Lloyds Coppice, Ironbridge Gorge - Severn Gorge Countryside Trust
In 1301, Madeley Wood, thewoodland which sloped downfrom Madeley to the river, wastaken over by Much Wenlockpriory.Under ecclesiastic control,the woodland was used forfattening 400 pigs and was oneof the most productive in thecounty.After the Dissolution the areapassed into private ownership.Coppicing, for timber andcharcoal, probably began in the14th century.By the 15th centurythe western extension ofMadeley Wood was called LloydsCoppice. At this time there wasalready coal, ironstone and claymining here and the methods ofextraction remained similar untilthe 18th century.In the late 19th century, theMadeley Wood company tookover all the mineral extraction inthe vicinity and Lloyds Coppicehad its own colliery with tramways and railways. Owned by the Anstice family, theMadeley Wood company was prosperous, paternalistic and abolished child labour.However, the prosperity did not last.The company moved to richer, more accessiblemining sites and despite building their grand house in Lloyds Coppice, the Ansticessold up and moved to New Zealand.Throughout this history the woodland itself has always healed the scars left bypeople and Nature. It still has a defiantly resilient wild spirit and, haunted by thosewho struggled to exploit it through the centuries, Lloyds Coppice continues to castits immutably green shadow along the river.
THE SONG OF THE COPPICEThroughout its history Lloyds Coppice became renowned forthe recurring presence of a distinctive song, one of the mostalluring in Nature: the song of the nightingale. Local peoplewould travel miles on a summer night to listen to themagical notes of the nightingale which had one of themost northerly nesting sites in Britain here. In recentdecades the nightingales failed to return and now their songis silent. When the Telford Development Corporation tookover Lloyds Coppice in the 1980s attempts were made toreplicate traditional coppice management of the woods toprovide the ideal habitat for nightingales. But for mysterious reasons thenightingales have still not returned. This depletion in the natural range of thesebirds is not just a local issue but a national and international one. Other reasons forreinstating coppice management were to create greater diversity in the specieswhich depend on light penetrating the dense tree canopy and also the economicuse of local green timber.The Severn Gorge Countryside Trust took over the management of Lloyds Coppicein 1991. It inherited ancient semi-naturalwoodland, patches of acidic grassland,archaeological remains, plantations,footpaths, increasing urban pressures,previous regimes of woodland management,conservation priorities and the ghosts ofthose who laboured here for centuries.The Trust aims to balance the conservationof landscape, wildlife and public access andalso to reinforce the cultural importance ofthis very special place.NightingaleSome areas of Lloyds Coppice will bemanaged and some allowed to managethemselves. People and Nature have alwaysplayed a part in shaping this place and willcontinue to do so.