The town of Broseley, once part of the Shirlett Royal Forest as recorded in the Domesday Book, was to see enormous expansion during the Industrial Revolution – indeed, in 1600, the town consisted of only 27 houses! Situated on the banks of the Severn, forming one side of the World-famous Ironbridge, its history is littered with tales of an industrial past.
Before the time of industrial expansions, Broseley’s main claim to fame was its part in the construction of Buildwas Abbey, where stone quarried from Broseley Wood was floated up-river to form its construction.
Though now the town has seen a lot of its vital historic links paved over by modern developments, the character of the town and its importance within one of the greatest moments in history cannot be ignored.
At one time open mines and industrial waste marked the hillsides of the town, whilst attractive Georgian manors and humble dwellings built up upon its crest. Indeed, Broseley still retains its unique mix and blend of cottages through to mansions which is characteristic of its quirky development. The overall effect is one of intricacy and slight confusion; a heritage that is both appealing and highly evocative of Broseley’s historical importance.
Broseley’s boasts of dominance in the industrial era are plain to see: the first ever flanged railway was constructed here, and John Wilkinson built the world’s first iron boat in the vicinity. Broseley is also home to the world-famous Salopian pottery and was instructive in the development of blue and white china, as well as having been the centre of the British pipe-making industry, producing millions of clay pipes every year, before the industry declined as late as the 1950s. Broseley is also famous for its stylised brown-red brick colour, produced locally, examples of which can be seen throughout Shropshire, and also its role in producing tiles, both roofing and decorative.
The recently restored Broseley Pipeworks Museum is open to the public, and delivers a powerful insight into both the history of local tobacco pipe-making, as well as an interesting, if sadly brief, history of the development of the town. . Nearby you will also find the beautiful Benthall Hall, an historic manor house (National Trust), and church.
Any walk around Broseley will reveal to you the workings of an early industrial town, as well as open your eyes to a heritage which is often overlooked.