The Town Centre from the west
|Population:||162,300 (2009 est.)|
|Council:||Telford and Wrekin|
Telford is a town in Shropshire. It is a New Town, designated in 1963 as "Dawley New Town" and redesignated more ambitiously and as "Telford" in 1968. It was built in the 1960s and 1970s, and bears all the hallmarks of that age.
Telford lies some 13 miles east of the county town, Shrewsbury, and 30 miles west of Birmingham. With an estimated population of 162,300 in 2009, Telford is by far the largest town in Shropshire, and one of the fastest growing towns in the United Kingdom.
The town is named after Thomas Telford, a man of Dumfriesshire but who served as Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire from 1787 and built 40 bridges in the county, and later built the London to Holyhead trunk road and the bridge to carry it to Anglesey. Telford's work as an engineer and architect spanned the British Isles and many disciplines, though he is most famous as "The Colossus of Roads". Thomas Telford died in 1834 and twenty years later the first town was named after him (in Pennsylvania). It was 134 years before a town was after him in his own country.
The town was built in the 1960s and 1970s as a new town on previously industrial and agricultural land. Like other planned towns of the era, Telford was created from the merging of other, smaller towns and villages, most notably the towns of Wellington, Oakengates, Madeley and Dawley. Telford Shopping Centre, a modern shopping mall, was built at the new town's geographical centre, along with an extensive Town Park. The M54 motorway was completed in 1983, connecting the town with the Black Country.
Telford now includes Ironbridge Gorge, a scenic tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town advertises itself as "The Birthplace of Industry", due to its proximity to Coalbrookdale and other places in the Ironbridge Gorge area, which are internationally recognised as being important to the Industrial Revolution, and being to a large extent constructed on the Shropshire Coalfield. The River Severn flows along its southernmost boundary.
The Roman road known as Watling Street came through here. Farmland surrounded three large estates in the tenth century, namely Wellington, Wrockwardine and Lilleshall. The first "new town" hereabout was Madeley, a village built by Wenlock Priory. Six monastic houses, founded in the 11th and 12th centuries, had large interests in the area's economic growth. They collectively acquired almost half of the area, and profited from coal and ironstone mines and iron smithies on their estates until the Reformation swept them away.
The New Town was first designated on 16 January 1963 as Dawley New Town, covering 9,100 acres of Dawley and surrounding areas. Development started, guided by the Dawley New Town Development Corporation, with the first homes on the new Sutton Hill housing estate occupied in 1967. Initial planning and design concepts for Dawley New Town were produced by the Birmingham-based John Madin Design Group.
The Minister proposed an extension of 12,000 acres in 1968 (taking in the historic area of Ironbridge Gorge), which saw objections and a public inquiry take place. The Dawley New Town (Designation) Amendment (Telford) Order was made on 29 November 1968, extending the New Town area by 10,143 acres of "land lying within the urban districts of Oakengates and Wellington and the rural districts of Shifnal and Wellington". This Order also renamed the new town Telford, after the Dumfriesshire-born civil engineer Thomas Telford who had some local connection. Other suggested names at the time were “Dawelloak” and “Wrekin Forest City”.
Most of the infrastructure was constructed from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s with the major housing and commercial development occurring over three decades up to the early 1990s when the Development Corporation was wound up to be replaced by the Commission for the New Towns, later English Partnerships, and most of the property was handed over to the then Wrekin District Council. In 1983, after fierce opposition and three public enquiries, the M54 motorway was completed, connecting the town to the M6 and thence the rest of the UK's motorway network. Other major roads are the A5, A518 and A442, which is commonly known as the Eastern Primary or EP, and is officially branded Queensway.
Many of the new town's residents were originally from Birmingham and the Black Country. The vast majority of the council house tenants in Telford were rehoused from inner city slums in Birmingham. Some controversy and bad feeling still exists in some communities as a result of what some saw as the influx of those from the city slums. The name "overspill" was often used as a derogatory term for these residents. Some individuals still refuse to put Telford in their address, instead using the original local name (such as Wellington or Dawley).
In 2007, a £250 million regeneration plan for the town centre was announced, which will include the pedestrianisation of the road surrounding the shopping centre, and the creation of new cafés, bars and shops intended to create 1,750 new jobs. The reason for this expansion is that the original "centre" was only ever a shopping place with no real heart (See Shropshire Star June 3, 2004). Since the "centre" closed early evening, there was no nightlife at all in the area, the only major local entertainment areas being in Oakengates and Wellington.
Telford town centre lies approximately 13 miles east-southeast of Shrewsbury and 15 miles northwest of Wolverhampton. The town comprises 30.13 square miles and its southern and eastern parts, between the Severn Gorge and Donnington Wood, include the East Shropshire coalfield, which drive the early industrial revolution in the Severn Gorge.
The town centre stands on a watershed, with land to the south draining towards the River Severn, and to the north the land slopes gently down towards the Weald Moors.
The town is dominated by the Wrekin, a large hill of 1,335 feet found sout-west of Wellington.
Sights about Telford
The commercial centre of the town is the aptly named Telford Town Centre, located off Junction 5 of the M54 motorway. Here stands the large Telford Shopping Centre (and the accompanying Town Park), various office blocks, such as the blue office towers (Telford Plaza), and the Windsor Life building. The Forge retail park and a large Odeon Cinema are also located in the area, as well as Thomas Telford School, which is within walking distance. Telford also houses one of the Midland's only ice skating rinks near the newly built Telford International Centre (TIC). The TIC comprises a number of hall and event spaces. It holds parties, conferences, concerts and is the current home of the UK Snooker Championship in December.
A major Shropshire landmark, also now part of Telford, is The Iron Bridge, in Ironbridge. It was the first bridge of its size in the world made out of cast iron. In the same area is the Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most important landmark in the area is The Wrekin.
The Lilleshall Monument was erected to the Duke of Sutherland, and has recently been restored.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- National Statistics, 2009
- "History of Telford". British History Online. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=18062. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
- London Gazette. 18 January 1963.
- London Gazette. 13 December 1968.
- "BBC Shropshire - Redevelopment scheme unveiled". BBC News. 2007-10-19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/shropshire/7053156.stm. Retrieved 2007-10-19.