Shrewsbury

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Shrewsbury (/ˈʃruːzbri/ or /ˈʃroʊzbri/) is the county town of Shropshire, in the West Midlands region of England. Lying on the River Severn, it is a civil parish home to some 70,000 inhabitants, and is the primary settlement and headquarters of Shropshire Council. It is the second largest town in the ceremonial county of Shropshire, after Telford.

Shrewsbury is a historic market town with the town centre having a largely unaltered medieval street plan. The town features over 660 historic listed buildings,including several examples of timber framing from the 15th and 16th century. Shrewsbury Castle, a red sandstone castle fortification, and Shrewsbury Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery, were founded in 1074 and 1083 respectively, by the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger de Montgomery. The town hosts one of the oldest and largest horticultural events in the country, Shrewsbury Flower Show, and is known for its floral displays, having won various awards since the turn of the 21st century, including Britain in Bloom in 2006.

Today, lying 9 miles (14 km) east of the Welsh border, Shrewsbury serves as a cultural and commercial centre for the ceremonial county and a large area of mid-Wales, with retail output alone worth over £299 million per year. There are some light industry and distribution centres, such as Battlefield Enterprise Park, located mainly on the outskirts. The A5 and A49 trunk roads cross near to the town, as do five railway lines at Shrewsbury railway station.

The town was known to the ancient Britons as Pengwern, signifying “the alder hill”;and to the Anglo-Saxons as Scrobbesburh (dative Scrobbesbyrig), which has several meanings; “fort in the scrub-land region”, “Scrobb’s fort”, “shrubstown” or “the town of the bushes”. This name was gradually corrupted in three directions, into ‘Sciropscire’ which became Shropshire, into ‘Sloppesberie’, which became Salop/Salopia (an alternative name for both the town and its county), and into ‘Schrosberie’ which eventually became the name of the county town, Shrewsbury. Its Welsh name Amwythig means “fortified place”.

Shrewsbury is known as a town with significant medieval heritage, having been founded ca. 800 AD. It was during the late Middle Ages (14th/15th Centuries) when the town was at its height of commercial importance. This was mainly due to the wool trade, a major industry at the time, with the rest of Britain and Europe, especially with the River Severn and Watling Street as trading routes. It is believed that Henry VIII intended to make Shrewsbury a cathedral city after the formation of the Church of England, but the citizens of the town declined the offer.

Over the ages, the geographically important town has been the site of many conflicts, particularly between the English and Welsh. Shrewsbury was the seat of the Princes of Powis for many years; however, the Angles, under King Offa of Mercia, took possession of it in 778. The Welsh again besieged it in 1069, but were repelled by William the Conqueror. Roger de Montgomery was given the town as a gift from William, and built Shrewsbury Castle in 1074, taking the title of Earl. The 3rd Earl, Robert of Bellême was deposed in 1102, in consequence of taking part in the rebellion against Henry I. In 1403, the Battle of Shrewsbury took place a few miles north of the town centre, at Battlefield; it was fought between King Henry IV and Henry Hotspur Percy, with the King emerging victorious, an event celebrated in William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act 5.

The town is home to the Ditherington Flax Mill, the world’s first iron-framed building, which is commonly regarded as “the grandfather of the skyscraper”. Its importance was officially recognised in the 1950s, resulting in it becoming a Grade I listed building. Shrewsbury in the Industrial Revolution was also located on the Shrewsbury Canal which linked it to the Shropshire Canal and wider canal network of Great Britain.

Shrewsbury has also played a part in Western intellectual history, by being the town in which the naturalist Charles Darwin was born and raised. Nearby is the village of Wroxeter, 5 miles (8 km) to the south-west, where the now ruined Roman city of Viroconium Cornoviorum lies. Viroconium was the fourth largest civitas capital in Roman Britain. As Caer Guricon it may have served as the early Dark Age capital of the kingdom of Powys.

The town was not bombed in World War II and so many of its ancient buildings remain intact and there was little redevelopment during the 1960s and 1970s, which arguably destroyed the character of many historic towns in the UK. However, a large area of half timbered houses and businesses was destroyed to make way for the Raven Meadows multi-story car park, and other historic buildings were demolished to make way for the brutalist architectural style of the 1960s. The town was saved from a new ‘inner ring road’ due to its challenging geography.

Shrewsbury won the West Midlands Capital of Enterprise award in 2004. The town has two expanding business parks, the Shrewsbury Business Park and the Battlefield Enterprise Park. There are many residential developments currently under construction in the town to cater for the increasing numbers of people wishing to live in the town and commute to Telford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham. There is also the Greenhills EnterprIse Park which is a 15 acre commercial development site approximately 5 miles north of the town centre. In 2000 and again in 2002, Shrewsbury unsuccessfully applied for city status.

In 2009 Shrewsbury Town Council was formed and the town’s traditional coat of arms was returned to everyday use.

Shrewsbury is located about 14 miles (23 km) to the west of Telford, 43 miles (69 km) west of Birmingham and the West Midlands Conurbation, and about 150 miles (240 km) north-west of the capital, London. The border with Wales is 9 miles (14 km) to the west. The town centre is partially built on a hill whose elevation is, at its highest, 75 metres above sea level. The longest river in the UK, the River Severn, flows through the town, forming a meander around its centre.

From the late 1990s the town has experienced severe flooding problems from the Severn and Rea Brook. In the autumn of 2000 large swathes of the town were underwater, notably Frankwell which was flooded three times in the space of six weeks. The Frankwell flood defences were completed in 2003, along with the new offices of the borough council. More recently, such as in 2005 and 2007, flooding has been less severe, and the defences have generally held back floodwaters from the town centre areas. However, the town car parks are often left to be flooded in the winter, which reduces trade in the town, most evidenced in the run up to Christmas in 2007.

The town is situated near Haughmond Hill, a site where Precambrian rocks, some of the oldest rocks in the county can be found, and the town itself is sited on an area of largely Carboniferous rocks. A fault, the Hodnet Fault, starts approximately at the town, and runs as far as Market Drayton.

Shrewsbury has a large number of suburbs and surrounding villages. As the town continues to expand, howe An example of where this has happened is Bayston Hill, which has grown considerably in the last 20 years; now separated from the Meole Brace suburb by only a few fields and the A5 road. It remains, however, a separate entity to the town, with its own parish council, etc. Bayston Hill lies 3 miles (5 km) south of the town centre of Shrewsbury and on the A49 and near to the A5. The smaller village of Battlefield, this time to the north of the town, is also considered now as a suburb of the town due to growth in the surrounding area. It is covered by the parish of Shrewsbury.

The Borough of Shrewsbury’s first Charter was granted by King Henry I allowing the collection of rents. King Richard I granted another early charter in 1189 and from that time the town’s regional importance and influence increased, as well as its autonomy from the county of Shropshire. Further charters were granted in 1199 (King John), 1495 (Henry VII), 1638 (Charles I), and 1685 (James II). In 1974 a charter from Queen Elizabeth II incorporated the Borough of Shrewsbury and Atcham.

Shrewsbury is the administrative centre for the new Shropshire Council, the unitary authority covering most of Shropshire (but does not include the Borough of Telford and Wrekin, a separate unitary authority area). Shropshire Council have their headquarters at The Shirehall, on Abbey Foregate, and the old Shrewsbury & Atcham Borough Council headquarters at The Guildhall, on Frankwell Quay, is now one of the many offices and customer service points around the county used by the council.

Shrewsbury is in the Shrewsbury and Atcham constituency and is the only large settlement in the constituency. Previous MPs for Shrewsbury have included former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

Shrewsbury has been twinned with Zutphen in The Netherlands since 1977. The town also serves as the administrative headquarters of the British Army’s regional 143 (West Midlands) Brigade (as well as the 5th Division which disbanded in April 2012), having its administrative HQ at the Copthorne Barracks.

Shrewsbury was until 2009 an unparished area and had no town or parish council(s), instead the Mayor of Shrewsbury and Atcham was also the mayor of the town. However as part of wider changes to local governance in Shropshire, the town was parished on 13 May 2008, with a single parish created covering the entire town and previously unparished area. Shrewsbury is the second most populous civil parish in England (only Weston-super-Mare has a greater population) with a population of over 70,000.

The town council, which is the parish council, first convened on 1 April 2009, and its chair is the Mayor of Shrewsbury. For the interim period before the first elections, the existing county councillors who represented electoral divisions covering Shrewsbury were the town councillors. On 4 June 2009, the first election was held to the town council, with councillors elected from 17 single-member wards which are coterminous with Shropshire Council electoral divisions.

Earlier plans to locate the town council at Rowley’s House have been altered and the town council has its headquarters and meeting place at The Guildhall, which was the headquarters of the former borough council.

The coat of arms of the former Shrewsbury Borough Council, and now the Town Council, depicts three loggerheads, with the motto Floreat Salopia, a Latin phrase that can be translated to “may Shrewsbury flourish”. The coat of arms of the (now abolished) Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council was Shrewsbury’s shield with the addition of Atcham Bridge running above the loggerheads. Shrewsbury Town FC historically used the Loggerheads for a number of the years of their existence but since 2007 have had a badge depicting a lion rather than a loggerhead. (A loggerhead, heraldically, means a leopard’s head).

According to the United Kingdom Census 2001, the population of the town of Shrewsbury is 67,126. The same census puts the population of the borough of Shrewsbury and Atcham at 95,850. In 1981 the population of the town was 57,731 and in 1991 the population of the town was 64,219. Shrewsbury is Shropshire’s second largest town, after Telford. The population of the town centre (the area within the loop of the Severn) is approximately 1,300.

 

Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Population 31,280 34,158 38,263 40,480 41,858 43,818 46,261 48,704 51,146 50,678 52,181
Year 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 53,729 55,481 57,290 62,398 67,965 74,831 82,392 85,136 92,347 95,896
Population figures for Shrewsbury & Atcham borough. Source: A Vision of Britain through Time

Throughout the Medieval period, Shrewsbury was a centre for the wool trade, and used its position on the River Severn to transport goods across England via the canal system. Unlike many other towns in this period, Shrewsbury never became a centre for heavy industry. By the early 1900s, the town became focused on transport services and the general service and professional sector, owing to its position on the A5 road, part of the strategic route to North Wales.

The town is the location of the town and county councils, and a number of retail complexes, both in and out of the town centre, and these provide significant employment. Four in five jobs in the town are in the service industry. Within this sector, the largest employers are the administration and distribution sectors, which includes retail, food and accommodation.

Shrewsbury is home to four shopping centres. The principal centres comprise the Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres, which house many High Street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, TK Maxx, H&M, Next, and Boots. Riverside provides further retail accommodation for stores including Somerfield and Wilkinson. A plan to redevelop Riverside and integrate a new development with the Darwin and Pride Hill centres was granted planning permission in April 2012. The project is dubbed “New Riverside”. The Parade Shopping Centre is a fourth centre exclusively housing independent retailers. There are also two retail warehouse clusters: at Meole Brace Retail Park to the south, and at Sundorne Retail Park to the north. Major supermarkets in the town are the environmentally friendly Tesco Extra at Harlescott, Morrisons on Whitchurch Road, Asda on Old Potts Way and Sainsbury’s at Meole Brace. A Waitrose supermarket scheme to the south could – if approved – open by the end of 2013.

The visitor economy of Shrewsbury and Atcham was worth about £115 million in 2001, with approximately 2,500 people employed directly in the visitor industry and 3,400 indirectly. There were about 3.1 million visitors—both day visitors and staying visitors—to the borough in 2001, with 88% being day visitors and 12% being staying visitors; staying visitors accounted for 42% of spending. Shrewsbury’s position of being the only sizable town for a large area, especially to the west in Mid-Wales, allows it to attract a large retail base beyond that of its resident population. This is not only evident in the retail sector, but also in the healthcare sector, where the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital has the only A&E department westwards until Aberystwyth, approximately 75 miles (121 km) away.

Although a less prominent brewing centre than at Burton-on-Trent, beer made in Shrewsbury was celebrated as early as about 1400 when bard Iolo Goch praised the supply of “Crwg Amwythig” dispensed at the Sycharth palace of Owain Glyndwr. In 1900 there were eight breweries in the town, chief among them being Southam’s and Trouncer’s, which also had their own maltings and owned many local public houses, as well as five other maltsters, but the conventional brewing industry gradually closed down after takeovers in the 1960s, and the last maltings, at Ditherington, in 1986. A real ale brewery was established in the town in 1995. The Salopian Brewery is based in the Old Dairy in Mytton Oak Road, and produces cask ale and bottle conditioned beers. It has a production of 80 barrels a week and mainly serves the pubs in and around Shrewsbury.

In terms of social and economic deprivation, according to the Overall Index of Multiple Deprivation of 2004, one Super Output Area (SOA) in the town is in the bottom 15% of all areas nationally. This area is located in the ward of Harlescott. A further four SOAs fall into the bottom 30% nationally, these being located in the wards of Monkmoor, Sundorne, Battlefield and Heathgates, and Meole Brace. The most affluent areas of the town are generally located to the south and west, around the grounds of Shrewsbury School, and the Copthorne area.

The historic town centre still retains its medieval street pattern and many narrow streets and passages. Some of the passages, especially those which pass through buildings from one street to the next, are called “shuts” (the word deriving from “to shoot through” from one street to another). Many specialist shops, traditional pubs and local restaurants can be found in the hidden corners, squares and lanes of Shrewsbury. Many of the street names have also remained unchanged in centuries and there are some more unusual names, such as Butcher Row, Longden Coleham, Dogpole, Mardol, Frankwell, Roushill, Grope Lane, Gullet Passage, Murivance, The Dana, Portobello, Bear Steps, Shoplatch and Bellstone.

The Public Library, in the pre-1882 Shrewsbury School building, is situated on Castle Hill. Above the main entrance are two statues bearing the inscriptions “Philomathes” and “Polymathes“. These portray the virtues “Lover of learning” and “Much learning” to convey the lesson that it is good to gain knowledge through a love of learning.

In the centre of the town lies The Quarry. This 29 acre (120,000 m²) riverside park attracts thousands of people throughout the year and is enjoyed as a place of recreation. Shrewsbury is known as the “Town of Flowers” and this was the motto printed onto many of the signs on entrance to the town via major roads, although in 2007 the signs were replaced, instead branding the town as ‘the birthplace of Charles Darwin’.

The British Army’s Light Infantry has been associated with Shrewsbury since the 17th century when the first regiments were formed and many more regiments have been raised at Shrewsbury before being deployed all over the world from the American Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, after several major reorganisations, the Light Infantry Brigade now forms part of the regiment known simply as The Rifles. Shrewsbury’s Copthorne Barracks, spiritual home of the Light Brigade, still houses the Headquarters of the British Army’s 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, although that of the 5th Division disbanded in April 2012 as part of the reorganisation of the Army’s Support Command.

Between 1962 and 1992 there was a hardened nuclear bunker, built for No 16 Group Royal Observer Corps Shrewsbury, who provided the field force of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation and would have sounded the four-minute warning alarm in the event of war and warned the population of Shrewsbury in the event of approaching radioactive fallout. The building was manned by up to 120 volunteers who trained on a weekly basis and wore a Royal Air Force style uniform. After the breakup of the communist bloc in 1989, the Royal Observer Corps was disbanded between September 1991 and December 1995. However, the nuclear bunker still stands just inside Holywell Street near the Abbey as a lasting reminder of the cold war, but is now converted and used as a veterinary practice.

The tourist information centre is at the Music Hall on The Square in the town centre. The three main museums are Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery (located at Rowley’s House), Shrewsbury Castle (which houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum) and the Coleham Pumping Station. Also, there is the Gateway arts and drama centre and there are also various private galleries and art shops around the town. Another notable feature of the town is Lord Hill’s Column, the largest free-standing Doric column in the world.

Quantum Leap was unveiled in Mardol Quay Gardens, Shrewsbury to mark Darwin’s bicentenary in 2009. The sculpture represents Darwin’s ground breaking scientific ideas and his impact on the scientific world.

Shrewsbury, being almost entirely encircled by the River Severn, has nine bridges which cross the river and many that cross the Rea Brook.

Working downstream (anti-clockwise around the town) Frankwell footbridge is a modern pedestrian footbridge between Frankwell and the town centre spanning the River Severn. Downstream is the Welsh Bridge, which was built in the 1790s to replace the ancient St George’s Bridge.

Further along from the Welsh Bridge is the Porthill Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge running between The Quarry and Porthill, built in 1922. The next bridge along the river is the Kingsland Bridge, a privately owned toll bridge, and the subsequent bridge is the Greyfriars Bridge, a pedestrian bridge between Coleham and the town centre. Following the Greyfriars Bridge is the English Bridge, historically called “Stone Bridge”, which was rebuilt in the 1930s, and beyond it is the railway station, which is partly built over the river. After the station is the Castle Walk Footbridge, another modern pedestrian footbridge. The last bridge to cross the river within the Shrewsbury bypass area is called Telford Way, which has separate lanes for vehicles (A5112), bicycles and pedestrians. A. E. Housman wrote of the area this verse, which mentions the bridges of the town:

High the vanes of Shrewsbury gleam
Islanded in Severn stream;
The bridges from the steepled crest,
Cross the water east and west.

There are many church denominations represented in Shrewsbury, housed in a range of buildings, including Shrewsbury Abbey, founded by Roger de Montgomery in 1083. The Orthodox Church is located on Wenlock Road to the east. Shrewsbury is home to the Roman Catholic Shrewsbury Cathedral, located by Town Walls, as well as two other parishes in Harlescott and Monkmoor, within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury.

There are several Anglican churches in Shrewsbury. Other denominations, such as Methodists, Baptists and United Reformed Church (formerly Congregational and Presbyterian) are represented alongside newer church groups, which include: Elim Pentecostal and two Newfrontiers churches. Shrewsbury Evangelical Church meets in the St Julian’s Centre at the Wyle Cop end of Fish Street.

Many community projects in Shrewsbury are based in, or have been started by local churches, including the Isaiah 58 project, which is the primary work amongst homeless people in the town. Basics Bank is another example, based at The Barnabas Centre, which provides debt relief for local people. Churches Together in Shrewsbury is seeking to continue its long term commitment to helping homeless people through The Ark project.

One of the houses in Fish Street, facing St Alkmond’s Church, is noted as being the location of John Wesley’s first preaching in Shrewsbury. The wall plaque records the date as 16 March 1761.

Shrewsbury is home to one of the largest and oldest horticultural events in the UK – the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show. A two-day event, the Flower Show takes place in mid-August, has been running for more than 125 years, and attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. Set in the Quarry park, there are a multitude of events, exhibitions and displays, with a fireworks display at the end of each day. The town is well known for its flower displays, and has won numerous awards in recent years.

Shrewsbury is also home to one of the region’s main agricultural shows – the West Mid Show. This is held every year, usually in May, at the Shropshire Agricultural Showground on the outskirts of town at Coton Hill. The town is host to the Shrewsbury International Music Festival, when musical groups from all over the world come to perform for about a week for local residents, and give a final concert in the Abbey. The festival is organised by WorldStage Tours. 2006 saw the first Shrewsbury Folk Festival, after the event moved to the town from nearby Bridgnorth. Held annually over the August bank holiday, the event is very popular, with people travelling from across the UK to attend. In 2006 much of the event was held in the Quarry, with other related festivities happening around the town. For 2007 the event moved to the West Midlands Showground on the other side of the river. A new annual arts festival – the Shrewsbury Summer Season – was established in 2004 and runs each year from June to August with an extensive programme of music, visual arts, theatre and spectacle.

There are some very old public houses, which have been continuously open, such as the Golden Cross in Princess Street, the Dun Cow in Abbey Foregate, and the King’s Head in Mardol. The Golden Cross is reputed to be the oldest licensed Public House in Shrewsbury and records show that it was used as an inn as far back as 1428. Its original name was the Sextry, because it was originally the sacristy of Old St Chad’s Church.

Construction of Theatre Severn, a new entertainment complex in Frankwell, was commissioned in September 2006. Actual construction began on the site in April 2007 when the Borough Council appointed a contractor. The design features a prominent glass curve and steel frame and was nominated for the 2009 Carbuncle Cup. The site is positioned next to the Guildhall, alongside the namesake River Severn. The new complex replaced the old theatre, the Shrewsbury Music Hall. The Music Hall is currently being refurbished, to take on the role of Rowley’s House Museum, which will soon be closed for renovation for the foreseeable future.

In his novel ‘Howard’s End’ of 1910 E M Forster makes a brief reference to ‘astonishing Shrewsbury’, an impression he received after having visited the town in the early twentieth century. Other famous literary figures who similarly visited the town include (during the 17th century) Daniel Defoe, Celia Fiennes, the Shrewsbury School-educated Arthur Mainwaring and Ambrose Phillips and playwright George Farquhar whose 1706 play ‘The Recruiting Officer’ was set in the town.

Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the likes of John Wesley, Thomas de Quincey and Benjamin Disraeli the latter of which was MP for Shrewsbury 1841-47, would visit the town. Charles Dickens once also visited to present a series of lectures at the Music Hall, staying at the Lion Hotel. However, during this period the town’s most prolific literary figure and famous son was born – Charles Darwin. Darwin was educated at Shrewsbury School and later, with the development of his 1859 work ‘On the Origin of Species’ became the preeminent naturalist of the 19th century. Although Darwin’s work was both revolutionary and highly controversial at the time, his teachings and beliefs have become ever more globalised and he is today widely recognised as the father of the modern theory of evolution.

In the twentieth century Shrewsbury became famous for its poets. The great war poet Wilfred Owen was a Salopian, whilst his fellow poet Mary Webb much loved the town and referred to it many a time in her works under the guise of ‘Silverton’. Owen is the subject of the 1993 sculpture ‘Symmetry’, which was unveiled in the grounds of Shrewsbury Abbey, whilst Webb was finally laid to rest in one of the town’s cemeteries.

The town appears in the Brother Cadfael novels by Ellis Peters (pen name of Edith Pargeter). The novels take Shrewsbury Abbey for their setting, with Shrewsbury and other places in Shropshire portrayed regularly, and have made Medieval Shrewsbury familiar to a wide worldwide readership.

The local author, Carol Ewels has written two children’s books, including Jack the Cat, which are set in the town. Also, the children’s author Pauline Fisk writes about a town called Pengwern, which is based entirely on Shrewsbury, in books including Midnight Blue, and Sabrina Fludde. Frank Cottrell Boyce, another children’s author, writes briefly about Shrewsbury in his book Millions. Shrewsbury Library also hosts the West Midlands Literary Heritage website, developed to provide information about West Midland people and places, including those featured in the library’s own West Midland Creative Literature Collection.

In film Shrewsbury was famously used as the setting for the popular 1984 movie, A Christmas Carol, which filmed many of its interior and exterior shots in and around the town. The gravestone prop of Ebenezer Scrooge (played by George C. Scott) that was used in the movie is still present in the graveyard of St Chad’s Church.

Two newspapers are published for Shrewsbury – the Shrewsbury Chronicle, and the local edition of the county’s Shropshire Star. There are presently three radio stations that specifically serve either the Shrewsbury area or encompass it as part of a Shropshire-wide broadcast. They include: Free Radio Shropshire & Black Country; BBC Radio Shropshire, which is based in Shrewsbury; and, as of September 2006, The Severn, which broadcasts from the Shropshire Star building in Telford.

In 2009 a brand new online independent media company launched covering Shrewsbury and Shropshire. shropshirelive.com, is based in Shrewsbury with local residents encouraged to get involved with the web site by becoming citizen journalists and contributors.

Shrewsbury is well known in culinary circles for being the namesake of a classic English dessert. Shrewsbury cakes (or biscuits) are typically crisp and brittle creations which can be made to incorporate fruit. They can be small in size for serving several at a time, or large for serving as a dessert in their own right. Traditionally Shrewsbury cakes have a distinct hint of lemon.

The playwright William Congreve mentioned Shrewsbury cakes in his play The Way of the World in 1700 as a simile  (Witwoud – “Why, brother Wilfull of Salop, you may be as short as a Shrewsbury cake, if you please. But I tell you ’tis not modish to know relations in town”). The recipe is also included in several early cookbooks including The Compleat Cook of 1658. A final reference to the cakes can be seen to this day as the subject of a plaque affixed to a building close to Shrewsbury’s town library at the top of Pride Hill. The aforementioned plaque marks the spot where the Shrewsbury Cake’s recipe is said to have been pioneered in 1760 by Mr Pailin; a further quote, drawn from Richard Harris Barham’s Ingoldby Legends, reads:

Oh! Pailin. Prince of Cake Compounders
The mouth liquifies at the very name.
But there -

Shrewsbury is the county’s public transportation hub and has road and rail links to the rest of the county and country.

Five railway lines connect the town to most corners of Shropshire and the region, and the town is known as the “Gateway to Wales”. Shrewsbury railway station is served by Arriva Trains Wales and London Midland with trains running north to Chester, Manchester, Crewe and Wrexham, south to Hereford and Cardiff, west to Aberystwyth, and east to Birmingham via Telford, Shifnal, and Wolverhampton. Heart of Wales Line trains also operate to Swansea. On 28 April 2008, open access operator Wrexham & Shropshire commenced services to London, restoring the county’s direct rail link to the capital; previously, Shropshire had been one of only two mainland English counties without a dedicated service to the capital, the other being Rutland. However, the service ceased on 28 January 2011.

The main station building includes a clock tower, imitation Tudor chimneys, and carved heads in the frames of every window. There is a small British Transport Police station located within the building.

With regard to roads, the A5 connects the town northwest to Oswestry, and east towards Telford, where it joins the M54. The A5 once ran through the town centre, until a bypass was built in the 1930s. Subsequently, in 1992, a seventeen mile (27 km) dual carriageway was completed at a cost of 79 million pounds to the south of the town, and was made to form part of the A5 route. This dual carriageway was built further out of the town to act as a substantial link to Telford, as well as a bypass for the town.

The A49 also goes to Shrewsbury, joining the A5 at the south of the town, coming from Ludlow and Leominster. At this point, the road merges with the A5 for three miles (5 km), before separating again to the east of the town. From there it runs north, passing Sundorne, then Battlefield, before heading out towards Whitchurch. At Battlefield, the A53 route begins and heads northeast towards Shawbury and Market Drayton then onwards towards Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent.

The A458 (Welshpool-Bridgnorth) runs through the town centre, entering in the west and leaving to the southeast. The A528 begins in the town centre and heads north, heading for Ellesmere. The A488 begins just west of the town centre in Frankwell and heads out to Bishop’s Castle, Clun and Knighton crossing the border in the southwest of Shropshire.

Major roads within the town include the A5112, A5191 and A5064. The A5191 goes north-south via the town centre, while the A5112 runs north-south to the east of the town centre. The A5064 is a short, one mile (1.6 km) stretch of road to the southeast of the town centre, called “London Road”. Additionally, the A5124, the most recent bypass, was completed in 1998, and runs across the northern edge of the town at Battlefield (connecting the A49/A53 to the A528), though it did exist before as Harlescott Lane (which has since become unclassified).

Shrewsbury has a comprehensive network of on-road and traffic-free cycle routes. In 2008 Shrewsbury was awarded Cycling Town status by Cycling England. As a result Shrewsbury benefited from £1.8 million of grant funding from the Department for Transport between 2008 and 2011. The funding was used to make improvements to the cycle network in Shrewsbury, and to provide cycle training, information and advice to people to help encourage them to cycle to school and work.

Shrewsbury is home to a variety of established amateur, semi-professional and professional sports clubs, including Shrewsbury Town, a Football League team currently playing in Football League One. Shrewsbury Town’s achievements include winning the Welsh Cup six times, a record for an English club (as English-based clubs were allowed to compete in the competition until the early 1990s), a 10-year run in the old Second Division now known as The Championship from 1979 until 1989, a Third Division Championship (now League One) in 1979, a Division 3 Championship (now League Two) and victory in the Conference National Playoff Final 2004. The club relocated to the New Meadow in 2007, to a purposely built site located near Meole Brace. Prior to this, the club played at the Gay Meadow stadium, situated just outside of the town centre, for a 97 year period from 1910 to 2007. They first gained Football League membership in 1950 and stayed there for 53 years, when they were relegated, only to gain promotion after just one season.

There is also a local rugby club, Shrewsbury Rugby Club. The River Severn in the town is used for rowing by both Pengwern Boat Club and the Shrewsbury School Boat Club. Shrewsbury Sports Village, a new sports centre, was recently opened in the Sundorne district of the town, with the aim of providing a wider and improved range of sports facilities for townspeople. There are also a number of motorsports and golf facilities (including Meole Brace Municipal Golf Course) in the area. The local motorsports heritage includes the Loton Park Hillclimb and Hawkstone Park Motocross Circuit situated near Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury Motocross Club has staged motocross events in the area for over 30 years.

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