I expect a lot of us were unaware of the richness of the industrial heritage of Lilleshall, now mostly a dormitory and retirement village with a very prosperous air, set in lovely countryside. Sue and Ron Falder’s expertly-guided walk complete with explanatory handouts opened our eyes, and we had a most enjoyable walk on a glorious summer day.
Sue Falder writes:
The walk explored the development of limestone mining and quarrying in Lilleshall and the associated building of a network of tub-boat canals. The Donnington Wood canal, into which the Lilleshall arm fed, was only the second in the country, built in 1767.
We went up Barrack Lane, looking at modern houses which covered the old quarry yard and had replaced the workers’ barracks and stabling and then entered the main quarry area, which has recently been cleared and restored.
We went along the tramway which carried lime to the Lilleshall canal and saw the entrance to four kilns, two tunnels and two quarry pools and faces.
White limestone was used for building cement, for fertilizer and as flux for smelting at iron furnaces at Donnington Wood and Calbrookdale – Lilleshall limestone being known as superior to all others as ironstone flux. Lilleshall was also the source of grey limestone, a waterproof material which was used in the building of the Liverpool Docks.
We paused to look at The Plaque which commemorates the lengthy filling in process which took place in the nineties, when all the shafts under the housing in Limekiln Lane were filled with thousands of tonnes of cement and gravel.
At The Incline, we saw the entrance of a small tunnel which took tub-boats 65 metres to a shaft, where they were hauled up on to the higher-level Donnington Wood Canal. This was used for 30 years until the inclined plane (the second in the country after Ketley) was built. That system lasted for the next 85 years.
Some of the group ended the walk by going up Lilleshall Hill to see the Monument and admire the 360-degree view. Others went straight to the Redhouse Inn, where we enjoyed lunch.