WHEN you really stop to think about it, a medium-sized, self-contained town like Shrewsbury is actually made up of a couple of dozen or so well-established communities.
And, the other night, as I watched the drama of the England-Sweden game unfold upon a large screen in the Prince of Wales pub in Bynner Street, enjoying a pint with my sons, several things occurred to me:
One: Belle Vue is one of Shrewsbury’s great communities.
Two: The Prince of Wales is one of Shrewsbury’s great pubs.
Three: The Belle Vue Arts Festival – going on this week as we continue to celebrate that brilliant back-heeled goal by Danny Welbeck – is truly (just like that back-heeled goal, in fact) a thing of beauty and wonder.
Now then. Before I launch into a love poem to the Prince of Wales hostelry, let me say a few things about the arts festival.
As you read these words you will still have the opportunity to enjoy some of its delights.
Such as, for instance, a Hidden Places Walk which this coming Saturday leaves the English Bridge Workshop at 11am, and which is led by Jean Wagner who insists, should you partake, that ‘you will never see Shrewsbury in the same light again’. Sounds intriguing. The walk will cost you just £1, it will take about three hours, and you are encouraged to bring along a picnic if the weather is decent.
I can just hear my younger brother (who lives over in Kidderminster) saying: “This all sounds terribly Shrewsbury-ish!”
Then there is the free photographic exhibition at Barnabas Church Centre in Coleham. Tomorrow (Friday) is your last chance to see this (between 10am and 4.30pm) and it’s a display of eye-catching images produced by local talent.
Meanwhile, at Coleham Primary School on Sunday, 2pm to 5pm, there’s the Let’s Celebrate Art event – a laidback afternoon of art workshops for all ages (with music and refreshments).
Finally, local artists are displaying their work at the English Bridge Workshop Exhibition tomorrow and Saturday. Here’s a chance to not only view but also purchase local artwork.
This gentle little annual festival has been running since 2003 and always manages to engage all age groups. As Terry Wogan would say: “I commend the idea to the House.”
And so to the Prince of Wales, the pub in which I have experienced several magical Christmas Eves in recent years and also where I staged a particularly wonderful birthday party a few years ago.
First off, let me tell you a little bit about its history.
The original Prince of Wales in Bynner Street was at number 34 (now a private house). The current Prince of Wales replaced it in 1934. The place has its very own bowling green which is a delight on a summer’s evening. And this backs on to an old maltings – a fine building – which is now used as offices.
In recent times the place has been blessed with a landlord and landlady many a pub would dearly love to have.
Ian and Vicki, warm, welcoming, always friendly, leave no stone unturned when it comes to attracting customers. There are quiz nights, live music nights, darts, bowls, fancy dress nights, home cooking, you name it. They have ‘cyber families’ on Twitter and Facebook as well as a website. They always have special things going on for any occasion from Valentine’s Day to Halloween.
And Vicki is one of the most extrovert and entertaining landladies for miles around.
If she doesn’t make you smile, you need to have a doctor look at your face muscles.
And another thing . . .
When Vicki took over at the Prince, it had, at the time, a rather strange pub sign which portrayed the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Very odd.
She asked a local man called John Brown to produce a new (and rather more tasteful) sign with the plume of feathers (emblem of the Prince of Wales) on one side, and Prince Albert on the other . . . Much better.
So here’s to Belle Vue – its lovely pubs and its lovely arts festival.