A Shrewsbury street will be closed to traffic when the glorious and colourful age of the stagecoach era returns to the town next month.
Wyle Cop will be shut off to modern vehicles on Friday afternoon, October 12, when two replica stagecoaches are due to arrive at The Lion Hotel around 3.30pm.
A total of 24 guests plus six support staff will be travelling on The Monarch, pictured below, and The Nimrod, which both used to come to Shrewsbury regularly in the late 18th and early 19th century.
The party, who are due to set out from The Manor House Hotel in Meriden, Warwickshire, on Monday, October 8, have been following the original stagecoach route across the Midlands calling in at many historic inns in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire along the way.
Crowds are expected to line Wyle Cop to watch the stagecoaches arrive in Shrewsbury where they will be greet by the Town Mayor, Cllr Keith Roberts, aided by Town Crier Martin Wood and Cllr Mike Owen, Shropshire Council portfolio holder for economic growth and prosperity.
“It will be a spectacular event and a great boost for the town’s tourism,” said Maggie Love, who has helped organise the Shrewsbury welcome.
The party will be joined by another 30 guests, for an end of tour dinner in the historic 18th century Lion Ballroom, where I will give a talk about the hotel and its stagecoach connection.
After the dinner Maggie Love and Paul Saunders, alias Wynndebagge, will entertain the guests with music and songs from that era.
Afterwards they will teach guests the Horse’s Branle, a popular dance from earlier times.
“This is the first time we have done this historic Midlands stagecoach journey,” said Barbara Stockton, who is proprietor of the Monarch and joint organiser of the charity trip, “and we and all the guests are really looking forward to it.”
Barbara helps organise one or two coaching tours for the public every year with money going to Help for Heroes and the Household Cavalry Operational Casualties Fund.
The Monarch used to run between Birmingham and Shrewsbury, while the Nimrod was also a regular visitor to The Lion.
By the early 19th century 23 coaches a day left Shrewsbury, including 15 from The Lion, for destinations all over the UK.
But the advent of the railways led to the end of the golden age of stagecoaches which culminated in a sale of coaches and horses at The Lion on July 27, 1861.
The most famous driver was Sam Hayward who was the only one who would drive up Wyle Cop and complete a semi circle at the top to steer the stagecoach into the back of the hotel parking area without stopping.
Fortunately for the guests arriving next Friday the drivers won’t be attempting a similar feat as the Monarch replica is slightly bigger than the original one and won’t fit under the archway.
Monday, October 8
11.00am.Coaches depart from the Manor Hotel, Meriden
12.30pm. Mid morning stop at the Swan at Whitacre
1.30pm. Lunch at The Cock Inn Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield
4.00pm. Guests delivered to Moxhull Hall, Holly Lane, Wishaw, Sutton Coldfield
Tuesday, October, 9
8.30am. Passengers taken to Moxhull Hall to the Hungry Horse Mitchell’s Art & Craft Centre, Weeford Road, Sutton Coldfield
9.00am. Coach will depart from Hungry Horse.
10.30am. Mid morning stop at the Bell at Whittington
11.45pm. Lunch at Darnford Moors Golf Club
Depart 1.00pm for Lichfield
1.30pm. Arrive Lichfield
2.15pm. Depart Lichfield
3.30pm. Guests arrive at the National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, before returning to: The George, Lichfield
4.00pm. Horses to Catton Hall, Catton, Walton upon Trent, South, overnight stay for guests at Michael & Judi Neachell’s Wellfield House, Orgreave, Alrewas, near Burton upon Trent
Wednesday, October 10
9.00am Horses go to Catton Hall, guests taken to Catton Hall
9.30am Coaches depart Catton Hall
10.30am. Mid morning stop at Barton Marina
12.30pm. Second morning stop at the Bull & Spectacles, Blithbury
1.15 pm. Lunch at The Chase Pub, Hagley Road, Rugeley
2.30pm. Depart The Chase
3.30pm. Mid afternoon stop at the Springslade Tea Shop, on the Chase
4.30pm. Guest delivered to: The Moat House, Acton Trussell
Thursday October 11
Guests taken to Horsebrook Manor
10.00am. Coaches depart Horsebrook Manor
11.00am. Mid Morning Stop Boscobel House
12.15pm. Depart Boscobel
1.00pm. Lunch stop at Weston Park, Weston under Lizard, Shifnal
Depart lunch 3.00pm.
3.45pm. Guest delivered to the Park House Hotel, Shifnal
Friday October 12
8.30pm. Guests taken to the Wyke Equestrian Centre
9.00am. Coaches depart
10.30am. Mid morning stop, Ironbridge
12pm. Lunch stop at The Wroxeter Hotel, Wroxeter
2.45pm. Mid afternoon stop The Mytton & Mermaid Pub, Atcham
3.30pm. guest delivered to The Lion, Shrewsbury
4.30pm.Horses driven to overnight stop:
8.00pm. Celebration end of tour dinner at The Lion, Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury.
To find out more about the fascinating stagecoach link to The Lion Hotel signed copies of my book are available for £6.50 including postage in the UK and £7.50 anywhere in the world by emailing John@jbutterworth.plus.com