Photos Of Shropshire
Local historian and author David Trumper
David was born and bred in Shrewsbury and he spent his teaching career at a number of schools around the county. From a very early age he developed a passion for local history. Over the last 40 years he has collected thousands of photographs depicting life in the county from as early as 1842. The images portray the everyday life of Shropshire people at work and play and illustrate the great changes that have occurred over the last 150 years especially in the larger towns. David has thoroughly researched each photograph and has put together a number of PowerPoint presentations that are linked with a commentary full of interesting and entertaining facts and amusing anecdotes of the county’s past. David also leads groups on historic walks around Shrewsbury and its suburbs and he has written 21 books on local history with two more due for publication in the autumn of 2012.
Walks and Talks
David has produced a number of PowerPoint presentations covering the whole of the county. Tailor made presentations can be produced with prior notice which, in the past, have included Royal Shrewsbury for The Grange Townswomen’s Guild’s royal jubilee party and a history of St George’s School Frankwell for a recent reunion of staff and pupils.
Some presentations for fundraising or social gatherings have taken the form of two 40 minute sessions, which allow a break in the middle for refreshments and a raffle or any other business.
A detailed look at the county town from 1939 to 1965; charting the many changes during this period when many fine buildings were demolished.
Shrewsbury Then & Now:
Stunning scenes of yesteryear are contrasted with modern colour views to show what has been lost and what remains.
Shrewsbury From the Past:
A wealth of fascinating images from mid 19th century to the 1950’s.
Ludlow in 1960:
A unique snapshot of life in this small but bustling town, which will evoke a treasure trove of happy memories for those who remember Ludlow during this period.
The Old Villages & Townships of Telford:
A look at the old settlements that now make up Telford and the huge changes that have taken place over the past 50 years.
An insight into this fascinating town and surrounding area, which includes the towns of Wem and Ellesmere, the villages of Gobowen and Whittington and the settlements on the Welsh border.
A tour of this scenic and historic town and the outlying settlements of Broseley, Shifnal, Cleobury Mortimer and Much Wenlock.
Around Whitchurch & Market Drayton:
A fascinating look at these major market towns in the north of Shropshire and the smaller settlements of Newport, Prees, Whixhall and Hodnet.
The Making of A Christmas Carol in Shrewsbury:
This presentation gives a fascinating insight into the making of the film. It also profiles the stars, views the different sets around the county and also recounts favourite pieces from that much loved tale written by Charles Dickens.
For more information and a full list of presentations please contact us.
All the walks are leisurely and last approximately 2 hours.
Shrewsbury within the loop of the Severn:
A close look at the history, old buildings and folklore of the county town.
Trace the history and look into the nooks and corners of one of Shrewsbury’s fascinating suburbs. Choose from Abbey Foregate and Cherry Orchard, Frankwell, Kingsland, Coleham and Belle Vue or Castle Foregate and Castlefields.
The Severn around Shrewsbury:
From Frankwell Quay to the Weir. Trace the fascinating history on the banks of this beautiful river as it flows around the county town.
Focus on Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury Flower Show – The World’s Wonder Show
The first Shrewsbury Flower Show took place in the Quarry on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th July 1875. The streets of the town and the walks in the Quarry were decorated with banners and flags and huge arches of evergreens. A large marquee 220 feet long and 36 feet wide was adapted for the use of displaying the exhibits of flowers and shrubs. Fine weather guaranteed success and the show made a healthy profit of £409. From the beginning music from top class military bands has always been associated with the show and on that first day the band of the Coldstream Guards drew large appreciative audiences as did the Shropshire Militia Band who played in the evening and throughout the second day.
For the second show, to be held on Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th August 1876 the Society’s first president Lord Berwick and Chairman Mr G M Salt were elected and the prize money for the 111 classes was raised to £230. The Bands of the Coldstream Guards and the Shropshire Militia were booked again to repeat their success of the previous year. The firework finale was introduced for the first time in 1876 at a cost of £50. The centre piece for that first show, portrayed in gold, was the town’s coat of arms complete with the motto, Floreat Salopia. Only 2 shows have been without the firework finale since their introduction. The first in 1920, because daylight saving restrictions were still in force after the Great War and the second in 1971 because of the financial problems of the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Their loss in 1971 prompted such an outcry that they were brought back the following year and sponsored by the Shropshire Tyre Company. Other events introduced at the second show were music hall artists from London, athletics and football matches and a regatta organised by Pengwern Boat Club.
Queen Mary visits the Flower Show in 1927.
The organising committee in those early days were great innovators, introducing new events each year to attract more visitors, James Whelan of Huddersfield made the first balloon ascent in 1879, the same year that bees and honey were exhibited. The show of 1889 introduced the first horse leaping events in the main arena and the aerial attractions that drew gasps of amazement from the crowd were first introduced in 1880. Some events like the show jumping and the fireworks have stood the test of time and still grace the show, while other events such as variety acts and athletic events have been dropped due to changing fashions.
Show jumping after the second World War. Note the old lime trees.
To some extent the changing fashions of the 1960’s coupled with a run of poor weather caused attendances to fall leading to a huge drop in profits that almost caused the show to fold. The committee however were a strong group of people who were determined to keep the show afloat. Many hard decisions were taken including the bold step of moving the show from its traditional days of Wednesday and Thursday to the weekend in the hope of attracting a greater audience. Their hard work paid off and by the show’s centenary year in 1975 the event was back on an even keel.
Over the last quarter of a century the show has gone from strength to strength, making a good profit that is spent on improving the show, enhancing the county town or in supporting some worthy cause. In recent years a new marquee has been purchased. It is light and airy and allows the exhibitors to show off their flowers, fruit and vegetables in the best possible way. A children’s area is set out on Salt’s Field, with fairground rides and none stop entertainment throughout the day. Music still plays a very big part in the show with the military bands playing in the bandstand during the day and the mass bands, together with the choir in the main arena for the spectacular musical finale, which includes such favourites as Sunset, the 1812 Overture complete with fireworks and Land of my Fathers, in honour of our Welsh neighbours. After the breathtaking firework extravaganza at the end of each day, the crowds can make their way home to the notes of a lone piper playing from a stand on St Chad’s Terrace.
Around the County
At midnight at the dawn of the year 2000, the red beacon once again illuminated the summit of the Wrekin, reminding older Salopians of the warm glow they felt on seeing the famous landmark when returning to Shropshire after a long journey. The Wrekin, which stands at 1334 feet, is not the highest point on the Shropshire landscape, but its commanding position on the Severn Plain dominates the surrounding countryside. The hill is in the shape of a hog back and comprises mainly of ancient volcanic rock.
Myths and legends abound in the area of giants fighting and being buried under the hill or of an ogre wanting revenge on the people of Shrewsbury being outsmarted by a cobbler, but there is evidence of real history. The summit has been the home of both Bronze and Iron Age man and the remains of an Iron Age hill fort can still be traced. The main entrance to the stronghold was along the ridge through 2 gates in the earthworks. The lower entrance was known as Hell Gate while the upper was known as Heaven’s Gate. The top of the Wrekin was also the capital of a local tribe known as the Cornovii who remained there until the arrival of the Romans. They are believed to have burned all the wooden buildings inside the fort and moved the local centre of administration to the new Roman town of Viriconium. After the departure of the Romans the British used the Wrekin as a refuge in times of trouble. For many years until 1301, the Wrekin was known as Mount Gilbert and was part of a royal forest used for hunting.
The summit of the Wrekin has been a site of worship for hundreds of years, pre-dating Christianity. A hermitage was situated on the side of the Wrekin from 1267 to around 1500. A holy well with special curing powers stood close by. The well was known locally as St Hawthorn’s Well, but was possibly dedicated to Arfan a Welsh saint. The well was still there in the early part of the 19th century. The Needle’s Eye, a narrow cleft in the side of the hill, which all true Salopians are supposed to pass through, also has religious connections. It was supposed to have been formed at the precise moment that Christ died on the cross and the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was ripped in two. Christians still gather on the summit on Easter Morning to watch the sunrise on the most important day of the Christian year.
The Wrekin from the old A5. c1935
An annual event for the working class was the Wrekin Wake that was held on the first Sunday in May until the middle of the 19th century. It attracted crowds from a wide area with its ale-booths, gambling tables, gingerbread stands, swing boats and merry-go-rounds and all the trappings of an old English fair. Traditionally the wake ended in a pitch battle between local colliers and yeomen for the possession of the hill. If one side gained the upper hand reinforcements were sent for; and if a battle was evenly matched the men from Wellington would join the fight on one side or the other. The battles were often fierce and men from both sides were often badly injured. Eventually the behaviour became so disorderly that local magistrates ordered that the wakes should be ended.
Although the wakes died out, people still used the hill for social and recreational pursuits and there was a need to cater for these people at the weekends and during the summer months. Halfway up the hill was Wrekin cottage, also known as Halfway House or Upper Cottage. Climbers could put in their order for ham and eggs, tea or mineral water on the way up and it would be ready for them on the way down. A number of children’s amusements were available, including ponies and goats, and swing boats, known locally as “swingle boats”.
Another famous landmark for visitors was the Forest Glen. Henry Pointon built it near the Ercall at the foot of the Wrekin in 1889. It was a favourite meeting place for visitors and throughout the first half of the last century they catered for a variety of events, including coach parties, motor and cycle clubs, birthdays, weddings, dances and whist drives. The Pointon family were owners of the Forest Glen for almost a century and are credited with the old Shropshire toast, “To all friends around the Wrekin”. The Ironbridge Gorge Museum rescued the buildings in 1990 and re-erected them on the green at Blists Hill where they are now used as Victorian tea rooms.
The Forest Glen. c1930
In 1934 Lord Barnard established a scout camp on the northern slope of the hill. During the next 3 years the site was cleared, huts were built, a water system provided and in 1937 a swimming pool was built.
During the 1960’s a debate raged about the building of a television mast and station on top of the Wrekin. The building went ahead and it’s now on that mast that the new Wrekin beacon shines out to welcome all weary travellers back to Shropshire.
Proud Salopia’s sons and Daughters,
Whereso’er the flags unfurled,
Still they look upon the Wrekin,
As the centre of the world.