Sunday 3 March 2013

Market Drayton

I really wasn’t expecting what I found – to paraphrase The Specials, this place is like a ghost town.  Something is definitely afoot in Shropshire and it’s not good.  Only a few weeks ago we popped to Oswestry and things were looking a little bleak despite the prettiness of the town.  Now visiting Market Drayton, Oswestry appears thriving in comparison.

We drove to Market Drayton from Nantwich along the A529, which is a 30 minute drive.  It’s a pretty country road, but beware of grouse and badgers.  We almost hit a grouse, however the badgers weren’t so lucky as previous motorists had already killed off two of them.
Parking in Market Drayton is straightforward, just head to the pay and display in the centre of town near the Post Office.  A kind soul gave us their parking ticket so we parked for free.  Although given how empty the car park was, I don’t think it makes much money.

We walked in to the town – it was desolate apart from a little dog with a loud bark, dressed in a jacket, tied up outside Cookies Cafe.  I know the weather wasn’t up to much, but this is a Saturday afternoon!  Surely people need to shop?  Clearly not in Market Drayton, which is a shame as it’s quite a pretty town.  It’s a mix of black and white, white rendered and modern buildings; however there were lots of empty shops.  Some of them being high street chains which had closed down in recent years.
There are a number of charity shops in Market Drayton, which seemed to be the main source of economic life in the town.  We had a good browse and I nearly bought a Libertines album until I found out the CD inside was an Art Brut album.  That explains why they had sealed the cover with sellotape.   I also noticed they were selling lots of homemade knitted items and a little collection of knitted teddy bears caught my eye.

It was three o’clock and everything seemed to be closing down for the day: the indoor market, the deli and the bakery.  Apparently there is an outdoor market in town every Wednesday, so hopefully it’s much busier then.

We popped along to St Mary’s Church, as there wasn’t much to do.  It was a shame it was such a drizzly day as I reckon you would get a good view of the surrounding countryside from here.
The town council clearly was concerned with the number of shops closing and they had worked with local artists to create artwork for the empty shops.  I always like this sort of initiative as a) it shows the town cares and b) art brightens up a place.

Shropshire Council has a real job on here to reinvigorate this town.  I am so worried about this place as there are just too many shops closed.  I’d really have to come here on market day to assess how serious the problem is for the town.  This place has potential, but at the moment, if I were a teenager living here, I’d be very depressed and would be on the first bus out of here every Saturday.  It’s so sad to say that the song ‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials, written over 30 years ago, has as much meaning now as it did back then.


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