Rare Red Wheel Plaque Awarded to Abbey Station
18 Dec 2023

Shrewsbury’s Abbey Station has been awarded a prestigious Red Wheel heritage plaque by the National Transport Trust in recognition of the importance of the historic Abbey Foregate site. 

A special ceremony and reception marked the unveiling of a prestigious 'Red Wheel' heritage plaque at Shrewsbury's Abbey Station. 

This is a first Red Wheel for Shrewsbury, and one of only 171 such plaques in the UK; The Red Wheel Scheme was created by the National Transport Trust to recognise and commemorate the most significant sites of historical importance to transport heritage. 

The unveiling of the Red Plaque in Shrewsbury

Pictured: The Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, Mrs Anna Turner, Stuart Wilkinson, Chairman of The National Transport Trust and Philip Davies, Chairman of the Shrewsbury Railway. 

Shrewsbury's Abbey Station certainly contributes to the country's legacy, telling a wonderful, if rather tragic story of the development of the railways in Shropshire. It was built by ill-fated businessman Richard Samuel France, founder of The Potteries, Shrewsbury & North Wales Railway (known as 'The Potts'). He was forced to find a site for a new terminus after permission was refused by rivals the LNWR and GWR for him to have access to Shrewsbury Station.

France built his station yard on the site of the old Abbey mansion, the Abbot of Shrewsbury's original lodging, connected to the Abbey church by a private passage. When digging the station foundations in 1866, workmen found 30 skeletons! France's project ultimately failed; the first part of The Potts line was opened in August 1866 - but closed by December 21st the same year. He died in Oswestry aged 56 leaving just £142 in his will and is buried at Plealey Chapel. 

Martin Wood, Shrewsbury’s official Town Crier (he stands at a magnificent 7ft 2in and is the world's tallest town crier!) opened the Red Plaque unveiling ceremony in style! 

Mrs Anna Turner, His Majesty the King’s Lord-Lieutenant for Shropshire, officially unveiled the Red Wheel heritage plaque, which bears some concise information and a QR direct link to the National Transport Trust website 

More guests at the unveiling

Pictured: Martin Wood, Shrewsbury's Town Crier, The Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Rebecca Wall and the Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire

Civic guests included Mrs Mandy Thorn, MBE, DL High Sherriff of Shropshire and the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Rebecca Wall. NTT dignitaries included Stuart Wilkinson, Chairman; Jerry Swift, Vice Chairman and fellow committee members John Reed, Reg Banks, and Peter Waller. Shropshire Railway Society nominated the Shrewsbury Railway Trust for the award, and president Berwyn Stevens, and chairman Rob Smout attended together with Geoff Cryer a SRS Committee Member.

Philip Davies, SRHT Chairman said: “The award is an important accolade for Shrewsbury Railway Heritage Trust and acknowledges the significant history and transport heritage of Abbey Station which was originally founded in 1866. It is now called the Abbey Station Visitor Centre, where people can discover the important railway heritage of Shrewsbury and the surrounding area.

"Abbey Station Visitor Centre displays historic artefacts and information creatively to visitors. It also enjoys a role as a community venue for social and charitable organisations. The Red Wheel heritage plaque looks stunning in one of Shrewsbury’s most important conservation areas – so thank you to the National Transport Trust for this recognition, which both myself and the trustees are most appreciative."