Sunday, 19 May 2019

In and around Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury is a market town whose centre has a largely unspoilt medieval street plan and over 660 listed buildings, including several examples of timber framed properties from the 15th and 16th century. 
When wandering these characterful streets, it is easy to forget that this quaint but lively place was once at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution which was also responsible for initiating new and innovative ideas.


Just a few miles from Shrewsbury is Coalbrookdale where we find Thomas Telford's enduring design for the first ever cast-iron bridge (1771). It still stands as a proud symbol and testament to the new and innovative ideas of the Industrial Revolution. 
Today it is difficult to imagine that some 300 years ago this lovely valley echoed all day long to the sounds of clanking machinery, roaring furnaces, and that the river was filled with boats stacked high with iron to supply both the Empire and the world. 
So why amongst all of this iconic architecture have we come to visit Shrewsbury's Flax Mill built in 1796, just a few years later than Telford's bridge.

Flax mill is Grade 1 listed and has already undergone several years of restoration and had several millions of pounds spent on it, but even so will not be ready to open to the public until 2021.
The mill looks like a simple brick building but it's world importance is found on the inside.
This is the first ever cast-iron framed building to be built and is acknowledged as being the precursor to all skyscrapers. It is described as being "the grandfather of skyscrapers".
Inside is the original cast-iron framework supporting the brickwork of the building. When all of the interiors are restored these large spacious areas will be made into restaurants, work places, galleries etc.
One hundred years later the mill was adapted for use as a maltings which then became known as the Shropshire Maltings. This required the mill to have additional cast-iron columns and steel beams inserted to strengthen the building. 
The additional columns are shown on the righthand side of this photo which also shows the first time that 'nuts and bolts' were ever used to hold an iron structure together.
It was quite a daunting task to climb to the top of the building, but it prepared our legs very well for the following days adventure!
This is a projection of how the mill is expected to look on completion.

42 comments:

  1. Did you visit Grope Lane, and if so do you know what it was originally called?

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    1. I went down Grope Lane on our previous visit but I have no idea what it was originally called. However, I understand that it was a 'red light' lane in medieval times.

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  2. What a beautiful post again, amazing that iron bridge, so old. Great they are renovating the Mill building now. Must be spectacular when it is finished. Thanks for the Yoshi link, they make funny leatherwear and I love my purse!

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    1. As soon as I saw your lovely purse I recognised it immediately, but I had no idea that Yoshi made such an extensive range of bags before I found the link.

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  3. What a brilliant place to visit. I look forward to it’s completion. I remember visiting Shrewsbury many years ago when my boys were small. They were flooded at the time and we had to navigate using duck boards. An interesting experience. Is the Cadfael experience still there. We enjoyed visiting at the time. B x

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    1. It is a good place for a visit as there is so much to see and do in and around Shrewsbury plus lots lovely walks in the hills.

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  4. I've seen an old painting of Coalbrookdale at night during its industrial past with the valley stripped and large fires everywhere. Gives you hope that no matter how badly we abuse the landscape nature eventually fixes it. Shrewsbury looks good for a visit.

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    1. I think that you would like a visit to the area as there is so much of interest in and around Shrewsbury. There are lots of really good walks too - Cardingmill Valley takes in views of Wales, The Wrekin, Long Mynd, Wenlock Edge, and Offas Dyke to name but a few.
      You are right about how nature can re-fix the mess we make, I am reminded of those dreadful slag heaps and spoils left over from the days of mining which have now been successfully re-landscaped.

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  5. The old bridge is really an eye catcher and Shrewsbury is definitely a place to visit , interesting history and architecture !

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    1. The bridge is a beautiful piece of engineering and I am pleased that you found the history and architecture interesting too.

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  6. What an amazing building and wonderful insight into it's history. I hope we might get down that way and visit when it's finally open to the public. Your photos, as always, are so effortlessly beautiful. Best, Jane x

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    1. I hope you have the opportunity to make a visit Jane - I shall certainly hope to return and see it when it is finished. Thank you for your kind comment re: the photos.

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  7. Hello Rosemary, If I get to Shrewsbury, which I now want to, I want to try the famous Shrewsbury cakes, which I often read about. Also, even in America, Coalbrookdale is famous for its decorative cast iron. Is there even one square inch of England not covered with fascinating history and scenery?
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - you could easily make yourself some Shrewsbury cake, which is actually more like a biscuit. They are similar to shortbread but more crumbly. To be authentic they should also have some rosewater added to the dough mixture.
      Yes, there are lots of square inches that are not covered in fascinating history and scenery but fortunately lots of the reverse can be found too.

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  8. I love visiting Shrewsbury and Ironbridge. I can't wait to visit the Flaxmill sometime :)

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    1. You must keep your eyes open for the opening date which will be sometime during 2021.

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  9. It's so lovely to see history respected, loved and preserved.

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    1. I think that you are right Debra - it is so easy to knock things down to make way for something modern and contemporary, but in the process so much more may be lost forever.

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  10. I love the view from the top - thanks for challenging your legs to take you up there. I believe the Earls of Shrewsbury are Talbots (one of my family names, though I certainly claim no connection since my ancestors came to the American colonies in the 1600s and were probably thieves and robbers!!). That's all I knew about Shrewsbury before this.

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    1. It would perhaps be worth checking out for ancestry if you possibly can - to my knowledge the Talbot family have always been well connected. Thank you for visiting.

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  11. Beautiful photos. It was interesting to learn about this important building. I also think that it's wonderful that the flax mill is being restored.

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    1. I only recently learnt about this building myself when we were invited to view it. As soon as I learnt all about its history and significance I really wanted to see.

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  12. I have visited Shrewsbury and remember how impressed I was with its historic character. We had gone into town for lunch, but then spent a couple of hours wandering around before we ate, only just missing the cutoff time at the restaurant, where the food was as splendid as the town itself. Great memories to be sure.

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    1. I am so pleased that you actually know Shrewsbury David and can therefore picture the town well.

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  13. Such history! Thank you for sharing. I would love to see additional photographs of the mill once it's completed.

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    1. I do hope to have the opportunity to visit the mill again when it is finally finished. Thank you for your comment.

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  14. Wonderful something is going to be done with the inside, should be lovely when finished.
    Good history you have documented for us to read.

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  15. Have spent quite a bit of time in Shrewsbury but had not heard of this building. Interesting.

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    1. It was still being used as malting mill until 1987, but since then it was abandoned and neglected.

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  16. Absolutely fantastic job you have done here.This is so nice.Thanks for sharing.
    clipping path

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    1. Thank you for visiting and for your kind comment.

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  17. I'm chasing my tail and trying hard to catch up dear friend! Hard when I'm packing again - before I've really unpacked! But what the heck, I guess all will fall into place before heading back to the airport early next week!

    Meanwhile, lovely reading this beautiful post and knowing you and J were enjoying your time in Shrewsbury in dry, sunny weather, and 660 listed buildings is quite something! The Flax Mill story is incredible. Thanks for all the details, both in words and fab photos.

    Thinking of you both and hoping all is going well.
    Warm hugs as always - Mary x

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    1. Dear Mary - do give yourself sometime to relax which I know can be difficult with clothes to launder and keeping the garden tidy etc. Blogging can always wait for when you are eventually back home and have more time to yourself.
      I will drop you a quick line to let you know what is going on, hopefully before you leave again. Love to you bothX

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  18. Dearest Rosemary,
    That is a fabulous restoration going on and on its way to completion.
    Happy to see that an important piece of cast iron building history is being preserved!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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  19. Dear Rosemary,
    Thank you for this interesting post. I admire the beautiful bridge. It looks like it will still be there for another 300 years!
    I have recently returned from overseas and am not well right now. Picked up a cold somewhere on the way home and still suffering jet lag. Will post about my holiday soon.

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    1. Dear Betty - so sorry to learn that you are not feeling well - hope that you feel better soon.

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