Ghost Towns in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the home of the original ghost story, nowhere in the world has so many tales of ghostly happenings, haunted places and spooky happenings. We have had a torrid and turbulent history littered with death and destruction. You won’t be surprised then to find it has many ghost towns and for very different reasons….
But hold on, you say. Doesn’t the UK have a large and still growing population? It has the second population density in Europe after Belgium and yet it still has ghost towns.
There are still many parts of the UK where you could walk all day and see no one but your own reflection in a cold mountain tarn or look all around from a high peak and see no sign that humans ever inhabited the country. Even in the busy south of the country it’s possible to stand in the countryside and hear only birdsong on the wind. So why are there ghost towns?
Dylife in Wales, pronounced ‘Del–eye-ver’ a lead mining village since Roman times, now a ghost village while the people of Imber were evicted in preparations for the D-Day landings.
The UK is unique in having ghost towns which have become so for very many reasons. Our long history has played a great part in that but so has our climate, geography and geology.
Villages and towns have grown up around the mining of natural resources which when exhausted left no employment for the population and so they left. Some based around agriculture, where new farming methods have meant the need for a large labour force disappeared overnight.
Others were created when a factory, the main employer in a town, found that its product was no longer needed or was being produced more cheaply abroad. This is still prevalent today where factories such as Twinings in Norfolk and Cadbury in the Midlands close their factories and relocate to cheaper countries.
Our changing coastline, battered by Atlantic and North Sea storms sweep some villages away almost overnight or render others uninhabitable yet equally, new land formed by the change opens possibilities for new villages of the future.
Wartime has also birthed ghost towns with areas cleared for training exercises mindless of the villagers that lived there and had worked the land for centuries.
Diseases such as plague, smallpox and others scared villagers and townsfolk so much over the centuries that they fled whilst they still could and remained fearful of return to their dying days.
Geographical restrictions have sometimes led to a village or town being moved elsewhere when it had no room to make necessary expansions to accommodate populations needed for industry. Sometimes access to a village caused such hardship that many grew fed up and left.
In late 2010 the publishers, Collins, launched the annual New Times Atlas of Great Britain. Coinciding with this they outlined plans for a digital archive of ghost towns around the UK. They believe there are well over a thousand and want stories and pictures of them all. So if you are visiting any and have good photographs, Collins would like to hear from you.
Many ghost towns and villages are now tourist attractions made easily accessible by local authorities and with museums and living history exhibits. They make fantastic days out so follow the links to find out more about the unusual circumstances that led to the abandonment of these thriving villages and towns.