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Shrewsbury (Shropshire)

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A view of the town square and old corn market.

Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire in England. It's a very traditional market town, with a lot of mediaeval architecture and feel to the town. Historically, Shrewsbury was a vital town in the wool trade with Wales and due to its extremely good strategic geography, it was used as a garrison town and was part of the "Ring of Iron" of Edward Longshanks.

Typically, the name is pronounced as "Shrewsbury" by local residents, or "Shrowsbury" by outsiders.

Understand[edit]

Shropshire is a large and rural county in what is known as the Welsh Marches. The border with Wales is only 9 miles away and there is considerable Welsh influence in the county. The town even has a Welsh name - Amwythig - and many other towns in Shropshire have Welsh names as well as their English ones.

The population of the town is now just over 70,000. It is not the largest town in Shropshire - that is Telford.

The town's most famous son is Charles Darwin, the celebrated naturalist and explorer. He was born in the town in 1809 and lived in Shrewsbury until he was 27. There are many companies and cultural insitutions in the area which use the Darwin name, and tourists will see lots of references to the man.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

With the demise of 'Wrexham & Shropshire Railways' in early 2011, Shrewsbury no longer has a direct rail link with London. However, there are frequent trains from London Euston to Birmingham where there are connections to Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury's railway station is a large, imposing, Victorian building, opened in 1848. It is located on Castle Gates, right next to the castle, just north of the town centre, within easy walking distance of the town centre, shops and many of the town's attractions. Shrewsbury acts as an interchange for many rail lines, including the beautiful Heart of Wales line and Cambrian Coastal line and Shrewsbury is easily reached by rail from most of England and Wales. There are frequent services to Manchester, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Crewe, and other services to Chester, Wrexham Aberystwyth, Swansea, Pwllheli, and Cardiff.

The famous Heart of Wales Line runs between Shrewsbury and the sea-side city of Swansea, passing through some of Wales' most spectacular scenery and picturesque towns during its three hour and forty minute journey. Check their website for up to date train times.

By car[edit]

Access is best via the M54 from the West Midlands conurbation, then the A5 from Telford. Parking in the town is notoriously difficult, therefore Park & Ride schemes operate National Park and Ride Directory, which enable the visitor to park outside the town in a large car park and then take a bus into the town centre. Check the link for pricing information. The park & ride bus goes all round the town centre, and has stops outside most attractions, shops, etc. Park & Ride car parks are located at Meole Brace (to the south of the town), Harlescott (to the north), and Oxon (Shelton) (to the east).

By bus[edit]

The main hub for buses and coaches running to and from Shrewsbury is Raven Meadows bus station. This is located on the riverside behind Pride Hill, which is the main pedestrianised shopping street. (SY1 1PL). Shrewsbury is on the route of the London - Aberystwyth and the London - Wrexham coach services (operated by National Express). There are various local bus services, mainly linking Shrewsbury with other towns and villages in Shropshire and the surrounding area.

Get around[edit]

Shrewsbury’s town centre is very compact due to being confined by the loop of the river Severn, and as such it is easy to walk between almost all of the tourist attractions and shops. Park and Ride services from Oxon, Harlescott and Meole Brace to the town centre and back (Monday-Saturday) (free parking at Oxon, Harlescott and Meole Brace). Other bus services go from the bus station in the town centre to places in town and further out in the county.

Cabs available at the train station on Castle Gates. Otherwise there are numerous taxi companies.

Roads inside the town centre are to be avoided if travelling by car. Please park outside the town centre in the many car parks available - St Julian's Friars, Abbey Foregate, Frankwell, etc.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, The Square SY1 1LH (located in the centre of Shrewsbury, behind the Old Market Hall), ☎ +44 1743 258885 (shrewsburymuseum@shropshire.gov.uk). This building is a must for any visitor to Shrewsbury, as it is home to Shrewsbury’s Tourist Information Centre as well as a museum, art gallery and café. It was previously the theatre until the opening of Theatre Severn (mentioned later). Part of the museum is free to look around (behind the café), see the website for accurate pricing for the rest.
  • Shrewsbury Castle and Shropshire Regimental Museum, Castle Gate (adjacent to Shrewsbury Railway Station), (shropsrm@zoom.co.uk). Museum open Tu-Sa and Bank Holidays 10:00-16:00; grounds all year round, M-Sa 09:00-17:00 & summer Sundays. Shrewsbury Castle was built in the eleventh century but now belongs to Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council, and houses the Shropshire Regimental Museum, and an exhibition about the history of the castle. The grounds are also pleasant to walk in and explore. Also site for outdoor drama productions and other events in the summer. £2.50 for museum (Senior citizens £1.25; students, local residents and under-18s FREE; entry to grounds only FREE).
  • Old Market Hall, The Square SY1 1LH, ☎ +44 1743 281281 (info@oldmarkethall.co.uk). Open from 10:00. Films usually show at approx 14:30, 17:30 and 20:00 daily. Originally opened in 1596 as a Market Hall in the centre of Shrewsbury, this Elizabethan building is now an arts cinema showing foreign-language and artistic films of considerable variety. There is also a cafe-bar and digital arts exhibition. £5 for films (£3.50 for students, over-60s and disabled people. FREE for Digital Arts exhibitions and cafe-bar).
  • St Chad's Church (in the south part of the town centre, opposite the Quarry Park), ☎ +44 1743 365478 (info@stchadschurchshrewsbury.com), . Summer M-Sa 08:00-17:00, Winter M-Sa 08:00-13:00 (From 13:00 the outer vestibule and St Aidan’s chapel are open until 17:00). Church dating from 1792, has a unique circular nave. St. Chad’s also holds free concerts every Friday lunchtime (12:40).
  • St Mary's Church, ☎ +44 1743 357006. M-F 10:00-17:00; Sa 10:00-16:00. Stained glass windows dating from 14th-19th century.
  • The Quarry Park
  • St Julian's Church
  • St Alkmund's Church
  • Theatre Severn, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY3 8FT (next to Welsh Bridge.), +44 1743 281281, [1]. Depends on production. Now the main theatrical presence in Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn opened in 2009. It regularly hosts a variety of acts, and it is worth checking their website to see what is on the schedule.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Shrewsbury Market Hall
  • The Market Hall, The Market Hall, Claremont Street, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QG (Straight down the hill from the Pride Hill pedestrianised shopping street), +44 1743 351067 (), [2]. This building houses a great collection of small businesses selling everything from local produce to antiques and bicycles. There is a variety of cafés as well, and it is well worth a look.  edit
  • River tour by boat (Sabrina river tour), Sabrina Boat, Victoria Quay, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY3 8LH (Just downstream of Welsh bridge, which is on the north-western side of the river loop.), +44 1743 369741 (), [3]. Shrewsbury’s location inside a loop of the river Severn means that you can see a lot on this boat tour. The standard tour takes about 40 minutes, but there are sometimes themed tours and activities, so check the website for more information. £6.75 for adults.  edit
  • Haughmond hill, SY4 4PW (Leaving Shrewsbury on the B5062 the hill becomes obvious, and the car park is signed off this road (on the brow of the hill, to the right)), +441584813826 (), [4]. 21:00-17:30. This hill lies just outside the town, and it is possible to walk to it by following the river past the town’s weir, then along an old canal. Ask at tourist information for more accurate directions. There are the ruins of an old abbey, which are nice to look around, but the main attraction is to follow the paths through the wooded hillside out to a viewpoint overlooking the town and surrounding area. £1 parking.  edit
  • The Darwin Town Trail, (The trail starts at the 'Darwin Gate' sculpture at the top of Mardol), [5]. As part of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth a route through the town was opened in 2009 linking together many of the town's sights. A leaflet with directions and information is available from the Tourist Information centre in the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery (in the main square).  edit

Learn[edit]

Shrewsbury is home to Shrewsbury School, a public school, where Sir Philip Sydney, Charles Darwin, Michael Palin, John Peel, Nick Hancock and Michael Heseltine were educated. It is on a large commanding site ("Kingsland") just south of the town centre overlooking the loop of the Severn. The school was once located in the town centre, in the buildings that are now the main county library on Castle Street. Opposite it on the other side of the river is Shrewsbury High School, a private girls day school. However the majority of the town's resident children attend one of the town's seven comprehensive schools. The comprehensive schools of the town include:

  • The Priory, which was formerly a grammar school for girls.
  • Meole Brace School, which currently carries the status of Science College.
  • The Corbet School
  • The Wakeman School, geographically the closest school to the town, situated next to the English Bridge, alongside the Severn and being adjacent to the Gay Meadow football ground. The site was previously 'Shrewsbury Technical School' which was attended by the famous war poet Wilfred Owen.
  • The Grange
  • Sundorne
  • Belvidere
  • The Mary Webb School serves many inhabitants of Shrewsbury, although is, in actuality, located in the large village of Pontesbury, to the south-west.

The post-16 education is handled by Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and Shrewsbury College of Arts and Technology. In the building that used to house Rowley’s House museum there is, from 2014, the University Centre Shrewsbury, a higher education establishment partnered with the University of Chester.

Work[edit]

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Shrewsbury Fairtrade Shop, 8 St Johns Hill, Shrewsbury, SY1 1JD. Sells a variety of craft and gift items from around the world, cards, Fairtrade food & drink.
  • Darwin Shopping Centre and Pride Hill Shopping Centre [6]
  • Riverside Mall
  • Sundorne Retail Park
  • Meole Brace Retail Park

Eat[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Shrewsbury Hotel, Bridge Place / Mardol Quay
  • Hole in the Wall, Shoplatch / Gullet Passage
  • Coach and Horses, Swan Hill / Cross Hill
  • Montgomery's Tower, Claremont Bank

Mid-range[edit]

  • ASK Italian, High St
  • Golden Cross, Princess St / Golden Cross Passage
  • Pizza Express, Mardol

Splurge[edit]

  • Drapers Hall - St Mary's Sq
  • Renaissance - The Square
  • The Cornhouse - Wyle Cop
  • Peach Tree - Abbey Foregate
  • The Armoury, Victoria Quay / Victoria Ave

Drink[edit][add listing]

As a historic town Shrewsbury is well-endowed with traditional pubs serving various real ales, many of which are Shropshire-brewed.

  • Golden Cross, Princess St
  • Dun Cow, Abbey Foregate
  • Lion Hotel, Wyle Cop
  • Cromwells, Dogpole
  • Loggerheads, Church St. Particularly rustic boozer with creaking wooden panels, various rooms and corridors and little to remind you of the 21st century. Also sells a good range of real ales.
  • Three Fishes, Fish St
  • King's Head, Mardol
  • The Grove Inn, Belle Vue
  • Blind Tiger, 17a Hills Lane, SY1 1QU (Walking into town from Welsh bridge (on the north-west side of the town centre) between 2 areas of car parking, Blind Tiger is on the left.), +44 1743 233099 (), [7]. Sa-Su 12:00 to close, Tu-F 17:00 to close. Set up in 2014, this bar is a favourite among people looking for a cocktail and more upmarket atmosphere than many local pubs provide. The décor is prohibition-era themed, with low lighting and bare brick walls. They have a wide selection of board games set out on week nights. c. £6 cocktail/bottled drink.  edit

Cafés[edit]

  • Café bar in Old Market Hall [8] -Nice cafe and free Wi-Fi in the centre of town.
  • Alfie & Billy’s, 78 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, SY1 1UT (directions), +44 1743 340341 (), [9]. M-Sa 09:00-17:00. Situated at the top of Wyle Cop, a hill running up into the centre of town, this café serves a range of meals, including breakfast, lunch, and a variety of cakes, as well as teas, coffees and other drinks. c. £5 for food.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • There are no youth hostels around the town centre, and it can be hard to find budget accommodation.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Shrewsbury Hotel, Smithfield Road
  • Prince Rupert Hotel, Butcher Row
  • Lion Hotel, Wyle Cop
  • Lord Hill Hotel, Abbey Foregate
  • Travel Inn, Emstrey Business Park
  • Premier Inn, Smithfield Road, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QB (On the riverside very close to the bus terminal at Raven Meadows.), +448715279402, [10]. The largest chain hotel situated in the town centre, this building was completed in 2014.  edit
  • Mercure Shrewsbury Albrighton Hall Hotel and Spa, Ellesmere Rd, Albrighton, ☎ +44 1216 199004, 2 miles from Shrewsbury centre. From £65.

Splurge[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Shrewsbury is comparatively safe relative to towns of a similar size; there is rarely a noticeable police presence in the town. Friday/Saturday evenings in the town centre are typical of any modern British town; night life activity is focused in the Claremont St/Bridge St and Raven Meadows area. Visitors should exercise caution when visiting The Quarry area at night.

Cope[edit]

Get out[edit]

  • A great day trip can be made to Ironbridge and the surrounding area. This is widely held to be one of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, and is proud owner of the first arch bridge in the world to be made of cast iron. One of the main attractions in the area is an open air museum depicting life at the time of the industrial revolution:
  • There is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated about 30 minutes by car to the south of Shrewsbury along the A49. The Long Mynd in particular is a haven for outdoor activities from gliding to hiking and mountain biking, mostly based out of the town of Church Stretton.
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