Sunday, October 12, 2008

A portrait of Snailbeach


Photo by Sabine J Hutchinson
http://www.virtual-shropshire.co.uk/

It seems I am not the only blogger to be obsessed with this Shropshire village.

Mountainear writes:

What a fantastically strange place this is, especially on a dank autumnal day. Actually to call it dank is a tad untrue - we were blessed with clear blue skies which lit up leaves, hips and haws. Whatever. We're in a post-industrial landscape. The mines here produced, at the height of production, the largest quantity of lead in Europe but since their decline in the dying years of the 19th century the landscape has reclaimed its own.

Those lumps and bumps you see may be spoil heaps or a tumble-down settlement. The Shropshire Mines Trust has the industrial buildings and the mines themselves in its care and have worked to safe-guard this local history for future generations.

The village itself, clinging to the hillside, is a mix of old and new. Incongruous executive homes have been built as infill on plots here and there and they dwarf the little worker's cottages that remain. I never entirely escape the feeling that here the 'old ways' are just beneath the surface - maybe one day a year a mist rolls in and the past comes to life again.

Talking of Snailbeach, the website devoted to the supposed scheme to reopen the old mineral railway has disappeared, if only temporarily.

Welcome though it would be, many railway enthusiasts doubt whether this is a genuine scheme. Certainly, the number of obviously fake anonymous comments in support of it on this posting on Liberal England do nothing to increase one's confidence in it. Nor do the very odd personal e-mails I have received.

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