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Telford ( ) is a large new town in the borough of Telford and Wrekin and ceremonial county of Shropshiremarker, England, approximately east of Shrewsburymarker, and west of Birminghammarker. With a population of 138,241 people (2001 census), and a projected population growth within the next 20 years to over 200,000, Telford is by far the largest town in Shropshire, and one of the fastest growing towns in the United Kingdom.

It is named after Thomas Telford, the famous civil engineer. The town was built in the 1960s and 1970s as a new town on previously industrial and agricultural land. Like other planned towns of the era, Telford was created from the merger of other, smaller settlements, most notably the towns of Wellingtonmarker, Oakengatesmarker, Madeleymarker and Dawleymarker. Telford Shopping Centremarker, a modern shopping mall, was constructed at the new town's geographical centre, along with an extensive Town Parkmarker. The M54 motorway was completed in 1983, connecting the town with the West Midlands conurbationmarker.

Telford now includes Ironbridge Gorgemarker, a scenic tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town advertises itself as "The Birthplace of Industry", due to its proximity to Coalbrookdalemarker, and local activity during the Industrial Revolution as part of the Shropshire Coalfield. The River Severn flows along its southernmost boundary.


Early history

Early settlement in the area was thought to be on the land that sloped up from the Weald Moors (an area north of the town centre) towards the line along which the Roman Watling Streetmarker was built. Farmland surrounded three large estates in the tenth century, namely Wellingtonmarker, Wrockwardinemarker and Lilleshallmarker.

From the 13th century there was urban development in Wellington and Madeleymarker, where Wenlock Priorymarker founded a new town. Six monastic houses, founded in the 11th and 12th centuries, had large interests in the area's economic growth. They collectively acquired almost half of the area, and profited from coal and ironstone mines and iron smithies on their estates.

Modern history

Telford Plaza in Telford Town Centre.
The New Town was first designated on 16 January 1963 as Dawley New Town, covering 9,100 acres (37 km²) of Dawleymarker, Wenlockmarker, Oakengatesmarker, Wellington Rural Districtmarker and Shifnal Rural Districtmarker. Development started, guided by the Dawley New Town Development Corporation, with the first homes on the new Sutton Hill housing estate being occupied in 1967.

The Minister proposed an extension of 12,000 acres (49 km²) in 1968 (taking in the historic area of Ironbridge Gorgemarker), which saw objections and a public inquiry take place. The Dawley New Town (Designation) Amendment (Telford) Order was made on 29 November 1968, extending the New Town area by 10,143 acres (41 km²) of "land lying within the urban districts of Oakengates and Wellington and the rural districts of Shifnal and Wellington". This Order also renamed the new town Telford, after the Scottish-born civil engineer Thomas Telford who, in 1787, became Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire. Other suggested names at the time were Dawelloak and Wrekin Forest City.

Most of the infrastructure was constructed from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s with the major housing and commercial development occurring over three decades up to the early 1990s when the Development Corporation was wound up to be replaced by Commission for the New Towns, later English Partnerships, and most of the property was handed over to the then Wrekin District Council. In 1983, after fierce opposition and three public enquiries , the M54 motorway was completed, connecting the town to the M6 and thence the rest of the UK's motorway network. Other major roads are the A5, A518 and A442, which is commonly known as the Eastern Primary or EP, and is officially branded Queensway.

Many of the new town's residents were originally from the West Midlands conurbation, which includes Wolverhamptonmarker, Birminghammarker, Dudleymarker and Walsallmarker. The vast majority of the council house tenants in Telford were rehoused from inner city slums in Birmingham. Some controversy and bad feeling still exists in some communities as a result of what some saw as the influx of those from the city slums. The name "overspill" was often used as a derogatory term for these residents. Some individuals still refuse to put Telford in their address, instead using the original local name (such as Wellingtonmarker or Dawleymarker).

In 2007, a £250 million regeneration plan for the town centre was announced, which will include the pedestrianisation of the road surrounding the shopping centre, and the creation of new cafés, bars and shops which will lead to 1,750 new jobs. The reason for this expansion is that the original "centre" was only ever a shopping place with no real heart (See Shropshire Star June 3, 2004). Since the "centre" closed early evening, there was no nightlife at all in the area, the only major local entertainment areas being in Oakengates and Wellington.


The Wrekin hill overlooks the town
The town has an area of 30.13 square miles (7,803 hectares) and its southern and eastern parts, between the Severn Gorgemarker and Donnington Wood, include the East Shropshire coalfield. North and north-west Telford lie beyond the coalfield's boundary fault on sandstone beds which, along with other Triassic formations, prevail over much of the North Shropshiremarker plain. The town centre stands on a watershed, with land to the south draining towards the River Severn, and to the north the land slopes gently down towards the Weald Moors. The town is dominated by the Wrekinmarker, a splendid mountain, though at 1335 ft (407 m), a relatively small one, located south-west of Wellington, straddling the border with the borough of Shrewsbury and Atchammarker.


For more information on Parish divisions, see list of civil parishes in Shropshire.
Within the borough of Telford & Wrekin, the town is entirely parished. Telford has no single town council because of this, and the Mayor of the Borough of Telford and Wrekin is also de facto the town's mayor. The town is also divided into Wards, within the Telford and Wrekin borough. These are used for electoral purposes and demographic surveys. Telford was created politically - but its attempts to make a cohesive town from the fusion of other independent, smaller towns: Wellingtonmarker, Madeleymarker, Hadleymarker, Oakengatesmarker, Dawleymarker, Ironbridgemarker and Donningtonmarker have largely failed. As a result of this, the town has much clearer divisions than in other older towns, such as nearby Shrewsbury, which have developed into one consolidated urban area over time. Some small settlements to the south, such as a part of Ironbridge and Broseleymarker, while part of the Telford Urban Area, is administered by Shropshire Council.

Telford is the only settlement within the Telford parliamentary constituencymarker, although some suburbs, such as Wellington, are located in The Wrekinmarker, a neighbouring constituency. Telford has been held by Labour since its creation in 1997, and the current MP is David Wright. The neighbouring Wrekin constituency has varying support between the Conservatives and Labour, due to its mix of rural and urban (Newportmarker) areas. It is currently held by the Conservatives however, under MP Mark Pritchard. Telford is administratively part of the West Midlands region.


In 1963 Dawley new town was intended to take 50,000 people from the West Midlands conurbationmarker and so to grow to a town of 70,000 or more. By 1968 Telford was intended to take an additional 50,000 and grow to a town of 220,000 or more by 1991. By 1983, however, Telford's population was just under 108,000, and it was generally thought that it might not reach 120,000 by the late 1980s.

Telford has a younger than average population, and a higher rate of teenage pregnancy than the national average, as well as relatively high levels of income deprivation with 15% of residents living in low income households. In addition the level of statutorily homeless households in 2004/05 was above average for England. The Telford and Wrekin area is a popular commuter zone, containing some relatively rural areas in the North and West of the borough. These are popular with commuters to the West Midlands conurbationmarker, due to the good transport links provided by the A5/M54.

Telford's population is ethnically White, comprising 93.8% of the population. The next largest ethnic group is those of Asian descent, comprising 3.3% of the population, which is again less than the West Midlands at 8.0%, and England at 5.3%. However, the town and borough remains comparatively more ethnically diverse than the ceremonial county, with South Shropshiremarker for example being 97.8% white.


Population and Employment
Date Population No. of Jobs % of Jobs on

Ind. Estates
1968 74,750 35,671 1.4
1969 76,200 35,710 2.4
1970 78,200 35,948 5.1
1971 80,800 36,191 7.2
1972 84,200 36,743 9.3
1973 87,100 39,861 11.4
1974 89,000 40,928 13.2
1975 90,000 40,986 12.3
1976 93,980 42,036 14.9
1977 97,900 43,637 15.4
1978 100,300 44,681 16.8
1979 102,000 44,247 18.2
1980 104,200 42,397 18.3
1981 104,200 39,414 16.8
1982 106,600 38,852 18.2
1983 107,700 39,037 19.9

During the economic crisis of the late 1960s unemployment in the town was high. However, in 1967 Halesfield Industrial Estate was founded on the south-eastern edge of the town. Other large estates followed, in 1973 with Stafford Park just east of the town centremarker and in 1979 with Hortonwood, to the north. In total, half a million square metres of factory space were provided between 1968 and 1983, making Telford an attractive investment area. By 1976, Telford had begun to recruit industry from the U.S.A., Europe, and Japan. The foreign firms required larger factories, and they began to be built at Stafford Park. By 1983 over 2,000 jobs in Telford were provided by around 40 (mostly American) foreign companies. In contrast to industry in the Black Countrymarker at the time, these new companies focused on high-technology industries rather than the heavy and metal-finishing industries.

The new arrivals included the American company Unimation and three firms from Japan: Nikon U.K. Ltd., which opened a warehouse at Halesfield in 1983; video tape manufacturers Hitachi Maxell at Apley Castle in 1983; and office equipment manufacturers Ricoh, who took a 22 acre site for a factory at Priorsleemarker next to the M54, and formed the first in Telford's new enterprise zone.

Consequently, from the later 1970s, Telford began to attract high-technology firms and to diversify its industry, and the promotion of the Service industry also began to prosper, in the Telford Town Centremarker area. However, a deepening national recession meant that, despite the creation of new jobs, there were net job losses from 1979. Unemployment grew from 3.4 per cent in 1969 to over 8 per cent in 1972 and 22.3 per cent in 1983; long-term unemployment rose even faster. Nevertheless the rate of increase in unemployment was slowing down by 1983 and was making some progress against national and regional trends.

Telford has attracted several large IT services companies, including EDS who support the MOD contract from the Euston Park site, as well as a vast array of clients across the world from the Plaza building. Also Capgemini and Fujitsu employ a significant number of staff in the area, mainly supporting their governmental client, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs .

In recent times there have been significant job losses, with the movement of 500 Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) jobs at the MoD base at Sapphire House, Telford, to Bristol. The closure of the local sugar beet factory at Allscott in 2007 is another recent example.


The commercial centre of the town is the aptly named Telford Town Centre, located off Junction 5 of the M54 motorway. It is home to the administrative headquarters of Telford & Wrekin council, the large Telford Shopping Centre (and the accompanying Town Parkmarker), various office blocks, such as the blue office towers (Telford Plaza), and the Windsor Life building. The Forge retail park and a large Odeon Cinema are also located in the area, as well as Thomas Telford Schoolmarker, which is within walking distance. Telford also houses one of the Midland's only ice skating rinks near the newly built Telford International Centre (TIC). The TIC comprises a number of hall and event spaces. It holds parties, conferences, concerts and is the current home of the UK Snooker Championship in December.

A major Shropshire landmark, also now part of Telford, is The Iron Bridgemarker, located in Ironbridgemarker. It was the first bridge of its size in the world made out of cast iron. In the same area is the Ironbridge Gorgemarker, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most important landmark in the area is The Wrekinmarker. There is also the Lilleshall Monument erected to the Duke of Sutherland, which has recently been restored.


Telford has a number of primary and secondary schools. Of particular notability is Thomas Telford Schoolmarker, a City Technology College (CTC), which claims to have a 100% pass rate at GCSE level, with all students achieving at least 4 GCSE's grades A*-C, placing it at number one in the entire country for Key Stage 4 attainment. The Abraham Darby Academy, formerly known as Abraham Darby Specialist School For The Performing Artsmarker provides specialist performing arts education and is home to one of the UK's best school concert bands which has performed at prestigious venues such as Birmingham Symphony Hallmarker, Royal Festival Hall London, Royal Albert Hallmarker and also Carnegie Hallmarker, New Yorkmarker.

Further education is handled by Telford College of Arts and Technology (TCAT) and Telford New Collegemarker, a sixth-form college located in Wellingtonmarker. There are three other sixth forms located in the Blessed Robert Johnson Catholic School (The Oscar Romero sixth form centre), Abraham Darby and Thomas Telford Schoolmarker.8 miles to the north is Adams' Grammar Schoolmarker is a selective school located in nearby Newportmarker.

Telford is also home to The University of Wolverhampton Business School (UWBS) campus and the School of the Built Environment.

Madeley Academy is a sport college and a building will be built and opened for September 2009.


Telford is situated at the terminus of the M54 motorway, a spur of the M6 linking the town with Wolverhamptonmarker and the West Midlands, and on the A5 road between Shrewsburymarker and Cannockmarker. The town also has three railway stations: Wellingtonmarker, Oakengatesmarker and Telford Centralmarker, which are on the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton Line. In addition, there are two further stations isolated from the national network, Spring Village and Horsehay & Dawley, at Telford Steam Railway, situated at Horsehaymarker. A new direct train service to London was launched by Wrexham & Shropshire in 2008, a key boost for the local business community.

Telford's rapidly growing population still has a relatively low car ownership. In 2004 Telford & Wrekin council was awarded 'Beacon Status' for improving access to public transport. Being a new town with a planned transport infrastructure, the town features relatively few traffic problems, in comparison to the urban areas of Birminghammarker or medieval streets of Shrewsburymarker. The M54 reduces through-traffic on local roads, and the A442 Queensway acts as a north-south artery road.


Telford is home to a variety of established amateur, semi-pro and professional sports clubs.AFC Telford United Football Club are currently playing in Conference North, and their current manager is Rob Smith. AFC Telford's achievements include Best Shropshire Senior Cup Performance: Final - 3 Times, and Promotion to Conference North in 2007, after beating Witton Albion in the play-offs 3-1. Also, they won the Setanta Shield Trophy by beating Forest Green Rovers on penalties in 2009.

Ice hockey in the town is represented by the Telford Titans, an ENL Team, represents development hockey feeding from the excellent youth development and were last year crowned league champions.

There have been many American football teams in the town, although presently Shropshire Revolution a British American Football League, founded in 2006, is the only club in the town and the county of Shropshire. Previous clubs include Wrekin Giants (1985-1989), Shropshire Giants (1989), and Cannock Chase Giants (1989-1993/4).

Telford Raiders are the town's Rugby League club, although there have been other Rugby League Clubs in Telford historically, such as the Telford All Blacks and Shropshire Scorpions.

Telford Hornets represent the town at Rugby Union.

Telford is also the current host town of the UK Snooker Championship, which is currently held every December. The championship moved from Yorkmarker in 2007.

Closest cities, towns and villages

See also

  • Telford FM, Telford & Wrekin's local radio station


  1. London Gazette. 18 January 1963.
  2. London Gazette. 13 December 1963.
  3. Dept. of Econ. Affairs, The W. Midlands: a regional study (1965), 3-4, 84.
  4. Telford Development Strategy: 1st Monitoring Rep.-7th Monitoring Rep. (T.D.C. 1978-84); (for no. of jobs on T.D.C. estates in 1978) T.D.C. Employment in Telford 1979 (1980), 20; no. of jobs on T.D.C. estates 1979-82 supplied or confirmed from T.D.C. bd. mtg. agenda 10 Nov. 1983 (management accts. 1983-4, physical projections, p. 12).
  5. Private inf.; Thomas, 'Telford', 36-7; Fenter, 'Bldg. Development in Telford'; Reps. of Dev. Corporations 31 Mar. 1969, H.C. 398, pp. 469-70 (1968-9), xliii; 31 Mar. 1983, H.C. 81, p. 317 (1982-3); Town Planning Rev. xliii. 360 n. 52.
  6. The Times, 24 Nov. 1983 (p. 22).
  7. Reps. of Dev. Corporations 31 Mar. 1983, 309.
  8. T.D.C. Telford Ind. Dir. [c. 1979], 28.
  9. Shropshire Star, 12 Nov. 1983 (p. 3).
  10. Shropshire Star, 24 Oct. 1983 (pp. 1, 6)
  11. Shropshire Star, 16 Nov. 1982; 2 Dec. 1983 (p. 16)
  12. N. Staffs. Jnl. Field Studies, xiii. 78; Telford Development Strategy: 6th Monitoring Rep. (T.D.C. 1983), 8-12, 22-8; B. Trinder, Hist. Salop. (1983), 121; Shropshire Star, 10 Mar. 1982.
  13. Balance is the key to Telford's triumph Times Online

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