Last updated

All Saints Parish Church, Broseley - - 1030739.jpg
All Saints Parish Church
Shropshire UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Shropshire
Population4,929 (2011) [1]
OS grid reference SJ676015
Civil parish
  • Broseley
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BROSELEY
Postcode district TF12
Dialling code 01952
Police West Mercia
Fire Shropshire
Ambulance West Midlands
UK Parliament
List of places
52°36′43″N2°28′52″W / 52.612°N 2.481°W / 52.612; -2.481 Coordinates: 52°36′43″N2°28′52″W / 52.612°N 2.481°W / 52.612; -2.481

Broseley is a market town in Shropshire, England, with a population of 4,929 at the 2011 Census. 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 was part of the early industrial development in the Ironbridge Gorge, which is now part of a World Heritage Site. [2]



A settlement existed in 1086 and is listed as Bosle in the Domesday Book of that year, when it lay in the Hundred of Alnodestreu. That jurisdiction was dismembered in the time of King Henry I, when Broseley and Willey were reassigned to the Munslow Hundred. Finally they were transferred to the Liberty of Wenlock at its creation in the time of King Richard I. The place name appears as Burewardeslega in 1177, and in similar variants thereafter, indicating that it had anciently been Burgheard's (or Burgweard's) clearing, or grove. [3] In Broseley's manorial history, the medieval family of de Burwardesley was considered by the historian R.W. Eyton to have been a cadet branch of the family of Fulk I FitzWarin of Whittington, Shropshire and Alveston, Gloucestershire. [4]

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. [5] 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, [6] 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 north-east of the town. [7]

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 an economic decline, as industries moved elsewhere. This left a legacy of uncapped mine shafts, 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 was 200 years ago, when population figures were over 5,000.[ citation needed ]

Broseley & Ironbridge (in Cyan) shown in relation to Telford TelfordMap.jpg
Broseley & Ironbridge (in Cyan) shown in relation to Telford


Broseley borders the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site and evidence of involvement in the Industrial Revolution can be seen throughout the town, in the railways, mines, ironworks, brickworks, kilns, houses and fine buildings associated with the area's industrial past.

The jitties (lanes and paths) of Broseley Wood on the western boundary of Broseley are the remains of cottage settlements built for miners. At the other end of the social spectrum the town has many examples of Ironmaster houses, dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

There are two wildlife areas maintained by local groups. The Hay Cop [8] between Dark Lane and Ironbridge Road was the site of the town's water supply and was developed as a nature reserve in 2007. Penns Meadow [9] on the border between Broseley and Benthall is a five-acre ancient meadow and is also being managed to protect and develop wildlife diversity. Both projects have been supported by the Broseley/Barrow Local Joint Committee, [10] a Shropshire Council initiative to encourage devolution of decision-making to local people.


Broseley has a large amateur dramatics society, BroADS, which puts on several plays a year. Every month, the Birchmeadow Centre is used by Broseley Cinema, to show well-rated films on its own large screen. There is also a thriving arts and crafts community, which forms a group known as the Broseley Artists. [11]

Since 2009, the Birchmeadow Centre (owned by the Town Council) has hosted many live music events, presenting an array of artists (most being broadly within the folk, blues, ballad genres) from the UK and abroad. 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".[ citation needed ]

Since 2015 Broseley residents have held an annual music festival over a weekend (usually the 2nd in June) in the town's High Street. The festival features local bands and is funded solely by fundraising activities held throughout the year.[ citation needed ]

The town has a number of historic pubs and eating places, mostly located towards the town centre. It also has a "Broadplace" facility, a small centre for community usage of laptop computers, help and guidance and free Internet access. Broseley Library, which also has facilities for computer access, is located to the south of the town centre next door to the health centre. [12]


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.

Local government

Broseley is a civil parish with the status of a town and as such has a town council chaired by a town mayor. It is in the part of Shropshire administered by Shropshire Council, a unitary authority; prior to 2009 it formed part of the district of Bridgnorth.


There are two primary schools in Broseley: Broseley Church of England (or Dark Lane) School and John Wilkinson School, named after the famous ironmaster whose residence is nearby. For secondary education, most pupils travel to William Brookes School in Much Wenlock or further afield to Abraham Darby Academy in Madeley or elsewhere.

Notable people

In birth order:

Thomas Salter Pyne, in Vanity Fair, 15 February 1900 Thomas Salter Pyne Vanity Fair 15 February 1900.jpg
Thomas Salter Pyne, in Vanity Fair, 15 February 1900
Hermione Baddeley, seen in the 1970s Hermione Baddley 2 Allan Warren.jpg
Hermione Baddeley, seen in the 1970s

See also

Related Research Articles

Shropshire County of England

Shropshire (; alternatively Salop; abbreviated, in print only, Shrops; demonym Salopiansə-LOH-pee-ən, is a county in England, bordering Wales to the west, Cheshire to the north, Staffordshire to the east, and Worcestershire and Herefordshire to the south. Shropshire Council was created in 2009, a unitary authority taking over from the previous county council and five district councils. The borough of Telford and Wrekin has been a separate unitary authority since 1998 but continues to be included in the ceremonial county.

Ironbridge Town in Shropshire, England

Ironbridge is a town on the River Severn, at the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge, near Telford, Shropshire, England. It lies in the civil parish of The Gorge, in the borough of Telford and Wrekin. Ironbridge developed beside, and takes its name from, The Iron Bridge, a 100-foot (30 m) cast iron bridge that opened in 1781.

Telford Human settlement in England

Telford is a large town in the borough of Telford and Wrekin and ceremonial county of Shropshire, England, about 13 miles (21 km) east of Shrewsbury, and 30 miles (48 km) north west of Birmingham. With an estimated population of 175,271 in 2017 and around 155,000 in Telford itself, Telford is the largest town in Shropshire, and one of the fastest-growing towns in the United Kingdom.

John Wilkinson (industrialist) English industrialist

John "Iron-Mad" Wilkinson was an English industrialist who pioneered the manufacture of cast iron and the use of cast-iron goods during the Industrial Revolution. He was the inventor of a precision boring machine that could bore cast iron cylinders, such as cannon barrels and piston cylinders used in the steam engines of James Watt. His boring machine has been called the first machine tool. He also developed a blowing device for blast furnaces that allowed higher temperatures, increasing their efficiency, and helped sponsor the first iron bridge in Coalbrookdale.

Ironbridge Gorge canyon in the United Kingdom

The Ironbridge Gorge is a deep gorge, containing the River Severn in Shropshire, England. It was first formed by a glacial overflow from the long drained away Lake Lapworth, at the end of the last ice age. The deep exposure of the rocks cut through by the gorge exposed commercial deposits of coal, iron ore, limestone and fireclay, which enabled the rapid economic development of the area during the early Industrial Revolution.

Coalbrookdale Human settlement in England

Coalbrookdale is a village in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England, containing a settlement of great significance in the history of iron ore smelting. It lies within the civil parish called the Gorge.

Madeley Wood Company

The Madeley Wood Company was formed in 1756 when the Madeley Wood Furnaces, also called Bedlam Furnaces, were built beside the River Severn, one mile west of Blists Hill.

Madeley, Shropshire Human settlement in England

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Abraham Darby III British ironmaster

Abraham Darby III was an English ironmaster and Quaker. He was the third man of that name in several generations of an English Quaker family that played a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution.

Coalport Human settlement in England

Coalport is a village in Shropshire, England. It is located on the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, a mile downstream of Ironbridge. It lies predominantly on the north bank of the river; on the other side is Jackfield.

Abraham Darby I Ironmaster: first successful use of coke in smelting

Abraham Darby, in his later life called Abraham Darby the Elder, now sometimes known for convenience as Abraham Darby I, was the first and best known of several men of that name. Born into an English Quaker family that played an important role in the Industrial Revolution, Darby developed a method of producing pig iron in a blast furnace fuelled by coke rather than charcoal. This was a major step forward in the production of iron as a raw material for the Industrial Revolution.

The Iron Bridge Bridge across the River Severn in Shropshire, England, the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron.

The Iron Bridge is a cast iron arch bridge that crosses the River Severn in Shropshire, England. Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron. Its success inspired the widespread use of cast iron as a structural material, and today the bridge is celebrated as a symbol of the Industrial Revolution.

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is an industrial heritage organisation which runs ten museums and manages multiple historic sites within the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site in Shropshire, England, widely considered as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Jackfield Human settlement in England

Jackfield is a village in Shropshire, England, lying on the south bank of River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, downstream from Ironbridge.

Jackfield Tile Museum Museum of ceramic tile making, part of the Ironbridge Gorge

Jackfield Tile Museum is a museum which presents the history of the British decorative tile industry between 1840 and 1960, the period in which this factory and that of Maw & Co nearby played an important part in this industry. The museum lies in the village of Jackfield, near Broseley, on the south bank of the River Severn in the Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England. It is located within a World Heritage Site, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. It is one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge museums administered by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

The Tuckies, Jackfield, Shropshire Human settlement in England

The Tuckies is a hamlet in the eastern part of Jackfield, lying on the south bank of the River Severn, in the Ironbridge Gorge, and opposite the village of Coalport. The purpose of this article is to capture its historical importance during the industrial revolution and provide links to the people and culture that once thrived here. The lower part of The Tuckies, in Ferry Road, is still badly affected by flooding and head-height water levels are clearly displayed in a doorway at The Boat Inn where the 1922 memorial footbridge crosses the River Severn to Coalport. The Severn Valley railway, operated by GWR, ran through The Tuckies and the original railway bridge, now forming part of the Severn Valley Way, still crosses the road there, at OS grid reference 693024.

The lost village of Werps was one of a group of small settlements which later became collectively known as Jackfield in the Broseley Parish in Shropshire. The Werps lay on the south side of the river Severn, opposite the Old Coalport China Works and records indicate either three or four public houses, although it is unclear as to whether any of their names are renames of the same building or whether re-built on the same site.

Preens Eddy is a settlement on the south bank of the River Severn, opposite Coalport. Its history lies at the heart of the industrial revolution.

Broseley Pipeworks industrial site in Broseley

The Broseley Pipeworks is one of ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums administered by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. The museum is based in the small town of Broseley in the Ironbridge Gorge, in Shropshire, England within a World Heritage Site, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Museum of the Gorge, Ironbridge

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.


  1. "Broseley (Parish): Key Figures for 2011 Census". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  2. "Ironbridge Gorge Museums: Great Family Days Out". Ironbridge Gorge Museum. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  3. E. Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th Edition (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1960), p. 69.
  4. R.W. Eyton, Antiquities of Shropshire (John Russell Smith, London 1855), II, pp. 1-38 (Google).
  5. Ordnance Survey – Shirlett Common Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  7. Barrie Trinder: The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire (Phillimore, 1981), p. 242.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-10-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 2010-10-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Shropshire Council Retrieved 31 October 2017.
  12. Town Council site. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  13. Interview, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 April 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)