Shropshire Star

Shrowsbury or Shroosbury - the results are in

[gallery] It is a debate which has split the town for years. How to pronounce the name of the town of flowers? Is it Shroosbury or is it Shrowsbury?


Some say it depends on which side of the river you are from: the posh side says Shrowsbury and everyone else calls it Shroosbury. Others claim it is all down to the archaic spelling of the town's name.

Today the Shropshire Star reveals the result of a survey of more than 1,000 online readers – Shrewsbury is Shroosbury.

Of course the survey doesn't mean much, even if the winning name boasted an overwhelming 81 per cent.

The debate will continue, as will the argument about how the divide between the two pronouncinations started in the first place.

Shrewsbury began life as Scrobbesbyrig and Scrobbesburh in Old English, which has several meanings including "fort in the scrub-land region", "Scrobb's fort", "shrubstown" or "the town of the bushes". This then mutated to Schrosberie.

Many claim the town is pronounced "Shroosbury" - as in the small rodent - and say out-of-towners pronounce it "Shrowsbury".

In 2009 a fierce battle broke out on Facebook between two rival camps - each claiming their own pronunciation was correct.

The biggest group was "Shroosbury not Shrowsbury" with 3,438 members and featured 49 pictures of the county town including Shrewsbury Flower Show, the station, the river, the castle and the Quarry. The rival site "Shrowsbury - not Shrewsbury" had 608 members.

The subject was then debated by new Top Gear presenter Chris Evans on his Radio 2 show last year after he revealed his confusion about the pronunciation.

But more than 1,000 took part in the poll on in just a couple of days, so it is clearly an issue that still raises the passions in many.

There were also scores of comments on the issue from our readers. Michelle Fielding, from Shrewsbury, said: "It is pronounced shroo! Any idiot should know that! You wouldn't call the rodent shrew a shrow would you?"

Julie Shaw added to the debate: "Did Shakespeare write the Taming of the Shrow? I think not! Watched a programme on telly once and they had a debate on this and some snotty woman said it depends on what side of the tracks you were born!"

William Billington said: "It has always been Shroosbury up north – a bit like bus and bas if you're south of the border. Like Shropshire and shropsha!"

Another reader, Amy Jugessur, said: "I saw an old map sometime ago where Shrewsbury was spelt Shrowesbury.

"I assume this is why it's pronounced as such."

Michael Wilkinson added: "How do you pronounce the name of that little furry animal whose name is spelt shrew?"

Meanwhile, reader Nicky Purcell attempted to put the case for both sides of the argument. "As I understood it, from the last full investigation about 10 to 15 years ago, that it was discovered that the very earliest documents written about the same time found it has always been spelled both ways and it was decided then that both ways were correct!!"

Julie Tennant was one of those fed up with the whole debate, saying: "OMG. Seriously, how many times can this debate be dragged up?"

And Andy Roberts added: "No real news then. This has been debated for years. Must be a slow day!"

"It is absolutely Shrowsbury," said the Mayor of Shrewsbury Miles Kenny today. "It is due to the Old English spelling of the town's name. We have variations such as this all over the country such as the River Thames and Salisbury. I am convinced it is Shrowsbury."

Town crier Martin Wood, who attends competitions all over the country shouting out the town's name uses the pronunciation of Shroosbury as it is softer and easier to cry.

He said: "Since the Medieval times there has been about nine different ways to pronounce the town's name. I am not bothered either way but I tend to tell visitors that it is Shroosbury."

Town clerk Helen Ball is definite in her pronunciation. "I say it so many times a day now I say it like the locals do, Shroosbury.

"It's funny, I go to town clerk events all over the country and the first thing people say to me is 'How do you say it?' And I always reply Shroosbury."

Businessman Martin Monahan, who owns a number of businesses around the town including The Peach Tree, The Buttermarket and C21 said he calls it Shroosbury. "It just feels right to call it Shroosbury. Although I have to admit, if I am in posh company I have been known to call it Shrowsbury."

Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawcyznski calls the town Shrowsbury. "I always have done and it isn't because I have moved here from elsewhere," he said. "It just feels right to pronounce it like that. I have lived here for 13 years and have always called it Shrowsbury."

Leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, Alan Mosley said: "I moved to the town 30-odd years ago and I have always called it Shrowsbury. That was what I picked up on when I moved here and that is how it has stayed. But then again I am an incomer."

Out in the town the opinion was unanimous. Shroosbury was the clear winner from old to young alike.

Tim Chambers, 31, from Shrewsbury works at The Bird's Nest Cafe in the town's market and said: "It is Shroosbury, as in the little field animal. I am Shrewsbury born and raised and that is how I have always pronounced it."

Florist Lin Tinsdale, 68 said: "I moved here in 1997 from Cheshire and I have always called it Shroosbury. But I have heard it depends which side of the river you come from."

Debbie Gore, 64 and her daughter Ursula, 22 from Clive said: "It is definitely Shroosbury. We have debated this and considered it many times and we are convinced it is said that way."

Philip Milne, 59 from Market Drayton was on his way to get married at Shrewsbury Castle along with his brother and sister-in-law Jeff and Maggie, both 68 form Kirby, Liverpool.

"We have always said Shroosbury. Everyone in Liverpool does. Perhaps it was the way the Welsh people in Shrewsbury pronounce it," they said.

Georgia Davies, 17, from Greenfields, and Jessica Bright, 17, from Bishops Castle

Schoolgirls Jessica Bright, 17 from Bishops Castle and Georgia Davies, 17 from Greenfields both say Shroosbury.

"But my mum says Shrowsbury," said Georgia, "so perhaps it is an act of rebellion on my part."

Albert Blower, 88, from Bayston Hill said: "I had a book on how all the various places in Shrewsbury were pronounced and in there it said Shroosbury. I moved tot he town when I was 10 and have always called it Shroosbury."

Sophie Carroll, 33, lives in Shrewsbury but is originally from France. She said: "It is pronounced Shroosbury like in the Taming of the Shrew. Most definitely Shroosbury. That is how I learned to say it when I moved here."

A charity debate on the subject takes place on July 2 at Rowley's House, Shrewsbury. University Centre Shrewsbury will be donating the proceeds from the event to the The Shrewsbury Ark – a charity which helps homeless and vulnerable people.

As part of the line-up for the event the organisers have arranged for historians to pitch in on either side of the debate before the audience is asked to vote for what they see as the definitive version.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.