Shropshire SY1 1AA
Just 9 miles (14.5 km) east of the border with Wales is the picturesque market town of Shrewsbury, pronounced Shroze-bri.
The town centre is partially set on a hill surrounded on 3-sides by the River Severn, and the centre still has its mostly unaltered medieval street plan. Some of the streets are still cobbled and there are numerous black and white half-timbered buildings. The town has over 660 listed buildings including some fine Georgian mansions.
Shrewsbury serves as the commercial and administrative centre for Shropshire and mid-Wales, and has two large expanding business parks. The town centre is home to a wealth of independent and specialist retailers, as well as having four large retail shopping centres.
There are many residential developments currently under construction to cater for the increasing numbers of people wishing to live in the town. Shrewsbury has become a favourite address for people commuting to Telford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham, for work.
Shrewsbury’s location so close to Wales made it a target for Welsh raiders. Repelling these attacks made Shrewsbury an important defensive town. In 1074 Roger de Montgomery, the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury was given the town by William the Conqueror, and he built the red sandstone Shrewsbury Castle.
Roger de Montgomery was also responsible for founding the Benedictine monastery in 1083. During the Dissolution of the monasteries most of Shrewsbury Abbey church was knocked down but the nave was saved to serve as a parish church. Today it is the mother church for the Parish of Holy Cross.
Much of the original Norman 11th century building survives, notably the short thick piers in the eastern half of the nave and the remnants of the original transepts. Located close to the English Bridge, this ancient church is well worth visiting.
During the 14th and 15th centuries Shrewsbury was at its height of commercial importance because of the wool trade. Wool was the country’s most important industry at that time and the trading routes from Wales to the rest of Britain and Europe passed through the town or along the River Severn. The Shrewsbury Drapers Company dominated the trade in Welsh wool for many years.
Battle of Shrewsbury
In 1403 a power struggle developed between King Henry IV’s former ally Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, the Duke of Northumberland and the King. It came to a head at the Battle of Shrewsbury held on a site a few miles north of the town centre. The area is known as Battlefield and the battle site is marked by the Battlefield 1403 Visitor Centre.
When King Henry VIII split with the Church of Rome and made himself head of the Church of England, he offered to make the town a cathedral city but the town’s citizens declined his offer. Despite this, Shrewsbury thrived throughout the 16th and 17th centuries; largely due to the town's fortuitous location, which allowed it to control the Welsh wool trade. As a resultant a number of grand edifices were built, including Ireland's Mansion (1575) and Draper's Hall (1658).
The town is home to a very famous public school. In 1542 the townspeople of Shrewsbury petitioned King Henry VIII for a free grammar school. Henry died before he could act but his son, King Edward VI, signed a Charter in 1552 permitting the foundation of the school.
In 1882 the school was moved from its original site to its current location on the banks of the River Severn. Originally a boys only boarding school it has been fully co-educational since 2014. Pupils are admitted at the age of 13 by selective examination.
The only building surviving from the original 1550 to 1882 school is now the town’s Public Library at Castle Gates.
Many famous people have been educated at Shrewsbury School. The school's old boys – or "Old Salopians" – include naturalist Charles Darwin; poet Sir Philip Sidney; playwright George Farquhar whose 1706 play 'The Recruiting Officer' was set in the town; astronomer royal Martin Rees; authors Samuel Butler and Nevil Shute; and broadcasters John Peel and Michael Palin.
Shrewsbury’s real enemy has always been the mighty River Severn. Rising in the hills of mid Wales at Plynlimon, the 220 mile (354 km) river runs through a huge catchment area before flowing in to the Bristol Channel. On its way it collects enormous amounts of water and is very prone to flooding during the winter.
Since the Frankwell flood defences were completed in 2003, flooding has been less severe, and the defences have generally held back floodwaters from the town centre. However, the town car parks are often left to be flooded in the winter, which reduces trade in the town.
In the summer the river is usually much lower and in Shrewsbury, boat trips around the loop of the town centre are at present provided by the Sabrina and depart from Victoria Quay near the Welsh Bridge. Web: Sabrina River Cruises
Shrewsbury Flower Show
For many centuries Shrewsbury has been an agricultural market town avoiding the industrialisation that occurred further down the River Severn at Ironbridge. Horticulture remains popular, and the Shrewsbury Flower Show is one of the largest and oldest horticultural events in England.
Outdoor recreation is important and there are several delightful open spaces in the town, such as Quarry Park, The river hosts a number of regattas including races for those ancient wicker craft, coracles!
Arts and drama have not been forgotten. The modern Theatre Severn performance venue was opened in 2009 to replace the old Music Hall theatre. Situated beside the river near to the Welsh Bridge, it has two performance spaces - the 635 seat Main Auditorium and a smaller studio space, the Walker Theatre which can accommodate 250 seating or 500 standing. The venue also includes a full sized dance studio, function rooms and restaurant.
The venue is very popular and in November 2015 the theatre celebrated the sale of its 1 millionth ticket since its opening. For information on upcoming events go to Web: Theatre Severn
From unusual buildings, lovely churches, museums and galleries to ancient crafts, there is always something to see and do in Shrewsbury. To find out ‘What’s on’ and ‘What to See’ visit the Tourist Information Centre in The Music Hall.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1743 258 888
Shrewsbury is about 153 miles (246 km) north-west of London, with good public transport links to the rest of the county and country.
- By Rail
Five railway lines connect the town to most corners of Shropshire and the region, and the town is known as the "Gateway to Wales". The station is a splendid mock Tudor edifice with a clock tower, imitation Tudor chimneys and carved heads in the frames of every window.
The station is is served by Arriva Trains Wales and London Midland with trains running north to Chester, Manchester, Crewe and Wrexham, south to Hereford and Cardiff, west to Aberystwyth, and east to Birmingham via Telford, Shifnal, and Wolverhampton. Heart of Wales Line trains also operate to Swansea.
Virgin Trains run a London service comprising two trains in each direction daily.
For train timetables and online booking, go to Web: National Rail Enquiries
- By Car
The English and Welsh Bridges across the river provide the main road access to the centre of the town. Shrewsbury is the junction for a number of major roads; the A5. connects the town northwest to Oswestry, and east towards Telford, where it joins the M54 motorway.
Park & Ride Bus Services
There are 3 car parks on the edge of town and another one proposed. Buses transport passengers to the centre of town from Harlscott to the north, Oxon to the west and Meole Brace to the south.
- By Bus
The terminus for all bus services is the Bus Station adjacent to the Darwin Shopping Centre, and a short stroll from the railway station. Arriva Midlands operates both town and county services.
There are other bus companies operating around the Shrewsbury area, including Boulton's of Shropshire, Minsterley Motors and Bryn Melyn. Services from the welsh towns of Llanfyllin, Montgomery, Newtown and Welshpool are provided by Tanat Valley Coaches.
Google Map - Shrewsbury