New book takes colourful look at Shrewsbury past

The whole spectrum of Shrewsbury life of yesteryear is brought to readers in glorious colour in a new book by local historian David Trumper which is launched on November 2.

Two Midland Red employees stand in front of a bus next to the S13 stand that took passengers up as far as Copthorne Hospital in the 1960s. The bus station was in the shadow of Rowley's House.
Two Midland Red employees stand in front of a bus next to the S13 stand that took passengers up as far as Copthorne Hospital in the 1960s. The bus station was in the shadow of Rowley's House.

"Now That's What I Call Shrewsbury" features colour photos of the town dating from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

"I think it's unique, being all in colour. There have been modern ones, but as far as I know this is the first book entirely of old colour photos of the town," said David, of Shrewsbury, who has been behind many previous pictured-based books shining a spotlight on the history of the county town.

The old Shirehall in The Square – it was demolished in 1971

"The official launch on Friday, November 2, is at the Darwin Centre – that's not the Darwin Centre in the middle of town, but a community centre at the back of Fellmongers Hall at Frankwell in Shrewsbury.

"I will be doing a talk there at the same time to raise money to put a new roof on part of the building, Fellmongers Hall. It will start at 7pm for 7.30pm."

Dave took most of the pictures himself, but others have come from Bob Carter, a professional photographer who worked for both the Shrewsbury Chronicle and Shropshire Star, and from Elizabeth Hector, who gave Dave access to the collection of her late husband Anthony.

Today only the cross remains in this scene taken at the top of Pride Hill. Barclays Bank, on the left, was rebuilt in 1959. Shrewsbury post office, glimpsed to the right, was replaced in 1963. The Crown Hotel was demolished in 1962. The magnificent red dragon over the hotel's entrance was carved out of solid oak by a Russian emigre soon after the hotel opened.

Another contributor has been Nigel Hughes, who Dave first met while moving around the different sets of the film A Christmas Carol in 1984.

One of the photos recalls a brutal snub given by Shrewsbury to Henry Tudor – or rather volunteers who in August 1985 re-enacted Henry's epic 260-mile trek from Pembrokeshire, through Shrewsbury, and on to Bosworth where he defeated Richard III in battle to become king.

On arriving in the county town the marchers, who were marking the 500th anniversary of the event, found that nothing had been laid on for them, and the Tudor army was told it could not camp in Shrewsbury Castle grounds.

Several tents which had been put up by an advance party were ordered to be taken down.

The Miss Shropshire float in Shrewsbury carnival parade in Bridge Street in September 1965. The Miss Shropshire was 22-year-old Mrs Shirley Wallis from Harlescott.

Henry Tudor, aka organiser Geoffrey Davies, had to admit defeat, fuming: "What we have seen is bureaucracy run riot in Shrewsbury."

Among other photos of life in Shrewsbury are various pictures of the flower show, including one of Dave's daughter Vicki meeting television's Grotbag the witch, played by Carol Lee Scott, in the children's area.

And one chapter looks at some of the disappeared features in Shrewsbury, including the old Shirehall in The Square, which was demolished in 1971, and St Mary's Catholic School on Town Walls, which was replaced by eight large town houses called Bishopstone Mansions.

The book is published by Amberley Publishing and costs £14.99.

Realistically Dave thinks the 1960s is the earliest in which it would be possible to produce an all-colour book of Shrewsbury scenes, as he says it would be difficult to find enough colour photos from earlier.

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