County town: Shrewsbury
Other major towns: Whitchurch, Telford, Ludlow, Ironbridge.
Origins of Name: (district around) Scrobbos fort, Anglo Saxon
Population 1801: 169,757
Population 1961: 297,466
Acreage: 861,801 Urban Land 1961: 7.3%
Shropshire is a county of contrasts. The north eastern parts are mostly flat and abound with meres and mosses whereas the south and west have high moors and dramatic hills.
The overall character of the county is that of a peaceful rural idyll and yet in the 18th century Shropshire was the birthplace of the industrial revolution. The Ironbridge Gorge, then the most technologically advanced area in the world, was one of the first places in the UK to be designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The county is bisected by the River Severn, which together with a network of canals, provided efficient transport for both industrial and agricultural goods. The canals are dotted with locks, bridges, and cottages, and were the motorways of their time. They now provide recreational boating and towpath walks throughout the county.
Overall the county is very picturesque having numerous timbered houses ranging from humble cottages to the romantic fortified manor house of Stokesay Castle. The Feathers Inn in Ludlow is an extravagant example and well known landmark.
Ludlow is also know as a centre for excellent food with many independent, specialist food shops including butchers, bakers, cheese shops and delicatessens.
Being situated on the turbulent borders of Wales, there were numerous castles, several of which still survive. Chirk Castle, completed in 1310, is an outstanding example.
In north Shropshire, fields were often bordered by a double row of damson trees. The damsons were sent to Lancashire for dyeing cloth and remnants of these hedgerows can sometimes be spotted. Elsewhere the damsons were planted as part of mixed hedges and provided additional income for cottagers. The colour produced was not the red one could reasonably expect but khaki, and in great demand for army uniforms.