The Broseley Local History Society


Incorporating the Wilkinson Society


Newsletter                                                            November 1999


Chairman:                                           Frank Selkirk


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 1999/2000:

Wednesday 1st December:    Annual Dinner at the New Inn, Bridge Road; for more details, see below.

Wednesday 5th January:        More memories of Old Broseley.

Wednesday 2nd February:     Alison Sword, “New Light on John Wilkinson”

Wednesday 1st March:          Jim Cooper, “Researching the Lilleshall Company Collection”

Wednesday 5th April:            A Congenial Evening on Genealogy led by Paul Luter.

Wednesday 3rd May:            Tony Mugridge, “The History of the Brick and Tile Making Industries of Broseley.”

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



At this year’s AGM, business was dealt with speedily.   Within fifteen minutes Frank Selkirk had replaced Tony Mugridge as Chairman and Janet Robinson had replaced Diane Shinton as Membership Secretary.  The membership extended its thanks to the two out-going committee members for their contribution to the Society.   The post of Secretary, left vacant by Frank taking the Chair, was due to be discussed at the next Committee meeting in November.  The rest of the Committee remained as before.

In addition, Jack Owen is once again our President and Mary Smith agreed to be Vice President for this year.



Christmas Dinner: this will be at the New Inn in Bridge Road, Benthall at the bottom of The Mines. The time is 7.30 for 8pm and the Menu is as follows:


Cream of Tomato Soup with smoked bacon.

Grapefruit Jamaica

Duck parfait with orange

Mushroom Pate



Turkey en croute with Cranberry glaze

Shropshire Pork with Cider apple sauce

Baked Trout with Rosemary

Mixed Nut with tomato and chestnut sauce


All main courses served with Chefs selection of vegetables



Fruit Compote with Port and Cinnamon Ice cream

Apple Mint Snow

Chocolate Torte with Raspberry Coulis



Coffee and Mince Pies


The Meal with cost £12.00p and if you wish to attend, please contact Janet Robinson on 882495 as soon as possible.


150 years of Railways in East Shropshire

Following the AGM, Neil Clarke gave an entertaining talk illustrated with slides commemorating the local railways’ long history.

He started with the first line from Shrewsbury to Stafford which opened just before the line from Wellington to Wolverhampton in 1849.   We saw how Shrewsbury station was extended down and the ground in front of it lowered.   There were two goods yards at Wellington one LMS, the other GWR and three crosses on the station roof  remembering the partial destruction of the All Saints churchyard when the line came through.   There were some splendid slides of trains taken in the early ‘60s including an ex-GWR Castle at Shrewsbury, two steam-hauled goods trains and a Stafford-bound passenger train in Wellington station and a GW Manor with an up goods train near Madeley Junction.   There was a Jubilee on a Shrewsbury to Stafford train and the last ‘Horsehay Special’ in January 1972 when a heavy load was shunted out of Horsehay Works up the Ketley line and then down the line to Lightmoor and on to the mainline at Madeley Junction.  We saw pictures of the temporary platform built at Coalbrookdale in 1979 for the Ironbridge bi-centenary, Doseley crossing where the rails are still to be seen on the road surface, a Class 5 loco on the Market Drayton line in 1964 and two photos by Ron Miles of the second Jackfield Halt and Coalport West stations in 1963 just before the Severn Valley line closed.


A splendid evening for the local historian and for the railway enthusiast!

Nick Coppin.



Museum/Local Studies Area Project.

Representatives of your Committee has a useful meeting with County Council Museum and Library heads to further explore the idea of a small local studies area attached to Broseley library.   We indicated possible contents: our own Wilkinson Society collection of technological and social history items, possible further items that could be donated in the future and most importantly, a good part of the marvellous Cumberland Coalport collection.


The County Council view emphasised our need for a clearly defined policy as to what was to be in the collection, for a formal constitution for the Society and for wholehearted community support for such a project.

David Lake.


Legge’s Hill pipeworks site.

The Legge’s Hill pipe manufactory of William Southorn and Co. was established in 1823 and operated for about 100 years, being the largest of the three major factories in Broseley, employing at least 70 people in its heyday.   There were three kilns shown on the site on the 1882 First Edition OS map although a photograph taken at about the turn of the century shows only two remaining at that time.   By the 1930s Southorn had transferred production to the former Smitheman premises and the Legge’s Hill site was used as a gate factory until the late 1950s when the site was cleared to ground level.


I had tried, unsuccessfully, for a number of years to get permission to excavate to see what remained below the ground surface, although the gate factory base of four inch thick reinforced concrete still covers the site.   Then in early 1998 the site was sold to a developer who turned out to be my brother’s wife’s sister’s ex-husband!   He had dug trial holes with a JCB to establish ground stability but thankfully did not appear to hit anything significant.


He allowed me to scratch around and I stumbled on a considerable quantity of kiln waste, broken pipes, saggars, ash and clinker as well as a brick foundation wall.   David Higgins and Allan Peacey were informed and soon got the excavations on a sound footing.   Finds were properly recorded and after reference to maps, one of which turned out to be grossly inaccurate, the base of a kiln was discovered about three inches below the surface.


My excitement diminished somewhat the next day when the site owner arrived to say he now intended selling the site to another developer and asked us to leave.   David made extensive recordings of the half of the kiln base which had been uncovered by then and the remains were covered up again.


Since that time I understand several attempts have been made to sell the site but as yet no deal has been struck.  The JCB has gone and the site is now undisturbed.

Rex Key.

As Society members are probably aware, this is no longer the case.   The site has been sold and work has begun on preparing the ground for ten small terraced houses.   There have been exploratory borings and now (end of October ‘99) piles are being driven through the site.   The pipework’s remains are likely to be locked up under the new buildings for the foreseeable future.

Nick Coppin.