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Telford street name honour for electrical genius Thomas Parker

By Toby Neal | Madeley | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Descendants of a great Shropshire electrical pioneer dubbed "the Edison of Europe" have unveiled the sign at a street named in his honour at a new Telford housing development.

Peter Parker and Gail Tudor with the sign honouring their distinguished ancestor

Mrs Gail Tudor, from Worfield, and Peter Parker, from Albrighton, are great-grandchildren of Thomas Parker, whose inventions paved the way for electric street lighting, electrically-powered trams and trains, and electric cars.

"We as his descendants are absolutely thrilled that his name will live on in the area in which he grew up and loved so much. It's a great honour," said Gail.

Thomas Parker and his wife Jane at Severn House, Ironbridge

The ceremony was at the new Miner's Walk development in Madeley, where the street is called Thomas Parker Drive.

Gail said: "They have dedicated the road through it to Thomas Parker, which is really very nice. It almost backs on to the old Court Works which Thomas Parker purchased in 1910, so there is a connection.

"We were asked to unveil it because we are two of the remaining descendants. There are others, who live away, but Peter and I, who are cousins, live nearby.

"Thomas Parker had nine children, of whom our grandfather Charles Parker was one. Charles had three sons and one daughter, of which my father, Harry Parker, and Peter's father, Jack Parker, were brothers."

The opening of the Liverpool Overhead Railway in 1893, with Thomas Parker on the left.

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Andy Rose, regeneration officer with Madeley Town Council, said the town council and a team who were involved in marking the centenary of Parker's death in 2015 had been looking for the opportunity to have a street named after him.

"They made representations to Telford & Wrekin's street naming team to ask if they could consider using the Thomas Parker name on this site, and they agreed to do that.

"It is one of the projects Telford & Wrekin Council is doing under its arm's length company called Nuplace for the housing-for-rent market. Lovell's are the developers, building on behalf of Nuplace," said Andy.

Thomas Parker was born on Lincoln Hill, Coalbrookdale, in 1843 and in 1882 founded the first company in the Midlands to manufacture electrical equipment.

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He was behind various important developments and inventions and his many achievements included developing an electric car, designing the electrical equipment for the Blackpool trams – the first large electrically-powered tramway in the world - and designing the high voltage DC system for distributing electricity in Oxford, and also Birmingham, Charing Cross, Chelsea, Sydenham and Shoreditch.

He was responsible for the electrification of the Liverpool Overhead Railway. In 1899 he became the consulting electrical engineer to the Metropolitan Railway Company, responsible for the electrification of much of the London Underground.

In 1907 he bought Severn House in Ironbridge, which is now the Best Western Valley Hotel, and retired the following year, but remained active until the end of his life, buying the Court Works at Madeley in 1910 and running it with his son Charles.

He died from a brain tumour on December 5, 1915.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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