Watch: 43 years on - should Oswestry be in England or Wales?
Should Oswestry be in England or Wales? That was the question asked by a team from ITV regional news more than 40 years ago – and a film of their findings has now been published on the internet.
The team travelled to Croesoswallt – the old Welsh name for Oswestry – in 1972 when a debate was raging about which country should lay claim to the border market town.
After all, Oswestry switched rulers a number of times until the act of union in 1536, when it finally became part of England, although it retained plenty of Welsh place names.
Pupils at an Oswestry school watched the ITV report from 1972 – and most of them thought the town should remain in England.
Will Lewis, 15, from Oswestry said: "Oswestry should remain part of England. If they moved the town into Wales it would have a major effect. It would shake everyone's cultural beliefs. People in the Oswestry area would not like change."
Joe Beckett, 11, of Llanymynech, a village which straddles the border of England and Wales, said although he considered himself English, he supports Wales when it comes to sports events.
"My dad supports Wales," he said. "It might well affect how many people came to the Marches School as well," he added.
Older brother, Oliver, added: "If Oswestry was moved to Wales, it would not get as many services because Powys has less money to spend than Shropshire on things like public transport."
Mikey Reade, 13, from Oswestry, said: "Oswestry should remain in England because I think that the people living here are more in tune with the politics of Shropshire than of Wales."
But Alex Wagner, 14, from Maesbrook, disagreed.
"Oswestry should be a Welsh town as it has Welsh heritage," he said.
"Its old name, Croesoswallt, is Welsh and the only reason that it is now in England was that the English had a mightier army and captured it."
A handful of people were interviewed and the resulting video offers a fascinating insight into the early 1970s, the fashions, and the busy town.
"Do you consider yourself English or Welsh?" asks the interviewer, and one old lady replies without hesitation that she is Welsh.
"I tell you I've lived in Essex and I've lived in Somerset and I've lived in London," she says, "but I was evacuated here during the war. My two girls married two Welsh boys and the only grandsons I've got are Welsh."
"But," says the interviewer, "you live in Oswestry, which is in England at the moment."
There is a very slight pause as the old lady considers this. "Oh," she says. "Is it?"
Two young pupils from the Girls' Modern School are interviewed next. Both say they are English but like the idea of the town joining Wales. They would even learn the language.
Later in the film the interviewer meets two older girls, one of whom says she is English, while the other says she is Welsh.
Would you be in favour of Oswestry returning to Wales, asks the reporter.
"It doesn't bother me," says the girl who identified herself as English.
The debate continues – hopefully with somewhat more passion – to this day.
Kevin Battam, of M. Battams Family Butchers in Beatrice Street, said: "I think it is great that we are so close to the border. We get English and Welsh customers and we get English meat and Welsh meat from the same farms – some have fields in England and other fields in Wales.
"It adds something to the town. People say come to Oswestry and stay and you can be close to all the Welsh tourist attractions, too.
"We used to have a lad working here who used to cycle the 30 miles in from Foel in Mid Wales every day."
When the clip was posted on the Remember Oswestry Facebook page it failed to find anyone who could put names to the faces. The nearest was Kenneth Wilson recognising a white transit van belonging to his uncle, Peter Wilson of Morda Rd Nurseries.
And our intrepid ITV newsman of more than 40 years ago did find someone who thought Oswestry was, is, and will forever be, Welsh. "Oswestry is Wales," he tells the reporter.
"But it hasn't been since the Act of Union in 1536," the reporter tells him.
"Maybe," the man replies. "But that's only what's stolen from us, isn't it?"
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