Caught in the web - 25 stories that most captured readers’ imaginations in 2019

Historic moments, peculiar incidents, raw human emotion and national news combined to draw readers to in 2019.

The towers come down
The towers come down

The final moments of Ironbridge Power Station’s cooling towers, that had loomed large over Ironbridge Gorge for decades, was clearly the story that most struck a chord with our readers over the course of 2019.

Visitors flocked to the Star website to watch video of the towers coming down.

Elsewhere, the world of consumer-facing businesses seemed to interest our readers. Tom Kerridge’s taking over of a Shropshire restaurant and Hobbs’ move into the former McDonald's building on Shrewsbury’s Pride Hill captured the imagination.

Local experts’ views on the problems caused by drones at Heathrow and Gatwick interested a large number of readers.

Human interest stories, as always, demanded attention, including the tale of a would-be police officer who was rejected from various forces because of her tattoos, and the family that was rushed to hospital after being poisoned by their fish tank.

And much as we’d all like to say we aren’t taken in by fame and fortune, the celebrity connections to Shropshire were popular – including Colin Firth’s visit to Shifnal, a mention of a local landmark in a Hollywood movie and a farmer’s television appearance.

1. There they were, gone

They were to make way for a new housing development in Ironbridge, the station having been decommissioned in 2015

2. Poison scare

Katie Stevenson, her husband Mark and three of her four children were rushed to hospital by paramedics wearing protective masks in July after cleaning the coral in their fish tank made it give off palytoxin, the second deadliest poison known to man.

3. Drone alone

“Shropshire is a designated military low-flying area which creates additional challenges for drone operators,” said Paul Hutchinson who owns Virtual Shropshire Drone Rangers.

4. Caravans woe

Caravan woe

“We used to spend every weekend here. Some of the people have been here for 40 years,” said Mr John Marshall, 72, who had had a caravan at Butts Farm in Alveley for 10 years.

5. Master chef

Lush by Tom Kerridge, the catering and events company from the team behind Michelin-starred The Hand & Flowers and The Coach, sad it was now working with Shropshire-based Davenport House, a magnificent Grade I-listed Georgian house in the Shropshire countryside.

6. Cheers to that

Salopian Brewery’s Paper Planes, a New England IPA, was awarded Supreme Champion at the International Beer Challenge in September.

7. Hobbs the job

The restaurant on Pride Hill, one of Shrewsbury’s most prominent buildings, closed in February 2017 and despite the building being extensively renovated, it had stood empty ever since.

8. Tattoo blues

The mother-of-one, who works at McDonald’s, said she had been rejected from various forces – because she is covered in ink. “Individually I’ve lost count, but I am 80 per cent covered,” said the 35-year-old.

9. Divided by floods

Drivers in the country were warned to take extra care on the roads as heavy rainfall led to stranded cars, road closures, flooded properties and affected electrics.

10. Top of the class (1)

School sold

St Mary’s Primary School in Westbury – including its playground – sold for £385,000 and the estate agents said the buyer, who wanted to remain anonymous, was “very happy” with their purchase.

11. Jobs lost

The group, based in Prees, had more than 40 years of experience in the plant hire industry, with its customer base primarily spanning the infrastructure, energy and homebuilding markets.

12. Emily's story

Brave Emily

After her weight plummeted to five-and-a-half stone because of the condition, Emily told us: “I studied hard. I worked hard. I’m now 34, jobless and my husband left me and I’m living with my mum and dad. I’m not able to have a family.”

13. Udderly amazing

Cows in Whittington

The sight of the animals in Whittington amazing passers-by who posted images on social media.

14. Number's up

Toshil Miah of The Spice Exchange at the Oak, based at The Oak Inn, Guilsfield, failed to appear before magistrates who found the case proven in his absence.

15. Prime position

Visitors to the Welcome Break service station did a double take when Theresa May strode through the services. Is is thought Mrs May was on her way to the mountains of Snowdonia for an Easter walking break.

16. Fitt not Pitt

Printers' error

According to a promotional banner, heart throb Brad Pitt was set to star in Aladdin. Instead, it was a mistake by the printers and should have read Brad Fitt.

17. Stars hit road

Paddy McGuinness was staying in Telford alongside Freddie Flintoff and Chris Harris, and the Take Me Out presenter amused himself in Wellington with a post to his Instagram account.

18. Top of the class (2)

The school was named West Midlands State Secondary School of the Year in The Sunday Times’s Schools Guide for 2020.

19. Regaled by Bale

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Le Mans '66

Christian Bale, star of Le Mans ’66, revealed his dialect coach had been teaching him the phrase “Going round the Wrekin”.

20. Blues for Corbyn

And, as we also revealed, it was not unknown back then for him to have a sociable pint or two with a local Tory.

21 Digging into castle's past

The excavation ran from July 22 to August 2, and was a partnership project between Shropshire Council and University Centre Shrewsbury, funded by the Castle Studies Trust.

22. Star power

The star, had his photo taken with staff and visitors at Park House Hotel. Staff took to Facebook to share the news, and said that Mr Firth had been a gentleman.

23. Crowd sourced for funeral

Couple's funeral

Friends of Victor and Edna Barnett were worried that there would be a low turnout for their funeral in January, because they had no surviving family – but the RAF community made sure that didn’t happen.

24. Mystery in the sky

“It looked like a long narrow black cylinder,” said Gary. “It remained still for several minutes in a vertical position, it then went horizontally through a cloud then it resumed its vertical position. It stayed static for another minute or so then went horizontal and disappeared off away from us.”

25. Amazing Grace

Grace Edwards

Grace Edwards, 24, who lives between Ellesmere and Whitchurch, she said she was “gutted” when the date she picked on the programme chose texting to tell her he didn’t want to see her again.

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