Telford (formerly Dawley)


‘Mark Two’ New Town – Designated 16 January 1963

Telford was originally designated as Dawley, changing its name to Telford (with an increase in designated area) in 1968. As well as accommodating overspill from congested existing urban centres, it was intended to regenerate the waning East Shropshire coalfield area. Telford has a rich heritage offer, including the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site. Conservation and tourism have played an important role in the New Town’s development. The Development Corporation faced severe difficulties and expense in reclaiming derelict land associated with mine-workings, and until the mid-1980s Telford had high levels of unemployment and problems in attracting industrial firms to the town. Today, Telford is a Primary Urban Area – one of the 64 largest urban centres in the UK – and has expanded through several urban extensions.

Key facts:

  • Location: 37 kilometres north west of Birmingham.
  • 2011 Census population: 166,641, in 56,135 households.
  • Local authority: Telford & Wrekin Council.
  • Local Plan status: Telford & Wrekin Local Plan 2011-2031 (adopted January 2018).

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 16 January 1963 as Dawley New Town – renamed Telford in 1968.
  • Designated area: 3,683 hectares, revised to 7,793 hectares in 1968.
  • Intended population: 168,000, rising (by natural growth) to 220,000 in the late 1980s (population at designation: 70,000).
  • Development Corporation: Aimed for a balance between industrial and residential development, and utilised a large amount of despoiled and contaminated land, formerly used by extractive industries, to integrate the market town of Wellington and a number of former townships with new, low-density, single-use development areas, linked by an extensive road network enabling congestion-free car travel. Development Corporation wound up 30 September 1991.

Figures taken from Telford ‘5 minute’ fact sheet – TCPA New Towns and Garden Cities, Lessons for Tomorrow research, available here.

Council website:

Local museums and archives:

Telford Digital Archive:

Telford at 50: 

Photo Credit: Telford & Wrekin Council 

From the archive:

Read more about Dawley’s early years in a 1968 edition of our journal, Town & Country Planninghere.