The history of Whitchurch dating back to the first century AD will be brought back to life at the town’s first history day this weekend, writes Dani Wozencroft.
It dates back to Roman times and lists composer Edward German and the Joyce’s clock empire among its famous exports.
The changing face of Mediolanum, as the town was called in Roman times, will be explored through talks, tours and live music as part of Whitchurch History Day on Saturday.
There will be talks on the work of the Whitchurch Heritage Centre, the town’s canals and the life and work of the Reverend William Egerton, rector of St Alkmund’s Church from 1846 to 1908.
It comes after more than 100 businesses and individuals contributed to a giant mosaic mural, unveiled at the weekend to celebrate the town’s history and to look forward to its future.
The mural will eventually take pride of place in the newly-revamped Whitchurch Civic Centre once work is complete next year.
The origins of Whitchurch are believed to date back to around 50AD, and the town’s Roman name translated as “place in the middle of the plain”. Nowadays it is best known as the town of clocks, thanks mainly to the work of companies like JB Joyce which has been established there for more than 300 years.
John Benson from Shropshire Archives said: “To the best of my knowledge the history day will be the first event that has focused for a whole day on Whitchurch in the format that it is being done.
“It is the first time there has been a whole day with various different organisations.
“There are still places available and people can pay on the door as well.”
The events will start at 10.30am at Brownlow Community Centre, in Claypit Street, and tickets will cost £10 or £5 for members of the Friends of Shropshire Archives, Whitchurch History and Archaeology Group and Whitchurch Heritage Centre volunteers. People can pay on the door.
Meanwhile, the giant mosaic, made up of 104 tiles, is on display at artistic social enterprise Big Red’s House in High Street. The piece was the idea of Simon Tooth and Christian Leivers from Big Red’s House and includes images of the town’s iconic clock tower and Whitchurch Heritage Centre.
The 20cm by 20cm tiles were hand painted or decorated by an individual, business, or voluntary group from Shropshire. Work began in June and Mr Leivers described the picture as a “great piece of art”. He said: “Right from the very beginning this has been a community project and it’s been very successful. It really is a great piece of art.”
The project was funded by Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership with the main picture designed by local artist Sarah Evans.
Mr Leivers said: “Because we were granted funding it has been completely free for anyone to come along and paint a tile. It’s been a really exciting and creative project.
“It really is fascinating to look at and see people’s ideas. It’s been a lot fun and we’re grateful to everyone who has got involved.”
To book a place on the history day or for details call Mr Benson on (01743) 255377 or e-mail email@example.com
- Whitchurch was founded by the Romans in AD50 or 70
- It was first called Mediolanum, meaning “place in the middle of the plain”
- The current name comes from white church, a church made from Norman stone
- St Alkmund’s church was built in 1712 on the site of the Norman church
- In 1690 the JB Joyce tower clock company was established
- Musician and composer Sir Edward German was born in the town in 1862
- Whitchurch Rugby Football Club was founded in 1936
- In 1992 the A41 and A49 bypass opened.