• Local GAPs

Slide Show

Alveley and Severn Valley Country Park – from coal pits to parkland

Exercise your body and your mind on a healthy walk around old Alveley village and the restored landscape of 20 th century coal mining. The walk will help towards your daily exercise routine. At the same time think about how the landscape has come to look as it does, because of the rocks on which it is built, or those found in the surrounding area.

The most noticeable scenic feature of the area today is the valley of the River Severn, cut into a broad valley immediately west of the village. But rather than descending gradually, the slope clearly has a broad central step in it. 25,000 years ago this step was the flood plain of a young River Severn. The river had been following this course for only a few thousand years, since the melt-water from glaciers over the Shropshire Plain carved a new gorge through the hills at Ironbridge about 30,000 years ago. As the river flowed cleaner and faster it cut down through the earlier flood plains leaving them abandoned as terraces on the valley sides.

Only 70 years ago this terrace provided a level platform from which to exploit a much older geological feature, but one totally hidden from view: the coal seams of the Highley and Alveley Collieries. From 1936 to 1969 the colliery waste from the workings east of the river was piled up on the terrace such as to completely remodel the valley side. In the 1980s, the considerable amount of remaining spoil that had not been removed for use as aggregate elsewhere, was landscaped into the smoothly rounded contours that we see today. Much of it was seeded to grassland, some areas were planted with trees, and the larger hollows were left as pools to create the very varied habitats of the Severn Valley Country Park.

From Alveley the valley narrows downstream towards Highley Station and the prominent new buildings of the Severn Valley Railway visitor centre. This in itself occupies an important spot geologically: the old Stanley Quarry. It is the sandstone seen in that quarry that has resisted erosion and hence caused the valley narrowing. The stone from here went up and down the Severn for many of the more substantial buildings since medieval times, including Worcester Cathedral and Bridgnorth bridge. But in the last century the main product from here was aggregate for use as local roadstone.


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