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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At a glance Craven Arms appears to be an odd place where the A49 traffic can bottle neck, but look deeper and you will find a thriving town that grew as a result of the amalgamation of several hamlets and a fascinating Victorian, Edwardian and modern Elizabethan history owing to the Rowlands and Greenes of Grove who owned much of Craven Arms and Wistanstow and employed a large number of locals, bringing royalty from home and abroad to this beautiful part of the countryside.
More recently the arrival of Tuffins supermarket destroyed the bulk of the independent commerce but you will still find all practical requirements, bar clothing and banking, in the town.
You will find a thriving proper hardware shop, rare breeds butcher, green grocers, artisan bakery, book shops, chemists, newsagents, post office, supermarket, farmers market, local market, take aways, hotels, laundrette, barbers and hairdressers, tattoo parlour, charity shop, cafe, museum, discovery centre, vets, discount store, estate agents, masses of holiday lets and b&b's....and on it goes. Gone are the days that originally put craven arms on the map, but it is now a great starting point for some great days out and a down to earth place to have as your local town.