‘Young Darwin and Shrewsbury’ opened by Mayor Jane Mackenzie Monday February 20th 2018.

‘Young Darwin and Shrewsbury’ opened by Mayor Jane Mackenzie  Monday February 20th 2018.
The Mayor is working to have Charles Darwin’s home saved as the lease come up for renewal, she spent some time viewing the exhibition and said, “ This is a comprehensive look at Charles Darwin’s childhood and as life a young adult in Shrewsbury, from his birth at The Mount to his return from 5 year’s on The Beagle.
Byron Grainger Jones commented “This exhibition comes at a very appropriate time with news of The Mount possibly becoming available in the near future.
Anyone interested in young Darwin and his connection with Shrewsbury should come along and take a look.”
Young Darwin and Shrewsbury can be found upstairs in Bear Steps Hall the meeting room of Shrewsbury Civic Society, it gives a good introduction to the young Charles Darwin’s life in Shrewsbury. His young days at home at The Mount where he was born in1809, his love of the land surrounding his house covering his education in Shrewsbury School which left him with lifetime memories and goes on to explain how he got his chance to go on a voyage of a lifetime, on The Beagle returning to Shrewsbury 5 years later with many note books of research. Bibbs Cameron Vice Chairman Shrewsbury Civic Society said, “Many people attending the preview of the Exhibition from different parts of the country and abroad, have said the exhibit is very informative regarding his early life, they were not aware that his love of the natural world was nurtured in Shrewsbury also that The Mount his birthplace and home would make an excellent place to open to the public.”
Mayor Jane Mackenzie opening Young Darwin and Shrewsbury

Mayor Jane Mackenzie opening Young Darwin and Shrewsbury

Mayor Jane Mackenzie. Byron Grainger Jones Chairman Shrewsbury Civic Society Mark Scutt Member Shrewsbury Civic Society

Mayor Jane Mackenzie.
Byron Grainger Jones Chairman Shrewsbury Civic Society
Mark Scutt Member Shrewsbury Civic Society


Bibbs Cameron V Chairman Shrewsbury Civic Society  David Lupine Art Gallery Manager Mayor Jane Mackenzie

Bibbs Cameron V Chairman Shrewsbury Civic Society
David Lupine Art Gallery Manager
Mayor Jane Mackenzie


Forum – Shrewsbury Growing Forward: Urban Sprawl or sustainable development. April 28th 1pm.

“Shrewsbury Growing Forward: Urban Sprawl or sustainable development”. An Open Forum Meeting to share views.

Shrewsbury’s Mayor, Cllr Jane Mackenzie, and the Civic Society want to consider how the town might accommodate some 8000 new dwellings and maintain high quality of environment and living. This Forum will briefly hear from a number of experts on different aspects of Shrewsbury’s growth and then collect views from discussion groups. These may suggest working towards outcomes, which could complement the Big Town Plan.
Please come to hear the issues and give your views on Saturday April 28th 1pm – 5pm Room 020 The Guildhall (UCS) Shrewsbury. It’s a chance to have a say!
While this Forum is free, it is helpful to have an advance ticket from or from the Bear Steps.

Stew Update February 2018 Mike Carter

Shrewsbury Civic Society has added to its objection to the application concerning the Stew

We re-iterate the urgent need for a sensible and sympathetic re-use of the building. However, we note that Historic England (HE), the nation’s inspectorate of heritage and buildings, has objected very strongly:

HE objections are that:

the proposals would cause harm to this heritage asset and the Special Character of Area of the Conservation area;

the current proposals are contrary to the 1990 Act and the NPPF;

an additional storey of development would have a highly detrimental impact;

if there has to be an extension, it should complement and be informed by the architecture of the existing building.

HE would encourage addressing the highway-dominated setting…. and…enhance the relationship with the river.

The Civic Society completely agrees and adds that the most recent design for the building’s development, does not comply with these points. As SAVE says, “It would cause significant harm to the building’s integrity and historic character, as well as harm to the Conservation Area.” The latest design, with changes to the windows and removal of the door, fails to grasp the distinctive qualities of the Queen Anne facade. Rather than elucidating the individuality of the building, it has rendered it unintelligible. Consequently, we are gratified to hear that this drawing is to be re-considered.

Planning Application 17/05538/FUL for the Stew Frankwell Quay Shrewsbury 2017

Planning Application 17/05538/FUL  for The Stew, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury, December 2017.


Along with a number of other local and national groups and many residents, Shrewsbury Civic Society has been concerned about this building for years. It is again the subject of what we think is an inappropriate planning application. We are very keen for a speedy development but not the wrong one.


The Stew has been left unloved for many years and deserves a good quality sympathetic rejuvenation to help it pay for itself. We think it is “non-designated heritage asset of regional significance”. (That’s what the Planning Inspector said on ruling that it could not be demolished.)


The application is to enlarge the structure, turning all but the ground floor into apartments. It would entail removing some walls and the roof, adding another floor, a large glazed side extension and two dish-shaped roofs. The Civic Society believes that the plan is wrong for Shrewsbury and for the building.  Too little of the historic Stew would be retained. Its important history in Shrewsbury’s development as a river port would be belittled and the new storey and roofs would be excessively dominant.  The proposal is wrong for the Frankwell Quayside area (whose previous plans do not include accommodation anyway).

So Shrewsbury Civic Society is objecting.












  1. The modern additions, especially the extra storey and roof, would dominate the building’s appearance, over-powering its heritage characteristics and its architecture.
  2. The proposed dish-shaped roofs are alien even to the modern surrounding buildings.
  3. The plan would greatly reduce the Stew’s “important positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area”.
  4. A scheme that is mostly providing accommodation would mar the potential economic opportunities for the Frankwell quayside and its partnership with the Glen Maltings.
  5. After over a decade of waiting, Shrewsbury should not accept this ill-fitting scheme when better ones and economic solutions are unexplored.
  6. The scheme pays insufficient attention to local policies/plans and inspectors’ rulings.

We hope the Shropshire Local Planning Authority will help protect Shrewsbury from such an inappropriate scheme.

Facts and irregularities concerning the Stew’s recent history.

1982 An application for demolition was refused. (There may have been others.)
1997 SABC Frankwell Design Brief suggests roles for The Stew & The Maltings in the Quayside’s
future. (Several others’ plans also value the buildings, eg “Shrewsbury Vision”)
2004 (October) In negotiating to sell the lease, The Stew’s then owner, SABC reported that “The..
(prospective)..purchasers are taking all the risk ..with a planning application.”

2006 A full-maintenance 999-year lease was finally signed between a developer and SABC. The developer had an understanding that the Stew could be demolished. (This assurance was unwisely given and unwisely acted upon.)
2007 An application for The Stew’s demolition presented technical documentation which misrepresented its origin. This application was refused by the then Planning Committee and a subsequent Appeal was withdrawn at the last minute.
2008 (Dec.) A Section.215 Order was issued to enforce basic maintenance. Neither have the Conditions of the lease been enforced. Thus the building is neglected but structural sound..
2009 (March) The Sec 215 Order was not rescinded, despite the Council reforming as a Unitary
Council. The new Theatre was opened, followed by the Guildhall. These developments
greatly reduced the number of buildings that reflect Frankwell’s rich past.
2013 A new application for the Stew’s demolition was submitted but found incomplete and the applicant was given more time to correct it. This application did not reveal the previous attempts, despite the requirement to do so.
The property was not offered for sale to test its economic viability within a conservation area.
There were no notices attached to the building when the application was first made.
2014 The application’s determination was refused by delegated powers in May. These applications ignored the advice of English Heritage (and now Historic England) and a number of other respected organisations. There were several occasions when the developer
made late submissions to Applications or Appeals, including missing documents.
2015 Through the year, a 15-day Appeal Enquiry was heard at which the Inspector ruled that the building could not be demolished (December)
Objectors put forward alternative proposals for the building which have been disregarded.
2016 (January) A meeting was arranged for the developer to meeting with some of the key players
to discuss the building’s heritage value and possible uses. He failed attend. A basic repairs
list, agreed with the Council was not carried out.

The developer engaged a local architect to draw up plans for enlargement without
demolition. The brief was that some 1000sq ft would be needed to provide economic
sustainability. This need is not proven nor have other possible uses been explored.

2016 (July) The Civic Society applied to Historic England for Listed Status for the building in order
to protect it from unsympathetic alteration.

2017 (Feb) The Listing application was unsuccessful. Some basic maintenance work was reported.
The architect discussed his plans with the Civic Society, who advised a different approach.
Submission of this application was delayed for months, ostensibly while the
developer “waited for information from the Environment Agency and absence abroad”.
This latest plan is based on an idea to provide a “statement building to harmonise new and
old”. Unfortunately, this concept was encouraged by Shropshire Planning Authority staff.
The application is listed to be determined on 25th January 2018. Advice generally from
experts and Appeal Inspectors favours careful conservation of this prominent heritage asset.
Some historical findings concerning The Stew.

1334 Taxation records show Shrewsbury was the country’s 7th most prosperous town.
The name “Stew” probably came from the word for a (river-fed) pond holding fish to help feed
those in the adjacent medieval St George’s ‘hospital’ (ie offering hospitality).
1406 The Stew “comprising land, a croft and a dove cote” passed to James Dyer’s sons.
1462 Edward IV passed the “Dyer lands” on to the Drapers.
1471 Although disputed, a petition to the King, allowed the Drapers to retain “the croft called le
Stewe, croft with pond there in Frankwell, next to the chapel of St George and ….the bank of
Severn”. There are then records of their various lettings eg to T. Donne in 1553.

1713 The owners were the Scotts, of Betton Strange, who passed it to John Astley (a Little Berwick
Yeoman). He probably had the merchant’s house built, as it is now dated to early 1700s.
(This could have been on earlier structures as foundations dated about 1660 were found on
the Stew’s SE corner.)
The road between the Stew and the Maltings building was St George’s Waterlode and a main route to the early fortified bridge (of which footings still exist under the Theatre).
1730-on From the evidence that does exist, many historians deduce that The Stew was playing a
significant role in the river trade. (It is now Shrewsbury’s only such remaining building from
this period).

This was when Severn Trows were in their heyday and before the impact of the railways.

c.1830 The quay-side part of the building was erected as a warehouse and has extra strong roof
beams made of baltic pine.
The Stew has had several additions built on during Frankwell’s industrial period. (Victorian era and 20th Century.These are now removed leaving superficial scarring to the exterior.

The building has had several commercial uses since its role in Shrewsbury’s river-port
development. These were often associated with Frankwell’s industrial and commercial heritage,
which only ended in this century.
The modern Guildhall/University building design deliberately copied several architectural features of the Stew to maintain the character of the Frankwell quayside area.
The Stew is a popular and valued building. In 2015, it attracted the support of some 1500 petitioners.
In heritage terms, the Stew tells two stories. The oldest part reflects Shrewsbury’s river-trade and 18th Century architectural history, while the larger 19th Century part reminds us of Frankwell’s more recent industrial past, where storage and warehousing were at a premium.
The Government Planning Inspector for the last Appeal, described the Stew as “a regionally important non-designated heritage asset” and that “the significance (of the designated heritage asset – ie the Conservation Area) would be harmfully damaged by the loss of The Stew.” This must include the loss of parts of the building (especially its prominent roof-line) and any overshadowing of its historical references.

NB In these pages we have sought to be as accurate as possible but we understand there are many more details not recorded here.
Shrewsbury Civic Society December 2017.






Sir Neil Cossons Keynote Speaker on Saturday 9th September at 7pm at St Alkmund’s Church SY1-1UH

Sir Neil Cossons keynote speaker

Make Sure You Get to See Darryl Walker’s Exhibition at Bear Steps Gallery Sunday August 6th – Saturday August 19th 9:00am – 5:00pm

Shrewsbury’s Civic Day – Saturday 17th June

Shrewsbury Civic Society Presents: “A Day to Say I Care About Where I Live.”




What’s Conservation done for you?

In 50 years of Conservation rules, this is the first opportunity for Shrewsbury to
celebrate how the town has retained so much of its unique heritage.
One-off events at The Bear Steps, St Alkmund’s Place:
• Join us for the opening by the Mayor with short introductory messages
from Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Shrewsbury Civic Society. 11.00am
• Visit rarely shown exhibitions by: Shropshire Historic Environment
Record Archive and the Civic Society (loop and exhibition about renovating
the medieval Bear Steps in the 1960s).
• Take a free Guided Walking Tours around the town and its Conservation
Area. (Martin Wood / John Brown) 12 and 1.00pm
• Ask Shropshire Council ‘Surgery’ about Listed Buildings and those in
Conservation Areas, includes the Design and Conservation Awards
Scheme (11.30 – 4.00pm)
• Take the quiz/questionnaire to raise public understanding and gain views
about heritage and conservation (UCS university students) and THE
CONSERVATION TABLE at The Bear Steps. (Most of the day.)
• See the Civic Day ambassadors (UCS university students) distributing
leaflets around the town (1.00 – 4.00)
• Walk from the Lord Hill Column to the central Bear Steps, linked with
Waterloo Day and Lord Hill. (starts 3.00pm)
• Half Hour talks starting at 4.30pm (In the Bear Steps Gallery)
• Refreshments: between talks and during exhibitions (Pimms )

 Civic Day Timetable 17th June 2017
Join us in the Bear Steps Gallery for:

The half-hour talks in the early evening.
4.30pm Lord Hill and the Column
A talk by Richard Hayes about the
significance of Lord Hill and the Column’s
history to the Abbey Foregate Area.


5.30pm The Shrewsbury Wayfinding Project .
Aleks Vladimirov of the Shrewsbury BID will
give the first talk and ‘unveiling’ the first of what
is coming for the town’s signposting.


6.30pm Conservation in Shrewsbury
Dr Andy Wigley of Shropshire Council will
discuss issues about the Special Character of
areas in Shrewsbury’s Conservation Area.


7.30pm Civic Pride and Conservation
David Evans (National Civic Voice Trustee) will
give the national picture and the work of Civic
Voice in battling for good stewardship of the
nation’s built environment.


All talks are free. Come to one or all.
Pimms and soft drinks available.

The Next Civic Forum – A Special Evening Featuring Speaker Dr James Pardoe. Thursday 11th May 7.00pm

Shrewsbury Civic Society has enlisted the services of Dr James Pardoe to front the next in this season’s packed out series of lectures on Thursday 11th May,  7.00pm at Bear Steps.

Dr Pardoe is Senior Lecturer in Heritage and Director of Design, Heritage and the Built Environment at University College Shrewsbury.  His talk is entitled ‘Towards a Sustainable Heritage for Shrewsbury.’ He said: “I plan to do a brief overview on why we set up the MSc programmes and then look at some issues surrounding the notion of sustainability and how it can be applied to Shrewsbury.”

The Civic Society’s Chairman of the Planning Committee, Mike Carter said, “We are delighted to be hosting this talk, which is likely to be of great interest to many. My advice is to be there early to get a seat.”

Following this talk there will be a short discussion on recent planning issues affecting the town.

The evening is free to SC members and non-members will be required to make a small donation.



Shrewsbury Civic Society’s Newsletter Makes Front Page News in the Local Press

Last week’s Shrewsbury Chronicle featured two stories on its front page from the latest Civic Society Newsletter. The pieces were by editorial team members Martina Chamberlain and Simon Beedles. Former CS Chairman Simon Beedles highlighted the need to act before its too late over the Quarry pool site and Planning Committee member Martina Chamberlain outlined the latest status of the controversial Stew building.

SCS Newsletter Editor Richard Bishop said: “To make the front page with one story is good but with two at the same time demonstrates the quality and tenacity of my editorial team.”

If you missed them, here they are again:


Time to Act Before its too late       Simon Beedles

‘There could be more at stake than just the loss of the Quarry Swimming Pools.’
The Shrewsbury Chronicle 2nd March edition carried the headline ‘COUNCIL IS SOLE BIDDER FOR POOL’. If the bid by Shrewsbury Town Council is not successful then the article says that Shropshire Council will close the pool and build a new one at Sundorne. Shrewsbury Civic Society (SCS) supports the campaign to keep the Quarry Pools where they are so good luck to the Town Council. Let’s hope they succeed.
If the fight to keep the pools where they are works then SCS will be happy, as will all the other campaigners for this cause. But what happens if Shropshire Council wins and the pools move the Sundorne or indeed anywhere else? What happens to a site in the centre of Shrewsbury which is part of the Quarry? A site, together with the Quarry, enjoyed by the people of Shrewsbury as far back as memories extend. What will happen to the site?
The Quarry is a part of Shrewsbury visited by residents throughout their lives. It is an integral part of the town. It is hard to find anyone who does not appreciate what it offers and will offer
to the town, residents and visitors forever. It is impossible to calculate how many people have been swimming and then enjoyed a walk, game or played in the Quarry afterwards. Anyone around before 1966 will remember the Victorian Baths which offered the same opportunities as the existing Pools. The history of the site is engrained in any true Shrewsbury resident.
If the Quarry Pool closes we think the site must remain in public ownership, in a use which can be enjoyed by the public as it always has been. It must not be sold for a one off payment to help fund a budget deficit, as a short term fix and lose the public facility forever. Shropshire Council need to know that there is a strong feeling that if the Pools close the site needs to be used to continue to help people to enjoy the Quarry.
There might be calls for the site to be sold for a hotel, a car park, housing, a pub, a restaurant, a medical centre, the list goes on. It could be suitable for any of these if the County Council want to raise quick cash and lose the site forever. The County Council may have an alternative use in mind which does keep the site in public ownership and does mean it can be used as it always has been in unison with the Quarry but if not the SCS campaign to keep it for Shrewsbury is stated, clearly, here.
It’s time to act, before it is too late. If we wait until a decision on the future of the Pools is made and closure is the result it will be too late to raise the issue. The site must stay with the public as part of the Quarry. SCS does not want the Pools to close but if they do we do not want to lose the site. It must stay for Shrewsbury. It will need a use and one that can sustain itself; a use that is economic to run and which contrib-utes to the enjoyment of the Quarry; a use that people will remember in the future with affection as they do the Victorian Baths and the Quarry Pools.
It will take time to develop the ideas and the economic model but something to compliment the use of the Quarry is essential.
We could start with a pavilion designed for peo-ple to use all year round when enjoying the Quarry. The idea needs to be developed and other uses incorporated but it’s a start and it can work. More on the pavilion idea in another Newsletter. If the Pools close the site must stay in public ownership and use. Let SCS know what you think.
If you don’t tell Shropshire Council what you think, ( you can do it through SCS), the site may be lost and the money used in a scheme like the Meole Brace roundabout works. Which would you rather have?


The Stew and Other Planning Matters              Martina Chamberlain


Shrewbury Civic Society has just heard from Historic England that the society’s application to have the Stew listed has not been successful.
The Frankwell mansion house with warehouse has been considered for listing on a number of previous occasions, initiated by the civic society.
This time, we put forward that additional knowledge, gained during the appeal process, had further strengthened the case of the building’s historic and special interest. We still believe the Stew merits the protection afforded by listing, as do many others with expertise in the field.
The listing adviser, Gill Guthrie – who travelled by train from Cornwall to view the building and spent around two hours in our town – acknowledges in her report that the Stew “is a particularly interesting survival of an early eighteenth century town house in Shrewsbury”.
Also “it is one of the few surviving buildings which reflect both the residential and industrial development of Frankwell in the c18 and c19”. There is no reference to the river trade in these descriptions, an historical association she describes as “interesting” , but says does not add to the case for the building.
This requires special interest in a “national context”. But if even the local and regional interest is not adequately defined by this report? We are currently considering an objection to the outcome.
We will also be pressing locally for a redesign of Frankwell Quay and immediate environs, to create a better river frontage and improved setting of the Stew and maltings, which they deserve. Shrewsbury’s river trade
history is important, and regional history is part of our national history.
Listing is a protection system that has been in place since 1947.The test is architectural or historic special interest, with the final decision to list being taken by government (the Department for Culture, Media and Sport). However, they act on the recommendations of Historic England formerly English Heritage.
Meanwhile, we are delighted that Monkmoor Hangars, and their splendid all timber Belfast roof trusses, have been saved from demolition at appeal. The civic society had added its voice to those protesting against their destruction to make way for housing development.
The buildings date from towards the end of WW I and were used to accept, test and equip aircraft. During World War II they were used to carry out repairs or break up damaged aircraft. They are the only remaining WWI hangars in Shropshire but their distinctive early twentieth century form of construction – the roof trusses- are also cited as of significance in the appeal decision.
The inspector also deemed the retention of employment at the site on Monkmoor Trading Estate important.
The buildings are currently occupied by four businesses, which employ 32 people.
The civic society has been approached by the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust who are thinking of putting up a plaque at the site to honour the wartime history.
The proposed building of over 600 houses at Weir Hill, in the east, is engaging the civic society and a number of other important local organisations concerned about sensitive development.
The green fringes of our town, particularly those which border the river, which this does, are highly prized by townsfolk and make Shrewsbury a beautiful place to live.
An earlier report on the development of the site identified ways to reduce the impact on Shrewsbury’s skyline and retain pastoral character through a restrained approach.
There are ways of mitigating the most deleterious effects and we should be demanding them.


‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ talk by Dr Nigel Baker Thursday 9th March

The first Civic Forum this year takes place on at 7.00pm Thursday 9th March at the Bear Steps.

The forum, now in its third year features a talk by Dr Nigel Baker entitled ‘Shrewsbury’s Real High Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’.

After the talk there will be a question and answer session on recent planning issues concerning Shrewsbury. This is a chance for the public to catch up with the latest planning applications and air their views on those applications.


‘Shrewsbury’s Real Hight Street – Archaeology and Conservation on Pride Hill’ by Dr Nigel Baker.

Pride Hill can claim to be Shrewsbury’s ‘real High Street’ on two counts. Historically, that was what it was called first – in Latin, it was the Altus Vicus (literally high street), along with the near end of Castle Street, before c.1300. At that time the street we now call the High Street was still known either as Gumble-stool Street (Ducking-stool Street) or Baker’s Row,only becoming the High Street later in the Middle Ages. And, much closer to our own time, Pride Hill and Castle Street were where all the familiar high-street multiple chain-stores of the 20th century went: Boots the Chemist in 1907, Woolworth’s in 1927, Mark’s and Spencer’s, Littlewood’s, and so on. In most towns, this process led to the widespread destruction of historic buildings and townscape and, ultimately, to the sad, dull, homogenisation of the English high street.

But this is Shrewsbury, while there have been losses, there are startling survivals too. Pride Hill has the remains of Shrewsbury’s earliest-known house, built c.1250, with architectural features of ‘cathedral-like quality’. Along much of the north side of the street, the familiar shops in their Georgian and Victorian buildings conceal the remains of a series of stone undercrofts, commercial basements and taverns from the 13th and 14th centuries, trapped deep in their cellars; these are rarely visited, except of course for the ancient MacDonald’s setting. Right across the street, Thornton’s can lay claim to being the town’s most primitive design of shop, a type being built more than 800 years ago. Even the big shopping centres of the 1980s are partly confined by property boundaries laid out before the Norman Conquest.

Pride Hill presents many classic instances of the kind of townscape, the three-dimensional archaeology, that makes Shrewsbury so distinctive – where old buildings, ancient boundaries, buried remains, and terraced hillsides, fit together to form the ultimate historical jigsaw puzzle, while continuing to pose questions like, how old are the Shuts of Shrewsbury?

We look forward to seeing you at what will be a very interesting talk.

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker

Civic Society Forum with guest speaker Dr N Baker