Shropshire Star

Shrewsbury is second happiest place in UK

It is known as the Town of Flowers and attracts visitors from across the world – and now Shrewsbury has been named the second happiest place to live in the UK.


Shropshire's county town has been recognised in a national survey that quizzed people on how content they are with their home and community.

Harrogate in North Yorkshire – also famous for its flowers and flower festival – came in at number one but two of Shrewsbury's most well-known figures say there is no doubt that Shrewsbury should be top of the pile.

It adds to a long list of accolades awarded to the town in recent years. It is a previous winner of Britain in Bloom's Champion of Champions and is said to have the healthiest high street in the country.

The Dingle forms part of the flower show

If you happen to live in Shropshire's county town you might just be going around with a great big smile on your face.

That smile may not be anything to do with your general well-being or the state of your bank balance or the sun shining or the company you keep.

Instead, that smile might be simply thanks to the fact you live in Shrewsbury – now officially one of the happiest places in Britain.

Now, as a Shrewsbury boy born and bred, I don't need telling my town is a happy place – I've always known it. But should anyone be in any doubt, the town has just come second in a survey on the happiest places to live.

Since you ask, Harrogate got the top spot (I must go there sometime and compare notes) and Ipswich ranked third. So what exactly is it that makes the people of Shrewsbury so happy?

Well, if you're asking me, it's to do with beauty, it's to do with history, and it's to do with proportion. "Proportion?" I hear you cry. "How do you mean?"

Well, Shrewsbury is not too big and it's not too small. And, frankly, if I had a pound for every time someone had said to me: "Shrewsbury's like one big village, isn't it?" I'd be a very wealthy man.

Cities can be sprawling, impersonal, unwelcoming places in which people don't seem to have time for one another. Villages, on the other hand, can often be too parochial and inward-looking.

A town such as Shrewsbury is just right with excellent shops and services, a thriving town centre and good communication links, but, at the same time, it's friendly and, as they say, like one big village.

This in itself would be enough to put a smile on my face. But Shrewsbury is much more than that.

As every proud townsperson will know, Shrewsbury sits within the majestic loop of the River Severn. This gives the town a special character with its beautiful bridges and its gorgeous riverside park, The Quarry.

That loop of the river, the tightness of its embrace, has also meant that Shrewsbury has been largely protected over the decades from the sort of "town planning disasters" and "modernisations" that have blighted other places.

So Shrewsbury's rich history and elegant beauty go hand in hand.

By the way, this new survey is by no means the first time Shrewsbury has sparkled in such a report.

Only last year, Shrewsbury was named by the Sunday Times as one of the best places to live in Britain.

That result didn't surprise me either.

Funnyman Ken Dodd famously sang: "Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess."

People travel from across Britain and beyond every year for Shrewsbury Flower Show, to explore the town's links to Charles Darwin and to see some of the town's historic churches, while the town's recently-established food festival has quickly grown to become one of the biggest in the region.

The town's mayor Councillor Miles Kenny, who is doing the job for a second time, said he finds it difficult to believe there is a happier place than Shrewsbury.

He said: "It is almost correct but they have it slightly wrong because Shrewsbury is actually the happiest place in Britain.

"There is no doubt this is the happiest place in Britain, just look around, people are smiling everywhere because its the happiest place in Britain, of course it is.

"We have everything you could want – there is low crime, superb restaurants, wonderful history and great buildings

"The survey company has definitely got this wrong."

Martin Wood, Shrewsbury's town crier, was another to insist that Shrewsbury should be number one.

He said: "I think this town is number one actually. Everyone I talk to – and I get lots of people coming on the tours around Shrewsbury – they all comment about how nice it is and how friendly it is.

"I just think personally we should be number one. I cannot think of anywhere better.

"When you think of all the historical bits we have in Shrewsbury and all the firsts we have – the first iron framed building, Darwin was born here, Benbow was born here, there are so many bits of historical interest.

"It is the only town in the world as good and I think it is something we should be proud of."

The results came from an annual survey carried out by the property website Rightmove.

Shrewsbury was joined in the top five by York and Chester – towns both known for their history – while Ipswich was third.

Inverness was named by the survey as the happiest place to live in Scotland, while Llandrindod Wells came first in Wales. In London, Richmond took the happiness crown. The survey also found that Dundee residents are happiest with how their home is decorated, while Blackpool residents are the most likely to say they have plenty of space.

People living in Hemel Hempstead said they feel most "at home" in their property.

The seaside town of Torquay came top for people saying they are never stuck for recreational activities, compared with Paisley in Scotland which was bottom of the pile.

Mid Wales's Llandrindod Wells secured another accolade with the town being named as the place where the most polite people live.

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