Miners' cottages reopen on the Stiperstones

image captionRemains of pigsties, a root store and fruit beds have been found

Two historic miners' cottages in Shropshire have reopened following a £300,000 restoration project.

The cottages on the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve were built near Blakemoregate in the 1800s at the height of the area's lead production.

Since July 2010 one of the cottages has been virtually rebuilt from rubble.

Senior reserve manager Simon Cooter said the aim of the restoration was to discover lost communities and re-discover how people survived.

The buildings were inhabited until the 1950s, and part of the project was to collect memories of the people who lived in the harsh, remote environment of the Stiperstones.

Best views

The nature reserve is managed by Natural England and grants from English Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund, European Leader Fund and others has paid for the restoration.

image captionLife in the cottages would have been grim in the winter months, said Mr Cooter

The funding has also paid for a book of memories, a walking booklet and training for volunteers who will continue rebuilding the stone banks.

Remains of pigsties, a root store and fruit beds are evidence of the self-sufficient lifestyle of the families who lived in the cottages.

Mr Cooter said it had been a fantastic project. One of the cottages suffered from damp but had one of the best views in Shropshire.

He said: "In the summer it would have been lovely, in the winter it would have been pretty grim."

Lead mining in the Stiperstones dates back to Roman times.

Mr Cooter said in the mid-1800s about 500 people worked on the lead mines, then the most important lead mines in Europe.

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