Clee Hills

The area around Clee Hill village, 8 km east of Ludlow, provides vivid evidence of an eighteenth century squatting community in which industry developed on a considerable scale. On the Clee Hills, which rise to almost 550 m above sea level, the carboniferous measures near the summits are capped by dolerite.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries stretches of common land on the shoulders of the hills were colonised by families who built their own homes, surrounding them with enclosures marked by ditches and low ramparts topped by hedges of useful plants, hazel, damson, crab apple and holly. Iron ore from mines on the hill was carried by packhorse to several charcoal-fuelled blast furnaces in the surrounding lowlands until the 1840s.

The area includes extensive areas of bellpit remains, particularly on Catherton Common. Two coke-fuelled blast furnaces were built during the Industrial Revolution period on the shoulders of the hill at Cornbrook and Knowbury, and a forge at Knowbury worked until the owner migrated to New Zealand in the 1840s. In the mid-nineteenth century more substantial collieries were sunk, with shafts penetrating through the dolerite, of which some traces remain. From the 1860s the dolerite was quarried and despatched by a railway which ascended to one summit on a 2 km inclined plane. Quarries on another summit were reached by a second, 3 ft (0.9 m) gauge inclined plane. Between 1909 and 1928 stone was carried 5.6 km eastwards to a standard gauge railway by an aerial ropeway. Dolerite was used as road stone, particular as setts for city streets. There are also traces on the hill of lime burning, glass making, and of the manufacture of bricks, tiles, pottery and glass.

Several organisations arrange guided walks on the hill, details of which are provided by the tourist authorities. To wander along packhorse tracks and among gorse and bracken on open commons, to pick over the spoil around bell pits and slag heaps, and to see cottages in their hedged enclosures offers an opportunity to understand significant aspects of the process of industrialisation.

Clee Hills
Ludlow Tourist Information Centre
Castle Street
SY8 1AS Ludlow
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1584 - 875053