The Floods in Coalport Road, Broseley
BROSELEY LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY
The Wilkinson Society.
MEMORY MEETING No. 3
1st November 2000, revised to 5.09.01.
FLOODS AND COALPORT ROAD.
JM. In the great flood of 1946 no trains were running, and the buses could only get to Dale End; the Wharfage was terrible. I was trying to get back to Broseley. The Free Bridge was OK. The floods this year have been worse than in'46.
FS This month has seen one of the highest floods for a long time; we should be recording it.
JR The Free Bridge itself has been open, but Waterloo Street and The Lloyds were flooded.
MH When I lived in Ironbridge people were regularly flooded between November and February, especially in 1946. We used to have collections for them.
NM The low-built cottage in Jackfield is always getting flooded.
FS This year The Boat has been flooded again, and there was a half-submerged car on the car park. At the old Half Moon the water was halfway up the ground floor. The house recently built across from the Black Swan has been flooded
EP In 1946 my dad worked at the Power Station, and the only way they could get to work was by walking along the railway line from Ironbridge to the Power Station.
DL What has been the state of the Coalport Bridge ?
? The river has been up to the arches, but OK for traffic.
JO In the '46 flood only Harry Rogers was able to get around in his coracle, taking bread to the neighbours. I stood with Ken Morris at the bottom of Tontine Hill, looking over the wall at all the water coming down. Jones the Post Office took our picture. Next morning the wall had been washed away into the river. Winters are not as hard as they used to be; my mother used to tell me how, when she was young, the ferrymen had to stay up all night to fend off the icefloes from smashing their boat. That was the ferry that was there before the Free Bridge.
JR And the river is warmer now because of the Power Station.
EC By about 5 degrees
EP The Wheatland Hunt often used to meet there
DL When was the function room at the back erected ? It's a period piece like the Forest Glen.
JR Lord Forester has applied to demolish and replace it - you'd better object
DC Our president Mary Smith had both her wedding reception and her diamond wedding there, so its got to be 60 years old.
JR Does anyone know how old the actual Forester Arms is ?
DC When was the Scout Hut erected ? The scouts and guides had met in the Town Hall.
EP The hut was built not so long ago, probably when the Town Hall was demolished
JO There is a very old house that stands back from Avenue Road, where the Butler family lived. There was Lewis Butler.
JR Backtracking somewhat to Dark Lane, where Rev and Mrs Pope live -
GP For our house to be built an old cottage had to be demolished. Its garden ran down to what was called the mixen, underneath which was a vast underground cavity, big enough to take two double-deckers.
FS It was built as a water reservoir, but the ground was undermined and so it leaked. It's opened up occasionally to test for gas.
JO The mixen or midden was the town rubbish dump. The council used to have it emptied by Caggie Lane, with his horse and cart.
SH I used to work there. As I was the youngest there I used to go to the Forester Arms for a jug of tea. This was when tea and sugar were rationed..
I went to The Tileries in 1951 for an office job, but when I got there the manager had already taken on an office girl, so I ended up in the laboratory. This was the time of Direction of Labour; the boss of the lab had moved from a reserved occupation at the Court Works, but he had done so without permission, so he got called up for his National Service. This left me in charge, I was the chemist, analysing the clay that was being dug from the Caughley Drift Mine.
Before this the manufacture of tiles had finished, and they had tried making insulating bricks, which were used to back up the actual refractory bricks which were in contact with the molten metal in a furnace. When Coalmoor Refractories took over they opened up the Caughley Drift Mine to get clay suitable for refractories.
In the office we used to get letters from all over the world. Our tiles were highly regarded. There is a house in Dark Lane by the path going to the Down Well, and the red tiles look perfect after eighty years.
GP My grandfather built that house, completing it in 1911. My father was born there in 1912. The bricks and tiles are actually Exley's.
DL Where was the Caughley Drift Mine ?
SH I used to have to cycle to it, down a little lane with cottages on the left
DC This would be Rough Lane. Did The Tileries occupy all the land that became the new estate?
SH The Tileries were quite big, but not that big. They appended perhaps to what is now Forester Road. There was a pool, and a field beyond it.
EP There was a little cottage at the end of the tileries The Dodds lived there. There were two rail lines that ran across the Coalport Road, down to the Deep Pit, wherenow, a bungalow has been built on the pit mound.
JR There were still rails crossing the Coalport Road in 1972
SH They said that. a boy had been killed by black damp when playing by the Deep Pit.
JR What is Black Damp?
SH Carbon monoxide, which is odourless and very poisonous.
DC Are there any signs of the tileries still left?
JR Yes, the clay and pieces of tile in our back gardens there.
DC Was the pool the result of quarrying for the tileries?
SH There was nice red clay all round it but as far as I know it was just the farmer's field.
JR So where the pool was there are now houses.
SH And by the Forester Arms there was a garden with low curving walls round it, the sort of garden that is never dug.
DL Was the analysis of the clay to look for things that would be bad for tiles ?
SH Not for tiles. By my time they were making the refractory bricks, I was analysing the clay for silica and alumina - high alumina is good in refractories. The insulating bricks made before I came were of a sort of spongy structure. Our fireclay from the Caughley Drift Mine was better than the Coalmoor clay for refractories.
JR Were you there till they closed ? When was that?
SH No, they moved the lab to Coalmoor.
FS The closure was probably 1970, with the estate building starting in 1972.
EC Are there any photographs of the tileries ?
EP No-one would have thought it worth a photograph except perhaps Ron Miles. It was so ramshackle and higgledy, piggledy - the office was the best bit. Who owned Coalmoor Refractories when you were there ?
SH His name was Mr Allen, from the Lightmoor area. We were called Coalmoor Refractories because the first place that he bought was Coalmoor, at the top of Jigger’s Bank, by Stony Hill to the right as you go along towards Horsehay. After that he bought Lightmoor, and then Broseley. He didn't do so much in Broseley except for the manufacture of refractories.
JO, CT The Coalport Road was a toll road; there were toll cottages just past Forester Road, another at the bottom of Sutton Bank, and one just past the cemetery.
JR So you had to pay to go down Coalport Road, and again to go over the bridge ?
JO Broseley folk called the tollgate the catchgate; it caught you to pay the toll
NM Who got all these tolls ?
SD The Turnpike Commission trustees, representing the parishes who were responsible for the upkeep of the roads.
EP There is the very old cottage in Coalport Road, just after the John Wilkinson School. When I was a girl Mr and Mrs Salter lived there. There was nothing on thatside after the cottage until you came to Folly Farm and the cottages by the farm.
DC And then there was The Amies, a sizeable, rectangular, black-and-white place, Tudor perhaps. It was demolished in the 1890's; now there are only some depressions in the field.
DL How did it compare with The Tuckies ?
DC Not as large; we have a photograph of it.
JR And then Preen's Eddy; how did it get its name ?
CT The Woodbridge used to be called Preen's Eddy Bridge. The name applies to the area, and there is Preen's Head on the OS map. Ward's Tyning also comes in Preen's Eddy. My house is 261/262 Preen's Eddy, and where my garage is now once was 263/264; I think they were numbered from Jackfield. Ron Miles could tell us a lot about the area; he said that there used to be a stone riverside toll-house for boats entering the Gorge, on the riverside field next to the Severn Valley Way, somewhere below my cottage.
The initials belong to:
JM John Mepham
FS Frank Selkirk
SH Sue Harvey
NM Neda Meyrick
EP Elsie Philpott
DL David Lake
JO Jack Owen
JR Janet Robinson
DC Dot Cox
EC Eric Cox
GP Gillian Pope
CT Cicely Taylor
Our thanks to all contributors. Please let me have corrections and additions - David Lake.
A s t.