Renovation plan for historic row of homes near Ironbridge
A “potentially unique” 18th-century row of terraced houses near Ironbridge that has been empty for more than two decades could be occupied again if renovation plans are approved.
Carpenters Row, on modern-day School Road, in Coalbrookdale, was built in 1783 by Abraham Darby III’s Coalbrookdale Company to house workers.
In the 1980s the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, which by then owned the properties, tried opening them as an exhibit, but encountered structural problems.
Shropshire-based Country Contractors Ltd has now applied to replace the windows and install utilities and insulation at five houses on the grade-II listed terrace, which the company says have not been occupied for many years.
A heritage consultant has said they may be among very few purpose-built workers’ homes left in the country.
A design statement, submitted by Country Contractors director Martin McNulty, says the company bought the five two-storey houses from the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust in July.
“These houses have been unoccupied, ‘at-risk’ and steadily deteriorating for many years,” the statement says, adding that its conservation plan recommends bringing them back into residential use.
“The company plans to offer the completed properties for sale on the open market.”
'Long-term lack of maintenance'
As part of the project, the company plans to combine two of the houses into one and create a car park for the resulting four homes on Wellington Road, about 60 metres away.
A heritage statement, by Kathryn Sather and Associates in 2000, says the homes were bought by the IGMT from Allied Ironfounders in 1971.
The houses were used as museum exhibits, but “there were continual reports of mud and water ingress from the ground and rear walls, and general dampness throughout the houses,” it says.
The statement says the “long-term lack of maintenance” has left the houses in “a general poor condition”.
It warns that the renovation work “may be more costly than the end value of the houses and the necessary level of grant support may be difficult to achieve”.
It says: “Carpenters Row is a nationally important terrace of workers’ housing.
"The date of 1783 is very early for a purpose-built company terrace of industrial workers’ housing.”
It adds that Carpenters Row is the site of “the only unmodernised houses in a row left in Coalbrookdale, and they may be among very few left in the country”.
The Gorge Parish Council will be consulted, and Telford & Wrekin Council’s planning department will make its decision at a later date.