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Dark Lane, Dawley

Dark Lane Chapel 2

Primitive Methodism was in the village of Dark Lane where the 1851 census recorded a congregation of 137 for an evening service. Such a gathering would have been impossible in any of the cottages, and the service may have been held in a colliery or ironworks building, or in a barn at the Lawn Farm. The chapel at Dark Lane was opened in 1863. The Botfield family, as conforming Anglicans, refused to provide land for a Primitive Methodist place of worship, and the chapel was constructed in Priorslee township in the parish of Shifnal, where the land belonged to the Earls of Stafford, who were Roman Catholics. The nucleus of the chapel was a second-hand, prefabricated wooden building, placed on brick piers, the spaces between which were filled with slag from the blast furnaces. Many legends about the building of the chapel were told and re-told in the community for more than a century, including that of a notorious wife-beater who was suddenly converted, and used his great strength to pull a cart used for moving slag from the furnace waste tip to the site of the chapel. The hut was later encased in brick, and its pulpit during its last decades bore the date 1930, and was made from the wooden headstock of the Spout Colliery. In the early years of the 20th century a succession of services, prayer meetings and Sunday School sessions occupied the chapel almost continuously on Sundays, and there were meetings of different kinds on most weekday evenings. The young men of the congregation formed a respected football team, and the great event of the year was the performance of a drama, Joseph and his Brethren, a little inappropriately, each Good Friday evening.

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Dark Lane Chapel 4

The Primitive Methodist chapel at Dark Lane, built in 1863. It was originally a pre-fabricated wooden hut which was encased with brick. While the village was in Dawley parish, the chapel was over the boundary in Shifnal, since the Botfields who owned the land in Dawley would not allow the construction of a Methodist place of worship. On the left is the course of the Great Western Railway’s Stirchley branch.

Ref: The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire, (Third Edition) By Barrie Trinder.
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The housing built by the Botfields to house the families employed at the new pits and ironworks of the 1820s and 1830s was of a lower standard than that at Old Park, constructed in the 1790s when the quest for skilled workers was very competitive. The Dark Lane houses, which consisted of three rows, constructed about 1830. The nine houses in the Short Row consisted of down- stairs rooms measuring 12ft x 7ft, and a bedroom above. The Long Row was about 550ft long and originally contained 20 two-storeyed houses of interlocking plan, each with a large room of 12ft x 13ft and a small room of 8ft x 6ft on the ground floor. The third terrace, Bottom Row, was originally a little over 500ft long and contained 25 houses, slightly larger than those in the Long Row, but of similar interlocking plan. Sixty-eight houses occupied at the time of the 1851 census housed 354 people.

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Bottom Row, was originally a little over 500ft, long and contained 25 houses, slightly larger than those in the Long Row, but of similar interlocking plan

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Long Row was about 550ft long and contained 20 houses of interlocking plan,

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Short Row, nine houses built by the Botfields circa 1825.

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Malinslee Station 01

Malins Lee Station in 1932. The railway here was built on the site of the old canal, and the station house, unlike the others in design, may well date from that time. Dark Lane Foundry and the area of small colleries were served by a siding on the right, Malins Lee was closed between January 1917 and February 1919 due to wartime economy and was finally closed in 1952 before the other stations on this line.

Malinslee Station 02
This postcard courtesy of Ray Farlow.
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This photo shows the bed of the old Shropshire canal built 1792, and running behind the railway station.

Dark Lane Top Farm 01

Cottages next to Top Farm.

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Top Farm, Cartwright's Farm in the 1960's.