This next sequence of phots shows the walk up to the remaining section of the Ketley Canal.

The path from Holyhead Raod. [My photograph]
Buttercups in flower in the paddock to the East of the footpath. [My photograph]
The footpath winds gently up hill to the old canal. [My photograph]
The Ketley Canal. This remaining section of the tub-boat canal is now given over to nature. Just before taking this picture I watched a Kingfisher fly along the length of the water. Behind the camera is the cutting which led to the tunnel under Shepherd’s Lane. [My photograph, 2nd June 2022]

The walk back to my car took me over the top of the Paddock Mound which was the slag-heap made up of arisings from local pits and mines.

References

  1. https://maps.nls.uk/view/121150301, accessed on 2nd June 2022.
  2. T. Lowe; A Ketley Mon; British Bus Publishing Ltd., Wellington, Shropshire, 2000.
  3. https://www.facebook.com/groups/232901083430144, accessed on 31st May 2022.
  4. https://ketleypaddockmound.org/history, accessed on 2nd June 2022.
  5. https://historicketley.wordpress.com/ketley-wagonways-tramways, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  6. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/#zoom=18&lat=52.69405&lon=-2.47516&layers=168&right=ESRIWorld, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  7. https://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=18&lat=52.69408&lon=-2.47518&layers=168&b=1, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  8. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketley_Canal, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  9. http://www.canalroutes.net/Ketley-Canal.html, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  10. https://ketleypaddockmound.org/how-to-find-ketley-paddock-mound, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  11. https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/local-hubs/telford/2018/12/13/animal-magic-fran-transforms-telford-bus-shelter-with-wildlife-mural, accessed on 3rd June 2022.
  12. http://www.pittdixon.go-plus.net/shropshire-tbc/shropshire-tbc.htm, accessed on 4th June 2022.
  13. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Tub_boat, accessed on 4th June 2022.

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 2 – The Coalbrookdale Company Tramroads shown on the 1882/83 6″ OS Maps (published in 1887) and later surveys.

I came across a first reference to a Tramroad in Coalbrookdale in a book by Barrie Trinder published in association with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in 1977. Trinder collated a series of references to Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale from ancient texts in his book entitled “The Most Extraordinary District in the World.” [1]

Trinder provides an extract from a book written in German by C. von Oeynhausen and H. von Dechen entitled “Railways in England 1826 and 1827” translated by E.A. Forward. [2] in which Oeynhausen and Dechen comment that, “In Coalbrookdale, a cast iron Tramroad runs from the Severn to the lower smelting works of the Dale Company.” [1: p94, 2: p67]

They noted that the Tramroad was a Plateway with rails between 5 and 5ft 6in. in length tied together by cast iron sleepers. Of great interest is their note that, “The tramroads at Coalbrookdale are of two sizes. The smaller one is of 20in. gauge, and the haulage in this is performed with small trucks; it lies in the middle of a larger line of 36in. gauge. Horse haulage is used thereon. It perhaps merits remark that the smallest gauge for horse use employed anywhere is to be found in this district, as on some lines the gauge is only 18 inches …” [1: p94, 2: p67]

The authors go on to note that at Horsehay Ironworks, part of the Dale Company’s holding, there were “tipping wagons with sheet iron bodies on wooden frames, very suitable for the transport of blast furnace slag. The wheels on these wagons [were] from 14 to 18in. diameter, and [had] wider wheel rims than … employed elsewhere in England, and especially in South Wales, namely [1.25 to 1.5]in.” [1: p94,96, 2: p67]

They recorded that the plateway was laid with the vertical flange on the inner side.

Plate 47 in Trinder’s book provides a photograph of a dual-gauge plateway which was uncovered adjacent to Rose Cottage, Coalbrookdale in 1971. [1: p95]

Other references to the Tramroad include its inclusion in the Historic England register; the History Workshop Online.

Historic England Monument No. 72035 Grid Reference: SJ6682404251

Summary: Iron tramroad 1767 (course of)

More information: The first iron tramroad existed at the Coalbrookdale Works.

The Tramroad within the Coalbrookdale works is recorded by Historic England as the first ever iron tramroad. Their record states:

“It being found that the wooden rails of the tramroad of one mile length, laid in 1757, along which coal and iron were conveyed from one part of the works to another as well as to the landing places along the river Severn, soon became decayed or broken, after experiments, the rails were replaced in 1767 by rails of cast iron.” [3]

“A specimen length of rail and a wagon are preserved within the open-air museum at the Coalbrookdale Works at SJ 66780485. The
tramroad terminus together with the quay and offices are at present being restored on the N bank of the river Severn, at SJ 66780363,
by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.” [3]

“A paving of mortared bricks, with grooves which formerly held planking to which the iron rails were attached, has been uncovered and renovated. The quay, of large stone blocks, has been cleared of silt and the dock offices and a tram shed, housed in a castellated ‘Gothick’ style building of red and yellow brick, are undergoing
restoration at the present time.” [3]

These notes are a little out of date now. Much of the work referred to has been completed. A visitor centre is accommodated in the tramroad goods shed on the Wharf and some of the tramroad sidings at the Wharf have been renovated. The pictures below give an impression of what the Wharf area is like in 2022. …

Coalbrookdale Wharf in April 2022. (My photograph)
Tramway tracks alongside the Goods Shed at Coalbrookdale Wharf. (My photograph)
The Goods Shed on the wharf at Coalbrookdale. (My photograph)

History Workshop Online (HWO)

HWO comments as follows: “In 1757 Richard Reynolds, son-in-law of Abraham Darby II, took over managing the Coalbrookdale Works and, in 1767, introduced metal rails for transporting coal and iron around the works and down to the river, as wooden rails were easily damaged and costly to repair. This was the first time metal rails had been used anywhere, inspiring tramways to follow suite, and the original metal tram rails can still be seen at the Wharfage in Ironbridge.” [4]

From a short length of Tramroad linking the Coalbrookdale works to the River Severn a larger network of tramroads developed. It is important not to confuse this network centred on Coalbrookdale with the Lilleshall Company’s network which met the Severn at Sutton Wharf, East of Coalport. The Lilleshall plateway was very short-lived. It was operational by 1799 and closed in favour of the use of the Canals in 1815/16. [5: p35] That network is covered in Part 3 of this short series of articles.

The tramroad in Coalbrookdale met the River Severn at the the bottom of the valley.

An extract from the 25′ OS Map series of 1883 is shown below. The tramroad wharf appears still to be in use at that time. A transhipment/goods shed is shown on the land just above the River Severn. A sawmill is shown at the bottom of Coalbrookdale below Lower Forge Pool. Interestingly, the Tramroad is shown crossing the road at two locations the line to the wharf was at a very shallow angle.

The extract from the 25″ OS Map series dated 1902 is shown below. At this time there was a foundry at the water’s edge and the tramroad terminated on a high level above the river. The goods shed shown on the map extract above still exists but is just off the view to the east. The sawmill above has been replaced by the Severn Foundry.

The extract from the 25″ OS Map series dated 1927 no longer shows the tramroad within the site of the Severn Foundry, although it still seems to be present within the road surface!

The NLS provides the 25″ OS Maps as an overlay to satellites images from the 21st century. The same area is shown below in an extract from those images. As can be seen the large warehouse to the bottom left of the above extract remains and is in use as the Museum of the Gorge.

Wikipedia notes: “The Museum of the Gorge, originally the Severn Warehouse, is one of the ten museums of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. It portrays the history of the Ironbridge Gorge and the surrounding area of Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, England.”

The Foundry complex also remains, although somewhat altered, and is in part a CO-OP supermarket.

The mouth of Coalbrookdale and the Wharfage in the first quarter of the 21st century.
Looking Southeast along the Wharfage from a point just outside the old Severn Foundry. The red line approximates to the route of the tramway down to the wharfs on the River Severn.

A little further north from the Severn, north of the Lower Forge Pool, the Tramroad can be made out running parallel to the GWR Coalbrookdale branch but in the valley floor between the road and the stream. The GWR station can be see in the top left of the extract which is from the 1883 25″ OS Map.

Further North the tramway/tramroad continues to follow the road verge, as below, until it crosses leaves the road adjacent to Upper Forge Pool. …

Standard gauge sidings began to dominate the area immediately around the next length of the tramway/tramroad route as can be seen below. The standard gauge tracks originate from the GWR line adjacent to the Upper Forge Pool and are at a higher level than the tramroad. The tramroad mainline ran north-northeast on the west side of the public road. A branch entered the Iron Works site before giving access to the raised area north of the Pool and also under the standard gauge line to the works buildings.

Sadly, north of the top of the extract below the 1st Edition OS 25″ series is not available on the NLS site.

There was a significant network of tramroad tracks within the curtilage of the Coalbrookdale Iron Works. The site was constrained by the narrow valley and was, at its southern end, predominantly sited between the public road and the GWR line. Various sidings served the works in the valley floor, but the main line of the tramway passed under the GWR line at about the same northing as the Commercial Hotel to the east of the road.

These two images show the buildings on the north side of Coach Road. Tramroad tracks used to run through the gates visible in the lower of the two pictures. The mainline turned to the left along Coach Road. Other tracks ran across Coach Road and between the two buildings opposite the gates. (My photographs)

The Tramroad mainline left the gates in the photograph above and passed under the GWR line on what is now named Coach Road. The tramway/tramroad then ran immediately adjacent to that railway line on its West side, along the present Darby Road, for a short distance before crossing back under the GWR line adjacent to the Upper Furnace Pool and then following the South side of Darby Road, crossing the School Road, Wellington Road, Jiggers Lane, Darby Road junction on the level and then heading East along School Road.

The Coalbrookdale Company’s Ironworks buildings have been given a significant new lease of life by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. The building to the South of Coach Road is now ‘Enginuity’ and that to the North of Coach Road is the ‘Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron’. ……

The Coalbrookdale Iron Works in the first quarter of the 21st century. (Google Earth)

The route of the old tramway appears in the pictures below: first Coach Road, under the railway viaduct; then looking North on Darby Road; and then East along Darby Road from under the railway bridge next to Upper Furnace Pool. …

Coach Road looking West under the GWR Viaduct. The tramway ran under the bridge and turned sharply to the right onto Darby Road (Google Streetview)
Darby Road looking North. (Google Streetview)
Looking East on Darby Road. The Upper Furnace Pool is marked by the reedbeds to the left of the photograph. The tramway continued across the road junction ahead and followed the route of School Road travelling East. (Google Streetview)

The tramroad/tramway continued East on School Road as shown on the 1901 25″ OS Map Extracts below. It then ran on its own formation parallel to the GWR branch-line. The three OS Map Extracts below show the tramway in place just after the turn of the century. Google Maps shows its route in 2022 as a green-dashed line as can be seen further below.

Google Streetview shows the tramway formation in use as a footpath. The building in the centre of the picture is the old school. (Google Streetview, 2011)
Google Maps extract which shows the tramroad alignment as a green-dashed line, as over this length in the early 20th century, the tramroad formation is still in use as a footpath.
The same area on satellite imagery from Google Earth. Google Maps helpfully shows the tramroad alignment as a faint dotted line. (Google Maps)
Looking west along the route of the tramway from a point east of New Pool (c) Gordon Zola (Google Streetview, 2020)
From the same point a view to the East. (c) Gordon Zola (Google Streetview)
The formations of the railway and tramroad run parallel for a few hundred yards before the tramroad crossed under the railway. The modern public right of way remains on the South side of the railway embankment.

Immediately to the North of the railway line there were a series of Brick & Tile Works which were all served by the tramway. A significant network of lines were in place at the time of the surveying for the 1901 OS Map. The next image is of another extract from the OS mapping of 1901. The scale has been reduced to allow the whole immediate area on the north side of the railway to be seen at a glance.

The tramway can be seen crossing under the GWR railway line at the bottom-centre of the extract. Lightmoor Brick & Tile Works were to the East of this point on the map and were encountered first. A trailing branch tramway ran back parallel to the railway line but this time on the north side of the line to provide access to Cherrytree Hill Brick & Tile Works. Just to the East of those works a loop line left east-west line of the tramway turning to the north. The east-west line ran just beyond the Cherrytree Hill Works before turning through 180 degrees and returning west-east. The two lines rejoined and continues eastwards to serve Shutfield Brick and Tile Works before then looping back to meet the original tramway mainline just to the east of the Lightmoor Brick & Tile Works.
Google Earth shows approximately the same area in 2021. The A4169 now bisects the area which once was taken up by the different brick and tile works. The road curving in from the bottom left of this image is Cherrytree Hill. Cherrytree Hill Works were approximately in the grass area between the a4169 and Cherrytree Hill. A railway line still exists in this image on the alignment of the double track line on the OS map extract above. The location of the Lightmoor Brick and Tile Works is probably directly under the line of the A4169.

The next three map extracts focus on the three brick & tile works mentioned above.

The Lightmoor Brick & Tile Works. Note the complex arrangement of tramway/tramroad tracks and the transshipment facilities close to the Lightmoor Junction on the standard-gauge line!
The Cherrytree Hill Brick & Tile Works. Note the two loops of the tramway, one each side of the Works.
The Shutfield Brick and Tile Works. The tramway track leaving the map extract to the top-left was a short section which in 1901 led only a few yards further north. Two lines leave the map extract at the top-right. The lower of these was the link back to the mainline to the east of the Lightmoor Brick & Tile Works. The other led north, just to the east of a new Methodist Chapel, towards the Lightmoor Colliery.
Lightmoor colliery – by 1901, the date of this map extract, the colliery was no longer in use.

We return to the course of the old tramway mainline. Immediately east of the Lightmoor Brick and Tile Works was the site of the Lightmoor Iron Works which, by the turn of the 20th century, were disused and substantially demolished. After passing though the site of the Iron Works the tramway passed under the standard-gauge line once again.

The site of Lightmoor Iron Works with the tramway passing under the GWR line at the top-right of the map extract.

It is worth pausing at this point in our journey to find out a little more about the Works served by the tramway over the last half-mile or so. …….

Shutfield Brick & Tile Works

The information about the Shutfield site is distilled from the Discovering Shropshire’s History website. [6]

The Works at Shutfield have been given the Historic England Register No. 03871. The Works started out as a Brickworks and was producing bricks from, at least, 1825 until the late 19th century. It commenced making tiles in the mid-19th century and focussed on producing tiles from 1894 onwards. It continued to produce tiles until after the Second World War.

Two categories of tiles were produced, roofing tiles and floor tiles. These were branded with the “Lightmoor Broseley” stamp. The kiln at Shutfield Tileries was an intermittent down draught kiln with drying sheds. . . .Water leaking into the kiln from a stagnant mere less than 15 metres to the west was enough to mean its inevitable closure in 1951.

Cherrytree Brick & Tile Works

The information about the Cherrytree site is distilled from the Discovering Shropshire’s History website. [7]

The Cherry Tree Hill brick and tile works was first recorded in 1761. It closed in the early 20th century. The Works have been given the Historic England Register No. 03872.

The works were the first industry in Lightmoor producing clay products. The produce of the works was basic wares for basic uses. Perforated flooring squares, quarry tiles and roofing tiles were produced on a small scale for general industrial and local use. Bricks and firebricks were also produced both pressed in later times and handmade in the earlier phase of the work’s existence. Originally called Cherry Tree Hill Brickworks, it must have expanded into tile production between 1840 and 1880, when it was titled Cherry Tree Brick and Tile Works. No trace of the kilns in use at the works have survived, although a down-draught intermittent kiln is likely.

Lightmoor Brick & Tile Works

The information about the Lightmoor Brick & Tile Works is distilled from the Discovering Shropshire’s History website. [8]

Lightmoor Brickworks was first mentioned in 1779, when it was owned by John Davies. . . .Its initial base of production was bricks, made by the semi-dry process. This was followed by other basic wares of the early 19th century including flooring bricks, draining pipes, chimney pots, and lightweight roofing tiles.

During the 1860s the diversity of products began to escalate. The next decade heralded a phase of moulded decorative terracotta. . . Which continued until the turn of the century, and the works turned back to brick manufactures. From the 1900s to the closure of the Coalbrookdale Co in 1933, Lightmoor Brickworks supplied them with all the firebrick shapes for their solid fuel appliances. In the fifty years from 1933 to the late 1980s Lightmoor continued to survive on brick manufacture.

Lightmoor Iron Works

The information about the Lightmoor Iron Works is distilled from the Discovering Shropshire’s History website. [9]

Little is known about the the Iron Works, but there were a number of structures (which appear on the 1901 Ordnance Survey extract above) to the east of the location of the furnaces. These were thought to initially be part of the industrial complex of the ironworks, later converted to domestic use.

In 1984 the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Archaeology Unit excavated parts of the Lightmoor Ironworks site in advance of its destruction by the Ironbridge By Pass. Trenches were dug to examine the wall footings of that group of buildings to the east of the furnaces. These buildings had been constructed directly onto coarse pit waste, and stood until recently. The area was badly disturbed after their destruction, which obliterated all traces of floor levels. Nothing was found which would have enabled the different usages thought to have applied to be confirmed.

Lightmoor Colliery

Lightmoor Colliery appears on the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy Mindat.org register as owned by the Coalbrookdale Company and as being active between 1855 and 1885. [10] It should, incidentally, not be confused with the colliery of the same name in the Forest of Dean!

And now continuing to follow the tramway mainline ….

Two further extracts from the 1901 25″ OS Mapping follow. The first shows the tramway providing access to Dawley Parva North of the point where the tramway crossed beneath the standard-gauge line the map extract below shows that the tramway passed to the east of Dawley Parva Colliery. A tailing connection to the tramroad had already been lifted by the time of the survey for this Map series. The colliery was redundant but I was unable to locate any information about it on line. However, the 1880s 6″ series of OS Maps did provide more information.

Two OS Maps – the first is the 25″ series from the turn of the 20th century. The second is the 6″ series from the 1880s.

The remaining length of the Tramway on the 1901 Maps is shown immediately below. It originally would have served Dawley Castle Iron Works and provided for transshipment to the canal arm which extended from the Shropshire Canal at the village of Aqueduct passed Botany Bay Colliery to serve the Castle Iron Works.

These short notes, in italics, about the Shropshire Canal are distilled from the Aqueduct village website. [11]

The canal was built following an act of Parliament of 1788, its function being to link the ironworks and mines in the Oakengates area to the River Severn. The waterway was opened in 1792. It ran southwards from Wrockwardine Wood, via Oakengates, through a tunnel at Stirchley and on to Southall Bank whereupon it split into two branches. The western branch was intended to meet the river at Coalbrookdale but was never built beyond Brierly Hill; it was this branch that crossed the aqueduct.

The eastern branch went via a descending inclined plane of 126 feet at Windmill Farm to the wharf at Tweedale and then on through Madeley to meet the river, using the Hay Inclined Plane and a short canal at Coalport.

Of interest to me, is the point at which in 1901 the Tramway finished, alongside Holy Trinity Church, Dawley. This is one of the churches in the Central Telford Parish. As I write this article in April 2022, my wife is Rector of the parish.

I walked the length of the tramroad from the modern A4169 close to what were Lightmoor Iron Works and the point at which the tramway passed under the GWR standard-gauge line North to Pool Hill on 21st April 2022. I as able to combine this with a walk along part of the GWR standard-gauge route and the tramroad which served Dawley Parva.

First, the mainline from Lightmoor Iron Works to Dawley Castle. ….

This first series of photos show: the view east along the A4169; the view West along the A4169; the view along the alignment of the GWR standard-gauge line at the point where the old tramway crossed under it (there is no bridge at this location in the 21st century; a sequence of seven views as I walked North along the old tramway.
(My pictures)
The first of this next block of photos is the last view of the mainline before reaching the place where the trailing connection serving Dawley Parva met the mainline. The second photograph shows the two lines at their point of meeting, in this image the camera has been turned through 180 degrees, the left-hand path follows the mainline, the right-hand is the route of the line serving Dawley Parva. The first panorama is taken from the North on the access road to the carpark. The two lines meet just off to the right of the picture and the tramroad route then travels across this image from right to left just on the near side of the modern house visible towards the right of the image. The image adjacent to the panorama is taken close to the line of the tramway looking towards Dawley Castle. The ivy cover tree trunks sit over the line of the tramroad. The next sequence of 6 pictures continue to follow the tramroad in a Northeasterly direction towards Castle Pools. This is, incidentally probably the line of the old canal mentioned in the text. The alignment of the old tramroad swings round to the North and crosses various water channels which link the Pools. The final panorama is taken looking back South along the old line.
(My pictures)
Just beyond Castle Pool is this noticeboard. The picture is taken facing South immediately to the North of Castle Pool. I have superimposed the tramway routes in red on the photograph. (My picture)
The tramroad route continues North and then crosses Holly Road close to Holy Trinity Churchyard.
The panorama of the churchyard shows the tramroad route running along its Western boundary (the left of this image). The adjacent two phots show the route of the tramroad. The second is taken at approximately the point at which the 25″ OS Mapping showed the rails terminating. The 6″ series from the 1880s shows the tramroad continuing directly ahead at this point through the estate which has been built over its line. (My pictures)

For the next half mile or so, the old tramway route has been built over by housing and amenities. Its approximate line can be plotted on modern satellite images as below.

Satellite images provided by the National Library of Scotland can be overlaid with older map details which means that the red line shown on this satellite image is reasonably accurate. The pictures which follow endeavour to give a good impression of the alignment in the 21st century. (NLS Satellite image)
These three photographs were taken on 21st April 2022 at the junction of Manor Road and Castle Road, Dawley. The third image looks back along the tramway alignment towards Holy Trinity Church. The church tower can be glimpsed next to the gable end of the house on Castle Road. The other two images look Northwest – the tramway route passed to the right of the house in the first image and then ran along Manor Road in front of the cream-coloured properties in the second image. (My photographs)

The 6″ OS Maps of 1888 show the Castle Iron Works in active use, as shown below. The canal arm was already disused by this date but the Tramway extends north beyond the church.

The next OS Sheet published in 1885 shows a significant network to the North of the church. The first map extract below shows the tramway entering from the right side of the map at a triangle of lines which provided access to Deepfield Colliery.

The tramway passed to the West of Holy Trinity Churchyard and then curved through what is now a housing estate. It alignment crosses Castle Road close to its junction with Manor Road before following Manor Road Northwest. A branch served Deepfield Colliery and followed the line of the modern Deepfield Road. (NLS Satellite imagery)

A very short distance beyond the line to Deepfield Colliery a branch heads north-northeast and then East towards two pits – Paddock Colliery and Portley Colliery – both are shown on the second map extract below. They were close to Dawley Green, and as a result relatively close to our Vicarage, just a few hundred yards further north!

The branch to the Portley and Paddock Collieries is lost under modern housing over the first couple of hundred metres.
The first part of the branch tramway to Portley and Paddock Collieries. (NLS)
The branch-line ran diagonally through the cream houses at the centre of this image. (My photograph)
It passed behind the house with the yellow van and crossed the line of Webb Crescent and then trough the first property on the right with a gable-end facing the road. (My photograph)
Springfield Close – the tramway followed the red line, passing through the end terrace. (My picture)
The line continued towards Dawley along Springfield Close turning to the right approximately at the end of the yellow brick apartments. (My photo.)
Looking back along the tramway route. (My picture)
From the same location, looking towards the two collieries. The Telford Langley School and Sports Centre is now on the site of the two collieries. (My photograph)
Take these three pictures in reverse order and they show the route of the tramway which follows one of the access routes to the school. (My photographs)
These two photos get us as far as we can along the branch tramway route. (My pictures)

Returning to the main line, it continued Northwest. …

The old tramway route crosses the open school playing field towards the one easily identifiable property with the new roof. From there it crosses into a tight knit series of houses emerging on Upper Pool Hill.

After passing through the modern housing, a trailing connection joined the tramway mainline, it served Topyard and Deepfield Collieries. This is highlighted on the satellite image below.

The tramway from Topyard Colliery enters from the bottom-centre of this satellite image, The mainline, from the bottom-right. (NLS)

On the 6″ OS Map extract below the tramway passes between the ‘E‘ and ‘Y‘ of ‘Dawley’. That straight length of tramway is the length now under the modern road, Upper Pool Hill. The map extract below

To the West of Dawley village the line split with one branch heading a short distance west on the South side of Prospect House and over the GWR line to get to the Horsehay Iron Works. Out of a significant complex of lines at the Iron Works, two further branch tramways served the Iron Works needs. One to the North, on the east side of Horsehay Pool, in the 1880s, allowed collieries on Horsehay Common to supply the Works. And one to the South led to a quarry at the head of Horsehay Dingle.

Horsehay as depicted on the 1885 6″ OS Map. Note the tramway entering the extract on the right splitting just south of the brick works and then running over the road bridge crossing the standard-gauge line and then entering the Iron Works site. Out of a cat’s cradle of lines on site, two tramways leave the site, one to the North and one to the South.
This time the works at Horsehay are shown on the 25″ OS Map surveyed in 1901 and published in 1902. No tramways are now visible. The Iron Works is now a Bridge and Roof Works. Tracing the rails through the site back towards the standard-gauge line, it is evident that the works railways are now standard gauge. Many of the tight curves have been removed. No tramway now leaves the site towards Horsehay common to the North. Some evidence of the tramway which headed South can still be seen. There is no longer a tramway accessing the site over the railway bridge.
The same areas in 2022. The area has seen a significant growth in private housing. Telford Steam Railway is now present top-centre of the image and the length of standard-gauge line is now a preservation line. Nonetheless features remain which enable some of the tramway locations to be established as the photos below show.

The pictures that follow were all taken as I walked the route on 20th April 2022 and were all taken from public roads. For convenience, I have marked the tramway route onto the 1902 survey map extracts below, and where modern road alignments are not obvious, I have added these. They cover the length of the tramway from Pool Hill to Horsehay.

This first map equates to a portion of the right side of the 1885 map from around centre-right to about the top quarter point.
This second extract is to a smaller scale as a result of its landscape layout. It shows the tramway turning through roughly 90 degrees to align with Station Road and then to cross the railway b ridge at the Station.
Looking back Southeast along the line of the tramway from Doseley Road South along Upper Pool Hill in 2022.
(My picture)
Looking forward towards Horsehay along the line of the old tramway which is now a public footpath.
(My photograph)
In sequence, five views looking along the tramway formation towards Horsehay. The building in the last of these picture fronts onto Station Road with the tramway alignment running close to its rear elevation, (My pictures)
Looking back from the North side of Station Road along the tramway route. The tramway climbed steeply to meet the highway and then ran along its South side until beyond the railway bridge. (My picture)
Another view back along the tramway alignment, this time taken from the South side of Station Road at the railway bridge. (My photograph)
Looking West from the north side of Station Road which at this point becomes Bridge Road. Note the railway building on the right which is part of the complex belonging to Telford Steam Railway. It is known as the Old Loco Shed and bears a blue plaque which explains its role in the 19th century. (My picture)
The Old Loco Shed Plaque. Note its use as a transshipment point between the plateway (tramway) owned by the Coalbrookdale Company and the GWR standard-gauge line. (My photograph)
The Southwest end of the Old Loco Shed. The tramway mainline passed to the right of this picture.
(My photograph)
Looking to the Southwest beyond the Shed. The main tramway route is shown by the red line. It passed to the back of the wall which can be seen in the centre of the image. The rails imbedded in the tarmac are remnants of the standard-gauge lines which served the Works at Horsehay once the tramway was replaced. (My picture)
The tarmac pathway follows the line of the old tramway. (My photograph)
Looking back to the Northeast towards the Old Loco Shed across the modern road. The pictures is taken from within what were the old Iron Works. (My photograph)
Looking Southwest once again the old tramway mainline turned sharply into the Works at the location of the black gates. Along the last few hundred meters of the line a series of branch tramways fed off to the South into the Iron Works site.

We noted earlier in this article that two tramway branches left the Iron Works site, one to the North, on the east side of Horsehay Pool, at this time, allowed collieries on Horsehay Common to supply the Works. And one to the South led to a quarry at the head of Horsehay Dingle.

In covering these two tramway arms we cover the extent of the tramways on the 1882/83 survey. We do know that prior to this time waggonways/tramways ran further north through Lawley and Ketley and on to Donnington Wood. These lengths of the network are no longer shown on the 1882/83 OS 6″ Maps nor on the later 25″ Map series. A further article will hopefully be forthcoming covering the lengths of the Coalbrookdale tramways not addressed here.

The one to the North left to the East of the Old Loco shed shown above. Pictures of its route are shown below. …

The route to Horsehay Common ran from the East end of the Old Loco Shed which was at the time the transshipment facility giving access to the standard-gauge line of the GWR. The tramway branch ran roughly northwards. Its route is now a single track highway giving access to properties in Spring Village which is now part of a conservation area. (My pictures)

The second of the two branches passed through the Iron Works heading South and left the site at the location shown below. Just two photographs are shown as access onto the Works site was not possible and because, south of Woodhouse Lane, there is a new housing estate in Horsehay Dingle.

The old tramway brach left the Ironworks on the line of the concrete driveway illustrated here. The road in the foreground is Woodhouse Lane. (My photograph)
Taken from Woodhouse Lane this picture shows the approximate alignment of the old tramway branch heading South the the quarry at the head of Horsehay Dingle.

Horsehay Iron Works …

I have seen two suggestions as to how Horsehay gained its name:

  1. It was a staging post and feeding station for the pack horses pulling Ironstone from the canal at Ketley to the Coalbrookdale works. [12]
  2. Its name is Anglo-Saxon for ‘an enclosure for horses’. [13]

Horsehay was nothing more than a farm, until the 1750s when Abraham Darby II built a blast furnace next to what is now known as Horsehay Pool.  The entry on Wikipedia tells that, “The Coalbrookdale Company further developed the area, constructing brickworks and later a pottery in 1838. Coalbrookdale specialised in the smaller and more decorative ironwork pieces, whereas Horsehay produced many larger scale products, including the railway bridge in nearby Shifnal.” [13]

“The furnace at Horsehay came into blast successfully on 5 May 1755.” [13] However, it was not until 1857 that the standard-gauge railway arrived in the area and Horsehay got its own railway station. The Coalbrookdale Company built its own system of tramways/plateways which allowed them to transport goods to and from their main works close to the River Severn and to permit access to markets further afield.

More recently, “A.B. Cranes bought the site … occupied by the ironworks to manufacture some of the largest cranes in Europe until it closed down in 1983. The site has been transformed into both a small factory estate and a housing estate. The houses which were kept for the ironworks employees were clustered around Horsehay Pool in Spring Village, and they are still lived-in today.” [13]

Horsehay works has a history of more than 230 years on the same site!

Horsehay Iron Works as pictured on Dawley Heritage’s website. The GWR standard-gauge line and sidings can be made out on the top left of the image. It is not possible to see any evidence of the tramways which once covered the whole site. (c) Iron Bridge Gorge Museum Trust (generous permission granted to include this image here) [14]

The Heath Hill Area

Returning the the area to the Southeast of Prospect House on the West side of Dawley. The other line, which has been obliterated by modern road construction, ran North to serve two small collieries in the Heath Hill area to the North and Northwest of Dawley village and which is just a few hundred yards from our Vicarage next to St. Leonard’s Church in Malinslee. The collieries can be seen in the OS Map extract below.

References

  1. Barrie Trinder; The Most Extraordinary District in the World; Phillimore, London and Chichester, 1977.
  2. C. von Oeynhausen and H. von Dechen; Railways in England 1826 and 1827; translated by E.A. Forward, ed. Charles E. Lee, Newcomen Society, 1971, p67, p73-74.
  3. https://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=3f055353-3a84-4575-9cf4-945464d26ba7&resourceID=19191, accessed on 15th April 2022.
  4. https://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/making-history-industrial-revolution, accessed on 15th April 2022.
  5. Bob Yate; The Railways and Locomotives of the Lilleshall Company; Irwell Press, Clophill, Bedfordshire, 2008.
  6. http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/getrecord/CCS_MSA2541, accessed on 19th April 2022.
  7. http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/getrecord/CCS_MSA2542, accessed on 19th April 2022.
  8. http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/getrecord/CCS_MSA3858, accessed on 19th April 2022.
  9. http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/getrecord/CCS_MSA23530, accessed on 19th April 2022.
  10. https://zh.mindat.org/loc-379098.html, accessed on 19th April 2022.
  11. https://aqueductlocalhistory.wordpress.com/about, accessed on 19th April 2022.
  12. http://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk/unpublished-articles/365/horsehay-works-by-r-corbett, accessed on 21st April 2022.
  13. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horsehay, accessed on 21st April 2022.
  14. https://www.dawleyheritage.co.uk, accessed on 21st April 2022.

Other Valuable Reading

David Clarke; The Railways of Telford; Crowood Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2016.

Please check out my review: https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/12/26/the-railways-of-telford-part-1-a-book-review

Ancient Tramroads near Telford – Part 1 – Tramroads Across the Area

A typical plateway [3]

The area around what is now central Telford, and particularly the Severn Gorge and Coalbrookdale are known as the cradle of the industrial revolution. They are significant because of the major steps forward made in the production of cast and wrought iron.

The geology of the immediate area was a crucial factor in these developments. Limestone, coal bearing strata and iron ore were all easily available in the one, relatively small area. Initially the iron production processes needed charcoal, also readily available in the wooded areas which surrounded the Severn Gorge.

Because of the topography, mining at a relatively small scale was easier than elsewhere as mining could be done by ‘inset’ (horizontal galleries) rather than pits. The proximity of necessary materials meant that transport costs were lower than elsewhere.

At a very early time in the development of the area, relatively primitive railway technology was in use. It is difficult to be sure when a ‘railway’ was first used. Some general guidance on undertaking research, particularly into early forms of railways is made available by the Railway and Canal Historical Society to its members. [12]

Peter King tells us that some very primitive systems were in use in Europe over the centuries but “the earliest railway-like transport system … was the Leitnagel Hund. … Planks were laid along the mine passage with a gap between them, and the truck – hund (German for dog or hound) or truhe (box or chest) – had a guide pin that pointed down between the planks to keep the truck going in the right direction. The word hund could be derived from the Magyar hintó, meaning a carriage. If so, this points to an origin in the mines of Hungary, which at the time included Slovakia and Transylvania. The system was widely used in central Europe in the early sixteenth century, and may go back to the fifteenth or even the fourteenth century.” [1: p20]

The German system was introduced in the UK in Cumbria to ‘Company of Mines Royal’ sites at Caldbeck, Newlands, and Grasmere and also at that company’s mines at Talybont near Aberystwyth. King notes that “Documentary evidence indicates they used ‘small rowle wagons bound with iron’ in copper mines at Caldbeck …The first of these … near … Silver Gill at Caldbeck, where investigation has yielded the remains of some plank rails and possible sleepers.” [1: p20]

Historic England organised a survey of available material on the early tramroads. This was undertaken by David Gwyn and Neil Cossons. They report that, “The first railways in England probably date, at earliest, from the second half of the 16th century and were associated with mines where German-speaking miners were employed. Smith-Grogan 2010 suggests that several Cornish rutways might date back to the 1550s and be associated with Burchard Cranich and Ulrich Frosse. The West-Country mining engineer Sir Bevis Bulmer (1536-1615) was familiar with Agricola’s De Re Metallica (Skempton 2002), and another possible literary conduit is Sebastian Munster’s Cosmographia Universalis, published in German in 1544 and in Latin in 1550. This includes a woodcut of a hund on flanged wooden rails in a mine at Ste Marie/Markirch in Alsace (Lewis 1970, 51).” [5: p20]

Gwyn and Cossons note that excavations in Leicestershire of the Coleorton deep collieries which were active from 1460 to 1600 failed to identify any railway systems. They also assert that, “The first rail system in England for which both documentation and material evidence survives is the hund guide-pin system described in ER4 (Allison, Murphy and Smith 2010) in one of the Caldbeck mines exploited by the Company of Mines Royal financed from Augsburg, which was introduced by Daniel Höchstetter in the 1560s.” [5: p20]

King notes that the Hund guide-pin system “had some characteristics of a railway, but differs from them in that neither wheels nor rails were flanged.” [1: p21]

He continues: “The first railways were English. Their function was to carry coal from the pit (or adit) down to a navigable river (or less often to a highway) to be transported to a distant place.” [1: p21]

In King’s opinion it is likely that the first can be dated to sometime in the late 16th century. He identifies one serving “the mines of James Clifford near Broseley in Shropshire, which has no clear date of construction. As Clifford was mining coal by 1575, the funicular railway, by which coal was let down from mines to trows (barges) operating on the river Severn, is likely to have preceded the others. Nevertheless, William Brooke was working his coal mines in Madeley, on the other side of the Ironbridge Gorge, where similar problems would have arisen, but that is only known because Arnold Bean of Worcester owed Brooke money when he died in 1579.” [1: p21]

Gwyn & Cossons concur with King. They say that “documentation dating from the opening years of the 17th century indicates that wooden railways, ‘waggonways’, were being laid as overland systems, connecting a drift or a shaft-head with navigable water, or occasionally with an interchange yard on a road system.” [5: p22]

Like King, they say that most of what we know of these waggonways “comes from legal disputes, and for this reason it is quite possible that there were other systems of which historians are unaware because they prompted no quarrels.” [5: p22]

They also cite the waggonway which ran from a “colliery at Broseley near the Severn Gorge in Shropshire, on the south side of the river, to a wharf at the Calcutts, slightly downstream of the later Iron Bridge; it was laid in October 1605, was a mile or so long.” [5: p22]

King asserts that there were “a number of mines along the side of the [Severn] gorge in the succeeding period and each apparently had an associated railway. Some mines were pits, but some were ‘insets’ – mines operated through an audit, and in these cases the railway extended underground to the coalface.” [1: p22]

After these short notes, King turns his attention away from the Severn Gorge to other parts of the UK, commenting on pits just to the west of Nottingham (using a form of railway circa. 1605) and Belington in Northumberland (1608). He then focusses on the Newcastle area. Again earliest dates are uncertain but by 1660 wainways were in use with “waggons carrying 15 bolls (about 33cwt); from 1700 19-20 bolls (42-44cwt) and from the 1750s, 24 bolls (53cwt). At Gateshead, Old Trunk Quay was at the end of the Old Wain Trunk Way, operating in the 1629s. In 1633 Thomas Liddell as owner of Ravens worth Colliery still had a wainway leading to a staith at Dunston. … Three other waggonways were built before the Civil War. … By the latter part of the 17th century three different waggonways were made,ball reaching the Tyne at Stella. … Stella was about the highest point to which the Tyne was easily navigable.” [1:p23]

Gwyn & Cossons chronology parallels that put forward by King. They refer to a railway that “had been laid from Strelley pits to a yard at Wollaton in the Nottinghamshire coalfield.”

Gwyn & Cossons write of Huntingdon Beaumont (who owned the Strelley pits) introducing the waggonway to the north-east. “According to the Newcastle historian William Gray, ‘Master Beaumont a Gentleman of great ingenuity… brought with him many rare Engines, not then known in these parts, as… Waggons with one Horse to carry down Coales from the Pitts, to the Staithes, to the River, &c.’ Beaumont’s three railways were on the north-east coast, at Bedlington, laid around 1608, and at Cowpen and Bebside, undated but probably much the same time (Smith 1960, Lewis 1970).” [5: p22]

Gwyn & Cossons go on to say: “Railways in the north-east developed into systems of extraordinary density with a complex history, reflecting intense regional rivalries and the profits that could be made from supplying London with coal. Even so, it was not until 1621 that the first recorded waggonway was built to the Tyne and it was not until the Restoration of 1660 that they became common. In the meantime, wain-roads remained a more cost-effective solution for most coal owners (Bennett, Clavering and Rounding 1990, 35-56).” [5: p22]

King cites other examples of early waggonways which include a ‘coalway’ owned by Sir John Lowther of Whitehaven from 1683. His son, Sir James, had waggonways from the 1730s serving to transport coal from collieries into Whitehaven.

Another ran from Sheffield Park to Sheffield, others took coal to the navigable lengths of the Rivers Ayre, Calder and Dun. There were even waggonways in the north of Ireland.

King’s eyes then turn bank to Shropshire. He comments: “Shropshire railways … form a different tradition from Newcastle waggonways. The waggons were smaller because the mines were often insets (rather than pits). The railway often started at the coalface and a smaller waggon meant that only a narrow adit had to be made through dead ground. The descent to the river down the side of the Severn gorge was precipitous, and the descent was controlled using a self-acting inclined plane, something not used near Newcastle until the late eighteenth century, but probably in Shropshire for its first railway. Wilcox’s & Wells’ railway to Calcutts may have been down Birch Batch. Its terminus was later called Jackfield Rails, and it remained in use well into the nineteenth century.” [1: p25]

Gwyn & Cossons comments about the Shropshire coalfield mirror that of King. They say that the Shropshire coalfield “developed smaller capacity systems running on narrower gauges. Here, mines were mainly levels, rather than deep mines such as prevailed in the north-east, and so a compact waggonway could run from the coalface to daylight and then down to navigable water. The Severn Ironbridge Gorge and its immediate environs were home to many such railways. From the mid-18th century, similar waggonways also ran direct from ironstone mines to Bedlam furnaces downstream of the later Iron Bridge.” [5: p23]

King says that a “longer railway, ultimately from John Wilkinson’s New Willey Furnace of 1757, went down Tarbatch Dingle to Willey Wharf but was probably built in the 1700s to serve coalmines and remained in use in parts for some 300 years, though from 1862 it led to the Severn Valley Railway, rather than a river wharf. North of the Severn, the lords of Madeley had railways at Madeley Wood when they let their mines in 1692.” [1: p25]

They go on to say that the “establishment of new coke-fired furnaces in the 1750s and the expansion of mining led to the provision of further railways, the longest running from Ketley (near Watling Street) to Coalbrookdale Wharf on the Severn, so that by about 1775, Abiah Darby (the widow of Abraham II) stated that the Company had 20 miles of railways.” [5: p23] These comments are drawn directly from King [cf: 1: p25]

King notes that “Other railways ran to landsale wharfs on Watling Street. In all, five gauges of railway were in use in the area, with those wholly above ground probably of a similar size to those at Newcastle.” [1: p25]

Gwyn & Cossons found that railways deriving from Shropshire practice “were to be found in coalfields which were adjacent and technically influenced by it. Staffordshire and Warwickshire, as well as parts of Wales and of Scotland.” [5: p23]

Interestingly, Gwyn & Cossons assert that “the Tyneside system is the design-ancestor of the median-gauge railways of the present day, and in particular of the UK, continental European and USA gauge of 4′ 8″. Narrow-gauge railways derive ultimately from the Shropshire system, as the inspiration for the railways built in the heads of the South Wales valleys in the 1790s, subsequently adopted and developed in the Gwynedd slate. industry. This was then offered as a cut-price system suitable for the developing world by the Festiniog Railway’s engineer in 1870, when the great and the good were invited to see it in operation (Gwyn 2010, 138).” [5: p23]

“Tyneside systems ran on gauges of between 3′ 10″ and 5′, Shropshire systems of between 2′ and 3′ 9” (Lewis 1970, 181, 267). [5: p24]

“By the mid-17th Century tramroads were fairly common and continued to be so through the 18th century, so that by the start of the 19th Century they often ran for considerable distances, taking mineral products (notably coal) from their source to the point of consumption, or … to a canal wharf for onward carriage by boat.” [2]

Early tramways in and around the Severn Gorge and in East Shropshire as a whole are noted in works of Bertram Baxter, [4] Savage & Smith, [6] Catherine Clark & Judith Alfrey [13]

These include:

  • Benthall Railway [7][13]
  • Caughley Railway [8]
  • Gleedon Hill Tramroad [9]
  • Sutton Wharf Tramroad [10]
  • Tarbach Dingle Tramroad [11]
  • The Coalbrookdale Company Tramroads [12]
  • Deerleap Tramway [13]
  • Lime Kilns Tramway [13]
  • Ash Coppice Tramway [13]
  • Clay Mine Tramway [13]

This list is the result of a relatively limited search online and is unlikely to be comprehensive. Some of these will warrant further study, the links provided in the references are worth a read.

It is my plan to look at a number of these in coming weeks and months. The first will be the Coalbrookdale Company Tramroads.

References

  1. Peter King; Before the Main Line; in ed. David St. John Thomas; How Railways Changed Britain; Railway & Canal Historical Society, Derby, 2015, p13 – 32.
  2. https://www.sinfin.net/railways/railhist.html, accessed on 17th April 2022.
  3. https://www.csrf.ac.uk/blog/electrification-infrastructure, accessed on 17th April 2022.
  4. Bertram Baxter; Stone Blocks and Iron Rails (Tramroads); David & Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon, 1966.
  5. David Gwyn and Neil Cossons; Early Railways in England: Review and summary of recent research; Historic England, Discovery, Innovation and Science in the Historic Environment Research Report Series No. 25-2017.
  6. R.F. Savage & L.D. Smith; The Waggon-ways and Plate-ways of East Shropshire, 1965.
  7. https://telford.org.uk/tramways/benthall_rwy.html, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
  8. https://telford.org.uk/tramways/caughley_rwy.html, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
  9. https://telford.org.uk/tramways/gleedon_hill.html, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
  10. https://telford.org.uk/tramways/sutton_wharf.html, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
  11. https://telford.org.uk/tramways/tarbatch.html, accessed on 22nd April 2022.
  12. https://rchs.org.uk/research-general-guidance, accessed on 19th April 2022 – particular reference is made to a document which gives a good sense of the development of various waggonways, tramways, plateways and Tramroads … Research-agenda.pdf which can be downloaded from the members area of the site.
  13. Catherine Clark & Judith Alfrey; Research Paper No. 15, Benthall and Broseley Wood; Nuffield Survey, Third lnterim Report; University of Birmingham, 1987.

The Railways of Telford – Part 1 – A Book Review

‘The Railways of Telford’ by David Clarke

The landscape of my life is changing!

Until the end of 2021, my life essentially focussed on the City of Manchester. The first 5 years of my life were spent in Altrincham and, after a few years when my family lived elsewhere (Hull, Braintree, King’s Lynn), I returned to Manchester to study for a degree in Civil Engineering at Manchester University in 1978 and, apart from around 2 and 1/2 years in my late 30s, I have lived in Greater Manchester since then – Rusholme, Moss Side, Didsbury, Stockport, Ashton-under-Lyne and the city centre became my whole geographical world. Apart from holidays, I have lived and worked in the conurbation for much of my life.

The 2 and 1/2 years spent away from Manchester in the late 1990s saw me training for ministry as a Priest in the Church of England. At the end of 2021, I am retiring from ministry and moving with my wife to live in a Vicarage in Telford where she will be working.

One of the gifts that I was given on leaving Ashton-under-Lyne was a relatively recent publication from Crowood Press (2016), ‘The Railways of Telford’ by David Clarke. [1]

I guess that I have become accustomed over the years to picking out the main railway routes in the area in which I live. These routes could be live lines or those relegated to history. 

The gift of David Clarke’s book was an astute purchase by a valued friend and colleague.

“Author David Clarke covers the history of the railway network … in Telford, from its early industrial beginnings to the present day. The book examines the importance of the coal and engineering industries to the region, and covers the rolling stock, signals, signal boxes and locomotive depots of the network. It details the variety of traffic that was generated in the area and traffic passing through, it also gives details never before published of … workings in and out of Hollinswood Yard.” [1: back cover]

Over Christmas 2021, I read Clarke’s book in-between copious amounts of food and present-giving and the occasional nod to the TV.

Of interest to me, at least, was the choice of pictures for the front cover of the book. The two images show the two ends of the Coalport Branch service from Wellington to Coalport.

The first picture shows, on the left, the remains of the two bay platforms at the East end of Wellington Station which were used by branch trains departing to and arriving from Coalport. The second picture shows Coalport Station in the years prior to the closure of the Branch.

The LNWR/LMS Coalport Branch [1: p83-98] and its shadow, the GWR Stirchley Branch [1: p37] ran just to the East of our new home in Malinslee.

Malins Lee Railway Station in the years before closure [2]

However, as Clarke makes clear, the Telford Development Corporation has dramatically altered the landscape in the area. So much of what once existed has disappeared. Industrial wasteland has been replaced by housing estates, parks and roads and is unrecognisable.

The site of Malins Lee Railway Station © Copyright Nigel Thompson and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

As Clarke claims, his book is an excellent introduction to the railways of the conurbation. He says that “a number of excellent books have been written on individual lines … but … this is the first attempt to produce a book covering the whole area and should act as a ‘taster’ for further in-depth reading.” [1: p7]

After the Acknowledgements and Introduction, chapter headings are as follows:

  1. The Industrial Revolution in East Shropshire.
  2. Wellington and the Main Line
  3. Madeley Junction to Lightmoor Junction
  4. The Ex-LNWR Line to Stafford
  5. The Coalport Branch
  6. The Much Wenlock Branch
  7. The Severn Valley Route – Buildwas to Coalport (GWR)
  8. The Lilleshall Company
  9. Locomotive Depots

These chapters are followed by an appendix covering locomotive allocations, some suggested further reading, a bibliography and an index.

As well as providing details of the different lines, each chapter includes some fascinating insights into the traffic supported by each line and the various industries which sat alongside each line making it profitable for the majority of its life.

This is an excellent introduction to the railways which once served an area which has a very strong claim to being the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. It lives up to its own billing, and provides my own launch point for discovering more about the area in which we will be living in 2022 and beyond.

References

1. David Clarke; The Railways of Telford; Crowood Press, Marlborough, Wiltshire, 2016.

2. William H. Smith; The Coalport Branch; dawleyhistory.com; http://www.dawleyhistory.com/Postcards/Coalport%20Branch/Coalport%20Branch.html, accessed on 26th December 2021.