Dawley is a small town in the borough of Telford and Wrekin and ceremonial county of Shropshire, England. Today it forms part of the new town of Telford (which was originally, in 1963, going to be named Dawley New Town before it was decided in 1968 to name the town Telford instead after the engineer and road builder Thomas Telford). Dawley is however one of the older settlements in Shropshire, being mentioned in the Domesday Book. It is divided into Dawley Magna ("Great Dawley") and Little Dawley (also shown as Dawley Parva ("Little Dawley") on older maps). The town's main parish is officially called Great Dawley - Dawley Hamlets is a separate parish, which covers Little Dawley and other neighbouring villages/suburbs.
The nearest railway station is Telford Central. Historically, the Great Western Railway maintained a line that passed through the parish, going through the tunnel at Heath Hill. This is currently part of Telford Steam Railway's expansion project
Dawley is mentioned in the Domesday Book and is therefore one of the older settlements in Shropshire. It was, for over three centuries, a mining town, both for coal and ironstone. Clay extraction for local industrial-pipe factories, brickyards and the pottery industry has been a major influence on the landscape.
Prior to large scale levelling as part of the development of Telford New Town, the area was covered by clay mounts and large clay pits that dominated the landscape to the extent that they formed points of reference for the locals. There is still a local clay pipe factory in the adjacent Doseley village; grey clay predominates on the immediate outskirts of Dawley.
The mining had an important impact on the culture. The Springwell Pit Disaster in 1872 cost eight men and boys their life.
There was a castle in Dawley, but it was demolished around 1648. The site is unknown, although the Castle Pools (on the old quarry site) and Castle Ironworks (built by the Darby family, one of whom commissioned the world-famous Iron Bridge) possibly indicate the general area where it may have stood. Prior to the landscaping, following the creation of Telford New Town, extensive ruins were detectable next to the Castle Pools and are shown on old maps as being the location of the castle. In the 1980s, the whole area was buried under thick topsoil and planted with trees. Ironbridge is a short distance away.
The adjacent village of Horsehay was the site of a bridge and later a crane fabrication factory that exported around the world. The bridge over Victoria Falls is said to have been built there. Telford Steam Railway trust is located across the road from the former factory site.
On Monday, June 7, 2010, Dawley had become subject to plenty of media attention. This is because some locals had recreated the 'Hollywood' sign on a noticeable Dawley bank. but with Dawley instead of Hollywood. The Shropshire Star had a full page spread article on that day's evening edition to honour the effort made by locals. As of midday on Tuesday, June 8, 2010 over 1000 Telfordians had joined a Facebook group showing support for the sign and acknowledging the efforts by its creators.
Dawley is famed for its dialect which includes some quite unique words, including "bist", presumably from the German meaning "are". The dialect is largely lost. Along with the dialect were various conventions and traditions, notably the "pig on the wall". Traditionally, Dawley residents would show their support for The Dawley Priz Band or other civic marches by placing their pigs on their wall. The pig also features in the dialect, with a romantic phrase apparently being "I wudna swop thee for a big black pig!"