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Artist Rebecca Rea Exhibition at the Bear Steps Gallery August 7-20th 2016

A riot of colour introduces new artist to Shrewsbury
Expression is healing is the message Rebecca Rea wants visitors to her first exhibition to take away with them. The exhibition entitled Emergence will be held at the Bear Steps Gallery in Shrewsbury from August 7th-20th.

Exploring a range of emotions and experiences Rebecca uses expressive and highly colourful Acrylic painting in what she says is a process of emerging creativity through which she explores aspects of her own experience and wider themes that will touch viewers.

Combining different approaches to expression with many years’ experience as a healer and therapist, Rebecca also offers individual and group sessions for people interested in self development, overcoming barriers to self fulfilment and who wish to meet like minded people.

“Whether you see yourself as a complete no hoper as a creative person, or have experience, finding a way to express your inner creative spirit can be very healing and liberating”, says Rebecca, who moved to Shrewsbury this year.

For further information contact Rebecca via her website www.experimentinbeing.com or Facebook page @expressionishealing

Opening Hours:  10am-4pm Mon-Sun

Bear Steps Gallery

St Alkmonds Square, Shrewsbury SY1 1UHhttps://www.experimentinbeing.com

colour of tears_Rebecca Rea

colour of tears_Rebecca Rea

Gaia dreaming_Rebeca Rea

Gaia dreaming_Rebeca Rea

Spirit Sister_Rebecca Rea

Spirit Sister_Rebecca Rea


Volunteers needed as First World War Memorials Programme comes to the Bear Steps Shrewsbury

Daniel Kawczynski MP urges Shrewsbury residents to save local war memorials

The First World War Memorials Programme, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, is calling for people in Shropshire to join a new front line of volunteers.

With the help of Civic Voice, one of the four partner organisations running the programme, Shrewsbury Civic Society is hosting a workshop to encourage volunteers to record the condition of the area’s war memorials.

Funding is available for the repair and conservation of memorials, but help is needed to find them and record their condition first, using a simple survey. Commenting on the programme, Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said: “The First World War Memorials Programme is a campaign I support whole heartedly. Civic Voice has done a great job at engaging the country in the programme and I encourage those in my constituency to get involved too. With the recent centenary commemorations of the Battle of the Somme there is no better time for the country to get involved and remember those who fell during the First World War.”

Martina Chamberlain of Shrewsbury Civic Society added: “If people from every area of the county were to undertake a simple survey of their local war memorial the result could be that all of Shropshire’s memorials could be in really good condition by 2018 when the commemoration of the end of the war takes place. We at Shrewsbury Civic Society are proud to be doing our bit.”

Come to the free workshop being held in Shrewsbury on Saturday July 23rd, 9.45am – 1.30pm, at Bear Steps, St. Alkmonds Place, Shrewsbury SY1 1UH. Reserve your free place by visiting www.civicvoice.org.uk/get-involved/events/ and following the links or contact info@civicvoice.org.uk or tel: 0151 707 4319.

Richard Bishop Photography

Shrewsbury Civic Society’s Martina Chamberlain with new recruit Daniel Daniel Kawczynski documenting one of Shropshire’s prominent war memorials in the Quarry.

National Civic Day

Shrewsbury Civic Society have enlisted the services of outstanding local journalist Phil Gillam to headline their celebration of National Civic Day.
He will be giving a talk at the Bear Steps entitled ‘Shrewsbury – My Kind of Town’.

A journalist for almost 40 years, Phil is a Shrewsbury Chronicle columnist and Editor of the renowned Belle Vue Magazine. He is also the author of several books
about Shrewsbury and Shropshire. His most recent book is a work of fiction, a gentle novel of family life entitled Shrewsbury Station Just After Six.
The book is available from Pengwern Books, Fish Street, Shrewsbury, and from Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. You can email him at philoncloudbase@gmail.com  

If you can only get to the Bear Steps once on Saturday be there by 5pm. This is the one not to miss!

Click on this link (and the one that follows), to access the latest edition of the Belle Vue Magazine OPTIMISED ISSUE 5 BELLE VUE MAGAZINE (1)

RB National Civic Day

From the Chairman of Shrewsbury Civic Society Planning Committee.

About the Planning Committee

This committee is given its remit by the Society’s Trustees (the council of Management). It reviews the planning applications that Shropshire Council receives for Shrewsbury and comments where they are particularly positive or negative for the town.

SIZE The committee has 15 members that come from a range of professions connected with planning and the built environment, including 4 architects. It also has a good number who are not from such backgrounds but keen to see our heritage preserved and the town enhanced visually.

RANGE OF VIEWS   Members’ views can be very different about what looks good in the long run and how we can promote the town’s best interests. Consequently, after discussion, any opinions expressed are corporate and generally accepted by the committee members. The range of opinions represented on the committee, suggest a rounded base for decisions, which (hopefully) reflects the Civic Society’s broad membership.

WORK SPREAD This large committee is able to spread work round.  In fact, the committee has now extended its work and the Society has working groups considering issues such as traffic, the Society’s awards scheme, shop front guidance, and the continuing saga of ‘The Stew’. There are several other issues that, given capacity, the committee hopes to consider.  For example, it would be good if the Society could update overall long-term suggested plans for parts of the town (eg for the “West-end/Welsh bridge” area).

MEETINGS The committee meets monthly (usually on the last Monday of the month at 5.45pm at the Bear Steps) and is open for any Civic Society members to visit. It occasionally invites visitors such as developers to explain their proposals. Committee members also visit sites for which there are planning proposals and accept invitations to associated meetings. Sometimes, one or two committee members visit Westminster for Civic Voice All Party Parliamentary Group meetings.

FORUM Another activity is holding open Forum meetings. There are often one or two of these every three months and they are advertised to members and the public.  They try to combine a talk by an expert on a topical or interesting issue, (for example, conservation) with an open session for civic society members and the public to hear about some of the planning applications that the committee has considered.  There are always opportunities for questions and it is a good chance to raise an issue that otherwise may be ignored.

INVITATION We are always seeking to promote the Civic Society’s core aims and promote Shrewsbury’s best interests. If you are interested in any of the above work please contact the Society or the Planning Committee Chairman, via the email: info@shrewsburycivicsociety.co.uk


Bits from the Planning Committee     May 2016

NCP Car Park: The car park site at the bottom of Wyle Cop has been changed. Several months ago, a planning application was made to demolish the shabby buildings on the site including the frontage spanning the entrance. The Council and the Civic Society thought that it was important to retain the frontage that maintains a continuous streetscape. This has been done successfully.

Monkmoor Hangers:  Shropshire Council received an application to demolish several buildings here, including the front building occupied currently by Allied Carpets. The plan is to build housing to replace the several companies now using these large buildings. The Council is concerned and the Civic Society has objected. The building played a part in both world wars, their roofs are supported by rare Belfast trusses and the businesses currently provide a number of jobs. The Council has ordered a historical survey to ascertain the buildings’ degree of heritage significance. We await this.

Ashley’s Wine Bar: Because this Shoplatch building is listed and in a Conservation Area, planning permission is needed to extend hours of operation. The Civic Society had objected but permission is now granted for late night operation.

Whitehall stables:  Behind the Tudor Whitehall in Monkmoor Road, lies the hall’s stable block. Its roof, which has very rare Harnage stone tiles has now been repaired.  However, there is also an unusual, large dovecote, which is a listed building. This is covered in ivy and likely to be at risk. We now understand that the council’s conservation officer is discussing a repair programme.

Tannery Site: It is understood that the University is waiting to see the size of September’s student intake before deciding if any additional accommodation will be needed for September 2017. If so, it is likely to build just one of the planned blocks for which permission was so hastily granted. The somewhat superficial conditions attached to the planning permission have yet to be agreed.  The Civic Society greatly regrets this poor quality design for such a key position. This will only be made worse by drawn-out implementation.

The Stew: Those following the story of this building will know that demolition plans were thrown out at an Appeal last year. Since then there has been some internal clearing out and the owner has agreed to carry out some maintenance work with Shropshire Council. However, it is thought that repairs to prevent further water ingress have not been done. The Civic Society believes that the building needs more robust protection.

The All Party Parliamentary Group meeting run by Civic Voice:

Notes from key speakers at the APPG – Civic Voice, Westminster  27.01.2016

Deborah Lamb (Director of Engagement Historic England)(HE)

(NB English Heritage has been split up. ‘English Heritage’ now runs historic buildings, such as Haughmond Abbey, while ‘Historic England’ now advises government on planning matters.)

Quote:  “Civic Societies do the work that Councils don’t do often.”

Issues for Historic England amidst the context of pressures for growth and housing:

  1. There is still a temptation for many to see the planning system as a block to development.
  2. There is a danger of the erosion of local character and this is not dealt with well by the planning system.
  3. How can HE be more relevant – more people/help needed /greater awareness-raising.
  4. Public sector funding is diminishing so more private/voluntary collaborations are needed.
  5. More “infrastructure” and skills are needed for the support of heritage. HE’s advice is needed more but there is less training for such skills.
  6. HE is still making recommendations to Government and is the cutting edge on Heritage matters, developing the concept of heritage and seeking to increase public engagement and be more descriptive about England’s Heritage and how it should be valued.

Griff Rhys Jones made some impassioned points including;

  • his belief in the overall good impact of the planning system,
  • accepted the understanding of the need to “pull the levers”

eg HE Lottery Fund,

  • “talking about history is discussing the future”,
  • the importance of individualising High Streets,
  • the need to avoid “managed” environments                                                                                                               Mike Carter (SCS Planning Committee Chairman)


Shrewsbury Civic Society Building Awards 2016

Shrewsbury Civic Society Building Awards 2016


What are they?

Shrewsbury Civic Society (SCS) gives Awards for buildings in Shrewsbury which are considered to make a positive contribution to the built environment of the Town.


What are the categories?

  1. New built buildings.
  2. Renovated or refurbished buildings.
  3. Shop fronts, new or refurbished.


When should the work have been completed?

The Awards are for buildings, or shopfronts, which have been completed between 1st January 2013 and the closing date 14th September 2016.


Who can enter?

Anybody can enter a building for an Award.  You don’t have to be a member of SCS. You don’t have to own the building. Entries are welcome from Owners, Occupiers, Builders, Developers, Architects, SCS Members, other organisations and from anybody interested in the built environment of Shrewsbury. There is an entry form available at Bear Steps, on the SCS Website (download the PDF below), and in the Newsletter but you can just submit the name of the building and the category and we will do the rest. The more people who participate the more we can promote the quality buildings of Shrewsbury.


Can I make more than one entry?



When can I make an entry?

From now until the closing date 14th September 2016.


When will the Awards be announced?

12.30pm on Friday 21st October 2016 at Bear Steps.


Why is this important?

SCS wants to recognise the excellent buildings of Shrewsbury. They give builders of the future something to aspire to. SCS wants the people involved in building to know that buildings which deserve to be recognised will receive a positive accolade. Please do participate.

SCS Awards 2016 Entry Form


Talk this Thursday by the last itinerant brickmaker in the country.

Shrewsbury Civic Society will continue its series of entertaining lectures this Thursday with a special evening’s entertainment by the last itinerant brickmaker in the country.

Tony Mugridge is giving a talk on Thursday 12 May at 7pm at Bear Steps, St Julian’s Square on the history and art of his craft, organised by the town’s planning watchdog.

Organiser, Martina Chamberlain said: “As well as being a highly skilled craftsman, Tony is an authority on his subject, and has appeared on television advising on historic building restoration. His talk, the “Travelling brickmakers”, will be a very entertaining evening for anyone interested in the buildings that surround them, and the people who created them.”

Tony’s talk will take place at Bear Steps on Thursday 12th May at 7.00pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Tony Mugridge
Tony Mugridge


An important date for your diary, Thursday 21st April 7pm at Bear Steps.

A Talk by Robin Mager, Planning and Data Officer, of Shropshire Wildlife Trust. He will be talking about the green spaces of Shrewsbury and how they affect the town. You will have an opportunity to contribute. Your views are wanted.

Why is it important? Shrewsbury Civic Society is interested in the built environment. The green spaces contribute to the built environment.

Please come along and bring guests if you can. The strength of the Society depends on the members being involved so please support the event.

We look forward to seeing you.

Simon Beedles

Cow and Column

Cow and Column

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival at the Bear Steps Gallery 4th April – 30th April

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival celebrates its 13th year with an extended  ‘Luck of the Draw’ exhibition at Bear Steps Gallery from 4th – 30th April where around 80 cartoons are on sale.

The Civic Society is host to over 80 cartoons, both originals and quality signed prints selected specially for this year’s theme. Its a great opportunity to see a range interpretation, styles and humour and to buy high quality professional cartoon art at affordable prices. (Cash and cheque sales only)

The Shrewsbury  Cartoon Festival is an annual event at which a small army of professional cartoonists from all over the UK and overseas meets up to draw and paint cartoons and caricatures for the general public.

The event draws a huge audience every year with its centrepiece being the live drawing of about 15 enormous cartoons in Shrewsbury Town Square, along with live caricaturing by some of the UK’s top professionals. There are also a number of cartoon workshops for aspiring cartoonists to take part in and exhibitions to look at.

Members of the public get to see cartoons being created live, and have the opportunity to chat to the cartoonists in person. It’s a brilliant day with loads of cartoonists being able to meet up as well as show off their skills to an admiring public.

The Festival kicks off officially at the Bear Steps on Friday evening (15th April), and photographs will be posted here.

The exhibition is running until 30th April so there will plenty of opportunity to come and have a look.

Pictured are the cartoonists entertaining the crowds in Shrewsbury Square.

Pictured are the cartoonists entertaining the crowds in Shrewsbury

SCS Planning Objections and Recommendations Update

At a recent Forum evening held at the Bear Steps, Chair of the Planning Committee, Mike Carter outlined a few of the planning applications made to the  Council. Each month the Shrewsbury applications are reviewed and any that may be particularly harmful or helpful are discussed.  This may lead to a letter of objection or recommendation.  There are a number of notable ones that the Society has commented on in the last year.

The council approved an application for Houses and a residential home on land off Ellesmere Road.  The Society had objected to some of the details but thought that the site was a good one for housing   development. The traffic implications and the design of the care home were concerning.

The Civic Society greatly favours the retention of a swimming pool centrally. We supported this campaign as we have the plans to form a better route for the Dana Footpath.  We believe that these proposals will help to enrich the quality of life for residents.

The Society has formed a group of members who are considering the issue of traffic in and around the town. It has previously devised a plan to alleviate town centre traffic issues and now is evaluating various plans more recently put forward.

The plan for student accommodation blocks put forward in an application for a site opposite Rowley’s house (The Tannery site) was not good enough. We objected and were particularly concerned with the inadequate time allowed for public views to be heard. Nevertheless, the application was passed but student numbers applying to the University have yet to justify starting the work.

The application for a winery and visitor centre at Hencote Farm, off the Ellesmere Road is a sensible plan with little loss of visual amenity, but a good chance of economic development and a visitor attraction. The Society supports it overall.

We have also supported the outline application to convert the Dana prison for multiple uses. The plan is sensitive and imaginative.  Nevertheless, there are still many details that could be of concern, particularly those about traffic in the surrounding area.

Although Spring Cottage is not of huge architectural interest, its significance as the remaining connection to Mary Webb justifies its retention.  The area draws worldwide visitors due to her writing. We do not think it should be replaced with a modern dwelling and we objected to the application.

Shrewsbury is lucky in having a number of slender green wedges of land that reach in towards the centre. These often follow the course of brooks, form wildlife corridors, provide recreation and are much loved features of the town. Nevertheless, there are frequent planning applications that would seek to erode them.  We try to resist these. Recently there has been one off Longden Road and one off Longmeadow Drive. We have explained why these are not good places to build houses.

Historian Richard K Morriss to talk on ‘Shrewsbury’s River Heritage – An opportunity Lost?’ at Bear Steps.

Shrewsbury Civic Society has enlisted the services of a local historian to talk about his views on the significance of the River Severn to the town at an evening at the Bear Steps this week.

Civic Society chairman Simon Beedles said: “The River Severn runs around Shrewsbury and has formed part of its history for all of its existence. It has given rise to many stories, mysteries and folklore.

“The River Severn is often talked about as Shrewsbury’s under used asset but this ignores the rich history and the past industrial importance.”

“Shrewsbury Civic Society wants to know more about the River Severn and has created the opportunity to hear a talk on Thursday February 11th at 7pm at Bear Steps, Shrewsbury by Richard Morriss, a noted historian with a vast knowledge of the history of the River. The talk is ‘The River Severn – a lost opportunity?’”

“Richard has recently been involved, as has Shrewsbury Civic Society, in the Planning Appeal Hearing which resulted in The Stew, the last building connecting the history of the river trade with Shrewsbury.”

“The result of the Appeal was that The Stew was saved from demolition. A fantastic achievement and result for the history of Shrewsbury.  Richard made a big contribution to the evidence on the history of the building.”

“We are delighted that Richard is coming to talk at the Bear Steps, in a talk which is so relevant to Shrewsbury. This is an event which is open to the public and anyone interested in the River is welcome to come.”

“There is no charge, just bring enthusiasm. I do hope anyone interested in the built environment of Shrewsbury will come and join in. There will also be an opportunity after the talk to raise any issues people may feel are of interest to the general aims of the Society.”

Richard K Morriss talk Feb 2016