The Broseley Local History Society


Incorporating the Wilkinson Society


Newsletter                                                              May 2000


Chairman:                                       Frank Selkirk

Secretary:                                       Dot Cox

Treasurer: Steve Dewhirst

Curator:                                          David Lake

Membership Sec.:                            Janet Robinson, 26 Coalport Road,

                                                      Broseley, Shropshire, TF12 5AZ

                                                      01952 882495

Journal Editor                                  Neil Clarke

Newsletter Editor:                            Nick Coppin, 01952 884398


Meetings usually take place each month on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm (unless announced otherwise). Indoor meetings will be held at the Broseley Social Club in the High Street unless announced otherwise. Car parking at the back.


Web Site:              E-mail:                      or     


Programme for 2000:

Wednesday 7th June:          The Annual Wilkinson Lecture; “John Wilkinson and the                                          Shropshire Canal” by Neil Clarke.

Wednesday 5th July:           c.2 mile gentle walk along the route of the Severn Valley                                          line.  Meet in the Ironbridge car park at 7.30pm.

No August Meeting.

Wednesday 6th September:  Old Broseley remembered again.......................


The Programme for the rest of this year and for the first half of 2001 is being arranged at the moment and will appear in the September newsletter.


Other local events of Interest

The Much Wenlock History Day is on Saturday 20th May from 10am to 4.30pm.  This includes talks on Wenlock, St Milburga and William Penny Brookes but I have seen a notice saying it is fully booked.   Apply to Shropshire Records and Research, Castle Gates, Shrewsbury, SY1 2AQ by 12th May in case there are any spare places.


The Friends of Shropshire Records and Research Summer Walks include Ditton Priors on 7th June, Llansilin on 14th, Cressage 21st, either Shrewsbury or Darwin on 28th, Neil Clarke is leading a walk around Little Wenlock on 5th July and Burrow Iron Age Camp on 12th July.   Most start at 7.30.  Details from Shropshire Records and Research as above.


Other dates I have are as follows:

13th May:                          A Very English Estate - Acton Scott

16th May:                          Shropshire - A Brief History

3rd June:                            Shropshire Family History Open Day

10th June:                          A Monmouth Day

20th June:                          My ancestory was a Reluctant Pirate!

8th July:                             Meeson Hall - Bolas Magna.

6th July:                             Walk - Shuts and Passages of Shrewsbury.

12th August:                       Dudley Town, Castle and Priory.

2nd September:                   Oswestry History Day.

4th September:                   The River Severn Part 1 from the Source.

9th September:                   Forenseic Archaeology.

2nd October:                      The work of IK Brunel.

6th November:                    The Broseley Tobacco Pipe Industry.


For information on any of these please contact: Stan Steadman on 01743 359622.


A very interested audience came to hear the talk by Paul Luter who gave us a complete account of the possible sources available to researchers in this field.   Paul’s own buoyancy and commitment highlighted the qualities needed for success.   His generosity in helping individual members with their queries was greatly appreciated.


A raffle for the Genealogy kit kindly donated by Jack Owen raised £31 for the Society and was won by Mary Smith.

David Lake.

Flying the Flag

Several groups in this area organise meetings and exhibitions to which they invite your Society.  Whenever possible we put in an appearance; your Treasurer, Steve Dewhirst is our main man on these occasions.


The History Day in Broseley library, 21st February, was a good example.  We took along our Memory Map; James Slater with his mastery of computer graphics make designing a new Prichard Memorial look easy.   Our hands-on President, Jack Owen seemed to know every one of the many visitors whose company throughout the day was very pleasant and encouraging.


At Shirehall on 4th March, the Local History Conference day was opened with an address by Neil Clarke, Editor of our Journal and closed by Barrie Trinder.


We had a thoroughly computer-literate representation with Steve and James at Coalbrookdale on 25th March for ‘New Technologies and Community History’.

David Lake.

Mines on Benthall Edge


Society members have recently been involved in surveying a mine adit or ‘footrid’ on Benthall Edge.   The Shropshire Mining and Caving Club was called in to inspect the ‘hole in the ground’ which was very close to a well-used footpath on the Edge.   A member of that Club who also belongs to our Society went down and discovered about a 20 foot long passage passing beneath the path.   It has subsequently been covered over and fenced off.


A few hundred yards away on the side of Bridge Road, Benthall, excavations have revealed a brick arch with water coming out of it which seems to be the bricked up entrance to another level.   It is located next to the New Inn and the excavations have exposed the brick-lined tunnel leading directly into the hill side from the road



Nick Coppi


Castle Head

John Wilkinson described himself as ‘Ironmaster of Broseley’ and lived at ‘The Lawns’ but he built Castle Head, the dream estate of a wealthy man, at Lindale in Cumbria; a place of his boyhood.


A run up the M6 to visit Lindale can give you a fascinating day or week.   John’s well-restored obelisk stands proudly by the roadside near the centre of this attractive small town.  (It is only a mile or so from Grange-over-Sands station.  Ed.)


We are lucky that the great house itself is now owned by the Field Studies Council.   It is well used as a Field Studies Centre for residential courses in Climbing, caving, trekking and watersports.   These are for youngsters ‘and the young at heart’ so we all qualify.   Frank Dawson, an active researcher into John Wilkinson, lives at Castle Head.   For further information or for a visit, phone Joanna Barnett, Centre Director on 015395 34300, mentioning the Society.


John’s final resting place was near to his wife Mary in St Paul’s Church in Lindale which also welcomes us as visitors.


What most amazes the writer is that John at the time of his life’s greatest activity in new iron-making technology at Broseley, Bradley and Brymbo was also able to be at Castle Head to design and supervise the construction of his new estate.  This was before the railway, let alone the telephone and motorway.   No wonder that his workers thought that John’s powers were supernatural!

David Lake.

Essay Competition

Friends of Shropshire Records and Research are running an Essay Competition.    A £30 book voucher will go to the person writing the best essay of no more than 2000 words on an outstanding Salopian of the last Millennium.   The deadline is 30th September and send your essay to


                                         ‘Essay Competition, 2000’,

                                         Friends of Shropshire Records and Research,

                                         Castle Gates,


                                         SY1 2AQ


Grant for the Society.
The Broseley Town Council has approved an award of £500 for the Broseley Local History Society.   This is to be used for a range of projects and is being collected by our Chairman, Frank Selkirk.

An Overhead Projector and a Large Screen are wanted by the Society; if you know of one excess to requirements please contact a member of the Committee..