Letter: Shrewsbury has been architecturally vandalised

I came to live and work in Shropshire in 1969. It was the best decision I have ever made. I love Shropshire; the countryside, the Wrekin, the Severn, all the lovely villages, the many golf clubs, the old Roman Viriconium. But most of all I love the people of this area.

Coleham Head runs to the right of the river, crossing English Bridge into the St Julian’s Friars, Towns Walls and Beeches Lane area of Shrewsbury

But I am sad. In the year 901 Shrewsbury was described as a city and by 1066 it was a sizable town of four churches and Ministers.

In 1283, it held its first Parliament to include a House Of Commons. Henry VIII offered the town cathedral status. So Shrewsbury had been at the very centre of English life.

What do we have now? The old Town Walls have been vandalised by an empty Post Office block and the town square has been ruined by concrete disfigurements.

The old market has been replaced by a modern monstrosity and down by the railway station there is another empty unsightly building not to mention the car parks that disfigure the banks of the Severn.

So Shrewsbury, an ancient and historically important town, has been architecturally vandalised.

Darwin was born in Shrewsbury and the poet Wilfred Owen has Shrewsbury connections. There is a single statue of Darwin by the library but nothing else commemorates the famous name.

There is a plaque in Abbey Foregate that gives Owen’s name but nothing else. Any other city would have a Darwin University School of Evolution and at least an Owen’s Summer Poetry School. I am sure there are people out there who will not agree with me. Let them tell us all where I am ill-advised.

Thomas Joseph


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Comments for: "Letter: Shrewsbury has been architecturally vandalised"


I agree the desicion making during the 60's,70's and 80's has wiped out key characteristics of the town. This doesn't mean we don't stop all modern development, but start to make educated choices that would improve the town. The two latest major developments concern be greatly from an architects point of view, although the new theatre has brought income and tourists into the town it is a scar of the face of Shrewsbury and architecturally destroyed a potentially magnificent vista. The new shopping centre project has the potential to rejuvenate the town centre like liverpool one has in liverpool, but the infrastructure around the town centre is already overused and this will just cause gridlock in a town which could easily adopt a more sustainable transport system,as everything is walkable within 5-10mins. I feel the guilt the council has from what happened in previous decades could effect Shrewsbury today and the town needs a clear and public manifesto.

Andrew finch

In reply to Mr Joseph i think the town of shrewsbury has moe than recognized the achievments of Charles Darwin .

Kat de Gama

Yes, but similar towns were vandalised too in the 60s (and before) - eg Canterbury. So many of are architectural gems remain standing. Wyle Cop has to be one of the most beautiful 'high streets' in the country. I agree that more could be made of the Darwin connection but somehow I suspect that Owen would have been happy with a modest plaque. Of course he is not buried in Shrewsbury.

We all know Shrewsbury has lost many of the things that should have been kept but whats done is done. As for empty buildings there are many more towns in a worse state than Shrewsbury and that is not due to 'architectural vandalism'.

As for Darwin and Owen you may have a point but there are other commemorations such as the Darwin arch and the infamous Slinky and the Wilfred Owen memorial and a few roads named after them and a shopping centre. An Owen's Summer Poetry School would be nice, maybe you could be it's founder.

Kat de Gama

I'll lower the tone with a joke... On meetig a new neighbour's child, called Darwin, my partner aske if his middle name was 'Centre'. It was lost n Londoners!

Superstar Tradesman

....... and the joke being ?

Oh, no, wait, I think I see it. Is it because 'Londoners' had not heard of the Darwin Cente ?

Oh those silly Londoners, eh! Cor Blimey & strike a light.

Nick, Telford

Judging from some replies it would appear several of the town's commentators have also lost the ability to spell properly, type beyond text speak and construct an intelligent and cohesive sentence.

Kat de Gama

@Nick - some of us type very quickly, sometimes using keyboards on their last legs and have idiosyncratic autocorrect software. I think all comments are clearly made.

fantastic iconoclastic

The alleged acts of architectural vandalism you mention ALL occurred before you arrived in 1969. Have you only just noticed them?


Architectural vandalism is still happening,

What about the slinky for example?

eva land

It's unfair to blame the 1960s when at least architecture was forward looking and innovative.

Obviously mediaeval and good quality Georgian buildings lost are a tragedy but the Victorain Market Hall was an ugly overblown building, no longer fit for use and though the 1960s structure should have not been only accessible a floor up, it is a building that compliments the older building around it and iconic of it's time.

It is the 1970's,80s and 90s buildings that are the problem. Mediocre, drab boxes that feign century old styles, replicated all over the UK.

2000 onwards has brought us Award winning gems such as Mansers visited by many architectural buffs from Britain and overseas.

When we have the opportunity of prime riverside sites we get the Guildhall a fake warehouse and the ghastly Theatre Severn which despite the enormous cost is not architect designed.

Now the Gay Meadow is being covered in more bland dross.

Remember Thomas, Darwin had to leave Shrewsbury to make his mark!


I think we should remember that all the old buildings were new once and that the new buildings of today will be old one day. I expect some old developments had objectors and were called blots on the landscape but thats all forgotten because it was well before our time. someone famous called it evolution !!!


The whole point about Shrewsbury is its historic diversity. We have buildings that represent all architectural styles and periods. The big question is what building will best represent the twentieth century. Telephone House was atypical but that would have fallen down if it had not been removed, the same will apply to many others. Lloyds does not count because that was a concrete reflection on past styles. Perhaps Crown House or the new Market Hall or maybe even the Telephone Exchange as a typical example of a public building? We should not be afraid to allow new buildings or styles because they will add to the diversity and provide the examples for others in the future to admire.

However we should not do anything to impose on the character of the existing town. The intrusion on the Square by in filling the overhang of Princess House would seem to me to deduct from the square and remove the atypical over hang style of the Tudor town and add nothing of value as the owners insist it would. I think the important thing is to keep the best and allow the natural turnover of other sites in the hope that they will produce something memorable in time. We all enjoy the odd debate of what is good and bad in our modern constructions and thank god we can all still express an opinion which may be rejected but is still valued as a contribution.

Maintenance of the buildings seems another big issue at the moment. We need to be careful that we do not lose the features of buildings as we neglect or modernise them. Looking above the ground floors often reveals masses of interesting features just rotting away.


well .now we know where we stand

owain glyndwyr

sadly most of the damage to the town was carried out by the cretinous planners of the late 1950's. the loss of the georgian shirehall in the square was criminal and the resulting replacement has disfigured the square.

you are right to point out the boroughs medieval history culminating in king henry v111 issuing a charter for the city of shrewsbury. the burgesses of shrewsbury preferred shrewsbury to remain the first of towns, which it still is. they did accept a bishoprick for the town.

considering what is now the gay meadow, and once was the gay, was donated to the borough, it must now be of concern to the donors that housing is being built on their gift.

wonder which councillors fixed that.

Flamenco Red

Correct me if I am wrong but I have it from a reliable source that *conservtion* arhitects ae responsible for that drab new housng estate on Gay Meadow. Btw it's a floo plain.


Correct me if I am wrong? OK, here goes...

*conservtion* is spelled "conservation"

floo is spelled "flood"

Hope that helps



bob dobbs

City? don't make me laugh.

You people talk like Shrewsbury is some sort of Unique Jewel in the Crown of English towns. I might have been an important town once (which is also debatable) but is now nothing more than a small market town with some nice old buildings, there are dozens of them across the country.

Perhaps try looking outward for once, you'd see that.


Bob, would you care to list some from your clear experience, perhaps try to name any town between Shrewsbury and Norwich which compares to Shrewsbury....

If you want London money influence they please go south and enjoy the crowds...


Bury St Edmunds.

And before you bang on with the oh so predictable, boring & tiny minded 'crowded south' rubbish, consider for a quiet moment that crowds bring wealth. Shrewsbury is dieing on its backside due to a lack of ......... crowds. Shrewsbury is a lovely place but you've got to wake up and smell the coffee. Bob D is right when he says Shrewsbury is not unique. Lovely, yes. Worth a visit, yes. One of a kind, no.


If you look at the picture above long enough you can almost see the missing stereogramed northern relief road.....


Just move to a new town with lots of life and energy which is only a few miles away - yes Telford

The Merchman

And the council start chasing motorists {and thereby business} out of town on the 20th of January with their new parking charge initiative. More marvelous joined up thinking from the Bunker. Who needs a recession when we've got that lot running the town into the ground?

eva land

(You people talk like Shrewsbury is some sort of Unique Jewel in the Crown of English towns. I might have been an important town once (which is also debatable) but is now nothing more than a small market town with some nice old buildings, there are dozens of them across the country.)

Aren't you forgetting the hanging baskets and the daleks that magically appear in July in the Square?

Who else could do hanging baskets 'til they're coming out of your ears like Shrewsbury?

That's what defines unique you sily billy!

Smithy too

I love slinky - a true asset to Shrewsbury