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24 September 2014

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You are in: Shropshire > places > Place Feature > Dawley town guide

Dawley high street

Market day in Dawley

Dawley town guide

Although you wouldn't realise it today, Dawley has a long and varied history. Originally mentioned in the Domesday book, and once the proud owner of a 14th century castle, Dawley is now a modern town, with a strong sense of community.

Dawley is essentially split into three areas - Dawley (also called Great Dawley), Little Dawley to the south, and Dawley Bank to the north.

More than anything else in its history, two events have made Dawley what it is today.

With its rich coal deposits, Dawley found itself at the centre of the industrial revolution. Mines and nearby ironworks expanded and multiplied to meet an insatiable demand.

By the beginning of the 1960s, Dawley looked more like an alien landscape, with its puckered earth and slag heap mountains.

In 1963, Dawley New Town was designated to provide some desperately needed beautification and also to make provision for the predicted growth in the area's population. Dawley had already started to become something of an overspill for Birmingham.

Millions of pounds were pumped into the whole area, and the nature of Dawley was forever changed.

Slowly, the slag heaps were landscaped and pits covered.

Dawley high street

Dawley high street

The building and redevelopment work expanded and in 1968, Telford New Town was born.

Despite the fact that Telford is just a stone's throw to the east, Dawley has retained its own distinct character.

The town remains one of the largest settlements in the area, with a population of  9,598*.

The heart of Dawley is its high street which features an array of shops, including a large number of family-run firms. It also boasts an open air market every Friday.

Yet Dawley's shops have suffered with the proximity of Telford town centre and its large-scale stores.

However, Dawley does possess an impressive number of community resources.

The town library on King Street looks across at the main bus stops. The Dawley dental and medical practices, and the social club are just on the doorstep.

There's also a playing field, a bowling green and plenty of room to walk the dog or just get a breath of fresh air!

Dawley Villa and Dawley Wanderers football clubs (playing in the Shropshire county league) are just two of many local football teams based in the town.

Captain Webb

Captain Webb

A number of celebrities also have a Dawley connection. The writer Edith Pargeter, better known as Ellis Peters (the creator of the brother Cadfael character), went to the C of E school in Dawley and even worked at a chemist in the town.

However, Dawley's most famous son is Captain Matthew Webb, who in 1875 became the first person to swim the English Channel. Captain Webb died in 1883, attempting to cross a whirlpool at the foot of Niagara Falls.

* Population figure from 2001 census, Dawley Magna ward.

last updated: 30/04/2008 at 13:40
created: 23/03/2005

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