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Plans to create visitor center in disused Hopton Wafers school
A DISUSED village school in south Shropshire is in line to be given a new lease of life in a plan that could turn a beauty spot into a major visitor and tourist attraction.
Discussions are at an early stage with a view to turning Hopton Wafers School that has stood empty since the summer into a centre for visitors to Tittestone Clee to the east of Ludlow.
The Clee Hill Heritage Trust has major plans for the area which it believes has huge potential and could become the next Ironbridge Gorge-type attraction.
Six years ago the Heritage Trust was founded and last year spent £60,000 purchasing The Novers – a 30 acre woodland area that was once the heart of local limestone quarrying.
It also contains preserved underground kilns and tunnels that were used for the making of limestone mortar.
This was produced until the 1920s and used on many local buildings including St Peter’s Church in Ludlow.
“It has always been our plan to create a visitor and study centre for the Clees for the promotion of the exceptional heritage of the area,” said Alf Jenkins of the trust.
“Such a centre would, by bringing visitors to the area, hopefully eventually create within the communities of the hills opportunities for employment within the sustainable tourism sector.”
“Try as the trust has done, no suitable site has presented itself.
Grant availability has been dramatically reduced of late and purchasing other possible premises would be very expensive.”
But the closure of Hopton School has opened up an opportunity.
The school, owned by an independent trust, closed in July as a result of a closures programme car ried out by Shropshire Council.
So it stands empty and one of the requirements of the trust is that the building be used for educational purposes.
“It is early days but in so many ways the school would be ideal and it would enable it to be an important part of the community as has been the case for many years,” added Alf.
Two public meetings are being called to explain the idea to people living in the area and listen to comments.
A meeting will take place at Hopton Parish Hall on Thursday, October 25 and a second is planned for Clee Hill Village Hall on Tuesday, November 13.
Both meetings start at 7.30pm.