28 February 2013

Shrewsbury is pretty

It was a long drive to North Wales for Sci-fi Weekender 2013 and I had to stop somewhere for lunch along the way and Shrewsbury had the right sort of ring to it, as well as being in the right location.

A chance discussion with a friend's sister confirmed that it was a pretty town and recommended a cafe.

More by luck than judgement I found a car park on the edge of the town centre and thanks to a maps app on my phone I was able to find my way to the cafe. To get there I had to pass a surprising number of Tudor style buildings, some original and some fake.

The Olde Towne (as it is almost certainly called in some quarters) is quite small and shares the centre with a typical ugly pedestrian zone from the bleak period in our not too distant past when we forgot everything we ever know about designing town centres.



As you would expect, the lanes are as twisted as some of the timbers, which was fine as I was not particularly trying to get anywhere once I had found the cafe and devoured a triple-decker toasted cheese sandwich (who invented those, and why?).

Shrewsbury sits on a little hill on a peninsular surrounded by the river Severn and a short walk brought me to it. I followed it around the town for a while watching the architecture change, each little spurt of growth adopting the style of the time.

Even the large and hideous Post Office/BT building right on the edge of the river was a symbol of its time. Sadly, a bad time.



Heading back in to town looking for the car park, I really should have thought that one through before wandering off, I hit a pretty Georgian quarter with neat brick buildings climbing wearily up the hill.

The houses at the top were clustered around a churchyard that had carelessly lost it's church. Part of the building remained, as did some grave stones, to ensure that its history was not forgotten.

Beyond the Georgian brick was more sixties concrete and more clone shop fronts and the historical illusion was shattered for a moment.

I had one last plunge in to the past when I got to the old market square. The square was filled at one end by a market house set on solid stone legs. This looked just like the modern pastiche in Poundbury.

At the other end of the square was the expected statue though I lacked the interest to see who it was of. Looking on to the square were a few more quaint buildings.



Shrewsbury impressed me as a small town, nicely located on a bend on a river, with pockets of pretty old buildings. I am glad that I chose to break my journey there.

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