George Chetwood

Born in Hinksay village, George Chetwood was educated in Dawley and Newport. On leaving grammar school, he became an apprentice moulder at the Horsehay Company. In 1921 went to Clays Foundry in Ketley, where he continued until his retirement in 1968. He was a founder member and a driving force in the early union at the works, and throughout his life remained a working man, socialist and trade unionist.

George Chetwood also held sincere religious beliefs. Perhaps that and his experience of growing up in an industrial community at a time of many hardships first developed his social conscience and his political awareness. In 1946 he became a councillor on the old Dawley Urban District Council, and six years later as a Labour Party councillor on Shropshire County Council. It was through his influence on this council that he highlighted the need for a new secondary school in Dawley, which was built in 1956 and re-organised in 1967 as the Phoenix Comprehensive.

In the 1950s George Chetwood was invited several times to stand as an MP but he always declined, recognising that the work he needed to do was at the local level. Following an informal conversation between himself and a good friend, a local reporter Mr AW Bowdler, an article appeared in the Birmingham Gazette in 1955 which sought to address the post-war problem of Birmingham being considered a slum-ridden, overcrowded place, with the equally pressing need for regeneration in east Shropshire. The idea of inviting so-called ‘overspill’ people from the West Midlands to settle in this part of Shropshire began to be taken seriously and on January 16th 1963 the government of the day officially designated the enterprise Dawley New Town.

One of the many tributes to George Chetwood after his death in 1974 referred to him  as ‘Father of the New Town’. It was a just accolade, recognising his critical involvement in the birth of Dawley New Town, and thenceTelford itself. In his own home town he was known simply as ‘Mr Dawley’- a man who was held in regard and affection, distinguished by a spirit of public service to his community.