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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

Winter Wonderland Exhibition at Bear Steps 13th – 24th December

From December 13th – 24th Bear Steps will be hosting a special festive themed exhibition entitled ‘Winter Wonderland’. The group show will showcase works by a multitude of local & international artists, including many regulars to the Bear Steps & also artists from Spain, Sweden, Russia, Poland & Belarus. Some of the talented individuals taking part will be: Bibbs Cameron, Lena Churm, Jackie Coyle, Joe Coyle, Svetlana Elantseva, Lyn Evans, Mike Hatch, Paul Janczykowski, Suzette Janczykowski, Stephen Michael Law, Dave Lupine, Yuliya Lupine  Pru Mac, Alberto Pitalua, Lee Smith, Mike Southern, Gill Stokes & Steve Walsh. As well as traditional paintings the exhibition will include a variety of different handmade items, so it will be the perfect place to grab those last minute gifts & presents in time for Christmas.
winter wonderland show1

Bits from SCS Planning Committee Chairman Mike Carter

December 2015                   Bits from Shrewsbury Civic Society’s Planning Committee:

The Planning Committee has some 14 members and every month planning applications to the Authority are reviewed. Those that particularly concern or please us are the subject of a letter to the Authority.  We often seek to improve the quality of design to complement our streetscapes better.

There is a real concern when applications are rushed through, particularly when they are for the development of sensitive or high-profile positions. The local voice is hardly heard. This is a national problem but it is especially sensitive for Conservation Areas, such as Shrewsbury’s.  Furthermore, Local Government funding cuts and the need for more housing, are exacerbating the threat to a high quality built environment.

The Civic Society is supporting Civic Voice’s efforts on a National level to promote more “Collaborative Planning” and help the notion of “localism” to be heard.  We also are also seeking to gain some influence at local level about the quality of design in planning applications, particularly where there are significant issues in Conservation areas.  Locally, the Society strongly supports the retention of the swimming pool in the town and the re-routing of the Dana footpath.

For 2½ years a sub-committee has been fighting to save The Stew (a rare heritage building on Frankwell Quay) and promote an economic future for it that will be of value to the town. An Appeal Inquiry sought to overturn Shropshire’s refusal for demolition. This finished in September and the decision is awaited.  We have heard that the decision will be delayed. This is because the inspector needs to take full account of Shropshire’s final SAMdev policy, which will only be formally adopted on 17th December by the full Council.

The Planning Committee has formed another sub-committee to start considering the long-running issue of traffic in the town centre.  It is also hoping to prepare a policy and advice document about shop-front design in the conservation area. (The Local Authority does not have such an agreed policy at the moment.)  Some planning Committee members have been involved with the Shrewsbury BID’s Way-finding project which will take some time before first results are seen in the town. (One element of this is to replace the finger posts with street maps.)

The Civic Society puts on occasional Forum meetings, where members and non-members can enjoy a talk and offer suggestions or ask questions.  In September, one evening hosted Trevor Osborne who talked about his ownership of the Dana prison and his imaginative plans for it.  On another evening Andrew Arrol gave a superb talk and slide show about his conservation architecture and recently Peter Phillips told a very interested audience about some of Shropshire’s fascinating War Memorials.

The large majority of Civic Society members support the work of the Society just by their membership.  However, there are often several opportunities for anyone interested to get more involved.  Members can visit the Bear Steps to see the displays and the art gallery.  We usually have information available, for example, about Civic Voice and the advantages of membership.      (All Civic Society members are Civic Voice members automatically.)

Peter Francis Talk on Shropshire War Memorials – Sites of Remembrance at Bear Steps Thursday 19th November 7.30pm

Photograph by Richard Bishop

Photograph by Richard Bishop


In honour of the First World War centenary, Shrewsbury Civic Society is to host a talk by local historian Peter Francis on ‘Sites of Remembrance; the war memorials of Shropshire’ at Bear Steps on Thursday 19th November.

Author Peter Francis says: “I have had a long-standing fascination with the eventful history of my native county of Shropshire.  Its situation on borderland has often been one of bloody conflict.  In addition, when their ‘country needed them’ Shropshire Lads have not been slow in volunteering to serve”.

Martina Chamberlain of Shrewbury Civic Society said: “We are very much looking forward to Peter’s talk on Shropshire War Memorials.  He has produced a remarkable book and we think people will be fascinated to hear some of the stories that Peter has unearthed through painstaking research and passion for his subject”.

Richard Bishop of Shrewsbury Civic Society added: “War memorials date back centuries in the UK but in the aftermath of the First World War the people of Britain needed a focus for their grief. War memorials were erected across the UK in the greatest wave of remembrance the nation has ever seen.”

“Interestingly enough though, it wasn’t until 1997 that it was acknowledged that no organisation took responsibility for the care of Britain’s war memorials at home, estimated to number more than 66,000.”

“It was recognised that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was doing a magnificent job caring for the graves and memorials to our war dead abroad post 1914, but in 1997 the War Memorials Trust came into existence in order to preserve and maintain war memorials in Britain.”

“Peter will be talking about these as well as the much lesser known memorials, their origins and purpose.”

“Peter’s talk will take place at Bear Steps on Thursday 19th November at 7.30pm. Admission is free and all are welcome.”

Halloween Horrorfest Attracts Record Numbers

WITH STORY Pictured at Bear Steps Gallery with some of the exhibits are Dave and Yuliya Lupine.

Pictured at Bear Steps Gallery with some of the exhibits are Dave and Yuliya Lupine.

One of Shrewsbury’s best known galleries where up and coming artists exhibit alongside more familiar local names has gone international and having one of the most successful exhibitions in recent history.

From October 18th until October 31st Bear Steps Art Gallery is hosting its annual Halloween Horrorfest. Now in its third year this group exhibition has steadily become a highlight of the Bear Steps calendar in a town renowned across the country for its multitude of ghosts and steeped in supernatural history.

The Horrorfest began as the brainchild of gallery manager Dave Lupine whose intention was to create something a bit different to the usual run of the mill exhibits.

He said: “The objective of the Horrorfest is to bring together a collective of artists who share a similar mindset: individuals who like to be unique, embrace the macabre and utilise their talents to create quirky, imaginative and haunting works of dark beauty and then showcase them under one roof in a seasonal exhibition.”

“The original Horrorfest featured works by just three artists and last years’ grew to include seven contributors and now we have eighteen different artists taking part.”

”Each year the Horrorfest has evolved and grown substantially and I have been proud and amazed at the public response to it. This year has exceeded all expectations with us receiving an average attendance of 80 visitors per day and sales going through the roof.

“Apart from the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival  it has easily been the most successful exhibition Bear Steps has put on this year.”

Featured in this years Horrorfest are diverse works and macabre masterpieces by: Reuben Amarna, Reg Cooper, Eric Coyle, Joseph Coyle, Dave Fletcher, Eliza Glapinska, Mike Hatch, Dave Lupine, Yuliya Lupine, Heather Malone, Dea Paradisos, Alberto Pitalua and Lee Smith and it also featured guest contributions from  Paul Janczykowski, Stephen Michael Law, Graham Sherman, Phillip Evans and Byron Grainger-Jones. With some of those artists hailing from Belarus, Poland and Spain the Horrorfest is now truly an international event event.

Dave added: ”The two things I most love about curating the Horrorfest are always finding myself being astounded by the sheer variety of work and enormous abundance of talent from the contributors and then myself and my wife Yuliya having the challenge of blending all the individual styles together to create a coherent, colourful, vibrant, exciting exhibition that includes something for everyone.”

“After the huge unexpected success of this years’ event we now have the difficult task of making the next one even bigger, even better and more varied. It’s a challenge we will relish as we already have some ideas that will ensure the Horrorfest expands and reaches an even bigger audience.”

There is still time to see the exhibition which runs until Saturday.


Halloween Horrorfest at Bear Steps Gallery

From October 18th until October 31st Bear Steps Art Gallery will once again be hosting its annual Halloween Horrorfest.

Now in its third year this group exhibition has become a highlight of the Bear Steps calendar and a perfect way to celebrate the spooky season in Shrewsbury, a town renowned for it’s multitude of ghosts and steeped in supernatural history.

The Horrorfest is the brainchild of gallery manager Dave Lupine whose intention is to create something a bit ”different” to the usual run of the mill exhibits. The objective of the Horrorfest is to bring together a collective of artists who share a similar mindset: individuals who like to be unique, embrace the macabre and utilise their talents to create quirky, imaginative and haunting works of dark beauty and then showcase them under one roof in a seasonal exhibition. The original Horrorfest featured works by three artists, last year’s grew to include seven contributors and this year’s has over doubled in size with sixteen different artists taking part.
Featured in this year’s Horrorfest are diverse works & macabre masterpieces by: Reuben Amarna, Reg Cooper, Eric Coyle, Joseph Coyle, Dave Fletcher, Mike Hatch, Dave Lupine, Yuliya Lupine, Heather Malone, Dea Paradisos, Alberto Pitalua & Lee Smith and it also features guest contributions from Svetlana Elantseva, Paul Janczykowski, Stephen Michael Law & Graham Sherman.
On Saturday October 24th & Saturday October 31st (Halloween itself) many of the artists & their friends will be dressing up in fancy dress and taking to the streets of Shrewsbury in promotion of the Horrorfest. So for a perfect treat over the school half-term come and visit us… we hope you enjoy taking a journey into our dark, twisted little world!”
Halloween Horrorfest 2015 #1
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