was the biggest and richest mine in the Shropshire orefield, so
it's fitting that so much of it has now been preserved for future
generations. It's also an excellent place to visit to get an idea
of what a lead mine was like.
of the original buildings survive in some form - they were saved
from demolition when Shropshire County Council bought the land that
most of them stand on. It is now a scheduled ancient monument.
the site is managed by the Shropshire Mines Trust, which has done
much work to preserve the site, as well as running conducted tours
both above and under the ground once a year in September.
machinery still lurks at Snailbeach mine
is typical in that its fortunes rose and fell along with the other
mines of the area. It was probably mined by the Romans, and by the
end of the 18th Century workings would have been deep enough to
warrant a steam engine house.
mine also had its own accident in March 1895. A cage lowering seven
men down into George's Shaft broke away from its cable and fell
250 metres, killing everyone inside.
cage, which had been 2.5 metres tall, had been crushed to a fifth
of its original height, yet bizarrely one of the miners' watches
was still ticking after the accident.
after the economics of the mine began to wane, and in 1911 the owners
took the decision to stop pumping water from the shafts and allow
the lower levels to flood. Mining of barite in the upper levels
and from the spoil tips continued until the 1950s when the mine
closed for good.
after many years of neglect, Snailbeach is being restored.
interior of Snailbeach mine today
County Council bought the site in 1990 and made it safe, also acquiring
grants to save some 20 buildings on the site considered to be of
historical interest. Snailbeach is said to be the best-preserved
lead mine site in the country.
1999 the headgear of George's Shaft was replaced, along with the
winding wheel. Other items have been taken away for restoration
and will return as they are refurbished.
work has been carried out by the Shropshire Mines Trust, which also
runs tours of the site and an open weekend every year in September.
is another site that has only recently been earmarked for conservation,
well over 100 years after it closed. The site was donated to the
Shropshire Mines Trust in 1996.
Snailbeach, it's being restored and some underground levels are
accessible under supervision. In its heyday Tankerville had the
deepest shaft in the Shropshire ore field - at 1,612ft below surface
- and a steam engine more than 1,000ft below ground.
part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, the Tar Tunnel is the only
remaining tunnel in the Ironbridge Gorge that can safely be visited.
It was originally built as a tunnel to connect mining levels, but
the tunnel-builders were confronted with bitumen coming from the
walls and so instead decided to mine the tar.
are taken along a 100 yard brick-lined section of the tunnel to
see the 'tar well'. The tunnel goes further to connect with iron,
coal and clay mines, but it isn't safe to go further.
Hill Victorian Town
working Victorian town, part of the Ironbridge museums complex,
includes the coal, ironstone and fireclay mine at Blists Hill. The
mine has a restored steam winding engine, which came from nearby
Miburgh Mine and the shaft has been re-opened for a depth of 15