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River Trade

By the fourteenth century, Shrewsbury was one of the wealthiest towns in England and a very busy inland port.  Relics and reminders still exist – but often now only in name.

The River Severn not only provided the defensive characteristic that made Shrewsbury such a thriving centre, but also brought in & carried out a vast amount of regular and significant waterborne trade.





Names such as Union Wharf, Mardol Quay and Frankwell Quay conjure up visions of river boats lying alongside for the ‘stevedore’ to handle the cargoes.


From Coton Hill old Victorian promenade it is still possible to see traces of the Barge Gutter, by which the vessels bypassed the fish traps & weirs on the river bend.

Two vessels can be seen sailing down river through the Gutter.









Spry proudly sailing in the Bristol Channel.

A classic example still remains of a Severn ‘Trow’ – the Spry has been lovingly restored, but now sadly is kept ashore in the Blists Hill Museum at Ironbridge.  This is the last one of hundreds of its type that worked up and down the longest river in Britain – the Severn.


1908 Painting by John Pockett







However in Shrewsbury the river is still busy with boats from the two Boat Clubs [Pengwern & Shrewsbury School], and a host of canoes.  The annual River Festival will even attract steam boats: next one is on 3 June 2012!  The “Sabrina” is a commercial vessel based at Victoria Quay (by the Welsh Bridge), and is a tourism and corporate hospitality venture.


Modern vessel plying its trade at Shrewsbury