ROUTE 2 (OUTER LOOP)
Leaving Claremont Hill you enter onto Barker Street and turn left. After a short distance you will see on your right a timber-framed building, this is:
1) Rowleys House and Mansion
This magnificent building, almost exclusively with vertical members, was built in 1591 by Roger Rowley, a rich draper, brewer and maltster. Adjoining it is the Mansion which was built by Roger’s son in 1618 and is reputedly the first brick mansion in the Town. Both buildings underwent extensive restoration in the 1930s.
Carrying on along Bridge Street you will arrive at:
2) The Welsh Bridge
This five-arch stone bridge was built by local stone-masons Carline and Tilley in 1792-95 at a cost of £6,600. The bed of the river having been dug out and levelled as far as practicable the foundations were an oak platform 12 inches thick with an oak kerb spiked around the first course of masonry. It replaced a massive and heavily fortified medieval St George’s Bridge giving access to the Town. Trows would have to pass under the bridge and in the centre of the left parapet there remains part of the winching system to haul them through.
You now turn left onto National Cycle Route 81 alongside the River passing the Sabrina Quay and the numerous hospitality areas until you arrive at:
3) The Quarry
This is the Town’s public park and gets its name from the quarrying of stone which took place here – the stone extracted was a dull purple red colour with a coarse grain and used for many of the Town’s buildings until the 16th century. Part of the land was farmed by some of the burgesses of the Town. Public gatherings took place here and now many events take place here such as pop concerts, Octoberfest, food festivals and the like. The most impressive is the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show which attracts many thousand visitors.
On the far bank of the river
4) The Boathouse Inn
There was a ferry operating at this point until the bridge alongside was built. The building was used to isolate victims of the plague from St Chad’s parish in 1650 when 250 parishioners died during the last six months of that year.
5) The Port Hill Footbridge It was opened in 1923 to provide access to the town from Copthorne and Port Hill areas. It is a traditional suspension bridge with steel wire cables suspended between towers. The rigidity of the deck is controlled by its lattice girder parapets. Ten foot wide it measures two hundred feet between towers.
Continuing along you will see on the opposite bank:
6) Pengwern Club Boathouse
Built in 1881 it is the home of the local rowing club on land belonging to a Mr Beck, hence the area today is known as Beck’s Field. Annual regattas are held as well as an annual charitable event of Coracle racing.
You will then come to a statue on your right which is:
This is a copy of the Farnese Hercules marble statue in Museo Nazionale in Naples, cast in Rome in around 1650 and is of lead – over the years it has suffered much disfigurement. Until 1804 it stood in front of a local Manor when, on the owner’s death it was sold as scrap to a plumber. Saved from destruction it passed through various hands and eventually it was erected at the main entrance to the Quarry adjacent to St Chad’s. When the new gates were erected in 1881 it moved to its current location – said to be for the modesty of ladies leaving church services (local tale)!
To your left located towards the upper part of The Quarry is:
8) The Dingle
This is a beautifully laid out garden with a large pool, used by many townspeople and visitors alike as an area of tranquillity and relaxation. In the early months it abounds with the vibrant colours of spring flowers followed by its real glory when the bedding plants are in full display. Within the garden can be found the statue of Sabrina presented by Lord Bradford to the town - also all that remains of the entrance to the Shoemakers’ Arbour which was moved from its site on Kingsland and transformed into a grotto. The Dingle really is “the Jewel in the Crown” and is known nationally for its horticultural excellence.
On the high ground of Kingsland overlooking the town stands:
9) Shrewsbury School
The school is one of the country’s leading public schools, which started life as the town’s grammar school in 1552 and transferred to its present site in 1882. The main building was built in 1760-5 for the London Foundling Hospital of the Thomas Coram Foundation. At one stage it had 400 orphans housed there but closed in 1772. In 1781 the building was requisitioned to house Dutch Prisoners of War taken in the War of American Independence then in 1784 the building plus some twenty acres of was used as a workhouse (House of Industry) with an average of 275 inmates closing in 1875. It was about this time, when the School was actively looking for new premises and they bought the site moving here in 1882 and since then there have been many further developments creating a wonderful place of education.
The next crossing of the river is:
10) The Kingsland Toll Bridge
This is a privately owned toll bridge belonging to the Kingsland Bridge Company, formed for that purpose in 1872. The bridge was built by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company who also built Sydney Harbour and Victoria Falls Bridges – the ironwork was produced by the Stockton Forge Company. It is a two hinged arch with a single span of 212 feet supported between two arch ribs resting on stone piers. Opened in 1882, it provided easy access to Kingsland and the new School location besides opening up the area for the development of large houses. Known locally as the Penny Bridge due to its original toll of 1d to cross on foot.
Continue along the river bank. On the left are the Shrewsbury Tennis Club courts. Eventually you will come to a road on the left, go up here a short distance to see:
11) The Clement Memorial
This was erected by public subscription in memory of William James Clement (1802-1870) a local surgeon who became Mayor in 1862 and served as MP for Shrewsbury 1865-70. When he was in office as Mayor he presented the chain of office which mayors of the town wear to this day. The monument has had a nomadic existence – it was first erected in the railway station forecourt; when that was redeveloped in the early 20th century it moved to a new site within the Dingle before being moved to its present site.
Return to the river bank carrying on downstream and grab a coffee at:
12) Stop. Café
C: Stop Café @StopCoffeShop on Facebook. Right turn before you go under Greyfriars Foot Bridge. Open 10-4 Mon-Sat 10-3:30pm Sunday. What they do: Lunch, amazing cakes, and great coffee. Bike parking rack nearby too. Riverbank outdoor seating with some indoor seating. Recommend the bacon sandwiches for takeout.
Return to the river path where you will come across:
13) The Greyfriars Bridge
Opened in 1880, it replaced a ferry which crossed the river at this point to provide easy access from the areas of Coleham and Belle Vue into the town centre. Built by Cochrane Engineering Company it is a hog backed pratt truss (lattice girder) construction on solid masonry piers and has a 150-foot span.
Just past the bridge on the left are:
14) The remnants of Greyfriars (Franciscan)
The buildings are now incorporated into houses. If you look carefully you can see the original stonework, including a window. The Greyfriars were located here from 1245 until 1538 and entry to the town was through a postern gate in the town walls.
Continue along the riverside path towards:
15) The English Bridge
This seven-arched bridge is the third one to be built at this point – the first being built was the Stone Bridge, as it was called. This was a fortified bridge controlling the entry into the Town and was then replaced by a second bridge in 1768-74. In the early part of the 1920s this one was found to too steep and narrow for increased traffic – it was therefore dismantled and the current bridge erected, using the facing and much of the stone of the old bridge.
Pass under the bridge and just as you do look on the wall to your left where you will see some ceramic plaques mounted. These were work of pupils of the Wakeman School over many years and when it closed their work was mounted on boards and located throughout the Town.
Continue along the towpath and look up to you left where you will see:
16) The Old Royal Salop Infirmary Building
Now converted into apartments and shops the building was opened in 1830 on the site of an adapted private house which had been the local infirmary since 1747. It closed in 1977 moving to a site on the outskirts of the Town. Near here (now modern apartments) was the Dominican (Black) Friars and Edward IV sent his Queen Elizabeth to the Friary guest house in 1473 for the birth of their second son Richard Duke of York who was the youngest of the Princes in the Tower murdered there.
A short distance further along we come to:
17) Union Wharf and St Mary’s Water Lane
The wharf and together with the warehouse (now housing) were constructed in 1823 for loading and unloading trows. Alongside, the Water Lane gave access to the Town through the walls and it was here that a Parliamentarian force gained access to the Town on 22 March 1645 capturing it from the Royalists.
Ahead you will come to:
18) The Railway Bridge
This is in fact a construction of three bridges. The first one, in the centre, is a stone bridge built to carry the Shrewsbury to Birmingham Railway in 1849. When the station was enlarged in 1899-1900 two additional iron bridges were erected, one on either side of the original viaduct. At the same time a roof was built over the bridges as platforms extended onto the new bridges – this was removed in the early 1960s.
Ahead is the last of the bridges you will pass under:
19) Castle Walk Footbridge
The first bridge was built on this site in1910 and was similar in construction to the Port Hill Bridge. However, in 1951 it was considered necessary to rebuild the bridge and the present structure replaced it. It is 250 feet long and is described as pre-stressed post tensioned reinforced concrete counter balanced counter lever – quite a mouthful (!) but in 1951 was a most advanced design.
Continuing along the towpath you will come to:
20) The Weir
Built in 1910-12 and restored in 1972 it was designed to raise the level of the river passing through the Town, particularly in the Summer, to prevent the odours and waste which would collect when the river was low. A great place to see the salmon leaping when moving up river to spawn.
If you fancy a coffee and cake to the left, you will find:
21) Weir Café
Weir Café To the left of the weir is this lovely eatery. What they do: Cake, breakfast, lunch, and drinks. Also have animals. Cosy café with a relaxing view of the weir on the River Severn, perfect for cyclists or walkers.
Continue along Sydney Avenue alongside the river then turn into New Park Road until the junction with Sultan Road and continue along that road until you reach the end when you will see on the opposite side of the main road:
22) Ditherinton Flaxmill/Maltings
Now under major restoration this is the location of the first iron-framed building in the world. In 1796 John Marshall from Leeds joined forces with Thomas and Benjamin Benyon and they decided to build a flax mill in Shrewsbury. They were joined by Carles Bage who was a surveyor and wine merchant interested in masonry arches and the use of iron in construction. He was also in contact with William Reynolds (the ironmaster) and Thomas Telford. Having bought the land in Child’s Fields they began the process of building the mill using over-large bricks from clay excavated on site and the members of the iron frames cast in William Hazeldine’s foundry in Coleham. The building was complete by September 1797 and received flax for processing from the Baltic, Flanders, Friesland, Ireland and Normandy. Production varied over the years weaving of linen and canvas, thread making, etc, and ceased production on 21 October 1886. The mill was taken over by William Jones & Co for use as a maltings. During WWII the military used it for a training unit returning to a maltings post war continuing until closing in 1987. There is a visitors’ centre explaining its history.
Having left the complex continue down the main road back towards Town until you reach the traffic lights where you turn left into Howard Street which takes you to the site of:
23) Shrewsbury Prison
The prison was built between 1787-93 by Thomas Telford, incorporating ideas formulated by the prison reformer John Howard. Rebuilt in 1878 almost all that remains is the front entrance with the bust of John Howard in the recess over the main gate. It was closed in 2013 and is now a tourist attraction and various Jailhouse Tours are held here.
Return back down to the traffic lights turning left and then right at the next set of lights which takes you into Smithfield Road to the Welsh Bridge junction then turning left to return to Claremont Hill.
ROUTE 2 (OUTER LOOP)