with the mines were huge engine houses, chimneys, a whole range
of buildings, spoil tips, railways and overhead ropeways, most of
which have long since been cleared or have disappeared as nature
took the sites over.
there are no working mines left in Shropshire, and most of the mine
sites were abandoned long ago.
appear as little more than humps and bumps in the landscape, but
if you look closely, there are remains.
as the remains begin to decay, there are more and more people who
want to save what there is for future generations to at least have
an indication of what happened at these often remote sites.
mine buildings dot the Shropshire countryside. This engine
house once served Ladywell Mine and was erected in 1875
coal was by far the most-mined substance in the county, metals such
as lead, copper, zinc and iron were mined, along with clay, limestone
in Shropshire goes back an awfully long way - back to the Romans
in fact, and maybe even further. There are signs that Bronze Age
man may have mined copper at Llanymynech, while the Romans mined
lead in the Shropshire hills more than 1,500 years ago.
then followed centuries of inactivity until the middle ages, when
mining began in earnest and gradually mineral and coal deposits
at the surface and in natural caves were exhausted.
in the 13th Century mining had begun underground, with miners accessing
coal or minerals via shafts dug into hillsides called adits, or
pits are shallow shafts with short passages at the bottom, which
were abandoned as soon as problems with ventilation or stability
were encountered. The miners would then dig another bell pit next
to the original one until that, too was abandoned, and so on.
Clee Hill, this method continued until the 18th Century, and bell
pits can still clearly be seen in the area, especially on Titterstone
the mid 18th Century, mineshafts had become deeper and deeper in
search of ore and coal - but the age of industry was about to revolutionise
came steam engines to pump the water out of the lower levels, operate
winding gear or cruch ore for processing, followed by explosive
to blast ore out of the underground rock.
industrialised mining flourished for 150-odd years and changed the
character of the county for ever.
of the villages and towns in Shropshire grew up around new mines
and began to thrive. The mines not only provided jobs for the miners,
but also for whole communities - not least the local innkeepers.
Chimney at Snailbeach Mine
as specialist workers move around today following their work, people
moved into Shropshire to work in the mines.
occasionally when the mines closed down the local community would
be devastated, and sometimes when it did the entire population of
the village would move elsewhere, leaving ghost towns, the remains
of which can often be seen as rubble in the remotest of spots.
mines closed they did so suddenly.
example, when Snailbeach mine, now Shropshire's best-preserved site,
closed down completely in the 1950s, it was as if the workers just
walked off the site at the end of the shift.
all the ore-carrying wagons were left as they were, and are today
rusted to the rails, and the miners seemingly downed tools and left.
ground the manager's office was full of plans and documents and
his desk still had glass ink pots on it, giving the impression he
was coming back any moment.
on the site, tools, equipment, machinery and even locomotives were
left exactly as they were. The same went for the mine entrances,
and no effort was made to make them safe.