Church Street, Broseley
BROSELEY LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY
The Wilkinson Society.
MEMORY MEETING No. 2
7th September, 2000, revised to 5.09.01.
Table of Contents1) Foundry Lane
2) Pooles Yard
3) The Iron Topped House.
4) Raddles Hall.
6) The Prestages.
7) The Lawns
8) The Mint.
9) The Rectory.
10) Broseley Hall.
11) Broseley Church.
12) The Lady Forester Hospital.
13) The Deanery.
NM. I lived in Foundry Lane, one of two children living with our aunt. There was no running water in the house though we had gas. We used a pump in the yard, and five families shared two toilets. This was in 1950 before we got a council house.
MS. I was born in Foundry Lane and lived there until I was twelve in 1928, when we moved into one of the first council houses in Bridgnorth Road.
NM. We lived in the wide part of Foundry Lane, the Bull Ring, until we moved in 1954.
JR. When was the foundry actually working ?
MS. It was in ruins when we lived there; I don't remember it working. There was a big well in the middle of the Bull Ring with an iron plate over it.
NM. We carried water from the pump in a bucket.
MS. There was a hydrant, and many houses had wells. About 20 families used the hydrant, so there was often a queue.
JR. Where was Pooles Yard ?
MS. You came out of the bottom end of Foundry Lane, then up Church Street to Dogs Yard, up which was the public house called "The Talbot" or "The Dog".
NM. Lucy Hudson lived there. Her parents kept the pub. Mr Shaw lived in the big house and owned the cottages. We paid our rent to him.
MS. We paid Miss Mason, a maiden lady who lived in Broseley Wood.
NM. The toilets were flush toilets, not earth closets.
JR. What about the Iron Topped House, with its iron framed roof, where Liz Mars lives ?
MS. Its opposite where Liz used to live, which had been a grocer's shop. John Wilkinson had it built for one of his workmen. It's the only house in Broseley with cast iron rafters.
NM. An elderly teacher lived there at one time.
EC. Built c 1800.
PT. Was it built as an office, or for estate purposes ? Somewhat small for accommodation. Are there many iron framed structures in Broseley ?
EC. The barn by The Pheasant car park has iron rafters.
DL. Whitehall has a sort of extension room at the rear, with iron rafters and built over a well.
EP. There are two houses behind the Iron Topped House.Eileen Molyneux lived there.
JR. Then there is Raddles Hall, said to be the oldest house in Broseley.
FS. It's built with old bricks, much longer than standard bricks.
EP. I remember three families sharing it. It was divided into three separate houses. There used to be a railing round the front, and a narrow footpath. Little steps went to the door on the side. The garden and railings were removed for road widening.
JR. I have seen a photo of Raddles Hall with railings, and a noteworthy round window at the side.
EC. The timber framed cottage in Coalport Road could be the oldest house in Broseley. There used to be an avenue of trees from Raddles Hall to Whitehall.
MS. Behind the trees was the Sunday School football field. It belonged to Dr Boon at Whitehall. We used to have our Sports there.
JR. Dr Boon at Whitehall used to open his gardens for various activities.
MS. Dr Boon used to do his rounds on horse, he would tie it to our house gate. Then he had the first car in Broseley. It had a dickie seat, a little seat at the back. It was quite important to us children because we had never seen a car before.
EP. We didn't have Dr Boon, we had Dr Hoy.
JR. Who else lived at Whitehall ?
FS. Warren Hawkesley, who was MP for The Wrekin.
DL. Did Dr Boon add the non-matching front bays to Whitehall ?
EP. They've been there while I remember; obviously there have been many alterations. Dr Boon had two sons, one was killed in an air crash. There was a shop, Instone's Grocery, where Whitehall Court is now.
JR. I had a phone call from a lady in Fulham, a descendant of the Thursfield family who had been pottery manufacturers in Jackfield, and had lived at Whitehall and at Benthall Hall. There is a Thursfield memorial window in the church.
EP. The name occurs in my book about Broseley written in the 1930's by Mr Jones of Benthall.
MS. I've heard say there was a Dr Thursfield in Broseley, before Dr Edwards.
FS. By Whitehall there is a semi-annexe at right angles to the main house; Ive heard that was where John Guest was born.
EC. John Guest of GKN.
EP. Captain Collins lived there.
DC. Whitehall has almost no garden now - when were houses built in the garden ?
EP. I remember them being built, but not when. Also there are the Rectory gardens, and you could go from these into Whitehall gardens.
MS. There were great nights on Saturdays at Whitehall, with the Jackfield Band playing.
EP. When I was little my dad would give me 6d for the silver collection when Jackfield band played on a Sunday evening at Whitehall. We did a lot of embroidery at school, cushion covers and things, and then the head teacher would have a stall at the Church Fete to sell them.
JR. All the life skills at Broseley School. What about The Lawns ?
FS. Before that, what about Bob Gough's house ?
EP. The Prestages, of the Prestage Tileries in Coalport Road, lived there.
JR. As in Prestage Close.
MS. We used to go blackberrying at The Tileries, and there was a big pool where we went skating, and old mineshafts. What happened to it all
JR. There have been a few shafts found since the houses were built there.
MS. They had three maids at Prestages. All the big houses kept maids.
EP. Mrs Prestage came to live at Angel House, a very old lady who had been a hospital matron. Next to Prestage House was Captain Collies' garden.
DC. So this garden was across the road from his house. Why has Bob Gough's house no proper frontage ? From the road it looks like an outbuilding.
MS. The house faces the other way.
EC. Why is there a section of railway line by Bob Goughs drive ? I once asked Bob and he told me not to be nosy.
JR. It perhaps goes back to the Prestages living there.
DL. It was major Prestage who died when dancing with Miss Hamilton at the Town Hall. ? The War put paid to the Broseley nobility, the doctors and the tennis club people.
MS. They all used to keep maids along Church Street, this was the only occupation going then NM. There were no vacuum cleaners so there was plenty of work for the maids.
JR. What did the women of the house do with their time all day ?
EP. Church work, charity work, all good works.
DC. Did the maids live in ?
MS. They had to, working from 6 in the morning to 12 at night.
EP. From fourteen when they left school.
JR. They left when they married ?
MS. Broseley hospital had a full staff - matron maids, ward maids and so on.
JR. Now, The Lawns. I only know that John Wilkinson lived there.
EC. John Rose the potter, of Coalport China, lived there first when it was called New House. Probably John Wilkinson gave it the name "The Lawns".
EP. Mr Shorting lived there when I was a girl.
MS. Ernest Shorting; he always smiled and said hello. He never married.
EP. When he died there was a sale. My mother bought some oil paintings, one of them is quite valuable. He died in the early forties. The grave is in the churchyard, near the path.
NM. Did Broseley have many children from Liverpool and so on during the war ?
EP. Yes, evacuees. The nuns brought them and they had their school classes at the rectory. Broseley School gave up half days now and again so they could have classrooms. If it was fine we used to play rounders with them on Broseley cricket pitch.
MS. The nuns lodged with the Davies's at the Old Post Office where I worked. I found the nuns very pleasant people.
EP. Many evacuees stayed on here and are now third generation. They were Catholics, and the boys went on to Coalbrookdale Institute. Some of them stayed with my uncle, who had three bedrooms. They came for their meals to our house. Dad caught one of them stabbing our settee with a knife and knocked him out. I remember the Catholic priest appeared. One boy told us that when the Heinz factory in Liverpool had been bombed his mother had cried and cried, so we took it that they all lived on baked beans.
FS. When Ernest Shorting died, who bought "The Lawns" ?
EP. There was Mr and Mrs Goss, then Miss Sharp, then Mr and Mrs Ralph Pee. MS. It's supposed to be haunted.
FS. When auctioned in 1946 it's said to have sold for £500.
JR. That must have been very cheap even for then - it's a big house. Ralph Pee was there in the seventies when we came. I remember the house being freezing cold when we once went there. Then Michael Berthoud was there with his wonderful collection of teapots.
EC. In what was called the new kitchen there was a range with a spit that was turned automatically by the heat from the range. The Broseley Society used to use the stable block.
FS. The Dramatic Society performed once upstairs in the stable block, but the following year there were new owners who didn't want us.
EC. We once polished the floor, becoming very intoxicated by the polish.
FS. Any polish left ?
PT. What about the beer signs on the wall ?
EC. A previous owner had dealt in beers and lagers.
FS. Obviously "The Lawns" had bigger gardens in its earlier days. Was Wilkinson Avenue part of the gardens ?
MS. No, that land belonged to the Prestages. A swimming pool there was proposed in the sixties.
NM. The tradespeople didn't want it. All the children cried when houses were built instead.
DC. There was a swimming pool fund, which still exists.
JR. Next door then, The Mint, where John Wilkinson minted his tokens.
EC. It had a strongroom, from which we have the door, reinforced with sheet iron.
FS. There is now an art gallery in the basement.
EP. The next house is built end-on, and Mrs Taylor lived there. There was a blacksmith's shop in Mr Boulton's courtyard, with the back wall on Church Street. When we were girls in the forties we used to watch Bert Meredith shoeing horses.
JR. In the wall at the back of the courtyard was an archway; what was through there ?
EC. Roger Smith had a nursery there. The registrar’s was at 6 Church Street.
EP. Yes, William Edge. He registered me
JR. The Rectory next. It's obviously changed - was some of the front removed ?
EP. Yes, there was much more to The Rectory. Mrs Jones, who lived in the iron topped house and was housekeeper to Rev Jackson, cooked the school dinners there. The front door was to the right of the present door, round the side, facing the church.
MS. There was the parish room, where we used to play table tennis in what was really Rev Jackson's dining room. Rev Jackson never locked the door, you just walked in.
EC. Are there any photos of the rectory as it was ?
EP. Perhaps in my old copy of the parish magazine for when I was married.
JR.It must have been a big kitchen to cook all the school meals.
EP. Yes, with a scullery and big boilers for cooking the vegetables. They used to do wedding receptions as well. You ate your school dinner in the room facing the church, with French windows opening to the garden.
JR. Then there's Broseley Hall, the big house set back.
NM. There was the lady who died.
EP. Her father was a solicitor in Ironbridge.
? Veronica West fell off the roof of the Hall.
EP. The Dixon family had lived there. They owned Dixon Engineering in Cockshot Lane. After Mr Dixon died his daughter Mrs Sylvester kept the factory on.
MT. My sister was secretary there.
JR. Was the Hall originally an ironmaster's house ?
EC. I used to guide tours of the hall when the Wests lived there. Pritchard, the designer of the Iron Bridge, had added ornate features, fireplaces and a Garden Temple at the top of the garden. The garden also had a three-seater loo. Alec West had taken the old roof off the hall and replaced it with a chipboard roof. Ken Sheffield spent a lot of money putting a proper roof back on.
JR. What about the buildings at the back, down the track by the church, associated with the hall ?
EP. They were cowsheds, now converted to a house, called The Malthouse.
JR. The church itself is not so old, being built in 1845, but it stands on the site of two previous churches.
FS. The chancel was intended to be longer, but its length was limited by the discovery of old mineshafts. The building was half paid for by Lord Forester for his brother the Hon Rev Orlando. When I came here there was still the gallery.
PT. What was the population of Broseley in those days ?
EC. Surprisingly high, around five thousand, but there was considerable emigration afterwards. NM. There would be eleven or twelve children in a family then.
JR. Lots of cottages have been demolished since then.
EC. Church Alley still runs by the side of The Lawns, but is now gated. In the church there is supposed to be a stained glass window hidden behind the organ.
FS. About 25 years ago the organ was moved from its position at the side of the church to what was believed to be its original position. The tower also used to have pinnacles.
EP. There have been big changes since my childhood. We had a vicar who made changes. The choir stalls were moved, the choir vestry was on the right where there is now the lady chapel, and the lady chapel was the little chapel on the left.
JR. And the gallery has gone. They say it used to be warmer in church when the gallery was there.
JR. What about the hospital ? Lady Forester donated the hospital. When was it built ?
MT. I’ll find it on the tape my mother made about the hospital. I think Much Wenlock was built first, then Llandudno, then Broseley. Lady Forester could see what was needed, she saw babies dying, she had her way and the town had a maternity ward.
FS. It was a comprehensive hospital, with an isolation hospital for diphtheria and scarlet fever.
MS. The isolation hospital was never used as such; no-one knew why. It was up Caughley Lane. Did the Gittens live there ?
EC. Yes. It caught fire and there was nothing left.
DC. It was a quarter of a mile past the Forester' Arms, just beyond the Tileries in the corner of a field. There is nothing to be seen now.
JR. What was there beside maternity at the Lady Forester hospital ?
MT. My mother when a child was badly burned. She spent 6 months there, probably saved her life. JR. Were not soldier casualties nursed there in the First War ?
EC. They carried out radium treatment, which resulted in some contaminated ground. DC. Where was the nurses home ?
EP. Down the little lane by the side of the churchyard. JR. How many patients did they have ?
NM. There were two maternity wards each with four mothers, and two big wards, male and female. EC. The hospital actually grew all its own produce.
EP. There were tennis courts for the nurses' recreation. There were more staff in those days.
JR. And opposite the hospital is The Deanery. Dr Bhageerutty lives there, and so did Maurice Hawes and family, but it had been built in 1910 for the two Misses Potts.
EP. Mrs Newell lived there and then had the bungalow built.
FS. It's an Edwardian house, with lovely floor tiles.
DC. It has a second, servants' staircase. I think The Lawns only has one. There are two at Broseley Hall.
FS Frank Selkirk
MS Mary Smith
EP Elsie Philpott
MT Mary Tipton
JR Janet Robinson
NM Neda Meynck
DC Dot Cox
EC Eric Cox
PT Peter Tyler
DL David Lake
Our thanks to all contributors - please let me have corrections and additions - David Lake.