Charles Darwin: Mayor in call to buy up scientist’s former Shrewsbury home
Shrewsbury’s mayor today called for more to be done to celebrate the town's famous son Charles Darwin – and to secure his birthplace for the town.
Councillor Jane MacKenzie is setting up a steering group to highlight the connection between Darwin and his home town.
She is also calling on Shrewsbury Town Council to acquire his birthplace.
It comes after it was revealed the Valuation Office Agency, which is currently based at the property on The Mount, Shrewsbury, is to move out of the building.
Councillor MacKenzie said: “I want to establish a steering group led by the town council that is going to explore the possibility of acquiring Darwin’s house.
“I feel this needs to be led by Shrewsbury Town Council so that we can acquire the house for the town and for the country really.
“Since we’ve become aware that the Valuation Office Agency is going to be leaving the property we’ve started to investigate what the options are.
“It’s of such historical significance and we need to speak to the owners to ask them to release it or lease it, but there’s already negotiations going on.”
She added: “My view is that because so many people are interested in Darwin’s house, we need to establish a group that can bring all these people under one umbrella.
“I’m a big fan of Charles Darwin and I just feel that Shrewsbury has never really fully taken it on board.
“Everyone should know Charles Darwin was from Shrewsbury like Shakespeare was from Stratford-upon-Avon. I’ve travelled to America, Africa and other places and everyone knows Charles Darwin but no one across the world has heard of Shrewsbury.
“If we can put the two together it could be wonderful for tourism, and tourism might become our most important industry.
“We’ve got Historic England, and English Heritage and we want to bring everyone together into the steering group so we can acquire this property in one way or another.”
Councillor MacKenzie added that she would like it to be a “hub”, rather than a museum as has been previously said.
“We would definitely have some sort of museum in there as his touch is everywhere,” she added.
“I’m doing this to reassure people that we are trying to make a difference to the town.”
Darwin was born in Shrewsbury on February 12, 1809, in Mount House and spent much of his early life in the town, including studying at Shrewsbury School. It is thought the young Darwin spent his time in the county observing the environment which set him on the path to his discoveries.
The town council was set to meet last night to discuss setting up a steering group.
Hero or sinner? Evolution debate continues to rage
It may be accepted by most as fact, but the theory of evolution that Charles Darwin introduced remains controversial with a large number of Christians.
The Shropshire Star revealed on Saturday how campaigners had taken to the streets of Shrewsbury to remind people about the seven-day creation, as told in the Bible.
They claim there is no proof in the evolution outlined by Darwin and developed by future generations of scientists.
A shropshirestar.com poll of 1,800 readers reveals that a sizeable minority – 13 per cent – believe the Origin of the Species to be sinful.
It is a debate that continues to bubble under in the Shropshire Star letters page.
And, following Saturday’s story about the anti-Darwin campaigners, there followed a lively online debate on the issue.
One shropshirestar.com reader, TAD1979, said: “Darwin observed adaptation in nature, primarily finches in the Galapagos Archipelago. Finches adapt in much the same people do due to genetics, or ‘natural selection’ as he called it. That’s why there is so much variety within the human race.
“Darwin had misgivings about his ‘theory’. Until an atheist can show me a cat that has evolved into a dog, or another example of adaption outside of a species or kind, the jury is out and evolution is just a neat idea.”
Another reader, Roger, said: “The debate on evolution has passed the point of being a theory and is now scientific fact. People of faith say God created everything. Scientists would say God created everything but gave things the tools to adapt to something better.”
Shanks said: “Why is it that these religious types are insistent on pushing their beliefs onto others ? Why are they so insecure that they feel the need to stand on the high street or knock on the door to preach to free-thinking atheists. The earth is approximately five billion years old, Christianity 2,000 years, it has during this very short period promoted: Sexism, racism, paedophilia, slavery, war and homophobia, to name just a few. Religion was just a mechanism to control the masses. Personally I don’t need to be told to be a fairly decent person.”