Coalbrookdale and Madeley in 1841
Although Madeley, or Madeley-Market, was at one time remarkable for its excellent market, it can no longer be called a market-town, the market having been removed to Coalbrook-dale, about two miles from Madeley ; but as it is still held within the parish, and as under this head it is intended to make some mention of the celebrated district of Coalbrook-dale, Madeley may be properly noticed among the principal places within the county.
The population of the parish of Madeley, in 1831, was 5,822. It is situated within that extensive district known as the borough of Wenlock. It lies on the north side of the Severn, about sixteen miles from Shrewsbury.
Madeley does not appear to be a place of great antiquity, and it owes its rise and population to the extensive coal and iron works in the vicinity.
Coalbrook-dale is situated about two miles from Madeley, and lies in the valley of the Severn. The iron-works here are the most extensive in England. Coal is also raised in considerable quantities. In 1831, 350 men were employed in mines and coal-pits in the parish, but the number employed in the furnaces has not been ascertained. It may however be estimated that from 8,000 to 10,000 persons are so employed in the iron-works of the district, which are not confined to the parish of Madeley, but extend to Lilleshall, &c. By means of the Severn and the various canals previously described, the products of this vast manufacturing district are exported and distributed. This valley contains the first iron bridge erected in the country. It is over the river Severn, and consists of one arch, with a span of 100 feet 6 inches. It is composed of five ribs, each rib formed of three concentric arcs, connected by radiating pieces, each piece weighing 5 tons 15 cwt. The width of the roadway is 25 feet, and the height from the base-line to the centre of the bridge is 40 feet. The total weight of iron employed in the structure is 378 tons 10 cwt. It was erected in 1779, in a space of little more than three months. The success attending this experiment induced, in 1796, the erection of a similar bridge, from a plan of Telford's, over the Severn at Buildwas, about two miles above Coalbrook-dale. The span of this arch is 130 feet.' In the neighbourhood of Madeley there is a manufacture of coal-tar carried on. The spring of petroleum, or fossil-tar, at Broseley, is noticed under the article BROSELEY. The manufacture of china and other ware at Coalport has been noticed in treating of the manufactures of the county. There are three annual fairs at Madeley. The living is a vicarage, of the average net income of £241.
There were two infant-schools and eighteen day-schools in this parish in 1835. To one of the latter, containing about 100 children of both sexes, a lending-library is attached, to which children and any other persons may have access on payment of 1 penny per month. In the remaining seventeen schools there are about 500 children, and in all of them the education is at the expense of the parents. There are six Sunday-schools, three in connection with the Established Church, the remainder with Wesleyan Methodists. Small libraries are attached to two of the former, and in all of them the instruction is gratuitous. A house of industry was built on some charity lands here, and leased to the church-wardens and overseers for the use of the poor at a rent of £18, which is applied in clothing for the poor.