Madeley forms the eastern gateway to the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. It is a market town with a strong heritage in the coal and iron industries.
By the 1850s, it had grown from a small agricultural village that was part of Wenlock Priory, into an important industrial centre. Major employers in the area were Madeley Wood Company with its canal side works at Blists Hill and Madeley Court Company which had built three blast furnaces near the newly opened mines on the Madeley Court estate.
But, just over a hundred years later, these traditional mining industries had closed and nature eventually reclaimed the spoil mounds. Now an ecological and historical feature of the Madeley landscape, these pit-mounds are proposed for designation as a Local Nature Reserve.
The industrial remains at Blists Hill were given a new lease of life in 1973, when it was set up as an Open Air Museum. Blists Hill Victorian Town has now become one of 10 sites operated by Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust - one of VisitEngland’s top 20 paying attractions in the UK, with over 525,000 visits in 2012.
The site at Madeley Court which included the listed remains of a 16th Century manor house, gatehouse and garden, has now been converted into a luxury hotel.
Madeley Town Centre has recently undergone major redevelopment with two new food-stores, which complement the traditional shops along its historic High Street. Madeley market is held every Tuesday and Saturday in Russell Square – a tradition dating back to 1269.
Things to see and do in Madeley
- Visit Madeley Town Centre which is a convenient stopping off point for visitors to the Blists Hill Victorian Town and Ironbridge. There you can browse in the individual shops or eat in the local restaurants and takeaways. There is plenty of free parking and public toilets with baby changing facilities at the top end of the High Street.
- Enjoy hospitality at one of the traditional pubs, perhaps one with an award winning home brew house attached or others serving local real ale.
- Discover some of Madeley’s hidden history on the self-guided Town trail starting at Jubilee House on the High Street. Look out for the blue plaques which provide glimpses into Madeley’s fascinating industrial past.
- Visit St Michael’s church designed by Thomas Telford and its churchyard with one of the best collections of cast-iron memorials in the country.
- Stay at the local 3* or 4* AA rated hotels, recommended for their food and leisure facilities, which are ideal for exploring Ironbridge and The Wrekin.
- pitch your caravan, motor-home or tent at the Severn Gorge Park which has excellent amenities and is convenient Centre for the many attractions in the Shropshire area
- Enjoy a range of sporting facilities at the new Abraham Darby Sports and Leisure Centre, including a swimming pool, indoor sports hall and fitness suite or ski at the Telford snowboard and ski centre
- Explore over 23 kilometres of public pathways such as the long distance Silkin Way route, which runs either down to Ironbridge or into the Telford Town Park. Pick up a leaflet at Jubilee House or the Madeley Library.