A Children's Guide to Shropshire Place-Names

Place-names that tell us about industry

Ironbridge

Shropshire is famous all over the world as being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, so Wulfwynn says we absolutely have to look at names that tell us about Shropshire’s industrial past – let’s go!

Wulfwynn says that we have to start with Ironbridge, because it is described as the birthplace of modern industry, right here in Shropshire! Ironbridge is quite a modern name, as it refers to the iron bridge that was constructed over the River Severn in the late eighteenth century. The bridge is famous because it was the first iron bridge in the world to be constructed.

Near and Far Colley Hill

These are the names of fields in Kinlet. Could they relate to collie dogs perhaps? Or, how about cauliflowers? No, no, no says Wulfwynn – we’re thinking about industry!

These two fields refer to the manufacture of charcoal in the medieval period, and the Old English word relating to charcoal was colig. The ‘g’ at the end of this word would have been pronounced a little bit like a modern ‘y’, giving us ‘colley’. Charcoal was

usually produced by people living in woodland communities, and today,

Kinlet is on the edge of the Wyre Forest.

Tentre Bank

Tentre Bank is the name of a field in Worthen – I have

no idea what this could be, I think we will definitely need Wulfwynn’s help with this one. She says that the first part of this name refers to a ‘tenter’, which was a

special frame that was used for stretching cloth after it had been made, so that it would not shrink after drying. So the name Tentre Bank tells us that there were medieval clothworkers in Worthen!

This is the name of a field in Marrington. Wulfwynn tells us that this place-name also relates to the production of cloth, as a dye-house was a building in which a dyer worked – a dyer was a person who created coloured cloth by dying it. In

Dyehouse Meadow

Marrington, the very first Ordnance Survey map shows us that there was also a 'walkmill', and this was a special kind of mill used

for making cloth. There is also a field called Tainter Field in Marrington. Can

you guess what that means? That’s right! It’s another ‘tenter’, like the one we

just read about in Worthen. So we can now picture the people living in Marrington

making their living from the manufacture of cloth in the Middle Ages. That’s exciting isn’t it?

Masons quarrel

This is the name of a field in Bucknell. Ooh, this sounds like a place in which people had an argument and fell out, doesn’t it? But Wulfwynn is shaking her head, so I think that’s wrong. Oh! She says that quarelle is a later medieval word that meant ‘quarry’, so that’s what we have here in Bucknell – a medieval quarry. A quarry was a place where stone was

extracted from the ground.

Melverley

Wulfwynn says that this is quite an exciting name, because Melverley means ‘clearing by a mill-ford’ and it tells us that there was a mill in Melverley in the eleventh century. That’s over 800 years ago! I think that mills must have seemed like very exciting new technology back then, don’t you?

What have we learned?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned all sorts of things about Shropshire’s industrial past by looking at place-names. We now know that there was a great deal of industrial activity in the county for many hundreds of years before the Industrial Revolution, and that this included all sorts of practices. Milling wasn’t only concerned with turning corn into flour, but some mills produced cloth, and people with lots of different skills were needed to make and finish the cloth. Place-names also tell us that mining was a popular activity all over Shropshire, and that in areas with large woods and forests, charcoal was being made. Place-names really do help us to learn more about Shropshire’s history – shall we go and find out more?

What shall we look at next?

just click on the links below to go to each chapter!

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