For many towns and villages, the arrival of the railway brought change. The tiny Shropshire settlements of Aldon, Newton, Halford, Stokesay and Whettleton would grow with the railway to become one town – Newton Township.
Eventually, the new town would take on another identity, that of the coaching inn, The Craven Arms Hotel (named after the owner of Stokesay Castle, Lord Craven). Built in 1803 to support the stage coach trade, the inn would give its name to the town – and Craven Arms would be born.
The village of Newton – once the centre of the local farming community -with its own inn (The Red Lion), Mission Hall, blacksmith and wheelwright shops – began to become isolated when Thomas Telford (the county surveyor) rerouted the Holyhead Road closer to the Craven Arms Hotel following the loss of the original road bridge in the floods of 1821.
The railway arrived in 1852 and the new station – to be called ‘Craven Arms and Stokesay’ – was also located close to the Craven Arms Hotel, switching the focus of the settlement away from Newton and opening up new land for development – Market Street, Newton Street and Dale Street – a new market hall (1889), a School (1895) and the Temperance Hotel would follow.
Development began to focus along the Shrewsbury Road, with ‘doctors, shopkeepers and other professionals’ choosing the Clun Road for their homes and…
Clearly Craven Arms had arrived… The Story of Craven Arms (1993)
The railway came and mostly went. The station survived the Beaching cuts of the early 1960s, but the town’s days as a major railway junction had long gone – now just a stop on the Cardiff to Manchester Line and a junction for the single-track Heart of Wales line.
The Township Protect is a record of the changes and evolution of the town – subtle changes – human change, changes in nature and the changing of the seasons…
At the end of the project, I will curate a collection of photographs that, when considered together, best represent that change.
Out of familiarity comes nuance. The more you revisit a subject the more you’re likely to discover…
Photographer Ray Metzker
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All images © W N BISHOP