This was the largest and most productive metalliferous mine in the county and it consequently has an impressive collection of both surface remains and accessible underground workings. Much of the site has been acquired by Shropshire County Council and they have preserved many of the buildings. Extensive work has also been undertaken to infill shallow underground workings near the village and on the high ground to the east. Parking is restricted so use the car park next to the village hall.
In front of the car park are the large tips which were once white and thus a local landmark. These have now been landscaped and planted to prevent pollution. To the north, at the base of the tips, are several round buddles (1) which have only recently been uncovered. To the south-west of the village hall is Scott Level, which is a grilled and stone arched adit leading under the road towards Resting Hill and eventually towards Crowsnest Dingle.
On climbing the road up to Lordshill, the first building encountered is the Halvans engine house. This was constructed in 1900 and housed a horizontal engine to process the tips for barytes. The road then climbs past the tips to the level of the dressing floors and on the left can be seen an area of exposed spoil that has been retained for amateur geologists. Next to this is the ore house and a tunnel under the road which allowed the ore to be conveyed from the dressing floor to the start of the tramway to the smeltworks. East of this is the filled Black Tom Shaft, which has been filled to within 6ft of the top and grilled. The headframe has been stored for future reconstruction and the wooden engine shed has been preserved. Several other features from the dressing plant can be found nearby, as well as a filled adit. To the east is Paraffin Level which has been grilled and filled a short distance inside.
On the other side of the road, several buildings remain in fair condition. By far the most impressive of these is the compressor house and its chimney, erected in 1881. Between this and the miners’ dry is the grilled portal of Day Level, which leads to Lordshill Shaft and out of which ore was trammed to the crusher house. Next to the dry is the engine house that served Georges Shaft, now filled to within 6ft of the top and grilled. Behind the engine house, was a reservoir to serve the boilers. The headframe of George’s Shaft was rebuilt in 1999 and the cage stands underneath. Adjacent to the shaft is a blacksmiths shop, built onto the side of an old pumping engine house. Next to this is the mine office, which contained documents now deposited in the County Record Office, and the engine shed for the locomotives that used to run on the Snailbeach District Railway. This line, which had a gauge of 2ft 4 inches, was built in 1877 and connected the mine to Minsterley.
Some way up the hillside is the massive structure of Lordshill engine house and the smaller buildings of the winding engine and boiler house. The grilled Engine Shaft is just in front of the engine house and to the side is the space where the balance bob used to sit. The shaft was descended for 420ft in 1993 to a rubble blockage at the 112 Yard Level. It was possible to squeeze into the level itself but water met the roof after about 650ft. Further up the hill is the tall chimney that served both the Lordshill boilers and the smeltmill flue. Small sections of the flue can be followed some way down the hillside. The smeltmill itself has been turned into a farm and there was little left to see in 1964. At the top of the valley is the reservoir that served the dressing floors. The valves are situated in a small brick building below the reservoir. To the south are the remains of the magazine which is a square stone building with double walls to direct any blast upwards. To the west is a section of the railway loop that took coal up to Lordshill engine house. To the east is the remains of a processing shed with a jaw crusher and several kibbles.
Some distance away in Hope Valley is the portal of Wagbeach Level, the drainage level of the mine. Here are the remains of a waterwheel pit used to drive a dressing mill for barytes from Cliffdale Mill. Contrary to popular opinion, the water was not driven by water from the level. At an early stage of the working of Snailbeach, this wheel drove the pumps to drain the mine. Wagbeach Level has been explored some distance in waist deep water to a blockage. This has been dug through to reveal a second blockage and a third, although water still flows freely through. These have been caused by infilling of the air shafts.
Entry to the underground workings is possible in several ways. In Scott Level there were two dams, one being a concrete dam to chest depth approximately 100ft from the entrance. This was installed to provide a water supply for a number of properties around the entrance. There was a more substantial dam approximately 200 yards from the entrance. This consisted of large wooden sleepers arranged as a 'V' pointing into the level, backed by around 12" of clay, held in place by a wall of bricks. A 6" metal pipe leads from this dam to a shaft up to Resting Hill and it is thought that Scott Level was dammed here to provide a water supply for surface processing at the mine. Part way up, the water pipe was diverted via another level and carried out to surface. The shaft on Resting Hill now has a grill covering it but the pipes are still in place in the shaft and along the level to surface.
Both dams have now been completely breached by contractors on behalf of the County Council and it is possible to explore further. The level is very straight and without any side passages for approximate 500 yards beyond the dam. About 20ft before the end of this level, there is a branch to the left which has only been explored for about 100ft before the low oxygen level prevented further exploration. At the end of the main drive, the level turns left where it follows a vein which has been worked to some extent. This branch has been followed for a further 300 yards before the low oxygen level stopped further progress. A short distance along this branch, there is a short cross-cut to the right which leads to a flooded square shaft. There is another right hand cross-cut slightly further on but this has yet to be explored.
Perkins Level leads in 50yds under a small capped air shaft to a junction. Turning right leads to a stope in a barytes vein, with a passage continuing to several blind headings. Straight on at the junction leads to a bridge over the top of a stope. Beyond the bridge, the bottom of a large stope is reached and this is accessed by two shafts from surface, known as Sheep Shaft and Paint Shaft. Back at the bridge, a descent leads eventually to the 40 Yard Level with several artefacts including trucks, tools, etc. A cross cut from here leads to Chapel Shaft. A further descent is possible to the 112 Yard Level, which is the current water level in the mine and where the Wagbeach Level connects.
Adjacent to Perkins Level is another boarded up adit which is used as a water supply. It goes 30yds to a fall. Another adit only goes in a short way and yet another adit leads to a fork and ends in two blind headings. There were once open stopes on top of the hill but these have been filled and landscaped. Yew Tree Level is over the hill but has not been visited. Chapel Shaft is adjacent to a small chapel and is grilled. Nearby are the remains of the engine house and boiler with a flue that ran up the hillside to a stub chimney. A trial adit east of here goes for 100ft to right angled turn to the right, then a further 50ft to a blind heading. There is waist deep water for most of the way.
The Shropshire County Council, using government grants, did extensive work in the early 1990s to make some of the shallow workings safe for the villagers. At the same time, they acquired many of the surface buildings and preserved these. The Shropshire Mines Trust now manages the site for the Council.