In 1992, the remnant of Ketley canal was dredged to remove toxic residues, and the other two pools were also scraped clean of any vegetation. The canal had once linked the Shrewsbury canal in Oakengates to the Ketley iron works by way of the inclined plane running down from beside Ketley Hall.
The canal had stayed on level ground, where Telford built his Holyhead Road in c.1818, then tunnelled under Shepherds Lane. This tunnel was exposed during the major engineering work, and then blocked and made safe – it is now completely obscured by an earth bank and vegetation.
Two mineshafts were capped during the works. One on plantation mound. The other is in open ground to the left of the path from the main Ketley Paddock Mound iron gate up to the top. It is now marked by a depression, which fills with water each winter. You can see from the images below, that well below the surface there is a large steel reinforced concrete cap, so the depression is just not the actual shaft, but simply the top soil having settled.
The photographs below are taken from a photo album which was very kindly lent to us by residents of Potters Bank:- Trevor & Ann Williams.
Above – The tunnel under Shepherds Lane exposed – this, being a continuation of the line of the canal, is in the bank beyond the shallow basin and large sycamore trees opposite the present canal pool rail.
Right – More work to the tunnel, with the towpath exposed (and at 90degrees!) and Anne Williams standing within the tunnel space, showing its scale – the bank is now completely filled in from the Paddock Mound side.
Bottom – the lost pool path, showing how small this pool was. The steps became very poor, and were regraded into a slope making the canal accessible, but now new steps have been created on the re-routed path avoiding a recently identified shaft
All of the paths and steps through the site had been re-laid and surfaced in 1992, but in the 23 years to 2015, many of the paths had become covered in mud so as to be unusable in winter, and the steps were in a poor condition.
In 2014 /15 Ketley Parish Council in association with FoKPM was awarded a £30,000 grant from the Community Pride Fund for upgrades to the entrances, paths and steps needing major improvement and new rails. A completely new path was created within the site, running parallel with Shepherds Lane where the narrow road made this section hazardous for walkers – this has encouraged more people to use and enjoy paddock mound.
Our tasks now are often focused on keeping the paths clear of leaves and mud, so as to keep them in good condition for as long as possible.
Paddock Mound before work in 2014
After the 2015 project, with information boards at the entrances, improved paths and steps and the refurbished top gate
At each of the five entrances, information boards were positioned to give some background history and indication of the wildlife to be seen. There are individually oriented maps designed so that new walkers can navigate the whole site, and has encouraged more people to walk through in their normal journeys to school and community centre.
The top gate from Shepherds Lane was refurbished by Adrian Reynolds, and that entrance made more accessible by reducing the slope and repositioning the gate.
Part of the aim of the Friends of Paddock Mound is to ensure that the site remains accessible, and that paths remain in good condition, so that the area can be enjoyed by everyone. Though the hilly nature of paddock mound means it cannot be made totally accessible for pushchairs and to wheelchair users, it is now possible to walk all around the site without using the road, and initially it was possible to get to the canal pool without climbing steps. Unfortunately, step free access is not now possible to the canal pool as underground mine workings were identified in 2019 during the legal process of aquiring Local Nature Reserve status.
These photographs show the plan indicating positions of shafts, and work to divert the bus stop – canal footpath, with the sloping ground necessitating the addition of a series of shallow steps. The steps are wide and shallow, with handrail, and so hopefully most people will still be able to reach the canal, where we are continually working to open up the tree canopy, letting more light in. One day we may be able to install another information board and artwork to commemorate the historic Ketley Canal.