Friday, June 13, 2014

The oddness of Craven Arms



Craven Arms is an odd little 19th-century town in Shropshire. It came into being because of a railway junction, was named after a hotel and grew into a major centre for livestock auctions.

The livestock has gone and the railway station is not what it was. Today you will find a straggle of light industry and haulage depots, some modern building in the railway yard and opposite the Craven Arms hotel, and a little Victorian town centre just off the main road.

Most of the shops are in that town centre, along one side of Corvedale Road - the other side does not look as though it was developed until some time into the 20th century.

I have read that Market Street, which comes off it, was meant to be the main shopping street but somehow never took off. Certainly, there are plenty of houses along it that look as though they were built as shops or used to be shops.

It struck me when I was there that last week that one reason for the town's oddness is that it has no parish church. That is to be found nearly a mile away at Stokesay.

There are two tourist attractions in the town. The Secret Hills Discovery Centre is one of the Millennial Blairite projects that has struggled to generate enough income to stay open - it now closes on Mondays.

More flourishing is The Land of Lost Content, which claims to house the world's largest archive of 20th-century popular culture.

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