Wellington in old picture postcards

Wellington in old picture postcards

:   George Evans
:   Shropshire
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-4564-0
:   96
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Wellington and The Wrekin in old picture postcards

by George Evans


I am most grateful to Councillor Philip Morris-Jones, Mrs. Audrey Smith, Mr. Bill Bayley and Mr. Frank Edwards for the laan of postcards and other photographs; to Reverend Dr. Harry Foreman, the Victoria County History , the Local Studies library, the writers of various guidebooks and many friends for information and help. In particular I must thank my wife for her advice, encouragement, typing and patience.


R.M. & S., Shrewsbury, Princess Series; Caption, 81. R.M. & S., Shrewsbury, Cleveland Series; 14. Valentine; 3, 4, 21, 30, 40, 78, 82, 84.

The Wrench Series; 5.

W. Frith & Co., Reigate; 6,16,18,19,48,51. Milton 'Elite-Glazette'; 7,33,52.

K. Ltd.; 53

Scottish Photographic Touring and Picture Post Card Co., Glasgow; 54, 56. Tom Austin, Wellington; 67

Hobson & Co., Wellington; 83.



15BNIO: 90 288 4564x 15BN13: 978 90 288 4564 0

© 1987 European Library - ZaltbommeliNetherlands © 2010 Reprint ofthe second edition of 1999

European Library post office box 49

NL - 5300 AA ZaltbommeliThe Netherlands telephone: 0031 418 513144

fax: 0031 418 515515

e-mail: publisher@eurobib.nl

No part ofthis baok may be reproduced in any form, by print, photoprint, microfilm or any other means, without written permission from the publisher.


The purpose of this book is to show, using old picture postcards produced at the time, an important part of the history of Wellington. The period we are looking at is from 1880 to 1930. These fifty years, mostly within the memory of many people still living in the town, were an interesting period of British history , comprising the later years of Queen Victoria and the reigns of Edward VII and George V. They were certainly exciting enough for the people of Wellington.

During the time we are concemed with Wellington was a thriving market town, second only within Shropshire to its younger rival, Shrewsbury. It lay at the foot of The Wrekin and on the edge of the industrial area of the East Shropshire coalfield where the Industrial Revolution had been bom over a century earlier. It was the major communications centre for East Shropshire and bustled with industry and commerce.

Wellington is older than Shropshire. lts name implies a heathen temple in a grove, from which we can suppose that it was founded before the days of Offa, King of Mercia, who was a Christian. It has been suggested that Wellington was founded by Saxons whose ancestors had been mercenaries employed by the Romans and Romanised Britons of Viroconium, the city near Wroxeter. The city had been abandoned following a great plague over 1,440 years ago. The heathen temple would have been replaced by a cross and eventually by All Saints' Church. By Domesday there was a resident priest.

Markets were held at first on the Green to the north of the churchyard and moved to a larger site south of the church when a Charter was granted by Edward I to the Lord of the Manor, Giles de Erdington. This new site included Crown Street, Bell Street, Duke Street and the present

Market Square. New Street was built around this time and laid out with burgage plots on each side, Medieval crafts included cloth processing and leather manufacture. There were many Lords of the Manor but most of them lived out ofthetown.

Until the 18th century all the buildings were of timber; they were afterwards bricked over or replaced. There was a wooden Market Hall in the Square with a court room upstairs for the South Bradford Magistrates. The cloth trade was once important; evidence still exists in place names:

Walker Street (fulling) and Ten Tree Croft - Tenter Croft - where the dyed cloth was hung to dry on tenterhooks. The invention of a water powered fulling mill must have caused a decline in trade as there was no river to provide thepower.

During the Civil War King Charles I mustered his army in Orleton Park but later Cromwell's men captured Apley Castie and All Saints' Church causing much damage. They were driven out by local Royalists.

As the coalfields in the parish - at Ketley and Hadley and neighbouring Dawley, Madeley and Coalbrookdale grew, Wellington expanded. Houses in town were replaced by shops and wealthier traders moved to the outskirts. At one time there were serious market riots for which some men were executed. Trades included nail and bell making and especially wooden fumiture. Some workers were very poor; many tiny cottages were built and a Union Workhouse in Walker Street. The railway arrived in 1849 and Wellington became an importantjunction, bringing an expansion oftrade in coal, timber, livestock, brewing and malting and an important carriage works.

There were two railway stations; a passenger station in Station Road and a goods depot in Bridge Road with sidings,

cattle pens, coal wharf and other facilities. Both stations were joint G.W.R./L.M.S. operated, The passenger station had coaling and water facilities, turntable and a repair shed with three main platforms and a bay containing two more platforms for local services. Originally refreshments were provided outside the station at what is now the Station Hotel but later there were two refreshment rooms on the station itself.

Local banks and a newspaper - the Wellington Joumalsprang up. More churches, for Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists and Roman Catholics together with an additional Anglican church - Christ Church - were built. Most of the old Market Place had filled with shops and inns and the newly formed Markets Company bought the Charter rights from the Lord of the Manor, Lord Forester, and built a new Market Hall, Potato Market and Corn Exchange. The Monday livestock market, held at the Smithfield, became a thriving business.

There was a great number of public houses and a good deal of drunkenness. A gas works began in Tan Bank foUowed by electricity supply. Toys and dolls were made at three factories and bread ovens at another.

Dr. William Withering, alocal physician, discovered a medicine, the principal constitutant of which was foxgloves on sale in the market. He popularised its use as digitalis for the treatment of heart complaints. He also campaigned for the abolition of slavery.

Sarah Smith, who under her pen name Hesba Stretton was an early best selling authoress, wrote 'Jessica's First Prayer' and other 'improving' Victorian romances.

John Crump Bowring of Bradley Moor made a small fortune as a fish dealer and became a local benefactor, giving the Bowring Recreation Ground and the church gates to

the town. His widow was the principal patron of the Cottage Hospital. O.D. Murphy founded the Wrekin Brewery and the Mineral Water Works and his widow gave a playing field in Oreleton Lane to the people of Wellington. The Corbett family were ironfounders and left an interesting iron tomb near All Saints', Sir John Bayley founded Wellington College which became Wrekin College. Dr. Cranage founded the Old Hall School and was active very early in the ecumenical movement.

Wellington Urban District Council was faced with a great slum clearance problem at the turn of the century. A great many small houses had been built hastily in Nailors Row, Chapel Street, Parton Square and High Street which were now fit only for demolition. The Council began building in 1902 and eventually completed over 2,000 dwellings. Their plans for developing the town, however, were frustrated by local government reorganisation in 1974 and the coming of Telford.

The Wrekin has always been of great importance to the people of Wellington - first as a refuge, then as a forest, now for recreation. It is regarded as 'our hili' and the local toast is to All Friends Round The Wrekin. It is no wonder that many local postcards featured The Wrekin as a reminder to friends and family of the locallandmark. The two main refreshment places, the Forest Glen Pavilion of the Pointon family and Wrekin Cottage, were much loved for familyoutings.

Modern Wellington remains a friendly market town of around 18,000 people, weil served by shops, schools and most services - and especially by its market.

1. Many picture postcards of Wellington depiet the Market Square or Market Place as it is sometimes called. This one looks from Church Street; the photographer is on the railway bridge with his back to the church. AIthough superficially similar to today's view from the same point, on careful consideration many differences can be detected in the uses of buildings as weil as the clothing of the people. This postcard was also produced in a coloured form. The shop advertising J. W. Owen, clothier, was a gentlemen's outfitter though in later pictures it will be seen as Walter Davies with a similar business. The Market Hall which used to stand in the Square in 1680 had been dismantled and sold about 1800.

2. Looking in the opposite direction at about the same time - is it the same boy on the left? Behind the ornamental gas lamp is the Wrekin Hotel, the ground floor of which is replaced by shops in later views. Over the shop on the right of this hotel, on the other side of the narrow entrance to Market Street, lived Dr. Pooler who, in his autobiography, described many events he had witnessed from his bedroom window as a boy. These included a military band playing in the Square while the officers were at dinner in the hotel and bear-baiting when dogs were set to attack a bear. He also describes the celebrations to welcome Captain Matthew Webb after his successful attempt to be first to swim the English Channel.

cJY{arkef <Square, WeWngfon


3. A similar view by Valentines looks up Church Street with many buildings which are now demolished on the left hand side of the street. These include Lloyds Bank, an imposing stone faced building in this picture. Facing us in the distance is the old Post Office. The shops on the right include a ladies' fashion shop called Capsey's where dresses were made in a workroom above. Ayoung apprentice in 1903, Mabel Fail, was given five shillings in appreciation for her fust year's work. The shop on the extreme right was Baxters. Mr. Baxter used to stand facing the entrance and when a customer entered he would order 'forward' and an assistant would come immediately ready to serve.

Market Place, Wellington

4. In the eentre of this picture is the old post office which had superseded an earlier timber framed building in New Street and was later to be replaeed by a further building in Walker Street, The large tubular posting box outside is the only remaining clue that this was onee the post office. The remainder of the building was the printing and publishing premises of The Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News founded by Thomas Leake in 1854. The trees are in the churchyard on the site occupied in 1918 and since by the lychgate built as a memorial to the local men who gave their lives in the Great War.

'1ar~et Ptece, Wel J ing/'orr

5. Bandsmen of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry are here seen with their instruments coming from Station Raad. The K.S.L.I. and the Shropshire Yeomanry, a cavalry regiment, played an important part in the life of the town. A battery of the 1st Shropshire and Staffordshire Artillery Volunteers used the Drill Hall in King Street as their headquarters. The North and South Wales Bank is now the Midland Bank. Boots, advertising themselves here as the largest chemists in the world, had their shop behind J. W. Owen, facing Crown Street on one side and Duke Street on the other. They have since moved to New Streel. The window ofJ . W. Owen 's shop facing New Street was aften broken by the post coach rounding the sharp corner in a hurry, heading for the post office shown in picture 4. Bollards were placed to proteet the window though they have since been removed.

6. By the time this photograph was takenJ.W. Owen had sold No. 1. The Square to Walter Davies who carried on a similar business, presumably after retiling the roof. It will be noticed that the gable over the middle window of this building does not fit the window. The Duke Street front of Boots the Chemist can be c1early seen although the large sign above has disappeared. The bow fronted building on the right was always known as Slaney's Vaults. A shoe shop has taken over the market street side of the Wrekin Hotel which became a Temperance Hotel. Mr. Cooke of Cooke's Provisions, on the left ofWalter Davies' and at the bottom of New Street sold groceries of all kinds and was a prominent member of the Rechabite movement, a temperanee society.

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