New books on Shropshire past and present
PUBLISHED: 00:16 26 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:57 20 February 2013
A flurry of books have hit the shelves promoting Shropshire's rich and varied history. Photo books, historical novels and even a rockstar trail through the county are among recent offerings. Here are some of our favourites.
Its incredibly satisfying to read adjective-rich prose that brings a scene from history to life; even better, and easier on the senses, is to view the scene for yourself.
Two recently published photo books about Shropshires past successfully reproduce nostalgic images, allied to fact-driven text.
Local historian David Trumpers latest offering, Shropshire Here And Now, delves into his fascinating archive of old photos of the county, bringing dozens of well-known landmarks to life. Alongside, we get a modern take on the same scene; a fascinating way to note how so much has changed, yet so much too has stayed the same.
Like some of Trumpers previous offerings, the book captures the drama of development over the past 100 years. It recalls houses and public buildings, shops, churches and pubs that have vanished or been changed beyond all recognition. The pictures show changing types of transport and fashion, and the developing character of streets and districts as they took on the form that is familiar today.
The astonishing periods of growth that occurred during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, and since the Second World War, are particularly well illustrated.
David, a former teacher, from Shrewsbury, is an author and historian of growing authority, with more than 20 local history books under his belt. Another in the Here and Now series is due out this summer, and will focus entirely on Shrewsbury.
Two other new books trace the 220-mile route of the River Severn from its source to the sea. The first of them, called The Severn: Plynlimon to Bridgnorth covers the first 100 miles or so, from its source in the Welsh hills through the Marches into Shropshire. A series of wonderful sepia and black and white historical photographs are contrasted with colour versions of similar scenes today: including a dramatic fire at Shrewsbury School in 1905, contrasted with a tranquil riverside scene today.
Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Bridgnorth are all well represented in the exciting photo collection; the author Jan Dobrzynskis extended captions bring each image to life.
Ludlows historic Guildhall, now in its 601st year, comes under the spotlight in a book produced by the Ludlow Historical Research Group. Written by Madge Moran, the acknowledged authority on the vernacular buildings of Shropshire, the book charts the Guildhalls history from its origins in 1411 as a timber framed aisled hall for the Palmers Guild, an influential and wealthy religious brotherhood.
It has since gone through various incarnations; most recently, it was the towns magistrates court but it ceased to function in September last year. Local historians and anyone fascinated by a historic buildings lifestory will find an abundance of glorious anecdotes, citings from documents and intimate details about the building and those who worked on it and in it, all courtesy of Shrewsbury historian Madge.
The Guildhall, Ludlow by Madge Moran is published by the Ludlow Historical Group (ISBN 0-9536113-8-8)
A more modern reflection on Shropshires history comes courtesy of Rock Atlas by David Roberts, a guide book to more than 650 music locations across the country and the stories behind them.
Did you know, for example, that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were in Shropshire when they completed the writing of what would become The Beatles first No 1 hit single? The county is also the birthplace of the rock legend and Mott The Hoople frontman Ian Hunter and where late DJ John Peel spent his school days.
The Beatles, explains David, made three visits to Shrewsbury, all in less than five months. December 14th 1962 saw them arrive for their first performance, at the towns Music Hall. Their third and final appearance was on April 26th 1963 at the same venue. However, the second Shrewsbury concert was to be the most significant - for them at least. Arriving in the back of their tour bus on the Helen Shapiro tour on February 28th 1963, as the coach transporting the group completed its journey from York to Shrewsburys Granada cinema, John Lennon and Paul McCartney completed their latest composition, From Me To You. A pivotal release in Beatles history, the song would register as the groups first number one hit and top the singles chart
The book includes details and directions for rock fans to follow. Rather disappointingly for anyone who makes the trip, the Grade Two listed former Granada cinema at Castle Gates in Shrewsbury is now a modernday bingo hall.