St Georges Community
Research Contributor: Louise Bremner
Up until the 1860s, the area of St Georges was known as Pains Lane. Maps as far back as 1577 show a wooded area named King’es Wood (on later maps Donnington Wood) up to the area that is now known as St Georges. Later maps show a church map symbol sited in the area called Donnington Wood Chapel. There is evidence around to show that many settlers have inhabited this former agricultural land since Roman times.
IMAGE: Map showing Donnington Wood and Chapel (known later as Pains Lane Chapel) Shropshire Archives
The Industrial Revolution and the presence of the Lilleshall Company saw an increase in residents and visitors. Although there appears to have been a lot of work available from the Lilleshall Company, sadly there was much poverty too.
Police records, from the late 1800s, show children as young as 11 being sentenced to 7 days hard labour, whipped and even deported for stealing.
Residents who had committed a crime were closely watched by the police in later years. On 17 April 1864, Elizabeth Holmes (aged 11) was arrested for stealing coals from the wharf in the day time. She was sentenced to 14 days imprisonment with hard labour. She was watched by the police for a further 13 years. Documents detail 6 entries up until 1877 of her known whereabouts. In 1871, aged 18, it is documented she was in Shrewsbury Asylum.
IMAGE – Postcard of Pains Lane Square Copyright Shropshire Archives
In 1890, a visitor writes on the postcard shown: “Dear S, This is the village I am at now. Will be glad to get away”.
IMAGE: Gower Street shops and houses. Image courtesy of Frank Meeson
Despite this, people love St Georges and it continues to be an area where people want to live. In 1888, one visitor describes his walk up to St Georges from Oakengates (Station Hill) train station:-
“Next to the North-Western Railway Station is a police office then comes a Methodist chapel, and next to this is a coal pit (Albion Bank). Then there is a steep incline to mount, several pubs to pass and a good ten minutes walk brings the weary traveller to St Georges recreation ground. Here I found 4,000 spectators assembled round a very fair red ash running path …………….. i never saw much better racing than that…..”. (Athletic News, Tuesday 11 September 1888).
At one point, the Lilleshall Company owned over 1,000 properties in St Georges.
The many houses built throughout St Georges for the employees of the Lilleshall Company had a characteristic style and striking brickwork which is still visible today.
The Lilleshall Company owned housing which was later passed over to local authorities social housing departments. In more recent years, the Wrekin Housing Trust and other social housing schemes took over management of the properties. Many are now in private ownership and/ or managed by private landlords.
A diverse and thriving community lived, worked and socialised in and around St Georges, which once included over fifteen pubs, grassed football pitches, cinder running tracks, hospitals, two primary schools, (one either side of Watling Street), a huge variety of shops and even a racecourse visited by people from all over the country.
IMAGE: St Georges Band Stand Copyright Shropshire Archives
The heritage of St George’s can be seen across Telford at tourist attractions throughout the area. Some buildings have inspired architecture at Blists Hill Open Air Museum (e.g. Stafford Place sited at St Georges crossroads) and others have been completely rebuilt at the Museum after demolition in St Georges. St Georges Recreation Ground bandstand has been relocated near to the Chelsea Gardens at the regionally famous Telford Town Park.
Over the coming months, this web site will be developed further to include more heritage sites in St Georges with information that has been kindly shared by local residents, community groups, Shropshire Archives and Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust Archives.
- A brief history of St Georges, write up by Emily Grice (1980s)
- British Newspapers Archives
- Conversations with Mary Hollingshead, Ken Lewis, Brian Savage, Rachel Shanks, Gordon Taylor and Pippa Taylor
- Dolan, A. Down our street. Remembering the good times in St Georges
- James, G.M. (1982) Here be dragons: A brief glimpse into the history of St Georges, Telford.
- St Georges Women’s Institute Archives
- Shropshire Archives St Georges Police Records 1858-1873 ref q NO 34
- Shanks, R.M. (1975)The development of coalmining in north east of the Coalbrookdale Coalfield, special study
- The Miner’s Walk Memory Recording Events supported by Holy Trinity Academy Students (November 2017 and January 2018)
If you would like to contribute to further research on The Miner’s Walk Heritage Trail you would be really welcome. Please get in touch through one of our contact links.
If at all you feel copyright is infringed in any way, shape or form, please let us know. We apologise in advance if this is the case and we will amend our write-ups and/ or accredit you if permitted. Many thanks!