The day begins with something of a shock in that neither the Chairman nor the Secretary were remotely in danger of incurring any cob penalties. The 09:25 departure from Wolverhampton was safely boarded in readiness for a relaxing journey to Shrewsbury, and then a morning ferret around Frankwell was required for obtaining photos of the Wheatsheaf and Theatre Severn whilst the Chairman paraded his bald spot about on Welsh Bridge.
- The Bald Spot Crosses Welsh Bridge -
Breakfast is secured courtesy of the Shrewsbury Hotel Wetherspoon’s where the bacon baps go down well and we make the acquaintance of a scarecrow who had more hair than poor old Mr D9.
- Not Quite Worzel Gummidge -
We now feel suitably fortified for the journey out to Market Drayton, availing ourselves of the number 64 bus in the shape of a Council-liveried Optare Solo. The Chairman had to use all his powers of concentration just to try and stay awake as the bus sprinted through Shawbury and Hodnet before negotiating some tight reversing at Tern Hill Barracks. A rare D9 sleeve item is revealed in the form of the Stormy Petrel, a disused pub on the A41.
- The D9 leaves Shrewsbury Bus Station -
With a final sprint past the Muller Dairy, we arrive into Market Drayton in need of a medicinal pint to soothe the Chairman’s sore throat. The Hippodrome Wetherspoon’s is next door to the town’s bus station and serves us up a proper Shropshire ale in the form of Three Tuns Mild. We can then get our bearings around this attractive market town, noting the Buttercross shelter, St Mary’s Church and various references to gingerbread. Given all the fine architecture on display, it was somewhat deflating that the Chairman should get most excited about the brutal 1960’s appearance of the local post office!
- Buttercross at Market Drayton -
It’s then over to the Secretary and his real ale radar helps us to locate the Red Lion, carefully restored as the Joule’s Brewery taphouse (the brewery itself is housed around the back). This was a delightful pub with the Mouse Room being a particularly nice find, an oak-panelled hall with carved mice and a drum kit. Beers such as Joule’s Pale Ale and Slumbering Monk are produced on site drawing waters from the Market Drayton aquifer, and we couldn’t help but notice that Chairman D9 bore a remarkable resemblance to some of the monk portraits displayed in the restaurant. Our Market Drayton business is concluded by following in the footsteps of Charles Pemberton-Rowbotham Esq by investigating the Joiners Arms and Lord Hill on Shropshire Street.
- Drumming up a Storm in the Mouse Room -
And whilst we're on the subject of the Lord Hill, look what got in the way when the Secretary tried to photograph the old clay post bus stop outside the pub...
The 64 was once again on hand for our return ride to Shrewsbury, our driver seeming to be a curious cross between Ronnie Corbett and Nigel Mansell. Our illustrious Chairman felt suitably inspired enough to attempt some driving of his own, and word has it he accomplished the tricky Tern Hill reversing with aplomb, meaning no damage whatsoever was inflicted upon the nearby Community Centre.
- The Tern Hill Turn -
From there we made good progress back towards Shrewsbury, alighting at Harlescott so that the Chairman could indulge in some sheep-straddling outside the local Tesco. Sadly the photographic evidence seems to indicate that he couldn’t quite get his leg over, thus incurring the punishment of a tortuous stroll around the Sundorne Road estates complete with much bladder bother. The Coracle pub provided some relief and a cob to get our teeth into, building our strength for an afternoon ferret.
- How (not) to mount a Harlescott Sheep -
The former Shrewsbury Canal once terminated at a basin in the vicinity of Castle Foregate, with the Canal Tavern being a helpful clue on New Park Road. A path around the back of the old pub might well have marked out where the line left the basin towards Ditherington, although this would need further investigation. We ventured next into Castlefields, an interesting terraced district of Shrewsbury situated riverside just below the ominous prison walls. We nip along various alleyways as the Secretary’s sleeves come up trumps by finding the Telegraph closely followed by the Dog & Pheasant.
- Shrewsbury Prison -
The Chairman’s sheep-related exertions were starting to catch up with him and a certain tiredness had crept in that meant he had adopted his oft-seen bladder walk despite not actually needing the toilet. Our intended Albrighton addendum was therefore postponed in favour of completing proceedings in Shrewsbury itself, making the most of the county town’s selection of inns and taverns. Impudent imbibing is actioned in the Coach & Horses, Admiral Benbow and the Wheatsheaf before the Secretary gains revenge for his recent spate of darting defeats by proving victorious in the Shove Ha’penny challenge at the Loggerheads. All that remains is a scurry back to the station, and another Shropshire special is written into Hub Marketing folklore – Charles Pemberton-Rowbotham III would surely have approved!
- Giving it a Shove! -