Coordinates: 52°29′42″N 2°48′58″W / 52.495°N 2.816°W / 52.495; -2.816

South Shropshire District
South Shropshire

Shown within Shropshire non-metropolitan county
 • OriginClun and Bishop's Castle Rural District
Ludlow Rural District
 • Created1 April 1974
 • Abolished31 March 2009
 • Succeeded byShropshire
ONS code39UF
GovernmentSouth Shropshire District Council
 • HQLudlow

South Shropshire was, between 1974 and 2009, a local government district in south west Shropshire, England.

South Shropshire was the most rural district of one of the UK's most rural counties, the population of the district was 40,410 in 2001[1] spread out over 1,027 km2 of forest, mountains, moorlands, hills and mixed quality farmland. It bordered the unitary authority of Powys in Wales, which it closely resembled, economically, socially, culturally and historically. 65% of the district is part of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The towns in the district were Ludlow, Church Stretton, Cleobury Mortimer, Clun, Bishop's Castle and Craven Arms.

The district was formed by the merger of the rural districts of Clun and Bishop's Castle and Ludlow in 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972.[2]

The district and its council were abolished on 1 April 2009 when the new Shropshire unitary authority was established, as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.


South Shropshire had many ancient monuments, with Mitchells Fold on the Welsh border being the most notable, and there is evidence of Neolithic quarrying in the Apedale. The area seems to have been settled by the Ordovices, an Iron Age tribe of people in the last millennium BC, and was a stronghold of the Celtic chieftain Caractacus (Caer Caradoc is said to be named after him). The area was probably part of the "Military" division of the Roman occupation and locals claim that the Romans mined lead in the north west of the district.

In the Early Middle Ages, the area was a battleground between the Welsh and the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Mercia and Offa's Dyke, which is partially in the district, is a permanent reminder of the areas border status. In the Middle Ages, South Shropshire was part of the Welsh Marches, a lawless area ruled by tyrannical feudal lords, who as Marcher Lords had de facto independence from the King of England.

During the English Civil War the area was generally spared from fighting, although there was a small massacre at Hopton Castle and Ludlow Castle was captured by Parliamentary troops.

During the Industrial Revolution, coal was mined around Clee Hill and lead was mined near the border with Wales, e.g. at Snailbeach. Church Stretton was a centre of textile manufacture and Ludlow thrived on the malting trade, while the rest of the area was populated by smallholders. The economy of the area was fragile, and most industry in the area had collapsed by 1900.

The administrative area of South Shropshire was created on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 as one of six non-metropolitan districts within Shropshire. It covered the area of two former districts:[3]

The district and its council were abolished on 31 March 2009, with the area becoming part of the new Shropshire Council unitary authority from 1 April 2009, as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.[4]


The AONB is highlighted in Green.
The AONB is highlighted in Green.

The District of South Shropshire covered an area of 1,028 square kilometres, or 397 square miles (1,030 km2), which was roughly one third of the administrative county of Shropshire as of 2008.

South Shropshire included mountains, valleys, hills, moors, forests and low grade farmland. The landscape is often rugged, with crags and rock outcrops very common, especially in the west and around the Clee Hills, and was for the most part gouged by glaciers during the ice age. The area's many rock types made it particularly interesting to geologists, with Wenlock Edge being especially noteworthy.

See the Shropshire Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) for more about the natural geography of the area.

Economics and demographics

Economically the district was largely dependent on tourism, partly due to the decline in the economic significance of farming and also the decline and subsequent end of local lead and coal mining industry. In addition to tourism, some light industry did exist in the district, in the Church Stretton and Ludlow areas, and in Burford, near Tenbury Wells.

Additionally, the local demographics show a large economic gap between affluent residents and poorer communities. Many of the affluent residents have moved into the area from other places, such as South East England on their retirement. This continues an older trend whose root was initially in the imbalance of wealth associated with the farming economy previously prevalent in the area.

Historical population
Population figures for South Shropshire. Source: [5]

Energy policy

In May 2006, a report commissioned by British Gas [1] showed that housing in South Shropshire produced the 13th highest average carbon emissions in the country at 7,156 kg of carbon dioxide per dwelling.

See also: Energy efficiency in British housing

Political control

The first elections to the council were held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority until the new arrangements came into effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council from 1974 until its abolition in 2009 was held by the following parties:[6]

Party in control Years
Independent 1973–2003
No overall control 2003–2007
Conservative 2007–2009


The leaders of the council from 2003 until its abolition in 2009 were:

Councillor Party From To
Heather Kidd[7] Liberal Democrats 2003 2007
Cecilia Motley[8] Conservative 2007 31 March 2009

Council elections

By-election results

Bishops Castle By-Election 16 January 1997
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent 579 74.4
Liberal Democrats 177 22.8
Labour 22 2.8
Majority 402 51.6
Turnout 778 50.5
Independent hold Swing
Ludlow East Hamlet By-Election 31 July 1997
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Independent 236 38.5 +38.5
Green 201 32.8 +15.0
Liberal Democrats 176 28.7 -25.4
Majority 35 5.7
Turnout 613 21.4
Independent gain from Liberal Democrats Swing
Ludlow Castle By-Election 28 September 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats 342 45.4 +14.4
Conservative 273 36.3 +36.3
Independent 138 18.3 -5.1
Majority 69 9.1
Turnout 753 30.3
Liberal Democrats gain from Independent Swing
Ludlow Castle By-Election 15 November 2001
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Conservative 546 50.9 +50.9
Liberal Democrats 526 49.1 +16.3
Majority 20 1.8
Turnout 1,072 43.1
Conservative gain from Green Swing
Worthen By-Election 21 February 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats 517 58.1
Conservative 373 41.9
Majority 144 16.2
Turnout 890 56.1
Liberal Democrats gain from Independent Swing
Church Stretton North By-Election 7 July 2005
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Charles West 637 71.5 +34.0
Conservative Mark Wiggin 188 21.1 -6.7
Independent Michael Whitehouse 66 7.4 +7.4
Majority 449 50.4
Turnout 891 53.0
Liberal Democrats hold Swing
St Peters By-Election 14 September 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Democrats Tracy Huffer 488 57.0 +4.1
Conservative 298 34.8 +9.4
Green 70 8.2 +8.2
Majority 190 12.2
Turnout 856 44.1
Liberal Democrats hold Swing


  1. ^ Census 2001
  2. ^ HMSO. S.I. 1972/2039
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 18 September 2022
  4. ^ "The Shropshire (Structural Change) Order 2008",, The National Archives, SI 2008/1866, retrieved 18 September 2022
  5. ^ "Vision of Britain". Retrieved 10 November 2007.
  6. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Leaders split on shake-up". Shropshire Star. 27 October 2006. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  8. ^ Morris, Dave (16 June 2009). "Council allowances bill totals £669,000". Shropshire Star. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  9. ^ The District of South Shropshire (Electoral Arrangements) Order 1976
  10. ^ The Shropshire (District Boundaries) Order 1985
  11. ^ - The District of South Shropshire (Electoral Changes) Order 2000. Retrieved on 4 October 2015.
  12. ^ - The District of South Shropshire (Electoral Changes) (Amendment) Order 2000. Retrieved on 4 October 2015.