Shropshire Star

Shropshire towns then and now: Five old photos that show how the county has changed in 100 years

None of Shropshire's many towns are alike, all of them maintaining an enduring character and charm all of their own.

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Cheshire Street in Market Drayton, about 1920

But that isn't to say things haven't changed over the years - as you can see in some of the fascinating photographs found in the Shropshire Star's digital archives.

We've compiled a few of the most interesting black-and-white photos taken in Shropshire over the decades, and compared them to their modern day counterparts to see just how much has changed.

Here are a few of our favourites:

The Raven Hotel, Shrewsbury - 1920s

The Raven Hotel was a gorgeous building on Shrewsbury's Castle Street, as you can see in this photo from what we think is the 1920s.

That is, it was until it was demolished in the 1960s so a Woolworths could be built.

That shop - much like the chain it was part of - is no more now either, and the road as well the shops are all unrecognisable today.

But we can tell from the distinctive frontages of the buildings on the opposite side of the road as well as the alleyway that this is the very same spot in both photos, about 100 years apart.

The Raven Hotel in Shrewsbury, in a photo from what we think is the 1920s

What does it look like today?

Modern day Castle Street in Shrewsbury

The Cock Hotel and Swan Hotel, Wellington - 1920

The busy junction of Holyhead Road, Mill Bank, Watling Street and Dawley Road is probably most well-known today for the two old pubs that overlook it: The Cock Hotel on the west side of the crossroads and the Swan on the north.

And from this fantastic photo credited to the Shropshire Records and Research Centre, we can see both pubs have been an institution for quite some decades.

The photo is undated, but from the car and the police officer on traffic duty we think it might date to 1920 or even earlier.

You can see from the photos that the old Swan building is no more, having been demolished in 1960, but the building that replaced it and houses the inn today pays homage to its Tudor heritage. Meanwhile the Cock has been taken on and expanded by Joules the brewers.

The Cock Hotel in Wellington, around 1920

What does it look like today?

The Cock Hotel (left) and the Swan in Wellington

Market day in Market Drayton, 1920

Market Drayton is a north Shropshire town named for its weekly markets - a tradition that has been proudly upheld since King Henry III granted the settlement that stood in its spot permission to host markets in 1245.

The market has taken on many forms in the centuries since that royal charter was granted, with the buttercross in Cheshire Street an enduring focal point for townspeople to gather under having travelled from near and far to trade their goods.

It was a particularly bustling market day when the below photo was taken, probably from a first floor window in Cheshire Street, and it appears most people came to market on bikes that day - we think in the 1920s.

It's a very different picture on market day now, as you can see from the modern photo. Cars and delivery trucks are the mainstays now - though you can still make out the buttercross at the end of the street, practically unchanged in over a century.

Cheshire Street in Market Drayton, about 1920

What does it look like today?

Modern day Cheshire Street in Market Drayton

Ludlow town centre, unknown

This picture from central Ludlow was a bit of a mystery, with very few details accompanying it in our archives.

The only clues were the words 'Castle Street, Ludlow' - and on closer inspection it seems to have been taken in the area that is now one edge of Ludlow's market square.

The cars are different and the structure that was once on the left of the photo is gone now, but comparing the size and colour of the buildings on the right of the photo, as well as the Tudor-style structure visible just behind and to the left of 'Bradleys' gives us our clearest clue to its whereabouts.

As to when it was taken, who knows?

Castle Street in Ludlow, unknown date

What does it look like today?

The southern edge of Castle Square in Ludlow as it is today

Whitchurch's old cinema, 1970s

There once stood a cinema in Whitchurch, on the corner of Mill Street and Park Avenue. It opened in 1923 as the Palladium Cinema, and acquired a sound system in about 1930.

It changed hands and names a few times over the next 40 years, before it eventually closed in the 1960s.

Reports from the Shropshire Star around the turn of the century say that the cinema was knocked down over safety concerns in 2001, before developers eyed up the site for housing.

The old photo, taken in the 1970s, makes it hard to see much else apart from the cinema - but we can see that on the corner of Mill Street and Park Avenue today is a development of retirement living flats.

The old cinema on Mill Street in Whitchurch - possibly in the 1970s

What does it look like today?

The corner of Mill Street and Park Avenue in Whitchurch, where the old cinema once stood