Telford History

History: Telford – Your Opportunity

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.

Front Cover:
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.

Page 1:

Page 2

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.

Page 3:

Page 3

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.

Page 4

Page 4

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?

Page 5:

Page 5

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. .

Page 6:

Page 6

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.

Page 7:

Page 7

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.

Page 8:

Page 8

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

Page 9:

Page 9

The school in these pictures are most likely Woodside County School, now gone.  Thanks to Anthony Goodwin for the ID!

Page: 10

Page 10

Another two pictures of the Ironbridge on this page, with references to the as yet undeveloped Town Park.

Page 11:

Page 11

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.

Page 12:

Page 12

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.

Page 13:

Page 13

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.

Page 14:

Page 14This is a map showing how central Telford is. Probably of more use to businesses than the residents of Birmingham high-rises.

Page 15:

Page 15

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.

Back Cover:

Back Cover

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.


22 thoughts on “History: Telford – Your Opportunity

  • If any piece of literature could give off a “70’s” vibe – this is the one!!

  • My father William Jones was Regional Chief Engineer for the West Midlands Gas Board based In Stoke -on -Trent and was responsible for all the pipelines supplying gas to the new estates from the time Telford was going to be known as Dawley New Town. A day out for us as children often involved a trip to Telford where mum spent her time trying to keep 3 children entertained in a car parked in the middle of a building site ( Brookside, Woodside or Sutton Hill I think) while my Dad wandered off looking down various large holes in the ground. My parents both attended the opening ceremony for the town at Oakengates.

  • I recently viewed some similar promotional material for the new town held in Wellington library; fascinating documents with wonderful graphic design and use of colour.

  • i probably know you , i worked at edward rose for 23 yrs starting in 1986 and my dad was also a tool setter there and we lived at sutton hill from 1967 to 1985, it was brand new when we moved in , lovely place to live, you even needed references and a job to get a place, then after a few yrs they started letting allsorts in and by the early 80,s with the council not looking after the estate and general undesireables we were glad to get out , been back a few times and it had got a lot worse, the houses had only got a life of 25yrs so i,m amazed there still standing, going on to the madeley court school i went there from 75 to 80 and it was ok , even when i tell people today that one of my lessons was skiing they,re suprised to say the least, but can,t understand why they pulled it down it was only 40yrs old

    • I was sad to see the school demolished the only thing that’s left there now is the Ski Slope. They knocked down the sports centre a few years ago too. I attended the Madeley Court school during the 90’s after moving from another secondary school it was the only school in the area to have no school uniform.

  • I have really enjoyed reading the brochure. You mention the railway carriages at the Woodside centre. Yes they were there! We moved to Woodside (Wildwood) in Oct 1973 and they were the only place for toddlers to play. No nurseries back then! Here’s a few things to get readers thinking about Telford. Do you remember?
    – At the original Town Centre – the centre fountain? With thin wires dangling from the ceiling?
    – Carrefour supermarket and it’s first floor café (with funky coloured windows)!
    – The weekly Friday cinema night at the Woodside Centre (and others)? Showing films such as Jaws and Close Encounters about 9 months after they had been shown at The Clifton in Wellington. Also Sat mornings for kids with delights such as: Digby the Biggest Dog in the World!!

  • brings back lots of memories my father got a job transfer from brownhills where we lived and we got a new house in spout way malinslee in 1974 , i went to the school in malinslee i remember it being such a clean and happy street which it is defiantly not now as its so run down, many happy times in town park with just two lakes and no play area, and the castle on the hill which was a great place to play in not sure if its still there now as live in ketley , telford could be so much better x

  • I remember all of the above there are worst places to live for sure. Though the estates could be looked after better I will agree (government cuts) I guess!!! Used to be so well kept not now though!!!

  • What happy memories, first moving to Weybridge, Woodside, wonderful neighbours my mother Jean Stokes was a registered Child minder. I was at Abraham Darby School in the British Youth choir around 1974/75 . Won Miss Woodside then very funny looking back big collar blouse and wedgy shoes. Lots and lots of wonderful memories, House was so well built and designed like so many at the time a perfect place to live clean and tidy. Remember the outdoor Woodside swimming pool where I did serious damage to my knee. Wonderful Youth clubs and activities. Oh if only we could go back in time.

  • I lived in Telford from 1970 to 1979. Lived in Sutton Heights as it was referred to then before golf course was built . We used to as kids walk to Coalbrookdale and the tar tunnel ! I remember the town centre with the fountain. All happy memories. Went to Alexander Fleming school then Madley Court. Happy days.

    • I lived in Telford in the early 70’s and went to Alexander Fleming school.. seem to recall our class was a block across the playground…

  • i was born in st georges in 1932 went to school where the park care home is now, when i left at 14 i went to work at the granville pit, during the build up to d day in 1944 ,they stored guns similar to the ones on the island at donnington, on st georges by pass or the new road as we called it ,there was three rows of guns two on the grass verges and one on the one side of the road leaving half the road clear for access ,this open piece of road was a problem for us eleven year olds as we had to get across to go swimming in the rough razz pool not where the pool is now but beyond the railway line from the woodhouse pit which had closed in 1941,the problem was it was guarded by sentries with rifles but we waited till they turned their backs and ran across clutching our towels and cossies,

  • I moved to Telford in 1986 and it has changed so much since. I love looking at old pictures.
    My boyfriend lives in Sutton Hill, in a 3 story house which used to be flats/maisonettes in an area called ‘Severn Walk’. He mentioned pedestrian walkways and its interesting to read that this area (Page 13) used to be referred to as ‘The Bronx’…
    I have been looking for any pictures I can find of the area and if possible what the layout of the flats/maisonettes which are now his house. This site is a great start, thank you.

  • my family moved to severn walk in april 1969 lived there until april1971 moved in to a brand new 3 story 4 bedroom house ,it was amazing, brothers went to alexander fleming shool , and I went to Abraham derby school , enjoyed the time we lived there,

  • Lived on woodside from 1976to1993 went th the abraham darby school and woodside junior school was nice to the early 90s played footy for spalaig tornadoes how things change

    • Hi andy I lived at 43 wildwood for 6 years where did you live?

      • Willowfield in the 80s and early 90s

  • Searching for all my old mates at st George’s Junior School 1972… remember the trip to Shetland? And my Scout friends Vinnie, Tommo, Neil and all the rest…anyone remember or know the guys? Would love to have contact again…

  • What a great shame that the council decided it was more cost effective to build the new (but in my opinion) vastly inferior & limited Abraham Darby SLC rather than refurbish the excellent, versatile and widely used Madeley Court Centre. Madeley Court Centre really was innovative for its time. I actually quite liked the strange U-shaped pool it was certainly a lot more versatile than the pathetic, height changing nonsense-of-a-pool that its been replaced by.

    There is also more than a little irony that one key person involved in making the final decision in Madeley Court’s demise was also one of its earliest managers, a certain Cllr Arnold England. I’m sure he felt he had good reason, but he certainly struggled to explain it to me at the time!.

    I do wish Telford people would be a lot more vocal in opposing some of these ridiculous council decisions, our local leisure facilities are being decimated. Football pitches in particular are being built on at a shocking rate in Telford & Wrekin. Again, it’s somewhat ironic that our Council’s Chief of Finance also used to be Chairman of our local Football Club!.

    I guess there’s a lot of truth in the saying “People don’t know what they’ve lost, until its gone!”.

  • Lived in the area I think known as Sutton Heights from 74 to 80 and attended Alexander Fleming school before moving to Manchester. My dad moved here to open the Boots store in the new Shopping Centre at the same time as Sainsbury and Carrefour. This brochure brings back so many happy memories. We used to roam so freely around Sutton Hill and Madeley and remember swimming and canoeing with cubs at Madeley Court pool. Remember the visit of Prince Charles for 200th anniversary of Ironbridge and still got my TDC celebratory book. Just returned nearly 40 years later with my son for a trip around Ironbridge and Telford not sure it will all be as I remember. Wonder whatever happened to my mates the Tranter twins, Kevin Boakes, the Wades, the Perrins, and the Semples.

  • I lived at sand Croft suttonhill as a child with my parents older brother and baby brother but my sister and I hav the best memories playing having picnics on the garage roofs in summer and how safe it was on the estate we were so happy and always remember it being sunny and smell of grass getting cut by the large machines our house I loved so much beautiful houses so big and spacious also garden so big it was a wounderful place too live we also went too Fleming primary school which we loved so much even the back of school was all green and trees we had a best childhood there and we had no computers and mobile phones really enjoyed looking at pictures thank you love too hear from anyone who rembers is Jeanette and Debbie clark

  • It was a colleague’s birthday, so I went looking for what I might have been doing on this day in 1969 and found this accidentally. I’m in the background for the internal shot of Woodside School and I was only there from 1969 to 1971 transferring from “The Green school” (aka Madeley Wood) which is near to the Golden Ball pub when it closed.

    In the large outdoor shot the three prominent boys were in the year below me and later became close friends they (Left to Right) are Jim (now Deceased), Chris with the football last known to be in Broseley and Paul living in Dawley who I spoke with recently.

    I can confirm that the picture on page 8 is of the main entrance to The Abraham Darby School, with E block in front. Leading to the right was the now filled-in underpass where fights often took place after school or the first cigarette was lit up on the way home. This was a transitional time with a mix of established families from Ironbridge, Madeley etc and a huge influx of incomers including “problem families”, former prisoners etc. By a strange paradox, many of my classmates came on the bus from Albrighton, because the Abraham Darby was a Comprehensive School and they would have otherwise have had to attend a Secondary Modern (Idsall School I think?) having not passed the 11+.

    Raising of the school leaving age from 15 to 16 also created a problem disaffected group, forced to stay on but not interested in O levels. I can recall at least one teacher being bullied by pupils, including a widow in his home being smashed. “Wimpy” and “Jack” the heads of lower and upper school respectively struggled to keep order and only the appointment of the imposing figure of Ken Pattinson (recently deceased) began to “get a grip”.

    By the age of around 14, I found myself pursuing the social habits of an 18 year old and neglectful of my studies, no longer deterred by the corporal punishment and at risk of getting drawn into serious trouble with the law. This seemed like a lot of fun at the time, but thankfully I picked up enough good influences from various sources, to keep out of it “by the skin of my teeth”. I started to grow up more, got a steady girlfriend and then a good apprenticeship which sent me off to college away from bad influences, so I found a successful pathway in life. I can think of several friends from that time who died young in drug and alcohol related circumstances. A friend who I am still in occasional touch with is still a Social Worker in Telford which obviously still has some social problems. I moved away in the early 1980s, but maintained most of my late teenage friends for another 10 years, with parental visits and an occasional drink with some old contacts in local pubs continuing until the last 3 years, when my mother left the area.

    I think that I still have a copy of this brochure in my loft, kept by my mother partly because I was in it. I was in the Court Swimming Club at one time, went to the M.E.R.C Thursday night discos and saw The Real Thing twice there before they were famous. I have fairly extensive memories of the area in the sixties and seventies and my mother who is still alive moved there around 1950.

    From afar now, I notice how vibrant interest in local history is in the area compared to many other places and I was able recently able to help restore the legacy of Thomas Parker, a truly great local figure.

    I retain a sentimental attachment and even a small shareholding in Telford United, but if anyone asks where I’m from, the answer is Ironbridge , if they so “oh Telford” I say “no Ironbridge”. Someone younger might think this is snobbery, since Ironbridge became somewhat gentrified, to an extent that it wasn’t when I was a child. The coming of the New Town probably helped to enable that, but I remember many older properties in Ironbridge being demolished rather than repaired because no one wanted to live in them and/or the repair was uneconomic. Also before health and safety, old mine workings were barely protected from incursion and sewage went into the river untreated. However, Ironbridge was a lively market town in its own right, with council offices, two bank branches a good range of shops, plenty of pubs and it felt quite vibrant on Friday market days, with another disco at The Vic (Victoria Hall) in Broseley in the evening for us youngsters. Regatta Day was also an annual highlight. Later the Friday night pub crawl starting in the Grove Coalbrookdale or the Bird in Hand was another option, often ending in The Station for a lock in. It was Wellington (Town House), Shrewsbury (Tiffany’s) or Wolverhampton (perhaps only as far as the Lea Manor) for anything more ambitious or “sophisticated”.

    My overriding impression on my occasional returns is how small things seem compared to my memories. Perhaps as a child “with very few miles on the clock” there is nothing to compare with, but with a few million on the clock now my perspective is different. I watched the B Power Station being built, a gleaming temple of the latest technology, was attracted to work there and soon it will be gone.


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