Broseley in 1836
BROSELEY, a market-town and parish on the river Severn, in the extensive district called Wenlock Franchise, Shropshire, 13 miles S.E. from Shrewsbury, 9 miles N. from Bridgenorth, and 130 miles N.W. from London. Its area contains 1,550 English statute acres, and a population, in 1831, of 2,158 males, and 2,141 females. The market-day is Wednesday ; an annual fair is held on Easter Monday. The living is a rectory, united with the rectory of Linley, the gross annual income of which is £539.
The population of Broseley are chiefly employed in the coal and iron mines of the district. In the Population Returns of 1831 it is stated that ‘the parish of Broseley has experienced a decrease of population (515 persons), ascribed to the cessation of five iron blast furnaces ; 126 persons are employed in mines.’ The parish is divided from Coal-Brooke Dale by the Severn.
Broseley contains three daily schools, four day and boarding schools, and six Sunday schools. (Education Returns, 1835.)
A spring of petroleum or fossil tar was discovered here, in 1711. by an inhabitant of the place. This individual heard a noise in the night, about two nights after a remarkable day of thunder. At a boggy place, under a little hill, about 200 yards from the Severn, on digging up a part of the earth, water rose to a great height, and a candle set it on fire. The ‘burning well,’ as it was termed, was shown for several years as a curiosity, until the supply of petroleum failed. The spring broke out again, in 1747, in a similar way, about 10 yards from the old well. About 1752. the spring was cut into by driving a level in search of coal. The quantity of petroleum which then issued was about three or four barrels a day: but in 1797 there seldom flowed more than half a barrel in the same time. In 1802 the production was about 15 gallons per week. At Pitchford, a few miles from Broseley, is a coarse-grained sandstone, highly impregnated with petroleum.
In the parish of Broseley salt is said to have been made from water taken out of pits, still called the Salt-house Pits.