Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

MADELEY-MARKET, a market-town and parish within the liberties of the borough of WENLOCK, county of SALOP, 4½ miles (S.W. by W.) from Shiffnall, 15 (S.E.) from Shrewsbury, and 148 (N.W.) from London, containing 5379 inhabitants. The name of this town indicates its situation between two rivers, and its adjunct was founded on the grant of a market, in the time of Henry III., to a community of Cluniac monks at Wenlock, to whom Madeley then belonged. After the disastrous battle of Worcester, in 1651, Charles II. obtained a temporary shelter in a house and barn then occupied by Mr. Wolfe, and situated near the church, which are still remaining. Madeley occupies a rising ground, and extends to Colebrook-dale, which is environed by lofty hills and hanging woods, and in which are the most extensive iron-works in England, with foundries, furnaces, and all the complicated machinery requisite to so vast an establishment.

Across the Severn is a cast-iron bridge of one arch, erected in 1779, the span of which is one hundred feet six inches, and the height from the base line to the centre, forty feet; the total weight of iron being three hundred and seventy-eight tons; all the principal parts were erected in three months, without any accident, or the least obstruction to the navigation of the river: this part of the parish derives its name of Iron-Bridge from this stupendous undertaking. About two miles south-eastward from Madeley, at the junction of the Shropshire canal with the Severn, is Coalport, where coal is landed from the extensive mines and numerous works in the neighbourhood, and conveyed thence to different parts of the counties of Gloucester and Worcester, annually to the average extent of fifty thousand tons; here is likewise a porcelain manufactory, which affords employment to nearly five hundred persons} a manufactory of Wedgwood's ware, a rope-yard, timber-yard, and a mill for extracting linseed oil, which is turned by a wheel two hundred and forty feet in circumference.

A neat iron bridge was constructed across the river at this point in 1817, instead of a former one of wood; and not far distant a tunnel, about one mile in length, and partially arched with brick, was begun and intended as a more direct conveyance for coal, but was never completed; from the interstices at the sides, tar flows, and falling on the surface of a small stream, which runs in a narrow channel at the entrance, is there deposited, and at convenient periods is collected, and put into barrels; when the tunnel was first formed, the quantity obtained exceeded one barrel per diem, but now it is not more than twenty barrels per annum. The original market having fallen into disuse, it was revived about 1763, when a new market-house was erected, near the foot of the iron bridge in Colebrook-dale, two miles distant from the site of the first structure, and named Madeley-wood market. The market is on Friday; and fairs are held January 26th, May 29th, and October 12th. This place is within the jurisdiction of a court of requests, for the recovery of debts under 40s., which extends over the parishes of Broseley, Benthall, Madeley, Barrow, Linley, Willey, Little Wenlock, and Dawley, and the extra-parochial place called Posnall, held under an act passed in the 22nd of George III.

The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Salop, and diocese of Hereford, rated in the king's books at £4. 17. 10., and in the patronage of Kynaston, Esq. The church is dedicated to All Saints; the ancient structure, which exhibited several specimens of early Norman architecture, was pulled down in 1796, when the present edifice was erected. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists, also a Roman Catholic chapel. The house of industry was completed in 1797, at an expense of £1086. 14. 7½, on a piece of ground belonging to the poor; of this sum, £806. 13. 6. was raised by subscription, and £235. 15. by the sale, for nine hundred and ninety-nine years, subject to nominal rents, of certain property previously held in trust for the benefit of the poor.

In the different strata of coal, iron-ore, and sand-stone, which abound in this neighbourhood, numerous petrifactions, with impressions of animal and vegetable substances, of various kinds, have been found. The Rev. John William Fletcher, a native of Switzerland, whose work, entitled "Checks to Antinomianism", is a standard theological work, and whose character is so universally known and so deservedly admired, was appointed to the vicarage of Madeley in 1760, which preferment he held during the remainder of his life, and at his death, in 1785, was interred in the churchyard.

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