Ironbridge history echoed in new development

A pioneering Shropshire inventor, dubbed “the Edison of Europe”, is the inspiration behind a new housing development in Ironbridge. 

Phil Allsobrook, site manager at Parker’s Place
Phil Allsobrook, site manager at Parker’s Place

Parker’s Place in Ironbridge has been named after electrical pioneer, Thomas Parker, whose inventions paved the way for electric street lighting, electrically-powered trams and trains, and electric cars. 

The new development of two, three and four bedroom houses is located on Lincoln Hill, just a few minutes from the historic centre of Ironbridge, and close to the site where Thomas Parker was born in 1843.  The collection of 54 houses are being created by Shropshire Homes, and each one is inspired by Ironbridge’s historic past. Phil Allsobrook, site manager at Parker’s Place explained: “The development has taken a lot of inspiration from Thomas Parker’s life. 

“All the houses are named after associations with Parker and are new designs for Shropshire Homes, as each one has been inspired by the architecture in Ironbridge around the time he was born.”  

Among the names of the houses at Parker’s Place is the Weston, which is named after Philip Weston, a machinist at Coalbrookdale who worked with Parker on his first major invention – Parker and Weston’s Patent Pump. There is also the Elwell, which is inspired by Paul Bedford Elwell, who Parker worked with in Wolverhampton. 

The Lincoln is taken from his place of birth at Lincoln Hill, the Tettenhall is named after where Parker lived in Wolverhampton and finally the Bushbury, which was the first house type to be sold at Parker’s Place, recalls the new factory that was built in Wolverhampton after the Elwell-Parker company was bought by the Electric Construction Corporation. 

“The external appearance of the new homes is in keeping with those already in Ironbridge, which is renowned for its stunning architecture,” said Phil. “It sits next to its partner development, The Beeches, and is surrounded by mature woodland and a nature reserve. There is also a play area and a small village green. The owners will have the feel of living in streets similar to those that Thomas Parker would have walked down when he lived in Coalbrookdale.” 

Thomas Parker was behind a number of important developments and inventions including designing the electrical equipment for the Blackpool trams – the first large electrically-powered tramway in the world. He also designed the high voltage DC system for distributing electricity in Oxford, and also Birmingham, Charing Cross, Chelsea, Sydenham and Shoreditch. 

Parker was responsible for the electrification of the Liverpool Overhead Railway and 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 and retired the following year, but remained active until the end of his life, buying an ironworks on the local Madeley Court estate, and running Court Works Ltd with his son Charles. 

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