is an attractive town in the Severn Valley.
It is split into High Town and Low Town, named on account of their
elevations relative to the River Severn, which runs roughly north-south
and which separates the upper town and on the west bank from the lower
on the east.
Gate provides a narrow opening for traffic to
High Street. To its left is a shop, the frontage of which just
the long rectangular border with raised sans serif capitals:
right of the North Gate, above the pedestrian
tunnel is the explanatory tablet which throws us back to 1646 and
bitter battles in Bridgnorth betwixt Parliamentarians and Royalists.
other end of High Street is the Town Hall, under
which markets are still held.
Two sets of
lettering on the far wall of the building
can be found:
On the 31st
of March 1646 Bridgnorth was
captured by the Parliamentary forces;
but the next day,
WEDNESDAY, 1 APRIL, 1646,
nearly the whole of the High Town was
destroyed by fire, started by the Royalist defenders of the Castle. More
than 300 families were thus rendered
homeless and destitute.
meminisse horret. luctuque
(Bridgnorth Historical Society 1 April, 1945.)'
The Latin quotation
means "... courage to remember horrible feeling sorrowful refuge..."
road is a "real, old-fashioned shop": 'BEAMAN
& SONS' with its awning and lit window display of preserved
even we vegetarians must doff our hat to the ceramic sign below:
URBIS SALUS REGIS'
The Royalist Latin motto
of Bridgnorth Town Council means: "The faithfulness of the city is the
safety of the King."
recessed panel in one of the wooden beams
presumably comemorates the two worthies who were responsible for the
building in 1652. This open arch Town Hall has a lower storey of
sandstone arches with brick facings, supporting a timber framed upper
storey. At each end of the upper storey are a series of carved figures
which act as decorative brackets. The north end of the building has a
single bay window, under which there are four figures, there are two
further figures at the corners of the roof. The south end of the
building has two bays with four figures each, and two at the corners of
the roof. The figures are detailed Medieval-style images of knights,
crowned figures, musicians and other characters. The Town Hall was
built just after the Civil War, in which the defeated Royalists had
burned much of the town (see the North Gate above). The building was
restored and altered in 1887.
ANO DOM 1652'
the side entrance in hand-applied cut-out
Having seen the old Town Hall with its limited market space, this
attractive, polychrome, Italianate building stands nearby, Sadly,
market traders were resisistant to its use. Pevsner describes it as the
"magnum opus of a local man, Robert Griffiths", but it is also
described as 'gross Italianate'. Polychromatic brick - red, blue and
yellow, plus a typical tower with corbelled arches. Grade II listed,
the New Market Hall stands on the junction between High Street and
Listley Street and was built in 1856 and is now a museum amongst other
The corner nearby is irresistable: a column of signs.
West Castle Street.
Shakespeare public house stands on a junction and
is not alone in the town in bearing old-style road signs with chequer
entrance to the former Ball Hotel (now a
'gastropub'), which fronts East Castle Street, has a castellated brick
and stone archway with prominent lettering:
Not far away is the
upper entrance to the cliff railway. Below, the lettering on the
half-round window at the bottom 'station':
It is only
a few steps andabutting the bridge over the
Severn, we find one of the finest surviving pieces of historic trade
lettering in the country:
TESTED HOME GROWN
ROOT GRAIN SEEDS
S.E. & A. RIDLEY LTD.
FIRM OF SEEDSMEN
IN GREAT BRITAIN
The helpful oval plaque
on the building gives this information:
"RIDLEY'S SEEDS EARLY C19th. This was one of many warehouses when the
River Severn was a major highway for transportation of merchandise.
Between the warehouse and the recommencment of the towpathwas a small
dock from which goods were hoisted into the warehouse. On the side of
the building is a record of the flood water levels."
Bridge Street on the Low Town side carries
of those vintage metal road signs, both with a blue RAC badge.
'COPPER KETTLE' in
Mill Street is no longer a cafe,
but the faded white capitals with narrow drop shadow remain. Also in
Mill Street, another old metal road sign, so neglected that the
lettering 'WELLINGTON' is virtually invisible. Next door, two
houses stand either side of a narrow lane. On the right is the
weather-worn lettering on black-painted brick of The Vine Inn.
the bridge, turn right for the uphill
twisting lane which climbs the cliff to High Town. Creeper nearly
covers a cast iron sign with pointing hand. Until 1786 this was the
only route to High Town for carts. In 1786 the New Road was built,
making accessibility between High Town and Low Town much easier for man
and beast. During Bridgnorth's heyday as a thriving port there were
upwards of 50 pubs and eateries around Cartway and the quay area, many
establishments disreputable. The labourers mainly lived in Low Town
traditionally those with little income were forced to have to stay on
the “ lower grounds” and be subjected to the
the River Severn’s flooding. There is a plaque on the wall of
Cartway telling of how the sandstone caves were used as dwellings until
1856. These were uncovered in 201l, but sadly they were hidden again by
new property development. Bridgnorth had many
areas with cave dwellings because people were poor and the sandstone
was easy to shape.
foot of Cartway is Number 52: a very beautiful
large timber frame house with a cobblestone front once called
"Forster's Folly". Known as Bishop Percy's House, it was fortunate to
have survived the devastating fire of 1646 during the Civil War. It was
later owned by Bishop Percy, reverend and author 1729-1811. In the
central gable is the date '1580' carved in relief on a cross-beam and
plaque reads: "BISHOP PERCY'S HOUSE 1580.
Built for local land and barge owner Richard Forster, this timber
framed house was one of the few properties this side of the river to
survive the 1646 Civil War fire. Later named after the Rev Dr Thomas
Percy (1729-1811), Bishop of Drumore (County Down), author and Royal
Chaplain to King George III, who was born here."
Although the interior is not accessible to the public, it is worth
recording a splendid example of historic lettering within – a grand fireplace bearing the inscription:
THE LORD BUILD THE
'thereof' has been made into one word and two
full stops inserted to make the words a little more understandable. The
ground floor would have been a commercial space for Forsters haulage
business. The fireplace was opened out to form a kitchen in the early
1950s. [See the excellent wesite http://www.bishoppercyshouse.co.uk/index.php]
HOWSE. THE LABOURERS THEREOF
PREVAIL NOT. ERECTED BY R FOR* 1580'
Bishop Percy's House is Ashwood Loade (formerly
by Lord Compton), a brick residence with a front garden on the street.
The garden was created by the owner Mr Ashwood in 1940. He died in
1988, but the plaque on the wall states he’s still looking
on it. Further down is Bassa Villa - a building
dated 1591. A board outside tells of
the origin of the name and its connection with Low Town; it was one of
the many taverns herebaouts.
A gem of
what might be called "heritage engineering" is
The Severn Valley Railway which in 2012 runs from Bridgnorth to
Kidderminster, but there is talk of extending the line to Ironbridge.
The platform footbridge carries
two sets of fine circular monograms:
the completion of the The Severn Valley
railway line. Started in 1858, the line linked Hartlebury, near
Droitwich, with Shrewsbury, 40 miles away. The important intermediate
stations were Stourport-on-Severn, Bewdley, Arley, Highley, Hampton
Loade, Bridgnorth, Coalport, Ironbridge, Buildwas, Cressage and
Berrington.The original Severn Valley Railway, which borrowed its
locomotives and rolling stock, was absorbed into the Great Western
Railway in the 1870s. The Great Western Railway (GWR "God's Wonderful Railway") was a
British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west
of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its
enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838. It
was engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who chose a broad gauge of 7
ft 0 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) but, from 1854, a series of
saw it also operate 4 ft 81⁄2
mm) standard-gauge trains; the last broad-gauge services were operated
in 1892. The GWR was the only company to keep its identity through the
Railways Act 1921, which amalgamated it with the remaining independent
railways within its territory, and it was finally wound up at the end
of 1947 when it was nationalised and became the Western Region of
'GWR' is 'Great Western
Railway', the commercial company which originally built and ran the
line. A less "gothic" circular monogram for the company in more
modernist font can be seen on the cast iron supports of the paltform
was established in 1801. In 1866, new
buildings were added and in 1870 the construction of a steam house
brought mechanisation to the ropery. The firm's main customers were
Kidderminster carpet manufacturers who needed twine, cord and thread.
Lowes also supplied pit-ropes to local collieries and made
timber-felling ropes and bell ropes. Lowe's prosperity was helped by
government contract work during the First World War. However due to
falling demand in the following years the business began to suffer and
finally closed in 1972. The name above the cottage door:
From the railway, as it
enters Bewdley Station, you can clearly see (when it's not covered with
ROPE & TWINE
Behind the main line and S.V.R. stations at
Kidderminster stands an original brick building with partially obscured
lettering angles on its gable end. An attempt was made presumably in
1947) to 'rebrand' the building by obliterating 'Great Western Railway'
on the left and overpainting it with 'British Railways (WR)' in a
similar capital font to fill up the avialable space. Weathering has
faded the more recent characters and both sets can now be deciphered.
In modern times under the "definitely break it all up into impossibly
unwieldy pieces" approach to running a national railway imposed by the
Major government, the companies change so often, noone would bother to
repaint such a sign. Come to think of it, this 'Goods & Coal
is a fixed asset, so these days should bear 'Network Rail' (before that
2001-6, 'Strategic Rail Authority') logos. if indeed the building was
owned by them. Thank goodness nobody bothered the damage it further. It
now serves as workshops for the Severn Valley Railway.