When the new town established in East Shropshire acquired the name `Telford' in 1968, sign boards set up on major roads entering the designated area announced, `Telford - Birthplace of Industry'. This reflected an earlier label applied to one of the historic areas within the New Town's boundary - Coalbrookdale: Cradle of the Industrial Revolution'. No doubt other areas in the country could claim a part in the origins of this seminal movement, but East Shropshire certainly had a major role in the development of the coal, iron and clay industries in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Today, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, with its ten different sites, encapsulates this story.
The extractive and heavy manufacturing industries of the East Shropshire (Coalbrookdale) Coalfield declined in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, only to be briefly revived during the two World Wars, but the advent of the New Town in the late 1960s saw the setting up of industrial estates, which attracted a multitude of new light engineering, technical, food and service industries.
This book surveys the range of industrial activity in East Shropshire from previous centuries to the present, and complements Neil Clarke's previous books on the transport history of the coalfield and it surrounding market towns.
Neil Clarke is a respected historian from Shropshire with a particular interest in the history of transport in the region. He is a Friend of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, and is in contact with the librarian/archivist who is willing to help him with images. He grew up in the area and has lived in Shropshire all his life, so he is very familiar with its history, and his involvement with a local historical society means that he knows what local history and transport enthusiasts want from this book.