Architect immortalises Shrewsbury's historic streets

The chances of enjoying Shrewsbury's stunning historic streets may be limited at present due to a certain national pandemic. But these intricate drawings can give you a real taste of the town.

James Wade has been drawing the buildings of Shrewsbury
James Wade has been drawing the buildings of Shrewsbury

Award winning architect and artist James St Clair Wade has been working on the Shrewsbury Streetscape Project, in which he captures the modern day town centre in unique architectural views. He has been working on it since April 2019 and his images allow the whole length of each street to be seen simultaneously. Both sides of Wyle Cop, High Street, Mardol, Quarry Place, and St. John's Hill are now complete. Work is currently underway on Shoplatch.

James hopes to complete all of the town's most picturesque streets, and has found it an ideal way to spend lockdown.

"I'm enjoying it. It's a good mixture between the artistic and the architectural side. It'll be nice to have a record of this moment in time. I'm hoping that in years to come people will look at them like we do now with old photographs, remembering what the town was like once upon a time.

High Street North

"The reaction has been really good. My wife Katriona started a Facebook page so people could follow my progress and we get lots of nice comments. Some people are interested in the process. People tell you stories of the history of the town so I've learned along the way."

James was educated at Shrewsbury School, and studied architecture at St. John's College, Cambridge and Harvard.

As a student he worked for Arrol and Snell in Shrewsbury and produced the concept designs for Carline Fields, a sheltered housing development on the banks of the Severn, which was later selected for inclusion in the Prince of Wales's A Vision of Britain (1989).

Mardol Head

After qualification, he worked for eight years at Nicholas Hare Architects in London, building up experience through a wide range of commercial and educational projects, including new boarding houses at Leighton Park School in Reading and Benenden School in Kent.

In 1996 he moved back to Shrewsbury and rejoined Arrol and Snell, remaining with them for more than twenty years. During this time he has been involved in numerous conservation and new build projects ranging from cottages to country houses and rural parish churches to cathedrals.

The aren't many buildings in Shrewsbury he hasn't been involved in helping maintain over the years. He has done convervation artchitecture on the Old Market Hall, St Alkmund's Church - for which he won two top industry awards for best church restoration, and the Trinity Centre church hall in Meole Brace.


But for now, he's enjoying drawing the town's historic buildings rather than helping restore them, and gave an insight into how he creates his pictures.

"It's quite a slow process. The first thing I do is take a photograph as square on as I possibly can. I use it to draw in sections. I start working on tracing paper to get all the reference points then I work it all together.

​"Wyle Cop was done in seven sections which took about 20 hours each."

You can follow James' progress on his Shrewsbury Streetscape Project Facebook page or order prints online at

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