Friends of the Red Church

The Red Church and Local Heritage

Hidden in the history of the Red Church and the Parish Records are stories of persons who contributed so much to the district when the industrial revolution was being born.

It is no surprise that 18th Century living conditions led to some 20% of children not surviving beyond the age of five, but perhaps the longevity of adults may be unexpected, with over 30% surviving beyond the age of 60 years, the eldest burial record being for a 96-year-old man.

Some years stand out more than others. The year 1799 was a year of appalling winter weather when the  Coalport ferry capsized, drowning workers from the China works, most of whom lived in Broseley and Jackfield. The years 1832 and 1834 then reflect the tragic effects of a disease previously unknown in England, Cholera , often referred to as the first pandemic.

The more normal years from 1767 until the Churchyard was closed in 1885 reveal that over 1200 persons are buried there. It is the last resting place of watermen, miners, brickmakers and china painters as well as the families of wealthy barge owners, tile makers and other industrialists.  The attraction of work drew people from other parts, the most frequently recorded name of Lloyd illustrating that from Wales. There are many members of the Beard, Burroughs and Cullis families, known to have been heavily involved in barge building, ownership and trading on the river. The name Hartshorne is frequent, renowned in many aspects of Broseley including coal mining.  Iron memorials carrying the Hinsley name reflect their occupations as blacksmiths. The Amphlett family were watermen in 1851 but a member of that family was also a Curate in Broseley around 1820.  Mining provided the raw materials of industry. Among those profiting from this were the mine owner, Thomas Phillips and his wife, Margaret who have an extraordinary memorial now in the new St Mary’s Church. One of the best known is the ironmaster of the Calcutts iron works, , Alexander Brodie II and his Works Manager, Thomas Cochrane. This company was famed for the quality of its iron and the production of Brodie stoves and armaments for ships of the Royal Navy including HMS Victory.  

Many more stories are hidden with the names and one of the main aims of the ‘Friends of the Red Church’ is to reveal them in, for example, the pamphlet ‘Tales from the Red Church 1.’