Saturday, January 19, 2013

Haile Selassie in Craven Arms

A couple of days ago, while looking at Wistanstow Village Hall, I quoted from 'Reminiscences of Wistanstow' by Michael Coles. Here is another extract from that book:
In 1936 the Italians invaded Abyssinia and the Emperor Haile Selassie had to flee, He was given refuge by this country and one day whilst I was at Craven Arms railway station he arrived with his entourage to stay at Walcot Hall on the way to Lydbury North, which was a mansion owned by the Stephenson Ink people.
In stature, he was a small man, very swarthy and black-bearded, with striking features. His helmet had big white feathers on top and his military uniform was well-decorated with a sash and medals. How long he stayed locally I have no idea, but that is my memory of Haile Selassie, Emperor of Abyssinia, also known as the 'Lion Man'.
When I first visited Shropshire I imagined that Craven Arms would be a medieval town like Much Wenlock or Church Stretton. Not a bit of it. It is a Victorian town, named after a pre-existing hotel and built around a cattle market and railway junction, which has somehow always failed to thrive. My picture shows Craven Arms' derelict Temperance Hall.

At least when Haile Selassie saw it the railway station had refreshment rooms and was not the wasteland of bus shelters you see today. And maybe the Shropshire tourism people can use this story to bring Rastafarian tourists to the area.


crewegwyn said...

Ah, Craven Arms.

Home of a massive brick-built carriage shed just NW of the station. The purpose of which has never been clear to me.

BUT in the late 1950s/ early 1960s - long after any obvious purpose had gone - it retained trackwork, doors and was well maintained.

Because it was home to a Regional Control Train which - had the Russians chosen to launch a nuclear attack - would have shuttled the regional great and good to some obscure location to carry out whatever duties were still available to them.

Around 2003 there was an attempt to create a heritage centre of some sort at the Carriage Shed, but this appears to have folded.

Charles Leo said...

Hey this a good post,I hope in the future by using online bus reservation tourists will surely come here to visit this magnificent place regularly

Jonathan Calder said...

Have you been to Craven Arms?