Evidence suggests that mining was almost certainly undertaken in Shropshire in the Bronze and Iron Ages, but it is with the Romans that the county’s mining history can be truly said to have begun. The lead mines continued to be worked in the Middle Ages, producing lead for roofing, pipes and water tanks. But it was the period from the late 1700s to the mid-1900s that saw the busiest period of mining, and in this period Shropshire became famous for its lead mines, most notably Snailbeach and the adjacent Tankerville mines on the western slopes of the Stiperstones. In their heyday, these two mines each produced around a quarter to a half of the county’s lead ore, itself some 9 to 12% of the country’s total output.
Michael Shaw has scoured the hillsides of Shropshire, spent years researching records and books, and talked to surviving miners and members of the Shropshire Caving and Mining Club who have investigated many of the shafts and levels. The result is this extensively researched book, copiously illustrated with photographs, maps and plans, which gives an informative and often lively history of the lead, copper and barytes mines of Shropshire, including the associated railways, ropeways, mills and smelters.
Michael Shaw has always been interested in industrial history, notably that of the railways which served factories, mines and quarries. It was this interest that led him to research the tramway at Cothercott mine and thence to investigating the mines themselves. In so doing he gained a Master of Philosophy degree from Birmingham University having written a thesis on the Shropshire barytes industry. He has lived in Shrewsbury for the last quarter of a century and had a career as a building surveyor.
Paperback | 320 pages | 242 x 171 mm | reprinted 2019
b&w illustrations, mainly photographs