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Eras of mass destruction which changed Shrewsbury pinpointed in new book

By Toby Neal | Shrewsbury | Features | Published:

Four eras of destruction in Shrewsbury are pinpointed in a new book which charts the changing townscape since mid-Victorian times.

A timbered house at the corner of Mardol and Claremont Street being demolished to make way for the new Victorian market hall, around the summer of 1866.

And author and local historian David Trumper says that unfortunately historic places in the county town are continuing to be demolished to this day.

"Lost Shrewsbury" tells the story in pictures and highlights features which have radically changed or disappeared completely over the decades.

"Since the dawn of photography there have been four major periods that have greatly altered the town and seen the loss of many ancient buildings," says David, from Shrewsbury.

Lost Shrewsbury by David Trumper.

The first period, he says, was between 1865 and 1869 with the building of the Victorian market hall.

The site chosen was home to over 300 people, and included 29 shops, 16 brewhouses, and three pubs, and at the Mardol end were two magnificent timber-framed houses, one six storeys high, which were among the finest in the town.

"The site was completely cleared and the new market hall opened in September 1869."

The grandstand at Shrewsbury racecourse in 1910 – there had been no racing for years.

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A second period of destruction was in the 1930s when a plan was prepared to establish an inner link road and central car park.

During the demolition, which included many slum properties, Rowley's House, which had been completed surrounded by other buildings, was uncovered and saved by the borough surveyor Arthur Ward.

"The third period was in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the war cry was 'down with the old and up with the new.'

Shrewsbury from Mount Pleasant Road in about 1955. All this land has since been developed.

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"Three major hotels, the Raven, the Crown and the George, were demolished, the 19th century Shirehall and market hall were knocked down, the cattle market was moved out of town, and several smaller sites were redeveloped.

"A slum clearance project was also taking place in the suburbs during this period, again with the loss of some fine buildings and the breaking up of whole communities.

"Two bright points during this period were that the Bear Steps complex in the heart of the town was saved by the newly formed civic society and that the old Co-op building in Frankwell was dismantled and reassembled at the Avoncroft Museum of Buildings."

A look inside the Atlas Foundry in Frankwell during demolition in March 2002.

David says the fourth period was the redevelopment of derelict land in Raven Meadows with the building of the Pride Hill and Darwin centres.

"Unfortunately, historical places in the town are still being demolished. One example of this is the destruction of Copthorne Barracks, the majority of which was demolished for house building in 2019."

"Lost Shrewsbury" is published by Amberley and costs £14.99.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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