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Broseley

Broseley

Broseley is a small town in Shropshire, England with a population of 4,912 (2001 census). The River Severn flows to the north and east of the town. The area lies within the Bridgnorth district. The first iron bridge in the world was built in 1779 to link Broseley with Coalbrookdale and Madeley, and led to the development of Ironbridge, which is now part of a World Heritage Site.

History

The settlement of Broseley appeared as far back as the Domesday Book, listed as Bosle.

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. Ironmaster John Wilkinson lived in the town and his great rival Abraham Darby is buried here. In the Industrial Revolution, Broseley was a centre for ironmaking, pottery and clay pipes

The town of Broseley, once part of the Shirlett Royal Forest, was to see enormous expansion during the Industrial Revolution - indeed, in 1600, the town consisted of only 27 houses.

In 1605 wooden wagonways were shown to exist in Broseley Presuming that they predate this, Broseley has a serious claim to having had the oldest 'railways' in Britain.

It was in Broseley that John Wilkinson constructed the first-ever iron boat, and this is also where the plans for the Iron Bridge were designed. A clay pipe factory still exists as one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum's collection of preserved industrial heritage sites. In the past Broseley has also been heavily involved in coal mining and stone quarrying industries and the jitty-riddled lanes of Broseley Wood are attributed to the land given to miners to build their houses upon - many beautiful examples of 1700's houses still exist. It is also known that the stone out of which Buildwas Abbey was built was taken from Broseley.

The early industrial nature of Broseley has led to the development of the settlements to be haphazard, and would have seen the rich rubbing shoulders with the poor. Despite much modern development, the town is in fact less populated now than it would have been two hundred years ago, when population figures were over five thousand.

By the beginning of the 20th century much of the industry had declined and by the 1900s, what remained was a legacy of uncapped mineshafts, derelict buildings, abandoned quarries, spoil heaps and pit mounds. Modern development and the effects of time have largely removed these scars. However, throughout the area there remains a wealth of heritage sites for those prepared to look. These include the railways, mines, ironworks, brickworks, kilns, houses and fine buildings associated with the area's industrial past. Many of these heritage sites are easily missed by the casual walker and their contributions to the rich history of the area are less well known.

Culture

In 2007, Broseley won a Gold award in the Heart of England Britain in Bloom competition for the second year running, also gaining first place in the Best Small Town category.

Broseley has a large Amateur Dramatics society, BroADS, which performs a number of plays every year. There is also a thriving arts and crafts community, who form a group known as the Broseley Artists.

The town has a number of historic pubs and eateries, mostly located towards the Town Centre. Broseley also recently received funding for a 'Broadplace', a small centre for community ICT usage. It is located in the Birchmeadow centre slightly north from the centre of the town.

Legacy

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 that set the stage for the later industrial revolution and which facilitated the construction 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.

Education

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 to Bridgnorth Endowed school, Bridgnorth.

Notable people

Hermione Baddeley, the film and theatre actress.
John 'Iron Mad' Wilkinson, the eighteenth century industrialist, was a resident of Broseley, and it was here that he first mastered his unique art of boring cannons for increased accuracy.
Abraham Darby I, an industrialist of the same period is buried there.
John Guest, who started the legacy of GKN.
Joe Kershaw of the Kershaw family lived there as a child. He was an advocate of the jewish religion in and around the Bridgnorth area.
Shane Embury, the bassist in the Grindcore band Napalm Death.

External links

References

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