Another gem from the collection of John Steele and contributed by Michelle Jones. A promotional booklet for Telford from 1972. It is a substantial piece of literature, with some ‘interesting’ design features like the red tint heavily applied to some of the photos. I’d be interested to find out why that was considered en vogue!
You can download the entire Telford Opportunity Brochure (4MB PDF) that I have re-created from the scans, but I’ll go through the entire document page by page, trying to identify the photographs on the pages, and comment on the copy. Bear in mind that the pages that appear on this page are low-res to aid speed of loading, the PDF pages are much more readable.
This cover features in main area some of the flora and fauna that was designed to attract families to Telford from the overcrowded and poor housing areas of the West Midlands. A theme that we will see develop through the brochure.
Top Left: Fishing on the banks of the River Severn with the world famous Ironbridge seen in background. Idyllic eh?
Top Right: Early Sutton Hill scene. The wooden play house and small ply areas, safe from traffic were a feature of all the early housing estates in Telford. Imagine looking at this scene sitting in a small high-rise flat in Birmingham. You can see how attractive Telford must have been.
The second of three photos of the Ironbridge that appear in this promotional booklet. Its interesting to see the management of expectations in the last part of the text. ‘You may see some things you don’t like’ but Telford Development Corporation were spending time and money putting this right in short order.
Statistics are rolled out like a red carpet to the West Midlands visitors. Unfortunately, like some things we’ll move onto in this brochure, some of Telfords great successes are no longer. In this case, the breeding Nightingales are no more.
Although many of the photos in these brochures of the time are recycled, I don’t recall seeing this anywhere else. The stylised map with cartoon people is not in the same league as the London Underground schematic, and the swift at the top of the page looks like it would be more at home on the neck of 70s Bilston labourer than a map of Telford.
Interesting to see what would become the M54 labelled as the A5 By Pass, and Queensway as the Primary Distributor looking almost like a ring-road.
Main photo showing a bright and clean Woodside estate in Telford, the copy in the booklet claiming it to be ‘the Midlands busiest showhouse’. Bring your grandparents, WTF?
The two photos on the left & centre columns are Sutton Hill, the other three photos in the right column are Woodside. Typical 70s copy that wouldn’t be seen today is the reference to shops and services being close by for the housewife. Many households of the time would have seen stay at home Mums with the man going out to do manual work. I know this was the case, I use to life here. Many families lived here without cars, walking to Madeley three or four times a week to pick up shopping with the kids in a pram or pushchair was a common sight.
I don’t know what the Parker Morris standard was, but these houses were large compared to private homes. Built to good standards? That’s debatable. The instructions given to developers was to build quickly and cheaply. The houses on Sutton Hill are timber framed and many have front walls of tiles hung on a sparsely insulated wooden frame. .
Jobs. The small photo features rows of women operating small hand presses in some sort of assembly line. The large photo features a nifty Renault 16 outside the gleaming industrial units of Tweedale, Telfords first industrial estate. Part of Tweedale is being demolished as the units fall into disrepair.
More industry, still Tweedale as the other Telford industrial areas were yet to rise up out of the ground and the industry that existed around the area at Snedshill & Oakengates probably looked as Victorian as the factories and areas Telford was trying to distance itself from.
Top picture: Tweedale, the factory in the foreground was once Edward Roses in 1977. My father worked here as a tool setter and he taught me to drive a fork lift when I was 10 so we could set up the presses during the weekend to make sure production of Rover badges (for the SD1 model) wasn’t affected. Health and Safety? Pfft. I never did get paid for that!
Second top picture: Another shot of Tweedale.
Third from top: Looks like this might be Sankeys? Assembling large axles.
Bottom: two pictures: Not sure.
The top picture is clearly a kid on a swing and could be anywhere. I’m struggling to identify the school in the bottom picture. Do you know?
Anthony Goodwin suggested: Abraham Darby School – E Block
The school in these pictures are most likely Woodside County School, now gone. Thanks to Anthony Goodwin for the ID!
Another two pictures of the Ironbridge on this page, with references to the as yet undeveloped Town Park.
Top picture: Artists impression of the Madeley Court Centre which was demolished in 2012.
Red picture: Unusual play area. You’re not kidding. Those are actually train carriages. I have no recollection of this at all. Did they make it up?
Football Picture: Improptu my ass. You had to pay to get on that Red Gra pitch, and you left half your leg there if you even attempted a slide tackle. No one wanted to be goalie.
The text here predicts accurately the golf, ice skating, skiing, cinemas, swimming, rowing and other developments They may have taken another 30 years to appear to it was all in the vision.
Shopping is something people travel miles to Telford to engage in, while many in Telford do anything to avoid. The main photo here is of Russell Square in Madeley. The main building is still there but much of this area was demolished in 2010 to make way for the new Tesco development and regeneration of Madeley as a shopping district centre. The top of the building is Madeley Library, the bottom used to be a furniture store. I met a manager of the store about 15 years ago who told me how difficult it was to obtain HP credit for all the families wanting to buy furniture for their new council houses.
Incredible that the references to an area next to the shopping centre, a regional entertainment centre, sounds very much like the Southwater Development currently under way.
Four pictures of Sutton Hill here, The red ones feature the infamous Red Admiral public house. Rough doesn’t describe it. I went in twice when I lived on Sutton Hill in the 80s. The pub opened in 1968 and burned to the ground in 2006. A regeneration project including upgrading the school has taken place too, so it doesn’t look much like this anymore.
Separating the pedestrians using ‘linked levels’ is a reference to Severn Walk. Nicknamed locally as ‘The Bronx’ it was a series of flats and maisonettes that was a no go area even for local residents. Unlettable, the area was redeveloped into more traditional streets and houses.
Now flat, the Madeley Court Centre was state of the art back in 1972. I learned to swim in its strange U shaped pool.
The school long had a reputation of being less that great, culminating in an appearance in The Sun newspaper. Madeley Academy has since replaced the school.
Impact Information who designed this brochure, was formed in 1969, and was dissolved in 2004. John Rea who took the photos for this died in 2010.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this brochure or memories of Telford in the 60s & 70s. Leave them below. Thanks for reading.