The maps are supplied as a series of pdf files. It may be useful to print them in A3 size if this is possible, in order to make the detail clearer. Some of the maps have been copied from those contained in the Shropshire Archives in Shrewsbury. Electronic and paper copies of sections of old maps are available from www.old-maps.co.uk.
The collection clearly shows the changes in quality of mapping available at different times. In Britain we take the quality of maps produced by the Ordnance Survey for granted, but few countries have such accurate and detailed maps available.
A map of Snailbeach today can be found from the Ordnance Survey’s free ‘Get A Map’ service available on line at www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getamap. It will be helpful to compare this with the oldest map available. The ‘Snailbeach fields’ map in the Education Pack could be used.
This provides the essential link between the leaflet and numbered posts around the Heritage Site. However, the scale is seriously distorted when compared with other maps. Looking at the large scale Ordnance Survey Maps, the distance between the Ore House and the Engine House on resting Hill is roughly the same as the distance from the Ore House to the edge of the large reservoir. However, on the Mines Trust plan there is a serious shortening of distances outside the main mine area which makes navigation by visitors difficult.
The new interpretation is needed to provide a good resource.
This is the oldest large scale map of the area around Snailbeach. The Shropshire Archive has a collection of old parish maps which mark and name every piece of land in the county. Minsterley was at that time listed as being a township in the parish of Westley, which is a small hamlet consisting of just a few farms. It lies two kilometres North West of Minsterley and can be seen on the Railway Map of 1870. The section of the map provided shows the South Eastern corner of the parish.
Why was the map made?
This series of maps locates, numbers, and names every valuable plot of land in the parish. It was an important resource for landowners, and for people buying and selling land.
The line of the present main road has been drawn in red, and the minor road to Snailbeach is in Brown. Snailbeach as a settlement does not exist, but a patch of ground with lead mines in marked. Black squares presumably mark mine buildings in this piece of land, and the houses of mine workers in plots of land nearby. You might note that
· Wagbeach, close to the main road, is the largest settlement on the map.
· The footpath marked on today’s map would have been the way workers made their way to the Snailbeach Mine from Wagbeach.
· Wood Farm and Snailbeach Farm beside the road to Snailbeach already existed as Stackyards.
· Many field boundaries are unchanged, but some hedges have been removed today, and some fields have been divided.
· A line of buildings between Old Meadow 532 and Jacks Meadow 551 and Croft 552 seems to indicate the beginnings of a settlement at what would become Snailbeach. There are houses here today.
· A Leasow and a Meadow are pasture land for cattle.
· The edge of the map is not always the parish boundary. It would appear that the steep wooded hillsides around Snailbeach were not mapped.
· Snailbeach Mine may once have been described as ‘the richest acre in England’ and the map shows how small the important mining area was. There was nothing else in the Snailbeach valley to encourage commercial development, farming or housing.
The map is an enlargement of part of a county map of Shropshire dated 1870. The railways are shown as continuous lines, and the railway to Minsterley from Hanwood, completed in 1861, is marked. Planned railway lines are shown as dashed lines, but not all of these would necessarily be constructed. All of the railway information is up to date because any railway required an Act of Parliament, and information about the line was published. Other information is quite seriously out of date, by as much as 50 years.
Why was the map made?
County Maps were coloured by hand, to make them attractive, and were available in various versions showing
· Major estates
· Administrative divisions of the County
· Geology and potential for extracting minerals
Each county was produced on a map of the same size, even though they all varied hugely. This was because the main market was not study, but having an attractive map to frame and put on the wall in the house of someone with interests in their area.
Relief, the steep hills around Snailbeach, is marked by shading. The position of Snailbeach is indicated in red on the map. Note that the map makers have completely ignored all developments at Snailbeach. It is not regarded as a place to identify.
This is a reproduction of the first large scale Ordnance Survey Map at a scale of 1:2500, which shows the development of the mine at its height, with the greatest extent of buildings.
The collection of maps includes an annotated version of the map. Note that
· Plots of land are numbered. The extent of the waste tips from the mine, plots 513, 521, part of 523, can be seen clearly.
· Snailbeach is named as a settlement.
· Snailbeach Mine is marked, with the name clearly showing that activity centres on the New Engine Shaft on Resting Hill. George’s Shaft is just marked ‘shaft’
Why was the Ordnance Survey formed?
In 1791 that the Government realised that in planning adequate defences to repel an invasion (from France), the South Coast of England needed to be comprehensively and accurately mapped. So it instructed its Board of Ordnance – the Defence Ministry of its day – to carry out the necessary survey work. The survey was extended to the whole country, and was intended to show everything of possible interest as accurately as possible.
This shows part of the map made to a 6 inch to the mile scale (about 1 to 10,000) and produced in 1888. Information is largely copied from the earlier Large Scale Map.
· The labelled Reservoir is new, but the older reservoirs, coloured blue, remain.
· The new Compressor House, dated 1881, is shown.
· The railway is built and equipped with weighing machines and a crane.
· The tramway out of the mine to the Crusher House, and other tramways to the Ore House, Smelter and the tips are not shown.
· The Buddles, visible today at the north west edge of the main tip, in plot 506, have not been built.
· Contours, with dotted lines, mark the height of the land above sea level in feet. 1,000 feet is about 300 metres.
· The railway follows a rather tortuous path to reach the mine, with trains from Pontesbury having to reverse by the weighbridge, and then reverse again at the mine. It might have seemed simpler to bring the track straight to the mine via the smelter, but the intention had been to extend the railway beyond Snailbeach. This is why the tracks miss the mine.
The collection of maps includes an annotated version of this map. The main change is that the drawing is greatly improved. Besides having areas of land numbered, the area of each one is marked in acres. An acre is about 0.4 of a hectare, and about 2½ acres are a hectare. An acre is 4,000 square metres and a hectare is 10,000 square metres – a square with sides of 100 metres.
· Tramways, including the one out of the Day Level to the Crusher House, are shown.
· The Smelter has closed and its tramway has gone.
· There is no tramway to the Ore House, as ore is taken directly to the railway.
· One of the old reservoirs, plot 276, has now either silted up or has been filled with mine waste.
· There is a new building beside the railway at 522 where waste material from the tip is being reworked to extract Barytes.
· The circular Buddles that can be seen today close to the road on the tip in plot 513 are present, and enclosed in a shed.
This drawing of the mine shows the mine at its time of maximum productivity. Note that it will need to be turned to bring north to the top to make an easy comparison with the other maps to be made.
Again, the drawing requires reorientation to match the other maps.