Broseley facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsBroseley
All Saints Parish Church
|OS grid reference||SJ676015|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||West Midlands|
Broseley is a market town in Shropshire, England, with a population of 4,929 at the 2011 Census and an estimate of 5,022 in 2019. The River Severn flows to its north and east. The first iron bridge in the world was built in 1779 across the Severn, linking Broseley with Coalbrookdale and Madeley. This contributed to the early industrial development in the Ironbridge Gorge, which is now part of a World Heritage Site.
A settlement existed in 1086 and is listed as Bosle in the Domesday Book.
The town is located on the south bank of the Ironbridge Gorge and so shares much of the history of its better known, but more recent, neighbour, Ironbridge.
In 1600, the town of Broseley consisted of only 27 houses and was part of the Shirlett Royal Forest. The area was known for mining; some of the stone used to build Buildwas Abbey was taken from Broseley and there is evidence that wooden wagonways existed in Broseley in 1605, giving Broseley a serious claim to the oldest railways in Britain. The wagonways were almost certainly constructed for the transport of coal and clay and it was these resources that led to the huge expansion of the town during the Industrial Revolution.
Many of the developments celebrated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust's collection of preserved industrial heritage sites either started in Broseley or were connected to the town. Broseley was a centre for ironmaking, pottery and clay pipes; the earliest recorded pipemaker was working in the town in 1590. The Broseley Pipeworks is one of the trust's ten museums, as is the Jackfield Tile Museum, which is situated in Jackfield, just northeast of the town.
John Wilkinson constructed the world's first iron boat whilst living in the town, and the plans for the Iron Bridge were drawn up in Broseley. Abraham Darby I, who developed the process of smelting iron using coking coal, is buried here.
In the latter half of the 19th century the area suffered a decline, as industries moved elsewhere. This left a legacy of uncapped mineshafts, derelict buildings, abandoned quarries, spoil heaps and pit mounds.
In the last thirty years of the 20th century Broseley experienced a modern revival with the development of Telford across the River Severn. New estates were built to the east of Broseley centre, whilst many older properties were developed or renovated, but the town is still less populated now than it would have been two hundred years ago, when population figures were over five thousand.
Broseley has a large amateur dramatics society, BroADS, which performs a number of plays every year. Every month, the Birchmeadow Centre is used by Broseley Cinema, which shows well rated films on its own large screen. There is also a thriving arts and crafts community, who form a group known as the Broseley Artists.
Since 2009, the Birchmeadow Centre (owned by the Town Council) has hosted many live music events, presenting an impressive array of artists (most being broadly within the folk, blues, ballad genres) from the UK and abroad. As a result, Broseley (and its Birchmeadow) can be now regarded as the leading venue for such events for many miles around. Such artists as Bill Caddick, Phil Beer, Brooks Williams, Tom Hingley and Steve Knightley have been to Broseley's Birchmeadow. Across the town's pubs and clubs, too, the live music scene is gently 'on the up'.
The town has a number of historic pubs and eateries, mostly located towards the town centre. Broseley also has a "Broadplace" facility, a small centre for community usage of laptop computers, help and guidance and free Internet access. Broseley Library also has facilities for computer access; the library is located to the south of the town centre next door to the health centre.
The type of bricks and tiles once produced in abundance in Broseley have become synonymous with any product of their type, regardless of where they were made. Broseley bricks are notable for their brown and red mottled nature, a sign of their cheap production, and Broseley tiles are of a strawberry red to light brown hue.
The pipeworks in Broseley were responsible for producing millions of clay pipes which were shipped worldwide, and are invaluable in dating archaeological sites, as they survive without decay and their maker's stamp reveals their date of origin.
Works pioneered here and across the Ironbridge Gorge went on to set the stage for the mass production of iron products in the later Industrial Revolution which drove the expansion of the British Empire. This is in part due to the work of John Wilkinson and his construction of precision-engineered steam engines and weaponry.
There are two primary schools: Broseley Church of England or Dark Lane School and John Wilkinson School, named after a noted ironmaster who lived nearby. For secondary education, most pupils travel to William Brookes School in Much Wenlock or further afield to Abraham Darby Academy in Madeley and elsewhere.
In birth order:
- Abraham Darby I (1678–1717), industrialist and innovator, was buried here.
- John Guest (1722–1785 or 1787) was a brewer, farmer and coal merchant here.
- John Wilkinson (1728–1808) lived here and devised a method of boring cannon of increased accuracy.
- Peter Onions (1724–1798), ironmaster and inventor of an early puddling process to refine pig iron into wrought iron, was born here.
- Jabez Carter Hornblower (1744–1814), pioneer of steam power, was born here.
- William Reynolds (1758–1803), ironmaster and scientist, died in Broseley.
- John Russell (1788–1873), industrialist and colliery owner in South Wales, was born here.
- George Pearce Baldwin (1789–1840), iron founder at Stourport-on-Severn and grandfather of Stanley Baldwin, was born here.
- John Pritchard (1797–1891), lawyer, banker and Conservative MP for Bridgnorth, was born here.
- Charles Henry Hartshorne (1802–1865) an English cleric and antiquary, was born here.
- Favell Lee Mortimer (1802–1878), religious and educational writer, lived at Broseley Hall before settling with her husband in Norfolk.
- Osborne Gordon (1813–1883), Oxford college tutor and Church of England clergyman, was born here.
- Rowland Hunt (1858–1943), Conservative MP for Ludlow, died at Lindley Green, Broseley.
- Sir Thomas Salter Pyne CSI (1860–1921), an engineer based in Afghanistan, was born here.
- William Whitehead Watts (1860–1947), geologist, was born here.
- Hermione Baddeley (1906–1986), film and stage actress, was born here.
- Leroy Watson (born 1966), archer and member of the 1988 Olympic bronze medallist team, was born here.
- Shane Embury (born 1967), bass player in the grindcore band Napalm Death, was born here.
- Ben Simons (born 1986), Olympic bobsleigher, was born here.