Delicious Market Drayton

PUBLISHED: 13:07 25 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:26 20 February 2013

Delicious Market Drayton

Delicious Market Drayton

Sarah Hart visits Market Drayton, the home of gingerbread, Clive of India, a famous organic farm, beautiful gardens open to the public and an eccentric bicycle-maker who invented the helicopter

Delicious Drayton

Sarah Hart visits Market Drayton, the home of gingerbread, Clive of India, a famous organic farm, beautiful gardens open to the public and an eccentric bicycle-maker who invented the helicopter

This very old North Shropshire market town has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Thousands of people come here for the market that gave Market Drayton its name 750 years ago, but more and more visitor attractions are springing up in and around the town. Heres the best of them.

The Story of Market Drayton Museum and the Magnificent Man
in his Flying Machine

Sneeze and you could easily miss the tiny museum occupying an old butchers shop in Shropshire Street. It was opened by the Civic Society only five years ago.

Among the donated exhibits is part of an old, wooden, school desk, gouged with the large letters RC. It came from the towns former grammar school where the high-spirited Robert Clive (the future Clive of India) was educated as a boy. Could these be his hand-carved initials?

Theres a hand-pulled hearse for folk who couldnt afford a horse-drawn one, a collection of old medical implements and a dinky childrens trap that was pulled by a goat. But easily the most fascinating exhibit relates to Market Draytons own magnificent man in his flying machine, bicycle-maker Arthur Philips.

In 1907 just four years after the Wright Brothers completed the first powered flight the maverick Philips patented a design for a helicopter, or a vertical take-off flying machine, as he would have called it.

He believed that one day everyone would own an aircraft, landing and taking-off from the flat roofs of their houses.

Philips built a half-size model that took to the air, but didnt appear to have much luck with the full-size machine, even with celebrated pilot Gustav Havel at the controls. His helicopter might have been a damp squib but Philips went on to build several conventional aircraft during his lifetime.

The museum also has a very useful archives section upstairs.

The Market

Market day is Wednesday. An endless sea of stalls snake through the heart of town.

Fine Old Buildings

Despite a ferocious fire that wiped out 70 per cent of the town in the 17th century, Market Drayton has some lovely old buildings, Jacobean, Queen Anne and Georgian. Many of the finest line Shropshire Street.

Food shops and chocolate

Some lovely food shops can be found along Cheshire Street. T.O. Williams traditional bakery and delicatessen, Sherwood Wholefoods and the delightful Tuesdays selling chocolates and cakes made freshly on the premises.

Nicola Docksey, a former business studies and IT teacher, opened the shop six years ago after a stint working as a chef. Id always liked the idea of owning my own shop. My parents were bakers and confectioners so I suppose it was in the blood, she muses.

Customers can watch Nicola making her own chocolates before choosing from a vast array on sale. They include the Market Drayton truffle, made from gingerbread and local damsons, in celebration of the towns long association with gingerbread and the Damson Fairs for which Market Drayton was once famed.

Local people bring in their damsons jammed, potted, or from their damson gin and swap them for Market Drayton truffles, says Nicola.
The business has opened a cakery next door where Nicolas mum, Josie Keeling, bakes and decorates some of the most exquisite celebration cakes in Shropshire.

On a hot day Tuesdays is also a destination for a cooling Italian ice cream.

Clives Pies

Finally Market Draytons famous son has a food named in his honour. The meaty Clive of India pies were launched by Shepleys butchers, in Shrewsbury Road, in March. Packed with minced lamb and Indian spices theyre selling like hotcakes.

I sell out of them most days, says butcher Scott Shepley, also known for his award-winning sausages.

Last year his cracked black pepper sausages won Heart of England Fine Foods Best in Shropshire award.

Hes the best. Ive been coming here for 20 years, chips in one customer putting in a big order.

You should see the queue at Christmas time. It stretches right down the street.

Festival Drayton Centre

Theres no need for Drayton folk to traipse off to Shrewsbury or Telford to catch a movie or a show. They now have it all here at the Festival Drayton Centre, an inspiring community project that created a modern arts centre right in the heart of town.

From fevered fundraising back in the 1980s to buy an old Methodist Hall to stage events, the volunteer-led campaign mushroomed into a grand 1 million scheme over a decade later to triple the size of the building. The Festival Drayton Centre opened in 2005 to stage shows, concerts, cinema screenings and art exhibitions and provide rooms for wider community use. Its currently undergoing further expansion.

Its a busy place. On market days the popular caf lays on extra tables to cope with demand. They spill down the corridors and even into the main auditorium. An outside eating area includes a series of unusual painted wall panels by local artist Nick Parry.


Market Drayton is well and truly spoilt for the magical private gardens that are open to the public just a few miles away.

Wollerton Old Hall Garden is an unforgettable rare gem, lovingly designed and developed by Lesley and John Jenkins around their 16th century home since 1984. It mixes styles, from English classic to arts and crafts, in a series of dramatic garden rooms. Open until the end of September on Fridays, Sundays and bank holidays from noon to 5pm.

The Dorothy Clive Garden, at Willoughbridge, was begun in 1940 by local magistrate Harry Clive for the enjoyment of his much-loved dying wife Dorothy. Sixty-five years on it continues to be nurtured in the hands of the Willoughbridge Garden Trust. Open until September 26 from 10am to 5.30pm.

The dreamy Hodnet Hall Gardens, at Hodnet, unfold over 60 acres combining woodland, streams, waterfalls, ponds and meandering borders spilling with a rainbow of blooms. Open bank holidays and special days including July 11 and 25, August 1, 15, 29 and 30, and September 12 and 26 noon from until 5pm.

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