In the 18th century Ludlow had become a town of fashion and resort, to which the moderately wealthy retired, and where many landed families kept town houses. There was an active round of social occasions, assemblies, balls, card parties and race meetings. The period is reflected in the fine Georgian facades which can still be seen, most the work of craftsmen who live in Ludlow. The fashionable social life of this period was paralleled by industrial prosperity arising from a variety of industries which used the water power provided by the Corve and the Teme, among them corn milling, paper making, the manufacture of woollen cloth and blankets and leather. From the last of these arose the trade of glove making which employed as many as a thousand Ludlovians in the late 18th century. Ludlow is probably the best water power site in Shropshire, and this source of its continuing prosperity is an often neglected part of its history.
In the early 19th century several of Ludlow's industries began to decline and improved communications, first by turnpike road and then by railway, made Ludlow less attractive to the wealthy as a town of resort, although new assembly rooms were constructed as late as 1840. It continued to flourish as a market centre and for the first time since the end of the middle ages began to expand its built-up area. The large Victorian houses of the Gravel Hill area display the prosperity of 19th century traders wealthy enough to move away from houses above their shops. The reign of Victoria was nevertheless a time of relative stagnation in the history of Ludlow no large industrial enterprises took there and few of its fine buildings from earlier periods were destroyed.
Ludlow today flourishes as a centre of trade and administration for a wide area of the Borderlands, but as in the past its properity also depends on industry and on attracting visitors. Clothing and agricultural machinery are now its chief manufactures.
The Ludlow Festival held in June/July, marks the zenith of the town's tourist season.