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Row over Shrewsbury church beer festival plans

By Aimee Jones | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Plans to hold a beer festival in a redundant church are in doubt after serious concerns were raised at a public meeting.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Shrewsbury

The Shrewsbury & West Shropshire Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Festival is due to take place at The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Shrewsbury, in July.

However, at a meeting at the church on Thursday evening, a number of people spoke against the plans despite assurances from the group.

Norrie Porter, from the local CAMRA branch, assured people with reservations that the church would be respected.

“I was blown away with how beautiful this building is and we will make sure we preserve its beauty,” he said.

“We have already come up with ideas to protect the tiles and we are working with the Churches Conservation Trust to move some stuff into storage. We also have two professional security officers.”

But members of the Friends of St Mary’s Church said they believe a consecrated building should not be used for drinking alcohol.

Former steward David John said: “This is a lovely building and it deserves to be maintained. I’m also an avid beer drinker and have been to various beer festivals locally. I’m as passionate about beer drinking as I am about preserving this church.

“But for me, this doesn’t sit comfortably in what is a sacred space. I’m well aware of the arguments that everyone will behave, however, the bottom line for me is as a beer drinker and someone who loves this place, if it goes ahead I will have no choice but to boycott it.”

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The meeting was hosted by The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) which cares for the building.

Judith Patrick, head of region north, told the meeting that £400,000 needs to be raised to keep St Mary’s open to the public and that events are an ideal way to raise funds.

“There is masonry at serious risk of falling off,” she said. “If we don’t secure it, we may have to close the church as we have to think of health and safety first.”

CCT will take its decision next week.

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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