SHREWSBURY'S RIVER HISTORY
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 it also brought in and 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 the river waiting for the ‘stevedore’ to handle the cargoes.
From Coton Hill’s 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.
A classic example still remains of a typical Severn Trow – the ‘Spry’ has been lovingly restored, but is now 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.
The river in Shrewsbury is still busy, with boats from the two Boat Clubs [Pengwern & Shrewsbury School], and a host of canoes. There is an annual river festival. The “Sabrina” is a commercial vessel based at Victoria Quay (by the Welsh Bridge), and is a tourism and corporate hospitality venture.