► History of Ketley Paddock Mound ◄


This plan of the Manor of Ketley, dated 1794, shows the boundaries of the site much as we know them today, and the canal is clearly shown. By this time the mineral wealth of East Shropshire was being voraciously exploited to supply the ironworks of Coalbrookdale and Ketley. The plan shows a “Supposed Extent of Stone Coal” measure to the west of the site. There is only circumstantial evidence that Paddock Mound, as we know it today, was formed by spoil from pennystone (ironstone) mining as well as by coal mining. Historical maps of the East Shropshire coalfield area generally refer to 'coal shafts or 'old shafts' which makes it very difficult to pinpoint those mines which mined or also mined pennystone. We do know that the Shrubbery coalmine, half a mile away at Mosseygreen, had a 16 feet pennystone seam at a depth of 90 feet.

The late Victor Bailey ("Cocker" ) of Quarry Lane worked underground at the Shrubbery pit until its closure c.1955, and it was from him, and from Alan Harper of Beveley, that I was first led to believe that pennystone had once been mined here. One interesting fact is that during heavy rainstorms 'ochry' (rust-coloured) water streams down Shepherds Lane, and often colours the pools around Paddock Mound.

A typical pennystone seam comprises a matrix of nodules of ironstone in clay. The clay containing the ironstone, once mined, would be dumped above and around the shaft to weather. Normally women would be employed to pick the nodules of ironstone from the clay, which they would then carry in wooden boxes on their heads. Since the clay was spread all around the shaft, the heap (mound) grew in height and the shaft deepened.


In the early days of mining it was normally a requirement of the lease that when the mine was exhausted the shaft should be filled and the land returned to its original state. Later on it was common for shafts to be capped, sometimes with a brick dome. Pictured below is the cap for a pennystone mine shaft at Turners yard, Caughley, which was 108' deep and 5' diameter. More typically mineshafts had a diameter of 6' 6". Earlier mines often had square shafts lined with timber.


This photo shows the main Paddock Mound mine shaft being capped in 1992. Residues of iron ore and coal can clearly be seen. Over the past 50 years thousands of similar small mineshafts have been capped in the Telford area



The Paddock Mound site actually comprises two mounds. The one to the south is the more accessible and well used by walkers and nature lovers.  The "Plantation" mound to the north is heavily wooded and less accessible. It too had a mineshaft capped in 1992. A substantial part of this mound was previously owned by Ketley "Good Companions" but this has now passed into public ownership. There are however small parts of this mound in the possession of householders in School Lane. It is supposed that the mound derived its name from the fact that it was planted with trees in the 19th century. This was not uncommon when mounds fell into disuse (e.g. Barnetts Leasow in Broseley)

The story can now be brought more up to date - i.e. within living memory (of older folk at least !) Much of what follows is based on personal recollection or discussions with neighbours and local residents.

In the first half of the 20th century the site was used for farming and cattle roamed freely. It is not known who owned the land but it was let to Harry Whittingham who lived at 104 Potters Bank with his two sisters, one of whom, Nellie, kept the house. Their sister, Miss Whittingham, taught at the Ketley School, Holyhead Road (now the Community Centre). Adjacent to 104 were old stone farm buildings as mapped here on OS sheet SJ61 (1957):


By the 1960's these buildings were largely derelict and finally disappeared in the 1990's when the plot was used by Severn Trent to build huge drainage chambers (See here) My neighbour, Brian Richards, recalls that Harry would regularly chase off children found to be anywhere other than on the footpaths. Perhaps it was down to Harry being a special constable !  Harry also delivered milk in his horse and trap.


Since publishing this material we've been approached (Feb. 2016) by Jerel Whittingham. He writes:

"Harry Whittingham was my great uncle. His brother Percy was my Grandfather and the Whittingham family had lived in that area for donkey's years. I remember visiting Aunts Nellie and Alice Whittingham at Potters Bank Farm as a very small child in the mid 60's. This is a photo of my father outside the Ketley schools"

http://www.shropshirestar.com/wpmvc/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/past11.jpg

Our thanks to Jerel for this gem of information !!

By the 1960's Harry had retired and the land had effectively become public open space and was heavily used for recreational purposes. However, in the 1950's  significant parcels of land in Ketley had been acquired by the developers, K.E. Millard & Co. and this included the Paddock Mound site. Planning permission was granted by Wellington Rural District Council for the Woodside Road development and building commenced soon after.

In February 1961 outline planning permission was also granted for the erection of dwelling houses and construction of roads on the 11 acre Paddock Mound site.

However, in the mid 60's progress on the Woodside Road estate stalled. Some readers will remember the clay wasteland between the top of Woodside Road and the cemetery. The stall was probably down to financial issues but also the fact that the lower land in Ketley was experiencing serious flooding.

In 1967, Fen Tyler, a Wellington RDC councillor, raised the matter of the future of the Paddock Mound site with the District Council and also with the Telford Development Corporation, by now the prime mover in the area's future. He received a sympathetic hearing in both cases but it was an unavoidable fact that K.E. Millard retained outline planning permission for the site.

By the 1970's a 'head of steam' was growing in the locality with many residents opposed to further development and the Ketley Paddock Mound Preservation Group was formed.


By a stroke of very good fortune K.E. Millard had let their outline planning consent lapse. When they applied for a renewal it was rejected by the District Council (not in principle, but on the grounds that it was premature in the light of local drainage issues). The developer appealed and in 1981 a Local Enquiry was held, chaired by Mr J.H. Chater, CEng, MIMunE, FIHE.

Through fund-raising events the Preservation Group had already raised substantial monies and was able to hire the services of Mr C.A. Pedley, FRICS, planning consultant at Charles F. Jones, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, to represent them at the Enquiry. This well-attended supper in Red Lake Church Hall (1977) was one such event.

For a fascinating sample of the evidence presented to the Local Enquiry go here  This link takes you to a posting on the Friends of Paddock Mound Facebook Group, which is accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. For guidance on setting up a Facebook account click here


The decision of the chair of the Local Enquiry, published in June 1983 made very good reading !!

"From my inspections of the site and surroundings and the representations that have been made by and on behalf of a considerable number of residents both at the Inquiry and by letter, I am of the opinion that Paddock Mound is indeed an important, and maybe unique, landscape feature, which provides a significant measure of relief for the residents in this area of the New Town when such relief elsewhere might have to be contrived at some considerable expense..... In my opinion, therefore, neither houses nor roads ought to be built upon the appeal site"

At the time local residents thought the battle to save Paddock Mound was finally won. It wasn't !

In 1985 the site passed into public ownership when the site was acquired by Wrekin District Council. By 1990 the new owners had enclosed the two pastures to the east of the site and had let them for grazing.

For reasons it never disclosed and certainly not because of a further Public Inquiry, the local authority in 1992 unilaterally changed the status of the paddock area describing it as “grazing outside site boundary”. This was followed in 1997 by their application (W97/0737) for planning permission for housing development on the paddock. This was met with stiff resistance from local residents and at the Plans Board the Chair used her casting vote to turn down the application.

In 2013 Telford & Wrekin Council followed the example of Wrekin Council and also made an application for development (TWC/2013/0824) of the paddock area. The plan was for road widening of Shepherds Lane and a  development of 12 houses.


This was met with energetic resistance from the recently formed Friends of Ketley Paddock Mound, Ketley Parish Council, district councillors, the Shropshire Wildlife Trust and many other groups. More than 150 objections were posted on the Council's website. In the event the application was withdrawn hours before the Plans Board was due to meet.

So if the reader has stayed the course he/she might be forgiven for asking: "so is the site safe now ?" Well, the signs are good. The site has been awarded Local Wildlife Site status, and at the time of writing (December 2015) it is to be placed on a list of 11 local sites scheduled as Local Nature Reserves. Whilst neither designation gives absolute protection it is very unlikely that applications for development will be made in the future.

A tripartite arrangement for the management and maintenance for the site is now in place with FoKPM, Ketley Parish Council, and Telford & Wrekin Council officers meeting regularly. 

Ketley Parish Council in association with FoKPM was recently awarded a £30,000+ Community Pride grant to be used for upgrades to site entrances and paths. This work starts 14/12/2015 and will feature a new path alongside the Shepherds Lane hedgerow, replacing the K50 footpath which was effectively lost by enclosure.

Apart from the convenience of having a path for walkers wishing to traverse the site and to avoid traffic hazards, the new path will be seen by many as emblematic of a great future for this well-loved open space.

Many thanks to Maggie Evans, Chair of the Ketley History Group, for the following brief history of the Ketley Canal:

                                                The William Reynolds Ketley Canal

The Ketley Canal was constructed between 1787 and 1788 by William Reynolds and his father Richard Reynolds of Ketley. William Reynolds was born in 1758 at Bank House, Coalpit Bank (now called Ketley Bank) the son of the Ironmaster and Philanthropist Richard Reynolds.
 
They moved to Ketley Hall about 1793 or soon after. Reynolds and his father started work on the Ketley Canal in 1787, in order to transport ironstone and coal from Oakengates to their foundries at Ketley. It ran in a westerly direction from Oakengates, passing through a tunnel under Shepherds Lane Potters Bank, and ended to the south of Ketley Hall. At this point there was a 73-foot drop to his Ketley Iron Works.

To build locks to lower the level of the canal was out of the question, as the meagre water supply for the canal was pumped from the mines. The main supply was probably the 'Derbyshire' level, an underground drainage channel which ran from Ketley to Old Park. It is said that slide rails were installed along the canal at some of the bends, which enabled a train of tub boats to be guided around the bends when pulled by a single horse.

Although the incline was disused by 1818, after closure of the Ketley ironworks, the Ketley Canal still served a coal wharf near Ketley Hall in 1842, and was not finally abandoned until the 1880s. Little is left of the canal today, the basin can still be seen at the back of Ketley Hall and part of the canal on the Paddock Mound.

   
Canal route over Paddock Mound.
  
Ketley canal tunnel (East).
  
Inclined plane half-penny token.
  
Canal basin behind Ketley Hall.
  
                                  Back to top of page