ISSUE 1 – MAY/JUNE 2014 – FREE
Prize-winning greyhound retires to Ludlow Short ﬁction about loss and bees Upcycling with Jessica Jackson Andy Boddington’s summer of love Chatting to a Charlton Arms’ regular Swift facts about baking bread
“I remember a friend exiting Sandpits estate safely in a Ford Fiesta – only to be overtaken down Sidney Road by two kids on a sofa” THE Ludlow that I now write about for this paper is a very different landscape to the days for me growing up in and around the town. I was born in its hospital in March 1973, and grew up in the nearby market town of Tenbury – ten miles away. But we regularly visited. I lashed open a toe in the shallows of the Teme on one of the occasions, in front of what was then Ludlow’s swimming pool. Like the Cottage Hospital of College Street, that too has gone; now a retirement home. As a child, Ludlow was a bore. It meant being dragged around shops. But its remedy was Woolworths. I
bought my first LP here with birthday money: Boney M as it happens. I bought quite a bit of vinyl from this store, including a bit of Salt-N-Pepa, Hendrix re-releases, and Bomb the Bass. It’s another establishment that’s waved a fond farewell to the town, though slightly eclipsed by the demise of Ludlow’s Town Hall. I remember the massive tumble of wood, brick and plaster that when I’d previously walked out of Woolworths was a fully functional, albeit gigantic, redbrick tribute to Elizabethan flounce. Built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden Jubilee in 1887, it was
toppled over in 1986 to reveal a large open-plan plot that hadn’t been properly appreciated since the Middle Ages. Before succumbing to its unpopularity it was thankfully immortalised in the popular mideighties BBC TV series: Blott on the Landscape – in which Ludlow stoodin for the fictitious town of Worford. By this time I was cycling over to Ludlow from Tenbury. It was slightly more tolerant to skateboarding, had bigger car parks to loiter in, and a wider spectrum of youth to hang around with. Continued on page 22 >
– www.ludlowledger.com –
2 R ED DE ER UN COV ING LLY EAT S
14 – 22 JUNE 2014 Starring
John Challis & Eric Potts
ludlowartsfestival.co.uk SOUTH SHROPSHIRE ROOFING
DAVID ESSEX BELLOWHEAD COURTNEY PINE 28 JUNE – 6 JULY 2014
JIM DAVIDSON RUBY TURNER
KEN DODD plus much more!
SOUTH SHROPSHIRE ROOFING
ludlowartsfestival.co.uk LUDLoW LeDGeR | IssUe 1 |
4 Spending time with Roy Barker at the Charlton Arms LOCAL ICON 5 Graeme Kidd: remembered for food, beer and gaming magazines what’s been going on 6-7 Ludlow’s lost and gained so much in such a short space of time PROFILE 8-10 PUB Chat
Jessica Jackson “...it was purely accidental, and it was really silly. But it somehow worked”
11-14 Ludlow Blues Folk event, plus Fringe Festival guide for June & July ART 15 Sir Thomas Mostyn’s celebrated hound, in miniature HISTORY 16 A carve-by-carve tour of Ludlow’s spectacular misericords FICTION 17 A short fictional story about great loss, inheritance and bee keeping TRAVEL 18 Trekking ten miles to Brampton Bryan, for its church, castle and cake FINDING LUDLOW 20-21 “I was happily crisscrossing the town ticking off listed buildings” COVER STORY... continued 22 Aside from half a youth centre, what’s there for Ludlow’s young? SPORT 24 WHAT’S ON
Race-winning greyhound retires to a sofa somewhere in Ludlow
Editor’s notes, welcome HOPEFULLY you are as pleased and proud as the team here to have in your hands the launch issue of Ludlow Ledger – a brand new 24-page tabloid created in this town by creatives who actually live here; that will be published and distributed every eight weeks – and wholly focussed on Ludlow – with interesting columns, a splash of fiction, and current affairs; encapsulating and celebrating the town’s trades, townsfolk, landscape, art, music, history, legends and lifestyle. And when we say lifestyle we mean lives and style of Ludlow. Our interviews include Roy Barker down the Charlton Arms (p4) and Robert Swift on the Eco Park (p21) and not Angela Hartnett from London or Paris-based Rachel Khoo. Our travel piece (p18) is actually ten miles down the road in Brampton Bryan – not a cruise around the Canary Islands aboard MS Braemer. After all Ludlow is rich with content, so what better subject than this 11th
century settlement and the 10,500 or so who now live and work here. Therefore, with a keen eye on imaginative writing and compelling photography, Ludlow Ledger is hopefully perfectly placed to tell your story, and that of the town’s – whether past or future. Naturally we’re not always going to get it right – and more so with this first issue, so – as will always be the case – we warmly welcome constructive feedback – to help this paper blossom. We also encourage creative collaborations and duly welcome contributions: whether fact or fiction; hearsay or heritage; illustrative or of the written word. And on this very subject I’d like to personally extend warm thanks to everyone who got stuck into this concept, without knowing if it would ever see the light of day. Well, thankfully, it has – thanks to those proudly credited on page 23. As well as the contributors I’d also like to thank the many shops, pubs, cafes and community outlets
that gave Ludlow Ledger shelf space from the word go. And the more the merrier, so please let us know if you wish to regularly carry copies of Ludlow Ledger – of which a total of 9,000 copies will be printed every other month, with a total word count in excess of 18,000 per issue. However: I guess the biggest thanks go to you, for picking up our inaugural issue. And if you don’t know when you’ll next be in Ludlow, or fear missing subsequent issues for whatever other reason – worry not: you can simply subscribe at ludlowledger.com/subscribe and receive your copies by post. Whichever way you grab your future copies of Ludlow Ledger, we truly look forward to entertaining you for many issues to come.
Cheers, Jon Saxon firstname.lastname@example.org 07795 244060
Front cover image} courtesy of Michael Martin | Print} Newspaper Club, London
4 They’d be keen too. They were in them days. Oh he’d make sure he got his shed full of wood and coal, ah. It used to be a laugh really. Anyway, they weren’t allowed to be married until they were 21. 21 in them days. Ooh, if they did it was a crime. No. You come 21 you get the key of the door, he used to say: you get the key to the door when you’re 21, but not ours. get your own house when your 21. One bloke came there one night. He said: where’s your daughter and he said, she’s in the house: She’s not coming out tonight. He said: she doesn’t want anything to do with you anyway. I can tell you right now. So, anyway, he went and tried the door see. One of those oldfashioned fasteners on there, you know. He pushed the latch down to go in, and he had to shout at him; right. He looked around and smack, he hit him; this bloke went straight over the garden wall... He got up and run up the field. he got over a gate at the top, and my dad got on his motorbike and caught him up before he got to the next corner, and gave him a bit more, like.
the motorbike’s for work not for pleasure. It’s like my friend John and his tractor; people used to come there and borrow it all the time. I’d never do it; I’d never drive it if I could help it. I used to think, well, that’s his stuff. He relies on that for all the work like. I’d never borrow it, no. I never liked driving it. It was a lovely tractor though, but I said no, no, I can’t. I canna sit on there. Why, he said? ...it’s not my tractor; that’s your bread and butter. I’m a big believer in that; if someone’s got to rely on it, don’t ask anyway. No, I’d never ask. Because it can happen: a different driver can make things awkward. Ah, no vehicle’s the same, no matter what it is. Same make and everything, but it ain’t just the same. It only takes someone to do a daft trick, like that one who borrowed it; he came back with the handbrake stuck on. Well he hadn’t loosed the brake off; there were lights flashing all across the front, telling him. The back was all seized up – took a fortnight to sort it all out.
Another one asked him one day, if he could use his motorbike. He said, you old enough? He said yes. He said, anyway, what you want it for? He said I want to go to a dance – and, he said, I want to take your daughter as well. And he said, ah you can’t do that, no,
The interview with Roy featured in edition #2 of Doghouse – the British pub magazine, which is produced in Ludlow by the team behind Ludlow Ledger. www.doghousemagazine.co.uk
CREATED in collaboration between local hare artist Dawn Debalinor and LA JEWELLERY, this hare piece quite literally jumped out at us as we wandered past their recently-opened boutique in Ludlow’s Parkway Mews. Made from recycled brass and silver, the necklace is approximately 50mm in length and can be hung from a choice of chain: soon to be available in Fair Trade silver.
Castle Gallery Quality affordable picture framing and original objects
Spending a few pints with Charlton Arms’ Roy
Roy of the Charlton Arms
Entry is FREE to the gallery & Tea Rooms 01584 878527 email@example.com
interviewed by } Jon Saxon | image } Richard Stanton
– PUB CHAT – THIS bloke was in the pub one morning; and I said: you got any nuts or anything. ...and he said no I haven’t. I had a pocket of them small biscuits. And I said try some of these... they’m alright: I have them, I said, like, when I get a bit hungry, when I’m working. So I give him a handful. And he ate the lot. He said, by god they are good, especially the green ones; they are the best. I’d just been to the vets see. And they were dog biscuits. Ah, he likes them though. He asked me several times since, if I had any biscuits on me. I don’t know. They’re a mixture, with chicken that have dropped dead and other things like that. I wouldn’t have fancied one I can tell you. ...foxes are bad like that: they don’t always eat their food straight away;
they bury it. Then they dig it up later., especially when they got some young cubs somewhere, when they’re growing up they fetch it for them. My dad always said: well that’s common sense, I do the same in the summer. I said, what’s that? he said, I fill all the coal up and all the wood right up in the summer, then when the winter comes they’ve got it. He was a devil like that. he got five girls too, and the lads used to come down on Saturday and Sunday morning to see the girls, see, and he’d get them on the cross cuts, two on each end. He’d have them cutting wood. He used to say, they’re good lads, they’re good lads. I said: it ain’t you that’s got to marry them. That’s it, he said; but oooh you got to praise them. Mind you they cut up some wood in a weekend. I’ve seen them tending the garden too. I wasn’t quite as old as them but I could see what was going on. He had a small farm see.
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Contact: Giles or Amanda
Find us at Ludlow Castle entrance gate, turn right and we are just before the tea rooms
RELEASED in 1969 by Columbia Records, this rare vinyl LP from Moondog was spied in MOD LANG for £40. An interesting character: Moondog was well known to sell his poetry and philosophy on the streets of New York, wearing garments he’d made based on the Norse god Odin. For this he was widely known as The Viking of 6th Avenue.
Castle Gallery Ludlow
Do you need a dependable consistent quality supply of seasoned and kiln dried hardwood and softwood ﬁrewood? Cut and split to suit and delivered in breathable 1.2-cubic metre bags, so no need to restack Small delivery vehicle, ﬁtted with crane, can deliver to most locations and situations CALL DAVID TO DISCUSS YOUR REQUIREMENTS:
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BARNEY was spotted in the window of FOREST DOG RESCUE. Approximately a year old, this English Bull Terrier is described as energetic, slightly boisterous, in need of lead-training, a firm hand, and a home where he is the only dog.
5 Graeme Kidd
Ludlow legend remembered text } Mia Davis | image } Richard Stanton
– LOCAL ICON – DURInG the 1980’s, when it was barely possible to buy an avocado in Ludlow and footsteps could be heard ringing on the pavement, the town had the air of a long forgotten backwater. Pub signs creaked in the wind and paint flaked from the shop windows. Like so many market towns of the era, the place seemed to have lost its way. Fast forward thirty years, and this now-thriving community boasts a celebrated food festival, acclaimed restaurants, a flourishing arts scene, a host of quirky independent shops, award-winning food outlets, and an outstanding reputation as one of the most charming towns in england. This regeneration, however, didn’t happen overnight, and a good part of the turnaround in Ludlow’s fortunes can be partly seen as due to the zeal of one man. Notable for tirelessly promoting the hitherto unknown charms of Ludlow, the late Graeme Kidd – one time Mayor of Ludlow, and committed member of the Town Council – established Ludlow as a ‘must visit’ in the tourism lexicon long before BBC’s Nicholas Crane. As such, Ludlow’s main attraction as a place dominated by fine architecture, has become almost superseded by an altogether more visceral pleasure – that of the joy of good food. Whilst none of this would have happened without a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants and host of excellent local family food businesses, the promotion of such local quality was largely thanks to Kidd. Responsible for establishing Ludlow as the UK’s first Slow Food town in the Cittaslow movement, and as one of the founders of the now famed Food Festival, Kidd helped put Ludlow on the foodie map long before anyone had even heard of Farm to Fork Campaigns, Artisan Bread, and Jamie Oliver’s
campaign against Turkey Twizzlers. Kidd had identified in Ludlow a unique arrangement where you could just as easily buy a sausage produced from a local pork herd, as bread made by a real flour dusted baker. Yet while Kidd’s canny recognition of Ludlow’s assets informed the vision which helped to make Ludlow what it is today, and his own appreciation for good food and drink is certainly implicated, ultimately, the ‘rebranding’ of Ludlow stemmed from his astute awareness of Ludlow as a town with potential. And this is attributed to the journalistic roots which gave him as good a nose for a local story as a local ale. Years before his part in Ludlow’s food revolution, Kidd had already sealed his reputation as something of a local hero back in the 1980’s where our story began. Far from the dazzle of London media culture, Kidd had been central to a quite different type of revolution – that of the burgeoning computer games industry. It was during this time, that a young Kidd was editing the iconic Crash magazine, from offices above what is now a gift shop in King Street. Devoted to ZX Spectrum computer gaming, Crash was produced by Newsfield Publications, a publishing partnership put together by three enthusiastic early gamers; Roger Kean and brothers Oliver and Franco Fey. Featuring distinctive cover art by Oliver Fey, Crash was written for young gamers – who would rush to WH Smiths to buy a copy on the day it hit the stands. Nationally recognised as the most influential of spectrum magazines, and now considered to have transformed computer game development during the Eighties, Kidd’s editorship of the title helped catapult regular sales of Crash to over 10,000 copies a week. all this from a tiny office in Ludlow,
where in true old school style, the (sometimes overdue) copy would be rushed to the printers on disk, and hold up traffic as thousands of magazines were unloaded back at the office after production. Steve Jarratt, of Future Publishing, the then gaming magazine publisher Kidd eventually left Crash for, even recalls a period when the disks were handed to a company who only used typewriters, with no hope of ever accessing any of the work. Nonetheless, Crash was a huge success, and in a touching and heartfelt obituary to Kidd, Jarratt paid tribute to Kidd’s endless professionalism. And so it was that this passion for journalism found valuable expression in Kidd’s rebranding of Ludlow. Having already established Ludlow as a destination for gastronomes from every corner of the UK – Kidd had no intention of resting on his laurels. Only weeks before he died, he had planned to
launch a Ludlow food magazine dedicated to the food and drink producers, restaurants, pubs and retailers of the town. Photographer Richard Stanton recalls time spent with Kidd photographing the Church Inn’s cellar man, Mike Sargent, as part of Kidd’s idea for a feature celebrating Sargent’s critical yet underrated position as a figure largely responsible for keeping a succession of quality beers flowing through the pumps. Stanton notes that during the shoot, it became apparent that not only did his journalistic interest fire Kidd’s enthusiasm for the project, but his personal endearment for the people that keep the town alive. An enduring testament to this is the Grahame Kidd Bursary, established after his untimely death to give young people a helping hand into the food and drink industry. And what better way to pay tribute to his hard work? Kidd might have been a
controversial choice as a local hero for any casting director. Notable for his mercurial character, he was by turns jovial and perhaps notso-jovial, and his barbed wit could often cause consternation. However, what is in no doubt is that Kidd had the interests of the community close to his heart, and a genuine dedication to improving the town and the lives of those who live in it. His unadulterated passion for the place helped position Ludlow in the national consciousness as a town famed for not only the loveliness of the buildings, but highly regarded for its ‘slow ethos’ and dedication to local food. From the ongoing popularity of the Food Festival, to the droves of visitors who enjoy Ludlow’s unique character, the proof of Kidd’s legacy to Ludlow is still to be found in the pudding. And this, we believe, is something he would enjoy very much indeed.
Buttercross, Ludlow, SY8 1AW 01584 872174 www.thechurchinnludlow.com 10 years + in CAMRA Good Beer Guide 10 Real Ales 10 En-Suite Rooms Function Room All pies are made in-house at The Church Inn Home of the Ludlow Pie Company to recipes supplied by The Ludlow Pie Co. Ltd additional image on p4} Barney the Bull Terrier, courtesy of Forest Dog Rescue
7 It’s been a time of great loss, and great gain
In such a short space of time text } Jon Saxon | images } Richard Stanton
– PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE – In the time it took us to take the concept of Ludlow Ledger from a few pints and a ponder in The Church Inn to placing the last full stop and an order for 9,000 copies, our fledgling newspaper has been paralleled by numerous ups and downs in the town. I couldn’t start without first mentioning the much-commiserated loss of 1De Grey’s which, after 100 years or so – and a publicised wrangle with staff over it’s future
– finally closed its doors... denying locals and tourists alike tea and sponge in splendour, leaving said folk wondering what on earth would take its place. After much speculation – including the imagined threat of Wetherspoons, and the invented idea that another cafe was about to muscle in – it’s now clear that Ludlow’s inviting yet another chain to set up stall in the town: Wildwood Restaurant: freshlyprepared pizza, pasta, grill. De Grey’s is not the only food and drink establishment to take leave
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of Ludlow. At the opposite end of the historical spectre is, or was, The Mail Room – which, for a short space of time transformed the grand Old Post Office building on Corve Street into a promised place for high-class cuisine. It didn’t last long. The Shropshire Star’s vote of 2.5 out of 5, and the damning by self-appointed reviewers on TripAdvisor surely did little to help it go any other way than down hill. A few doors down on the same side of the street is La Bécasse; no stranger to upheaval either, with head chef Will Holland heading off to something new on the Pembrokeshire coast. It’s now headed by ItV’s Best Dish: the Chefs’ winner Chris O’Halloran. Interestingly enough, for those who didn’t know, Alan Murchison bought what was then known as Hibiscus – to then rename the restaurant La Bécasse – Bécasse: French for Woodcock – from chef Claude Bosi, who moved his outfit to London; interesting in the fact that Claude’s brother Cedric has done the opposite and moved away from London to Ludlow to take on
the lease of The Charlton Arms. As well as a roll of bin bags and a paintbrush, Cedric also brought with him a couple of chefs and an army of glug fish jugs – to do battle with the in-house armoury of beer bottles that dressed the top shelving of the public bar. Against the odds, the bottles lost and were shown a box heading for the door, along with the stuffed goat shield, upright piano, and the lounge carpet. Thankfully Ludlow Ledger is produced by the same team behind Doghouse – the British pub magazine, and were kindly donated the carpet; though were unable to manhandle the piano, and missed out on the mounted old goat by a couple of hours. Another pub subjected to a sweep and a reshuffle is the Bridge, at the other end of town; shutting up shop only to be revived shortly after, following a dust-down operation – like The Charlton, wiping the slate clean by shedding artefacts that once adorned the walls of the public bar (The Bridge earning itself a ‘feature’ wall of bookshelf wallpaper), and giving the hand pumps something different to serve:
in the case of The Bridge: Bass, Golden hen and Greene King IPa. Far from adventurous, but I must say somewhat refreshing all the same to have more choice in town. Which brings us to the Rose & Crown – a pub that has changed ownership in the time it took us to pen and photograph this newspaper. Still run by Paul Kemp, along with the same staff and the same lack of bar stools, it is now the property of Market Drayton brewery, Joules. This means that much of the previous drink offerings have faced the same fate as The Charlton’s goat and The Bridge’s interesting array of framed bits and pieces; shown the skip they now mostly stock beers from the Joules range – Pale, Blonde and Slumbering Monk. Again: nice to have some variety. And surely nice to see that so far there’s been no de-clutter of china hanging from the rafters and, as far as I know, all genuine reading material on show. With more than a lick of paint and a line of wallpaper, The george in Market Street deserves the biggest
5 applause for transformation (for better, or worse) whose makeover has taken the Punch Taverns drinkers inn into the world of dining. Rebranded 2The Marches Bar & Kitchen, the building’s affairs are now handled by Richard Slater and Lisa Grant – who relocated from Dorset. The major re-fit seems to have brushed aside much of what was perhaps wrong with the site, as it stood as a wet-led public house; however – along with the debateable elements – long-gone too is the pool table. This means a longer march for a game... either to the reopened Bridge (if only to admire the chimney breast library) or a slightly longer walk to 3The Nelson Inn: pool table, dartboard, pub dog, legendary landlord, Ludlow Brewing Co’s Stairway, and no change in the carpet or the wallpaper – thankfully; well, as far as I am concerned anyway. For changes, you need to make your way back into town, to Market Square, where another changing of the guard is taking place. Taking over the site of the recently-retired Deli on the Square is the soon-
to-be-open 4Harp Lane Deli & Dining – a stone’s throw from another high street sell-up: Marches Outdoors, who hasn’t entirely given up on Ludlow; instead moving his whole operation a few yards up the road to the town’s open market... where most Saturdays you can find Richard and his pitch of walking boots and waterproofs. Another relocation for the town is 5 Miles Wynn Cato, a gallery owner, who can now be found down Corve Street at Number 137: a leading specialist dealer in historical and pre-contemporary Welsh art, who has traded the likes of Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, Arthur Devis, and Hugh Douglas Hamilton in London for around 18 years, before upping sticks and relocating both home and work to Ludlow – all under one roof. And talking of roofs: 6Graham Lewis, the Bromfield Road-based builder, has retired, selling off his 0.45 acre builder’s yard through Cobb Amos with full planning permission – granting a terrace of seven, three storey town houses.
There’s been retirement in local government too: Councillor Rosanna Taylor-Smith, who represented the Conservative Party, resigning; forcing a by-election to elect a new councillor for Ludlow North. Throughout proceedings the endless mail shots all seemed to sing from the same song sheet; with each prospective candidate highlighting that an improved bus service, a re-think on recycling, challenging proposals for the Youth Centre, and a hard line on dog muck and speeding is what they’d tackle first. So with four candidates luring with the same bait, the candidate circulars that were making their way through letterboxes and the hands of those who happened to be in when they called by – with increased frequency in the last two weeks of pitching – seemed to switch tack slightly. Whereas one candidate, and perhaps he who actually trail blazed the need for ‘a re-think on recycling, challenging proposals for the Youth Centre, and a hard line on dog muck and speeding’ stuck to his guns and talked about nothing else, others resorted to the glossy
nature of their rivals printed matter; and the environmental-friendly attributes of theirs. In the end it was Lib Dem’s Andy Boddington elected with 579 votes to the 382 of Conservative’s Anthony Bevington, The Independent Graeme Perks (223) and Danny Sweeney of the Labour/Co-operative (94). Further music to our ears is a relatively new Sunday spot for live music, hosted by Ludlow’s Stuart Lea at The Parkway (Parkway Mews, just off Corve Street, in the direction of the library). The intimate blues and folk night kickstarted in February of this year with the highly-acclaimed Irish acoustic blues guitarist, singer and songwriter, 7Will Killeen; an evening of slide guitar, stomp box, and artists-own material seeing the most ever squeezed into this restaurant bar: A tough act to follow, with subsequent Sunday shows hosting Church Stretton’s 8 Trevor Rowley, and Hereford’s Martin Blake. But then came the sensational Dirty Ray. You can keep abreast of future Blues Folk gigs by studying our listings supplement.
Further entertainment is also due the town’s way – first off in May – in the shape of the annual Ludlow Spring Festival of beer, bangers and bread: Friday May 9th to the 11th. As always, expect over 190 different barrels of beer on offer throughout the weekend’s SIBArun beer festival, classic cars within the castle grounds, and live music from the likes of The Hip Joints, Bluezbox, the duo of Sean Gaffney and Alex Pickford, and the definite blues of Dan Owen. Moving into June, we have the annual, event-packed, Fringe Festival – which runs from June 14th through to July 6th. Turn to our centre page guide for a comprehensive diary of all this year’s exciting music, comedy, theatre, workshops, and art trails. Ludlow Spring Festival ludlowspringfestival.co.uk | 873957 Ludlow Blues Folk, The Parkway Stuart Lea: 07462 266575 Ludlow Fringe Festival ludlowfringe.co.uk | @ludlowfringe
additional image on p6} a self-portrait, courtesy of Will Killeen
Ludlow’s match making magpie text } Jon Saxon | images } Richard Stanton
– PROFILE – JESS herself isn’t too fond of the term anymore: one of poor connotations, even though the definition is – as she rightly admits – “brilliant”. But it is so over-used these days – a trendy description that sits elbow-to-elbow with similar misinterpretations: pop-up and shabby chic are the two that jump most freely to mind. “It’s also in vogue now,” she adds. “It’s kind of lost some credibility. And in all the experience I’ve had – of doing any community arts, or recycled art – there’s a real danger of it becoming pushed into a sort of a lesser quality; and I pride myself in what I make (be it pigeon-holed as ‘upcycling’) as being extraordinary, which I think it has to be.” ‘Steam Punk’ is another word people are using to describe Jess’s work. She doesn’t appear comfortable with this one either. “I don’t want it to be put into that bracket necessarily. But then if it sells it, I shouldn’t perhaps be so snooty about it.” As one of the forerunners, perhaps just as much care and attention has been invested in upcycling her own understanding of the business model, and how to best portray herself: a solo artist, tucked away on top of Ferney Bank looking southeast over the Cookeridge Wood and Hospital Coppice; and the rivers of Teme and Onny, towards Ludlow. Amidst a very active timber yard near Onibury, a small wooden unit sits; lit by a few table lamps, and heated by little more than a tiny tabletop heater and a few extra layers of clothing. It’s a jumble of materials here. It’s what you’d no doubt expect: a surplus of surrendered odds and sods; old farm implements and forgotten machinery; cogs, innate yet heavy objects; things that clearly have no obvious purpose, yet. There’s a stack of insulation boarding that reaches flat towards the ceiling, waiting to be installed, as is a wood stove, yet to be moored. For such an incomplete space, it’s a remarkably absorbing environment: overly creative and inspiring, which is surely more to do with the imagination of its tenant, who – perched up against a metal shelving unit as we chat – fills the room with so many ‘what ifs...’ – magpie-like: eyeing about your person to see what could be lifted and introduced to something seemingly lost in the far corner of the workshop. All the more absorbing when there are no views from this workshop, other than the door we’ve just walked in through and a workbench. It’s at this workbench – with its vices; with its mole grips hanging
above from nails; a nearby drill and polishing wheel – that Jess goes about fitting together her spoils of foraging. Like anything immensely appealing – the simpler it appears, the more difficult the creative process. The case was made clear before I’d left Ludlow for Jess’s workshop – deciding it would be fun to put together a hamper of belongings that I’ve hardly used in the last two decades. The small box I planned to present could be either a mini-challenge, or just hope that Jess might actually give an old eighties BMX frame, and some VW parts of the same vintage, a whole new adventure; an exciting life as something altogether different. Truth told – I couldn’t let the golf gubbins go. And the bike’s framework – and the thick carpet of cobwebs that hang defiantly heavy from its rusty limbs – holds too many memories. So, with time ticking, I arrived empty-handed. Mostly, if I’m totally honest, fearing I’d make a fool of myself, donating what could be seen as crap. This would have indeed been the case, as it’s not long into our chat that Jess announces she’s not all attracted to tin or steel: “It’s always brass and copper.” I wonder if Jess has ever unwittingly married objects that only after the union reveal a shared theme? She points to a near-by candlestick holder. “It was only when I came around to naming it that I realised that it was a pressure gauge and a trumpet, and it was all about pressure and blowing. That’s why it became ‘Blow by Blow’. And I made another lamp that I used an iron as a base – I found a nice old iron – and actually thought afterwards, I really should have got some old-fashioned stripy electrical cord. I think it’s more juxtaposition than union perhaps.” Part magpie, part match-maker, Jess is wholly committed to easing a new lease of life into her subjects, though desperate not to destroy something that could still indeed serve its original purpose. “I had a couple of brass car headlamp cases from a 1930’s Riley. I kept them absolutely intact when I used them as lampshades. I just couldn’t do it. If there was a collector who was willing to buy them, and wanted to use them again, they could.” It’s this ethical approach that has probably put Jess in good stead with many of her customers – many of whom have stumbled across her work at London’s Sunday Spitalfield Market and Ludlow’s Black Bough, as well as online: either through her own site: jessicafoundit.com – or themintlist.com – the chic online store of pre-loved treasures. It ultimately comes from love, as far as I can see; for the
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10 environment; for flea markets; for rebirth; for components of varied composition, which now live in a very different world to their days of graft; now operating on an elementary level in a time that feels it can well do without their precision – however simplistic, agricultural, cumbersome, and extraneously ornate. “My favourite things are the little sprinklers from the old fire systems. Because once they get taken out of a building, even if they haven’t been used before, they just get melted down, and then useless. And I think it’s nice that people find it intriguing. It’s better that it’s not: ‘oh you’ve used a shower head, or oh you’ve used a watering can’. I don’t want it to look like it looked, but still be what it is.” Importantly, everything that joins forces here with an otherwise alien object soldiers forth to serve an equally alien function: in most of the cases as lighting – whether by naked flame or electricity. Sifting one’s eye over the workshop surfaces reveals functional art literally everywhere: boxed up ready for shipment; on a shelf in a form of limbo; or illustrated on the laptop in front of me. And the names and mismatching of materials are as interesting as the visual fascination: Old Flame (found gears greet reclaimed lamp holders), Alice In the Factory (bringing together brass gauge innards and a beaten copper water tank), or Neptune’s Fork (farm-found gear finding a reclaimed copper pipe). And for the plug and lead variety: Is It A Bird (rallying together a reclaimed oak beam with a found hunting horn and trumpet parts), Meet Er’ Under The Lamp (taking advantage of a reclaimed voltmeter, found shower cord and old photographers’ lamp), and French Plumbing (fixing a found French horn onto reclaimed copper pipe and fittings). Coming to terms, remarkably well, with their awkward partnerships, they cast a peculiar shadow over what appears to be rooted salvage – too emotionallyattached to be reworked, defiant perhaps to stay put as engineers intended, or resist leaving the workshop – far happier to be useful to Jess on a daily basis: a paperweight, a focus of inspiration? “There are a couple of things that I’m loathe to use, because they are unusual. I think this small propeller actually. It’s partly because it’s one of the objects that I really like, and so I haven’t tried, perhaps, particularly hard, but I’ve also become highly obsessed with hiding the wire – whereas other designers have the wire shown in some clever way. But because of my obsession I can’t get inside this one. It’s the same with a couple of garden sprinklers that I can’t get inside. And that’s with me going into industrial units and asking if they could undo some nuts, which are just undoable. I also know as soon as I turn it into a lamp it’s going to go at some point, and I won’t get to play with it again.” An outsider perspective foolishly focuses on the evidence of play, and being able to amuse your working day with fun – and not at all unlike the Victorian’s morbid fascination with reinventing the natural world –
Jess’s morphed-metal taxidermy just a solder away from holding a mirror to the workings of a stag rabbit, furry trout, or snakeskin weasel. It’s this freedom to experiment and to play with things that shouldn’t really get along that pretty much got the ball rolling. A handsome accident even, which in Jess’s case happened whilst at university: “I placed a French horn bell and some copper pipe into a section of an old bath that I found, on the side of the road in Selly Oak. And it was purely accidental, and it was really silly. But it somehow worked, and that was the first piece that I sold. So I thought let’s go from there.” Since then there have been many exhibitions of her work, considerable commissions from as far as India, and a constant need to fulfill her stockists up and down the country. There’s also the social enterprise element to consider – which involves delivering workshops on creative upcycling in schools and colleges: looking at waste and re-using materials that are considered waste, and building awareness. “It’s a Community Interest Company, set-up like a Limited Company so the business admin is all a bit tedious and would probably be a lot easier if I operated as a sole trader and just made stuff and sold it, but I didn’t want to just be a commercial artist, I wanted to do something reasonably helpful. ten percent of my December 2013 sales went to the Philippines after the typhoon. And every time I sell a pair of earrings £1 goes to the Bhopal Medical Appeal. It’s just trying to do something good, as well as recycling stuff. As far as I’m concerned that’s the upcycling thing. When you upcycle something you are adding value to it: recycling is breaking it down again, and I’m not melting stuff down and starting again. I’m saying – you look nice together.” Jess is also currently planning a week-long exhibition to be held in London, entitled Bring Out Your Dead, involving artists that either upcycle or use an old medium – with the opening night being Halloween. “everyone is cross at me for not doing it Shropshire, but the artists I want to do it with me are all London-based. I’ve met a girl who does typewriter art, drawing pictures just with the keys. During the day we’d get a group of school children from London doing the same kind of workshops that I do; showing them how to make something excellent and of worth, to them, out of rubbish.” Back home in Shropshire, Jess seems keen to regain some of the nonsensical that first seeded this whole enterprise – in her instance a French horn bell, some copper pipe and an old bath: “I need to play more; more of that silliness. You get bogged down making things to sell, so more play time, I think.” I can’t wait to see the results: perhaps not a stag rabbit, furry trout, or snakeskin weasel, but something closely imaginative and awkwardly adventurous could really well be a mere meld away. 07912 314903 www.jessicafoundit.com
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Bottom image: Yanto’s Pigeons (background) inspired by Yanto, who kept pigeons on Old Street – and Drip (foreground) matching a found brass tap with reclaimed copper piping
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Ludlow venue map Butter Cross, clock tower Police Station Toilets Tourist Information H Hospital 1. Apple Tree Theatre – Lower Galdeford 2. Assembly Rooms – Mill Street 3. Charlton Arms – Ludford Bridge 4. Church Inn – Butter Cross 5. Globe – Market Street 6. Ludlow Brewery – Station Drive 7. Ludlow Castle – Castle Square 8. Ludlow College – Castle Square 9. Marches Kitchen & Bar – Market Street 10. Methodist Church – Broad Street 11. Millennium Green – Dinham Bridge 12. Nelson Inn – Rocks Green 13. Parkway Restaurant – Parkway Mews 14. Rose & Crown – Church Street 15. Sitting Room – Lower Galdeford 16. St Laurence’s Church 17. Wine Bar – Quality Square
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Friday 10th, Saturday 11th, Sunday 11th May (see website for times)
Weekend of 180 real ales, live music, 180 classic cars and a whole host of talks, demonstrations, trails – plus plenty more
Ludlow Spring Festival Ludlow Castle 01584 873957 www.springevent.org.uk
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Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th May, 11am – 5pm
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Sunday 11th May Doors open: Midday
Buskers jamming throughout the day, with an evening of fine frailing, fancy fretwork and fulsome fiddling from: Grey Wolf
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Ludlow Blues Folk: Jamboree The Parkway, Parkway Mews, just off Corve St, 07462 266575
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You can list your July and August events, for just £17 per entry, in the next issue of Ludlow Ledger
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12 Remi is widely regarded as one of the UK’s top Gypsy Jazz guitarists; who has toured the UK, Australia and France, as well as performing at Buckingham Palace. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (on the door) 7.30pm
Tuesday 17th June
Victor Lim, piano recital
St Laurence’s Church BBC Young Musician of the Year Finalist; playing complete Rachmaninov Preludes, Op 32. Tickets: £10 (unreserved seating) 1pm ..............................................
Sitting Room See how much you know about what you probably shouldn’t. Proceeds going to Ludlow Fringe 7.30pm ..............................................
June 14th – July 6th 2014 Saturday 14th June
Stories from the street: an audio adventure through the streets of Ludlow
Up until July 6th A unique audio adventure (armed with headphones and a map) presented by Pentabus Theatre Company’s Young Writers – inspired by locations in Ludlow. Tickets: £4 Check pentabus.co.uk for more details ..............................................
Fringe Art Trail
Castle Square Artists exhibiting in venues all through the town. Maps and details will be available from participating venues Up until July 6th
Dip Shropshire: Wild Swimming
Millennium Green An exciting Arts Council England funded project that aims to encourage people to enjoy wild swimming and the natural beauty of Shropshire and link their experiences to a range of creative workshops, including photography, animation, filmmaking and creative writing and poetry Tickets: £12.50 (ages 12 and above) 11am – 5pm ..............................................
Sticks and Stuff: Arts for Everyone
Millennium Green Interactive arts workshop to create sculptures that will become a part of the Fringe Art Trail. FREE 10am – 4pm ..............................................
Castle Square World’s only poetic First Aid service. Come aboard a vintage ambulance equipped with the latest diagnostic techniques and 1st rate practitioners. FREE, but donations gratefully received 12noon – 4pm ..............................................
Gala organ recital Screevers on the Square
Castle Square An interactive pavement art event for everyone to enjoy. FREE 10am – 4pm
St Laurence’s Church Organist: Thomas Trotter (City of Birmingham Organist) celebrates the 250th anniversary of the church’s Snetzler organ. Tickets: £10 4pm ..............................................
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Sunday 15th June Paint Jam
Castle Square Watch ten professional artists developing largescale paintings in a variety of styles. Have a go on the public boards. FREE 10am – 4pm ..............................................
Green Gecko Hoops
Castle Square Street shows and hula hoop workshops. FREE 10am – 4pm ..............................................
Sara Smith Trio
Wine Bar Afternoon of traditional Gypsy Jazz & Celtic rhythms: guitar & violin 2pm – 5pm ..............................................
Festival Walk: Round the Walls
Meet at Castle canon A history walk led by Michael Rosenbaum. Do wear appropriate clothing and footwear. All proceeds go to the Friends of Ludlow Arts. Tickets: £10 (FoLA) £12 (non-members) £3.50 (children) 2pm ..............................................
Remi Harris and the Gypsy Jazz Project
Ludlow Brewery Playing an exciting and eclectic mix of Hot Club, Jazz, Swing, Blues, Bebop, World Music and Original Compositions,
Getting Lost in My Home Town
Sitting Room He’s lost, he’s lanky and he’s carrying someone else’s takeaway. An original comedy theatre from award winning and circuit favourite Paul Richards. Tickets: £7 8pm ..............................................
Martin and Eliza Carthy
Assembly Rooms Stalwarts of the UK Folk scene, father (BBC 2 Folk Award winner) and daughter (twicenominated for the Mercury Music Prize) unite for a special evening of music. Tickets: £18 (£12 concs) 8pm ..............................................
Monday 16th June
Stephen Varcoe (Baritone) and Christina Lawrie (piano)
St Laurence’s Church Commemorating the centenary of the Great War in song, featuring settings of some of the most poignant and memorable war poetry by Housman, Sassoon and Brooke with music by Butterworth, Gurney and Britten among others. Tickets: £14 (unreserved seating within central nave) £10 (rear nave) 7.30pm ..............................................
Wednesday 18th June
Day Trip by coach and foot to Civil War and Dark Age battle sites of Montgomery and Buttington, led by Martin Hackett. Appropriate clothing and footwear essential. All proceeds to the Friends of Ludlow Arts. Tickets: £20 (FoLA) £22.50 (non-members) Please note: own lunch arrangements 9am – 5.30/6pm ..............................................
Four (Royal) Weddings and a Funeral or Two
St Laurence’s Church A talk by Roger Judd ‘My life as the Organist to Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St George’s, Windsor Castle. Tickets: £5 (unreserved seating) 1pm ..............................................
Orchestral Concert: Ensemble Sine Nomine, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle
St Laurence’s Church Accompanied by St Laurence’s Choir, conducted by Shaun Ward, with Christina Lawrie (piano), Peter Dyke (organ) and soloists Gemma King (soprano), Suzanna Spicer (alto) and Martin le Poidevin (bass). Tickets: £14 (central nave) £10 (rear nave and side aisles 7.30pm ..............................................
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Methodist Church No time to see all 37 plays or read all 154 sonnets? Then come and enjoy the highlights.... ‘In Voice and Verse’ bring to life the best pieces of the Bards work in words and music. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (door) 7.30pm
taboo, fantasy, and the place of deviant desires in today’s society. Over 18s. Not for the faint-hearted. Tickets: £10 7.30pm ..............................................
Learn fun, easy to pick up, jive steps to energetic electro swing 11.30am – 12.30
Charlton Arms Hotel Celebrating the 30th year of Bardic Demolition 8.15pm ..............................................
Life and Times of the Tat Man
Ludlow Brewery Moving and original theatre written by David Calcutt and performed by the fabulously talented and versatile Tony Barratt. Not to be missed. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (door) 7.30pm ..............................................
Wine Bar, Quality Square Live music from a versatile and popular local musician 7.30pm
Harp duo: Emma Spandrzyk and Rhianwen Pugh
St Laurence’s Church A varied programme from Bach, Bizet and Debussy, to Faure and Schubert with some solo pieces by CPE Bach, Renie, Alvars and Enesco. Tickets: £10 (unreserved seating) 1pm ..............................................
Taboo Nights: The Phone Whore Sitting Room Hard hitting one-woman play with frequent interruptions, from American actress Cameryn Moore, draws directly from real phone sex encounters for an intimate look at sex,
Everyone who’s anyone is giving the burlesque scene a try. No need to be shy: the only thing you’ll be loosing is your lack of confidence and serious disposition! The Classic French dance technique to tease and make yourself feel fantastic 12.45 – 1.45pm ..............................................
Old Men: Street and Breakdance
Flamenco: Rumores d’Espana
Sitting Room From some of our local celebrity writers 7.30pm ..............................................
Thursday 19th June
Learn some basic moves of this lively, energetic, and entertaining dance phenomenon 2pm – 3pm ..............................................
Bad Language. Taboo Poetry and Story Telling
Taboo Nights: The Phone Whore
Sitting Room See June 19th listing. Adults only. Tickets: £10 7.30pm ..............................................
The Old Dic Theatre Company present ‘Please Yourself’
Learn a short, simple routine incorporating footwork, arm and hand movements, then relax and enjoy a performance by the dancers. No experience is necessary to take part, but participants are advised to wear shoes with a stout heel (not stilettos) 3.15pm – 4.15pm
The Globe, Market Street Celebrating the 30th year of Bardic Demolition 8.30pm (and 1pm Saturday June 21st) ..............................................
Old Men: Street Fringe Get Up and and Breakdance Dance Day (Part 2) Workshops See 3.15pm listing Jump and Jive
Exciting choreography and group presentations from the 2 Faced Dance Company 1.15pm ..............................................
2 Old Men
If you missed it the first time, here’s a second chance to see this amazing show. FREE 3.30pm ..............................................
4.30am – 5.30pm ..............................................
Over 16s. Tickets: £12 7.30pm ..............................................
Sunday 22nd June
Corve Street Fringe Party
Corve Street Entertainment, market stalls, and family fun 10am – 4pm ..............................................
Ludlow’s Youth Theatre and Dance Projects
Castle Square Ludlow’s rising stars showing off their acting and performing skills. FREE 11am – 4pm
See above 3.50pm ..............................................
The Noah Play
Ludlow Brewery Modern day production of the Medieval Pageant play performed by local school children. Tickets: £5 (FoLA) £7 (nonmembers) £2.50 (over 12’s) 3.30pm ..............................................
Methodist Church A comedy opera with Sarah-Ann Cromwell. Proving you don’t have to be dull to be an opera singer Tickets: £10 7.30pm ..............................................
Quaker Meeting House, St. Mary’s Lane (off Lower Corve Street) An evening of spoken poetry by two prizewinning poets: Liz Lefroy and John Gareth Owen. FREE 7.30pm ..............................................
A Midsummer Night’s Tease
Saturday 21st June Assembly Rooms
2 Old Men: Flash Mob style
Friday 20th June
St Laurence’s Church Presented by Ludlow Music Society 7.30pm ..............................................
Street and Breakdance performers come to life with an amazing, energetic and vibrant show that will leave you amazed. FREE 12.45pm ..............................................
The Old Dic Theatre Company present ‘Please Yourself’
A concert for two pianos
Assembly Rooms Celebrate the solstice with some of the worlds most infamous and talented cabaret artists. From burlesque bombshells to awe inspiring freaks, you can expect a night of pure imagination and intrigue.
Tuesday 24th June
Andy Kershaw’s Brewery Hop
Ludlow Brewery A Global Dance Music Night bought to us from the inimitable and infamous BBC Radio DJ 8pm
Wednesday 25th June
John Challis at the Brewery
Ludlow Brewery An opportunity to meet our local celebrity, reading from his new book ‘Reggie’ – based on some very recognizable local characters. FREE 6pm ..............................................
Sitting Room Freelance fantasy/sci-fi illustrator and Ludlow Art Society chairman, demonstrates his digital painting process live. Tickets: £5 7.30pm ..............................................
* Advance ticket booking, where applicable} www.ludlowassemblyrooms.co.uk | 01584 878141
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Fringe Comedy at the Brewery
Ludlow Brewery Christian Reilly, Stephen Dodd, Aaron Twitchen, Jonny Greatrex and MC Jon Pearson. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (door) 8pm
and Russel Howard’s Good News. Laughs guaranteed throughout. With great support from Tom Allsopp, Jay Handley, Dave Pollard and MC Jon Pearson. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (door) 8pm ..............................................
George Gershwin: an American in London
Methodist Church, Broad St Alan Durman performs his one-man show, to launch his book and album, in which he will be playing the piano selections and sharing anecdotes about George Gershwin’s visits to Britain. Most arrangements not heard since the 1920s. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (door) 7.30pm ..............................................
full details onli
Story Teller of the Year Jake ‘Trick’ Evans and Suzanne Thomas. FREE (Donations to the Fringe) 2pm – 4pm
Fringe Comedy at the Brewery
Ludlow Brewery TV Comedian Andrew Lawrence – As seen on Live at the Apollo and the Michael McIntrye’s Roadshow, with support from Hannah Silvester, Patrick Draper, and Francis Jenkins. Tickets: £10 (advance) £12 (door) 8pm
Appletree Theatre Two one act comedy plays presented by The Orleton Players: written and directed by Gareth Owen. Tickets: £7 7.30pm ..............................................
Saturday 28th June
June Artists Market
Castle Square Arts, entertainment, and an opportunity to pick up some exquisite pieces of original art from our local, professional artists 10am – 5pm (market continues on the 29th) ..............................................
Poetry Out Loud
Friday 27th June
Fringe Comedy at the Brewery Ludlow Brewery Our final night of comedy brings you Edinburgh comedy award winning Carl Donnelly – star of Mock the Week, Dave’s One Night Stand
Throughout town Pop-up street poets around the Town. FREE 12noon – 2pm ..............................................
Castle Square Award-winning choir. FREE 12.30 and 2pm ..............................................
Story telling on the Green
Millennium Green Family event with Young
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Meet at the castle canon Local and natural history walk led by Michael Rosenbaum. Over 18s only. Appropriate clothing and footwear. Tickets: £10 (Friends) £12 (nonmembers) 2pm ..............................................
The Ludlow Saxophone Quartet
Double Exposure and The Confessions of Jon-Jak Crusoe
The Noah Play
Ludlow Brewery Modern day production of the Medieval Pageant play performed by local school children. Tickets: £5 (Friends) £7 (nonmembers) £2.50 (over 12’s) 3.30pm ..............................................
Millennium Green FREE 2.30pm
Young Musicians at the Brewery
Ludlow Brewery Great opportunity to hear some of Ludlow’s rising talent whilst enjoying a Ludlow ale. FREE 12noon – 5pm ..............................................
Monday 30th June – Saturday 5th June
Ludlow Brewery Night of classic jazz, funk, vintage hip-hop, and bass driven swing. Tickets: £5 (See Fringe website for ticket details) 7pm ..............................................
Ludlow Brewery Rooftop Theatre Company present a hectic farce of mistaken identity, misunderstanding and mixed up messages. Tickets: £12/£10 (concessions) 7.30pm ..............................................
Electro Swing DJ Night: Speakeasy Shindig
Sunday 29th June
Festival Walk: What’s under the castle?
Comedy of Errors
Tuesday 2nd July
Meet at the castle canon Day trip by coach and
Pentabus Young Writers’ Festival – Charlton Arms, 1st – 6th July (see pentabus.co.uk for full details)
27th – 29th June Thursday 26th June
foot, led by Martin Hackett, to the castles of Hopton and Brampton – taking in two very different sieges of the English Civil War. Own lunch arrangements, and appropriate clothing and footwear essential. Tickets: £20 (FoLA) £22.50 (non-members). 01584 876854 for booking information 9am – 5.30/6pm .............................................. st th
1 – 6 July
Pentabus Young Writers’ Festival
Charlton Arms Eight new plays from eight new voices, showcasing the freshest new stories from local young writers – culminating in an exciting and challenging collection of plays. Tickets: £9 (£7 concession) Box office: 01584 856 564 and pentabus.co.uk 2pm ..............................................
Sunday 6th July
Auction of Paintings
Ludlow Square Chance to bid on some of the original, large scale, paintings produced for the Paint Jam; forming part of the Art Trail 2pm ..............................................
Globe Enjoy listening to local young musicians in the relaxed atmosphere of The Globe garden 2pm – 5pm
Sir Thomas Mostyn’s celebrated foxhound, Lady AMONGST the many properties owned by the great Welsh landowner Sir Thomas Mostyn, 6th Baronet (1758-1830) – a keen sporting squire – was Swift’s House: the chief mansion in the Bicester parish of Stoke Lyne, where Sir Thomas maintained the kennels of the Bicester Hunt. One season Sir Thomas left this abode for his Welsh residence of Mostyn Hall, near the village of Mostyn, Flintshire; leaving behind his favourite hound, Lady, who was about to whelp. A short time later she was seen at Mostyn Hall – discovering that she had walked 120 miles home before giving birth in a shed within the grounds of the mansion. Sir Thomas was so impressed by this feat that he commissioned a large portrait of Lady and her puppies, from which this small period copy was created. Following Lady’s death a column was erected in her memory, which survives to this day, in a field behind Swift’s House. The inscription of 1812 reads: In memory of Lady, mother of most of his best hounds.
£1,500 – £2,000: firstname.lastname@example.org; 137 Corve Street, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 2PG; 01584 874097
Image on page 15} photographed by Richard Stanton, with kind permission of Miles Wynn Cato
16 Ludlow’s lavishly decorated misericords
text } Jon Saxon | image } Richard Stanton
– HISTORY – KnOWn as misericords (the largely ignored under-seat carvings of choir stalls) they can be found throughout areas of this country whose wealth was based on the Medieval wool trade. In fact over 50 sets can be found doted around the UK, with the largest collection housed at Salisbury Cathedral (to the tune of 106) – compared to Hereford Cathedral (40 in total) and here – in Ludlow – with its 28 fantastically intricate and fascinating designs, from both the 14th and 15th century. Located in the church of St Laurence’s are the following carvings: 1: Four roses entwined with leaves. 2: Uncarved. 3: Falcon and fetterlock. 4: Winged angel with a trumpet 5: Crowned, bearded man. 6: Hart couchant about to rise. 7: Mitred fox preaching to geese. 8: Prince of Wales’ feathers. 9: Mitred head and shoulders. 10: Antelope collared and chained. 11: three figures in long cloaks; the one on the left is apparently falling, the one facing him has a foot slightly lifted, and the other holds him by the back. 12: Mermaid holding a mirror. 13: One devil playing bagpipes, facing another devil (head missing) who is holding by the legs a naked woman, whose body hangs down his back. She is holding a measure in her left hand: The cheating alewife taken to hell.
14: Monster with female face and hennin, having wings, bird’s feet, and short, thick tail. 15: grinning bridled female (a scold) with winged hat and hennin. 16: Deeply cut conventional rose 17: Uncarved. 18: Seated man in tall cap, wearing a wide scroll across his knees. 19: two figures (headless and damaged), kneeling on one knee and holding a barrel between them. 20: the tapster. Man in profile, with legs wide apart, filling a jug from a smaller barrel. His head is lying on his hands and his eyes are closed. 21: Griffin in profile, seated. 22: Centre carving damaged. 23: Man on left (headless; damaged) in short pleated shirt; two others wrestling, one of whom has grabbed the other round the waist; and two others to the right are also wrestling. 24: Man, seated on chair and dressed in cloak with his head muffled, warming his hands at a fire. 25: Duck. 26: Owl. 27: Head and bust of a woman with a coif. 28: Seated figure with contorted face, with head and shoulders leaning against a cushion with a band hinged at each end, passing in front of his shoulders. He is holding the top of his right boot with both hands: pictured. 29: Floral design. 30: Figure in pleated cloak, with a hammer and bellows at the foot. Barrel level with the head, smaller bellows down below.
A perfect time for spotting beetles, but what else happens in May?
Nature as it’ll be in May text edited from } www.open.edu
– NATURE – WHAT to look for? Across Britain, hedgerows are white with cow parsley, and in damp woods carpets of wild garlic and wood sorrel cover the ground. Red campion and germander speedwell are flowering on sunny banks and hedgerows. In rivers, you can spot sheets of water crowfoot. In the west of Britain sea trout are making their way upstream to breed. Nearer to home, their relatives, the brown trout, are rising to hatches of mayflies. they also prey for metallic green damselflies, such as the banded demoiselle. Look out for the frightening (but harmless) cockchafer beetles as they blunder about on warm evenings, especially over farmland. Other insects to look for are the wasp beetle and the cardinal beetle, which sit out in the open protected
by their warning colours. Though a once common sound in Ludlow, you now sadly have to travel South east to enjoy the song of the nightingale, though there are many places in Shropshire to listen to garden warblers and blackcaps sing – usually found in scrub and woodland. Spending almost their entire life on the wing, even feeding, sleeping and mating, swifts are also a fine spectacle in the month of May – as they scream through the town’s streets. A good place to view this display is the Charlton Arms hotel’s rooftop veranda. Pop along on either Saturday 24th or Sunday 25th and welcome the swifts with the Ludlow Swift group. At dusk, badger cubs emerge from their setts, accompanied by their parents. Harder to spot are baby hares crouching in the long grass of open fields. Did you know? A baby pipistrelle
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bat is only about the size of a 50 pence piece. In May they are unable to fly, but can sometimes find their way into unfortunate situations. It is very important not to handle them. Instead call the Bat Conservation Trust: 0845 1300 228. Habitat of the month: Hedge banks. Many flowers are in bloom and insects are busy surviving. Look for beetles, bugs and bumblebees. With their mixture of woody plants and herbs, hedge banks are especially good for biodiversity. Photo opportunity: Hedge and verge ﬂowers. Plants at this time are bursting into flower everywhere. We suggest go out early and catch the morning dew. Or – if the thought of an early rise worries you – why not opt for the evening? The low sun creates interesting shadows and makes colours appear richer.
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17 “This is how our relationship begins; yours, mine and the bees”
Honey comb story } Jane Roberts
– FICTION – I expected a letter, an apology even, but not all of this: a house, a garden, the beehives, and an instruction manual for your bees. The call from the hospital came too late. The way you wanted it, I suppose. I was two years old when you left. We might have passed each other so many times in the street, faces obscured by umbrellas; or sat side-by-side on the bus and just not known it. I should be sad, because I know I will never have the opportunity to see you again. But it isn’t like that. Not knowing you, I can’t feel anything more than... And that’s it. I can’t think of an adjective or a noun that best fits. So, I’m left with a house, a garden, the beehives and an instruction manual from the man who had no advice for his child when she was growing up. When I visit your house for the first time, the neighbours watch from behind the pixelated sanctuary of net curtains – I’m glad you don’t have net curtains – and pass judgement on my arrival. Perhaps, they think I’m a girlfriend. Did you ever tell anyone you had a daughter? Apart from the nurses and the solicitor, that is. The key scrapes in the lock, so much time has passed since it has been opened. The tarnished face of the brass door handle frowns, reluctant to be touched. Junk mail has cascaded out of the wire postbox behind the door and collected on the tiled floor. By some miracle – or oversight on behalf of the company – the electricity still works. as I flick the Bakelite switch, a tiny charge of power surges to my fingertips. this is real. Aside from the mail on the tiled floor and the decayed skin of wallpaper peeling away, the hallway is barren. In the living room, there are magazines strewn about, an old record player bereft of anything to play, and a few ornaments shrouded in white dust, under which there are layers of your personality waiting to be uncovered. You’re buried under so much debris – actual and imagined – a sandstorm in the Sahara would be easier to excavate to find evidence of you; to prove that you were more than an old photograph from the 70’s – the last remaining image of a forever-young father with a smile as fake as the gold on his wristwatch. A fetid odour from the sink pervades in the kitchen. I make a cup of tea from a kettle that leaves flakes of lime-scale bobbing on the meniscus, the flotsam from your last
brew. I drink it anyway, more out of habit than desire – an inoculation against being in your house, surrounded by alien objects. It feels weird – to be drinking the tea of a dead stranger. I sit down facing the window that overlooks the garden. It’s a curious, ordered kind of wild out there. Chaos theory in chlorophyll; strands all jumbled, yet connected. Beginnings, middles and ends – all there somewhere. Not like our story, which just has a beginning only one of us would have remembered with some clarity, and an end for which only one of us is present. I open your instruction manual. A faint identity parade of your fingertips lingers on the pages. This is how our relationship begins; yours, mine and the bees. It’s like our lives become a honeycomb. Cells of richness and emptiness dotted around haphazardly. Sometimes connections between each cell lost. Nonetheless, it is a whole; that combined patchwork honeycomb of oozing, cloying, bittersweet truths, half-truths and voids. And so, I begin to read: Don’t panic. Straightforward words for you to write in a clear, measured hand. But how many years did it take you to practise this levelheaded response to life? I think you were more used to panic than you care to admit in the unhurried spirals of your handwriting. The benefit of time and experience, perhaps. But I’m the one who’s left behind. Don’t panic. If not panic, what else do I do? The bees help. The bees don’t like panic. The wispy, tempered drone of the buzzing helps: an electrical monotony – a reassuring constant – that consumes fear, even when I fight against it. It lulls me into un-panic. Avoid rapid movement. easier said than done, when you’re confronted with a swarm of disturbed bees. And often I can’t think in situations without reacting, overreacting. Is an impetuous nature something we would have had in common? gradually, I learn to steady myself around the bees. They make me sure of myself. each action becomes slow, deliberate, and considered. Life becomes tranquil around me. Never disguise yourself. And I know you could mean anything by this statement. Always be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be all the things that someone might never like. That’s life, and all that jazz. But you’re talking about the bees. Maybe you’re talking about smell. A healthy queen emits pheromones.
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The odour can change the whole vibe of the colony. They know my natural scent when I’m settled within myself; they tickle my skin where I’ve daubed perfume on the days I want to be someone else; then some migrate up towards my neck and chin, attracted to the slight hint of alcohol on my breath on those days I want to forget who I am. You must understand that. The alcohol. Like father, like daughter. I wonder if the bees recognise us as family. Whether they can identify sweat, scent and booze? Or, if they had been with you at the end in a drab mint-green hospital room, would they have clustered around your mouth to smell the fruity ketones passing into the ether around you? If I had been there, would the hairs in my nostrils have prickled at the sweetness of your breath? To be that close to you – even in a thought – seems impossible. Like trying to paint the features of a stranger into the inside of an imagined silver locket in my head. Trying to retain the memory for another day. For every other day. The worker ﬂies at speed from the colony. I never thought before how a worker bee might emerge from his home. I would have guessed with a trudge, the knowledge of imminent back-breaking work bearing down heavy upon their movements. But a speed of 20mph is incredible. Is this how you left the house when you went to work, or was this how you left us for good? Projectile from your colony, flying at high speed, yet always no higher than the obstacle in front of you. Never quite escaping. Bumblebees are not the same as Honey Bees. Six legs. Four wings. Yet these bees are different. They produce minute quantities of honey, whereas Honey Bees can produce more honey than they ever need. They don’t miss it. Like bees, humans aren’t all the same. Maybe I’m a Bumblebee – I’ve never had much sweetness in my life. especially growing up. Do you know how many birthday parties I went to as the “pity kid”? I used to sit in the corners of rented public rooms by the cartoondecorated tables laden with sausage rolls and ballerina-pink sugar biscuits, while the parents gawped at mum’s new boyfriends and her rising skirt hems. A single mother has got to make the most of herself, she would say. Both of you were so different from the other parents. It makes me different as a daughter. The males die. Yes, the men die. But in a pointless, un-heroic way. Like you. Submerged in Captain Morgan and Beefeater. That’s not the way
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you died all those years ago. You were a Lifeboat Rescue guy. You died saving a young family in a boat propelled out into choppy water. That was how you died when I was young and naive and had no idea how far inland we lived, how implausible a story it was to believe in. Yes, that was merely a story and now there is only a fact. You are dead. Only the females sting. Only the female workers and the Queen can sting. Barbs in their lances instead of barbs of the human tongue. Like mum. She used to love verbally stinging you – not that you were there to receive the barbs. Was that the reason you left? Maybe you learnt that women only sting because they are protecting their colony, or because they’re frightened in some way. The bees could have told you that, if you were paying attention. It’s too late now, but you should know something about the lives you left behind. You had a mother, a wife and a daughter. You left them suffering from the stings you inspired; you, the drone with no sting himself. Your mother died slowly in a nursing facility in your home town, your wife died carelessly in a car accident – both were broken by your actions. And even when a bee doesn’t die from administering a sting, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel the pain of it. I’m the only one left, and I feel the pain of all of those stings that have gone before. Bees dance the waggle-dance. So this wiggle-waggle Carmen Miranda dance is nothing extraordinary for a bee. It’s a unique language, a bee-to-bee thing. Disseminating all manner of information. how to find food. Where to find the rest of the swarm. But sometimes you wonder whether they just dance for the sake of dancing. Because they’re happy. I have a shadow of a memory. By my cot, there’s a smiling figure, dancing a silly jig – limbs clownish, everything care-free. Was this you? We had a language once, I would like to believe. Why is everything special so easy to replace with melancholy? Bees do not sleep. They remain still, motionless. Yet they never rest. Like you in your life as a husband, a father. The bedroom in the house is musty, devoid of personality. But in the garden – amongst the peppery aroma of angelica flowers – there’s a small hideaway fashioned from twisted fuchsia and white dog-roses. A singular, green metal chair within.
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I can imagine you sitting here on a summer’s evening; the air cooling, ghosts of the day stretching out on the grass and fading into the haze of twilight, then darkness. So I sit on your chair, swaddled in the black velvet cloak of night, listening for the tiniest of noises from the hives. And I can understand how free you must have felt out here. No family ties, no four brick walls, no convention. And as I catch a dim hum on the night air, I’m suddenly aware of the gaping absence of your voice. Smoke calms bees. Woodland insects, they are afraid of fire and gorge on honey, thinking they might have to abandon their home at a moment’s notice. I would feel cruel tricking them, but – stuffed with honey – they become lethargic, calm. From the spent packets of Marlboro Reds dotted about the house, I know that you and I have both conned ourselves with smoke at times. And we’ve gorged on bittersweet reflection. although, of course, humans can’t move on as easily as bees. Look after the bees. We can all succumb to Colony Collapse Disorder. Parasites. Chemicals. habitat loss. Unfriendly environments. A variation between hibernation and blooming times. In the bees, it seems you found a relief from solitude and selfenforced torment. You learnt a paternal tenderness, found a family with which you were comfortable. There will be other colonies. And for the first time in my life, I feel part of a family. It’s a feeling that could evolve. This is survival; your will; our heritage. I’ve read your manual every day, taking care of our bees throughout the blistering heat of summer. The pages and chapters have become innate, some sentences more plaguing than others. Or is it just me searching for some hidden meaning where there is none? Yet these things are true: Mossy grass renews, casting away the skeletal-filigree sycamore leaves. A soothing breeze, as the starlings chatter and whistle their own libretto. a kaleidoscope of flowering gems host a banquet for the bees. And sometimes the bees hovermarch and swarm in the air around me, I stand still, allowing them to cocoon my whole body. It feels like you are embracing me, like we’ve reached an understanding: like we’ve always been close. Our lives become intertwined, like honeycomb.
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additional text on p16} Ludlow Misericords descriptions, courtesy of misericords.co.uk
18 the castle. Conditions inside soon worsening, whilst outside farm animals were plundered, with a torch put to every one of village buildings – the church not withstanding. Though the castle was challenged by cannons, it is said, quite surprisingly, that only one death and a few injuries within the castle walls were ever recorded. By contrast the attacking army fared poorly, with nearly a tenth of the company either killed or injured. Following the death of Lady Brilliana – a year later, due to ill health – the garrison’s command rested in the hands of the family doctor: Nathaniel Wright. Under his command the Royalist forces returned; and embarked upon a second siege in the Spring of 1664. Led by Sir Michael Woodhouse, Sir William Vavasour and Sir William Croft, it lasted just three weeks, with the aid of improved artillery and mines. Substantial damage inflicted upon the castle forced its surrender – which was left to be sacked and burnt. Many of the buildings were soon rebuilt, including the village church – in 1656 – during the period of the Commonwealth. It is suggested that its impressive double hammerbeam roof may well indeed have been constructed from the ruins of the defeated castle’s banqueting hall. Though it is usually only ever open for tours as part of the annual Brampton Bryan Scarecrow
Important castle, church and a hedge of yew
A day spent in Brampon Bryan text } Jon Saxon | image } Chris Price
– TRAVEL – IT’S so easy to understand why Ludlow gets so much attention; with it’s fairytale castle, turbulent back-story, and medieval format – so much so that we sometimes famously fail to recognise our neighbouring villages. Just over ten miles is all it takes to find your feet in Brampton Bryan; a tiny yet complex village situated in north Herefordshire, close to the Shropshire and Welsh borders. It’s got the look, as a quick left and right on the A4113 weaves you from one end of the village to the other – which is pretty much what I’ve done on so many occasions. Pulling a number out of the hat I’d hazard a guess at 100; though it’s probably more three times the number in which I have driven through this village. And all of these
times I’ve never stopped. So, in the name of habit-breaking, I take one giant leap for mankind and land my feet on its small triangular green. Through prior research I learned that much of the village is owned by the Harley estate – which has successfully seated the area since the early 14th century; a dedicated Puritan family – as it was at the time – residing in a predominantly Royalist county, caused much trouble, with the estate and its castle open to attack. This was indeed the case when, on July 26th 1643, Sir William Vavasour (newly-appointed governor of Hereford) encircled Brampton Bryan with a 700-strong mix of cavalry and infantry. In the absence of her husband, Sir Robert Harley, Lady Brilliana and three of her children, backed up with roughly 50 civilians and the same again in soldiers, held
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weekend (held in August) you can in fact be nosey and catch a glimpse of the ruins by pocking your hooter over the rear church wall. Whilst here do take the time to admire the architectural treat that is the ancient yew hedge (hard to ignore from pretty much wherever you stand in this village) that surrounds both church and castle. You don’t have to march far at all for a modern-take on magnificence: heading straight over the main road (be quick and vigilant; 30mph is rarely observed) and down the road signposted Lingen, for two minutes, to the converted 19th century granary of Aardvark Books – complete with cafe. Founded ten years ago by edward Tobin and Sheridan Swinson – moving to this plot three years later – it is open pretty much all-year-round. Two further rooms have since been added, which – as the aardvark-books.com site reports; “...one containing a specialist children’s book and play space called the BookBurrow, and the other a pop-up warehouse space that is used for markets, art exhibitions and other events.” The cafe is open seven days a week, 9am-5pm weekdays, 10-5pm Saturdays, and 10-4pm Sundays – for drinks, soup and cake... heartshaped éclairs if you showed up on Valentine’s day. All the cakes here are freshly-made which in Spring means baker Catherine wheeling out
her prized lemon drizzle. Book-wise: it’s wide and varied – new, second-hand, and some rare – with a stock of some 50,000 titles I’m informed, with “...outstanding selections in most categories including art, cookery, history, fiction and local interest.” To properly savour the day I shopped in both halves – taking a lovingly pre-owned novel to an equally timeworn high-back chair and settled down with a cup of Darjeeling and a slice of Victoria Sponge with blackcurrant jam. Sauntering back to the car I later noticed that all of the houses feature a light bright uniform of blue upon their exposed timber. Under tighter inspection I learn that a long tradition of ‘estate colours’ exist up and down the country. Chatsworth swings between Azure and Ocean blue; Berkeley, in gloucestershire, opting for Hollybush green; whilst Oxford blue dominates Burghley estate in Lincolnshire. Brampton Bryan has dabbled quite a bit over the years with its choice of colour. green at one time: red for the agricultural buildings and, since the 1960s, what Dulux badge as ‘Dresden blue’ or 464 if you’re smugly going by the code. And as smugly goes: I’m really glad I finally stopped, after all these years, and managed a healthy slice of history and one of Victoria sponge.
12 Castle Street, Ludlow, SY8 1AT 7 days a week, 9am until late 01584 872012 www.themarches.co.uk Breakfast served from 9am to noon, 7 days a week Main menu served from noon to 9.30pm (Sun to Wed) until 10pm (Thurs to Sat)
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RECENTLY riﬂing through the shelves and racks of the CATS PROTECTION LEAGUE we excitably discovered a fullyoperable SX-70 Land camera – produced by Polaroid between 1972 and 1981. Surprisingly £10 was all we spent; considering they usually sell for well over £70. If you find a Polaroid-style camera, remember to check film is still available: We got ours from: the-impossible-project.com.
Woman facing away – charcoal and pencil on paper, by Aidann Bowley
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Tuesday’s Donation Day: have your hair cut for a cash donation Learn to use Beauty treatments, from June the healing po wer Meditation Evenings of angels: Deep Tissue Massage ‘meeting your Holistic Massage guardian ange l’ Reﬂexology May 15th Reiki 7pm
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Limited edition (420mm x 530mm) 285gsm Fine Art Pearl print by Doghouse magazine illustrator, Sean Sims THERE are 13 big differences between what was written in the book and that portrayed in the film JAWS, including Hooper escaping from the shark cage. We recently grabbed this as-new 1975 paperback from SEVERN HOSPICE for just £1.
Only 149 available. £49 plus P+P
additional images on p19} Charity find collection, courtesy of Gail Turbutt
20 A ‘romantic’ ride that ended up in Ludlow
‘78 my summer of love in Shropshire text } Andy Boddington
– FINDING LUDLOW – WE’D been cycling around Shropshire for the best part of a week. It had rained rather more than the sun had shone. And hostilities were breaking out between myself and my Australian girlfriend. In that summer of 1978, it was time to make a decision. We’d decided to explore Shropshire in a heady moment queuing for a train. It had been a long and slow queue. We’d been among 200,000 people at a Harvey Goldsmith concert, the Picnic at Blackbushe. Bob Dylan had been good but Graham Parker and the Rumours, eric Clapton and Joan Armatrading had been so much better. Maybe that was because their music was blasted out above the incessant wind. I swear we were half-a-mile from the stage, but I’m not much of a judge of distance. Certainly Dylan was just a dot on the horizon. His sound system failed to overcome the vagaries of the British weather and we heard little of what he sang. We hadn’t anticipated the queue afterwards. We strolled cheerfully from the makeshift rock stadium across the closed A30, only to stand for hours slowly shuffling forward three miles for a train. The residents of Minley Road, unable to sleep for the chatter of excited concertgoers, had set out deckchairs outside their homes to watch us with fascination. I was an archaeologist, not an anthropologist, but I wondered how the unexpectedly patient people of Fleet saw us. Did they regard us merely as the Great Unwashed? Or did they wonder if a new species of mankind was emerging on their doorstep. homo Dylanensis? If they could detect the heady smell of cannabis, perhaps they thought we were Homo Neanderthalensis Doped? My australian lady friend, growing somewhat crabby as we came to a halt some way from Fleet station, would certainly have qualified as australopithecus grumpiness. Our relationship wasn’t going too well, so I resorted to that centuriesold archaeological motto, ‘When in a hole, keep digging.’ “How about we go for a week’s cycling?” I ventured. To my surprise, and I guess I my delight, she agreed. It didn’t take long to agree on Shropshire as the destination. She’d never heard of it. I’d not been there since I was a tot. But I had the perfect guidebook in Trevor Rowley’s Shropshire Landscape, which I’d taken along to the “The Picnic” in case it was boring. I’d read much of it that day too. A few weeks later, tempers were still fraying. We’d cycled south from Shrewsbury rail station with
confidence, dropping into acton Burnell and taking a tour of Acton Scott. We put our feet up in a café that I guess must have been the Lazy Trout. We peddled for miles, often many more miles that I anticipated. My route planning was none too good. Bed and Breakfasts were thin on the ground in those days in rural Shropshire. We cycled long distances to turn up at a youth hostel at Wheathill that was closed. We failed to find a Bed and Breakfast that turned out to be in another part of Shropshire. My Oz girlfriend was getting wise to my casual way of estimating distances. If I said, “It’s only a few miles further”, she had learnt I usually meant, “It’s more than ten miles.” We breezed into Ludlow from Burwarton and I was dragged out of the town not long afterwards. I’d packed the Shropshire edition of Nikolaus Pevsner’s Buildings of England into my saddlebags and was happily crisscrossing the town ticking off listed buildings. It’s the academic version of train spotting. When I couldn’t locate a building, I dropped into the nearest pub for advice. I had barely started on Ludlow’s hundreds of historic buildings and had only just begun on its pubs when cycling orders were given. We dropped by Stokesay Castle and that night rested at the Stokesay Inn. After breakfast, we peddled hard towards Clun. That day it rained. It rained hard. It was the sort of rain that creeps up the inside of your leggings and, whatever waterproof clothing you wear, runs in a torrent down your neck before inelegantly pouring from your rear. By the time we got to Clun, we were miserably wet, bad-tempered and hungry. Yet there is something about Clun that anneals the mind. It’s so small, so cosy, and so friendly, that the troubles of the world, even the fraying of a love affair, matter little. We cooked food with fellow travellers in the Youth Hostel, which was rated as “primitive” in those days. It was. We supped agreeable ale in the White Horse, scarpering back to the hostel just in time to avoid the 10pm lockout. And we would have been locked out by the uncompromising warden, who seemed somewhat out of place in a welcoming town like Clun. If we’d had known how steep and narrow the road is between Clun and Bishop’s Castle, we’d have peddled elsewhere. But once over Colstey Bank, we glided into the Castle. We were strong and fit, but we both baulked at cycling up the High Street. So we pushed our cycles up, looking for lunch and, in my case, a beer or two. Or as it turned out, three. The Six Bells “didn’t look right”
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By 1905 12 million gallons of tap water a year were piped under this inspection in Ludlow to my cycling companion. The Boars head was “so-so”, the King’s Head “ordinary.” Alas, the Castle Hotel struck my girlfriend as too large, almost forbidding. As we turned the corner onto Salop Street, I was becoming terrified that I was about to be dragged into a café for a cup of tea. But then I saw it; the magnificent Three Tuns’ tower brewery and its cosy snug of a pub alongside. Our bicycles were left unlocked on the street: we had learnt how safe Shropshire was, and I was soon downing a pint. It was glorious and alone worth putting up with all the troubles of our cycling adventure. I’d been brought up in a real beer desert. Long before Northampton was wrecked by badly-planned and sprawling development, its breweries had been taken over. By the time I was old enough to get away with supping in pubs, our local brewery Phipps NBC had long gone. Brews like Ratliffe’s Celebrated Stout were a distant memory. My only recollection of this legendary beer comes from listening to a folk band founded by Tom Hall and named after the stout. That was upstairs in a pub called
the green Man in Jimmy’s end. If I recollect correctly, we were downing pints of foul Watneys Red while listening to rumbustious folk songs, old and new. Almost every pub in Northampton served Watneys Red Barrel in those days. One of my early memories of Northampton is catching for breath as I inhaled fumes from the coal gas works blended with the heady acridsweet stink from the abattoir. I still wonder if this stench had drifted into the nearby Phipps brewery to add its flavour to Watneys Red. As a young drinker, Red was a challenge to drink but, for a while, we youngsters were swayed by the advertising. Roll out Red Barrel and the Watneys Red Revolution turned our minds and eroded our pallets. The adverts didn’t tell you the beer was tart, or that it made you belch and pass wind in equal measure. Monty Python mocked the brew as “bleeding Watneys Red Barrel” but the reality was that it was almost the only beer in Northampton in those days. My life took a fortunate turn when I settled at the bar of the Three Tuns that day in 1978. The brewery was still in its heady John Roberts days.
After quenching my thirst on XX, I discovered the sweet nectar of XXX. It seemed to me that such a wonderful discovery merited a third pint. Alas, my girlfriend, conscious of my inability to judge distances, demanded that we cycled onwards. A decision had to be made. It was to be more than thirty years before I moved to Shropshire. Between that first trip and finally settling here, I’ve been back hundreds of times to walk the hills and check the quality of the beer. I confess that at times I deserted the county to explore Somerset, the Lakes, the Peaks, Wales and Scotland, and even France. But I always returned to Shropshire because it has great hills, great people, and of course, great beer. But I’ve never seen Shropshire as a rural idyll. Photographs of our glorious landscapes and townscapes decorate chocolate boxes and get cut into jigsaws. That portrait of Shropshire has attracted wealth to the county. In Ludlow, wealth has done so much to protect our historic fabric and rural scenery. But behind the beauty lies a grimmer reality. It’s not much after nine in the morning in 2014: A young woman
21 A Ludlow baker reveals all
Literally tons about Swifts text } Robert Swift
– FACTS & FIGURES – In a week (including the rolls and the sticks) we bake around 9,000 loaves of bread – with busier weekends producing 4,000 units a day. Flour-wise we use about 4 tons a week; approximately 15 dozen eggs; 8 gallons of whipping cream (which is quite a lot); and between 48 and 60 kilos of yeast. The largest dough we can mix up at any given time is roughly 150 kilos, which is made up of 80 to 90 kilos of flour, requiring 60 kilos of water. Frighteningly, to every kilo of flour in a Brioche we add 450 grams of butter, and 140 grams of sugar. Some of the bread that we produce could be a 24 to 30 hour process. Combined, our ten baking ovens produce 2,400 degrees c. On average, using 10 slices per loaf as a measure (though sometimes we manage 14 out of the
bigger loaves) we cut around 1,500 rounds of bread per day for our customers – of which 60/40 goes in favour of the traditional white loaf, closely followed by Shropshire Crunch. Over a week we also produce around 700 jam donuts. It’s the most popular cake we do – next to ice rolls and Chelsea buns. Amongst the company’s forty employees – split between full and part-time – eight are male; thirtytwo are female. The majority of van drivers are therefore female. Our family bakery celebrated its 150th in 2013, and looks to have a wastage of less than 2percent of what we produce. I’m actually allergic to Rye flour (there’s a fact for you). It doesn’t do me any good, but I still have to work with it.
We’re celebrating our first to serve Birmingham. The pipe can supply the city with 160 million litres of water a day walks up to the cashier in one of Ludlow’s betting shops. “Congratulations,” the cashier says with a well-trained smile. “You’ve won £200.” She looks at him miserably and mumbles, “No. I’ve Not! I put in much more than that.” She’s been stung by her addition to FOBTS, fixed odds betting terminals that pay out up to five hundred pounds and have rightly been called the crack cocaine of gambling. Hours later, a young woman stands in front of me in the pharmacy. She’s vocal, shaking and on the point of becoming abusive. The pharmacist calmly hands over a bottle of the heroin substitute, methadone. The woman downs it in one, puts the bottle back on the counter, and is immediately in high spirits. Later that week, windows get broken in the town centre late at night and, not for the first time, people feel less safe on the streets of Ludlow. Up at the Rockspring Centre, people are dropping into the food bank because it is the only way they will get enough to eat. There are two sides to Ludlow and some of the decisions now being made are not taking the
town forward. Take the decision to convert half of our Youth Centre into offices. Young people and office workers don’t mix and I fear it will not be long before the youngsters are moved out and the building sold. At a time of brutal public spending cuts, we have difficult decisions to make. Tough decisions don’t necessarily mean that they have to be cruel and stupid. We need to work together to ensure that actions are as fair as they can be and reflect the real Ludlow, not its chocolate box image. Churches Together Around Ludlow got it just right in November 2012: “We should not accept as inevitable the levels of anxiety and deprivation here. Even in a time of financial constraints neither our community nor our country should tolerate them. It is simply not true to say there is no alternative.” Way back in 1978, the decision I had to make was much simpler. My Australian girlfriend was determined to cycle on. I was keen on another beer. There was no contest. As I settled in for a third, glorious golden pint in Bishop’s Castle, my ex-companion cycled
away towards Bridgnorth. As I waved her off, I called, “Take it easy. It’s only a few miles.” I had discovered where my true love lies: with Shropshire; its hills, its people, and its beer.
What’s your Ludlow story? We would really love to hear your story, on what it was like growing up in Ludlow, how you ended up in the town (like this issue’s Andy), or what you like or dislike about life here today. If you would like to submit an article, then please do email: email@example.com
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image across pages 20 and 21} Richard Stanton
22 – COVER STORY – < continued from the front page Not that all of the town’s youth were full of fun and cheer. Fighting was quite commonplace, and something that had been going on since the Fifties I’m told: tenbury, Leominster, and Ludlow, all at odds. Add Clee Hill into the mix and it was a battle cry away from civil war. For me, this was eternalised in tenbury on a Friday night, when the Swan Hotel (now a housing development) held its weekly getdown in the old ballroom. It was the only venue in town with bouncers on the door. For, like clockwork, when the revellers rolled out into the large hotel car park, there waiting would be a mini bus full of teenagers from either Leominster or Ludlow, who’d paid the fare just to brawl. It happened each and every week. My friend Nick loves telling the story of one Friday; leaving the lobby to stand outside, chatting to one of the doormen. The appropriate hour rolled around; and with it arrived a white mini bus festooned with an eight seven dialling code. The bouncer turned to Nick and politely asked if he and my other friend Charlie would mind moving slightly to his left. On asking why, he replied, pointing at a large plate-glass window: “If there’s any trouble I’m going to put them that way.” ten seconds later the first swathe of offense charged the door. Most faced a brick wall of doormen, but as promised: two went straight through the proposed window. Only once did we drive over to Ludlow for much of the same, wading senselessly into Sand Pits – a place back then that really rallied fear in us outsiders. Whether myth and mystery or as bad as they said, I’ll savour my first venture into the badlands as a terrifying ordeal, inflamed by immaturity – which without I’d never have entered. But it was, for me anyway, an isolated incident. There have thankfully been many an amusing account since to help dilute that day; including the time Charlie exited Sandpits estate safely in his Mk1 Ford Fiesta – only to be overtaken down Sidney Road by two kids on a sofa. I’ve since come to love elements of what once worried me: with age, enjoying some entertaining early hours house parties, and a real sense of community at the skate park. Many still won’t meander beyond the protection of the town’s 13th century walls of fortification, even though they don’t exist well enough these days to keep you safe from marauding job seekers – so to them perhaps it is imagined a badge sewn into my trunks: along with the one for 25 metres backstroke – this one for surviving Ludlow’s council warren in the late eighties. What this all boils down to is that I possibly have more experiences and stories from this area of Ludlow than indeed the castle and the medieval street plan it surveys. But Ludlow gave me much more than car parks to hang out in, Woolworths for music, and a similarly aged youth to squabble with: as it also started me on my way to journalism. I left school with a bounty of GCSEs followed by the letters D, E and F, and enrolled seemingly
Ludlow Street Art, October 27 1990: left to right; top to bottom: author, Sober, Alert, Jedroc, Epic, Kay 1, Atom 1, Mime, Drome overnight into Ludlow’s sect of the YTS. Believing I wanted to be a car salesman I was snapped up by Shukers. But being sixteen and restless I soon got bored of lessons in long and short wheelbase Land Rovers, and stopped going. But not before a customer traded in a nearly new Ford RS turbo, which we had to pick up from the customer’s house – on the other side of Ludlow Racecourse. The drive back has remained with me ever since. The YTS was fraught nationwide with concerns of exploitation, but for me – and many of my cohorts – there was very little in the offering, whether working for free or a nominal fee. It was this shortage of opportunity that spurred two fantastic things. The YTS’s Richard geuter encouraged me to organise a graffiti event in the college courtyard (since built upon) in October 1990, which showcased the live artwork of epic, Mime, Atom 1, and Alert, as well as exhibiting the work of goldie (he of Metalheadz), 3D (later of Massive attack), London’s prolific VoP crew, and New York’s Vulcan. It was at this very event that I met local youth worker Libby Wealthy, who became instrumental in transforming this small street art event on a freezing Saturday, with a miniscule turnout, into
LUDLoW LeDGeR | IssUe 1 |
the foundations from which forged a long period of music and art organisation and UK tour management for overseas artists. This gave me an unprecedented opportunity to write for the music press, which in time manifested itself in many years as a motoring journalism and editor. So no matter which way you look at it, Ludlow helped shape my thinking and my working life unlike any other place I’ve ever experienced. It therefore makes me wonder about what impact – profound or painfully obstructive – this town is now having on its youth? It still has its large car parks, actually more than in my day, if young people still do favour such places. It still has Sand Pits, which has since blossomed as an area where young folk from all over naturally gravitate, with mostly warm welcome; with thanks to its impressive concrete skate park. How things have changed. But not all for the good. I used to get the bus in and hang out in Assembly Rooms’ Castle Cafe, dubbed Naff Cafe, where I enjoyed many a milkshake shaded by net curtains; succumbed to a solid juke box, pinball wizard, Formicatopped tables and vinyl seating. There was also the Bon Marche on Corve Street; it too, a place for
arcade games and refreshment – usually whilst awaiting the bus back home. Both these places are long gone, replaced by: Smarti (clothing for children aged 2-15) and a museum (fitting perhaps) respectively. Above the latter once lived the Sticky Carpets nightclub. It’s here that I discovered a couple more chapters in young adult life. But like most of the places I once colonised with my mates, it too has disappeared. It therefore raises another question: Where do the younger set nowadays gather, and wherever it is, is it adequate or – dare I say – appropriate? Without really knowing the reality I’ll stagger a guess and say no – as the only place I seem to spy a pride of young people these days is near One Stop, at the end of Tower Street – with the youth centre under supposed threat, and the skate park wholly outdoors. It’s something I am sure will be battled out at endless council meetings – possibly to no conclusion; but not all issues have to be settled by politics. Neither of what I suppose were milk bar cafes at the end of the day were government-led; they were high street businesses. You could argue that we now have Costa. But it’s not the same. There’s no jukebox. No arcade machines. No real sense of
belonging for young people. Perhaps time’s moved on, meaning such a place wouldn’t be frequented so freely – making it highly unlikely as a viable commercial concern. Maybe Ludlow lettings are honestly too valuable to simply surrender to the youth vote – better suited to teashops, boutiques and covers of food, and whatever else this town perceives to be the right sort of retail to feed tourism, rather than entertaining those of a certain age that so happen to live here. Off the top of my head: I suppose you could build a fit-for-purpose containment on the fringes of Ludlow – entertained perhaps on the ground earmarked for the faltered NHS hospital, just off The Sheet, and move there the town’s entire community of children – wall them in – and leave the kerbs and corners to whom at least it appears really matter: the coach loads of visitors, who annually arrive at the castle gates for sight-seeing day trips and a diary of festivals dedicated to food, beer and pieces of theatre. either that, or summon up some creative in-town thinking for a shut shop.
text } Jon Saxon
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IssUe 1 WAs MADe PossIBLe WItH tHe WoRK oF... LUDLOW Ledger is a hyper-local tribute to this medieval Shropshire town – produced by Ludlow’s independent publishing company Son of Saxon: a celebrated umbrella for a creative collective of writers, designers, photographers and illustrators – whose love lies primarily with printed newspapers and magazines. Editor JON SAXON has been a journalist since 1994 – working in the UK, North America, Europe and the UAE – spanning Yahoo!, CAR, Golf+, Eurotuner, and evo. Jon’s role as International Editor for the latter inspired the launch of the award-winning motoring magazine: RubberDuckMagazine. This interactive multi-layer publication employed the world’s first and only use of British Sign Language, and received a ‘Car Magazine of the Year’ Award, for Innovation, from Microsoft, WIRED and The Times. An interactive print version of the magazine features in the ‘Innovations In Magazine Media 2013 Report’ released by The Worldwide Magazine Media Association, FIPP. Jon currently contributes to Ernest Journal (Bristol), and Emirates Man (Dubai). The bulk of photography featured in these pages is attributed to Ludlow’s RICHARD STANTON, whose work regularly features in The Guardian, Sunday Times, Observer, and The Telegraph: for whom he has photographed the likes of Ronnie Corbett, Eddie Izzard, Mark Cavendish, Steven Berkoff, William Hague, and Vivienne Westwood. Richard is also the staff photographer for pub magazine, Doghouse. You can learn more about Richard and his work by visiting: stantonphotographic.com And in page order: we couldn’t go any further without going right back to the front cover – to the masthead – which was kindly letter-pressed by hand with vintage wood type on a 1950’s Vandercook cylinder press, by Ludlow’s-own DULCIE FULTON. Visit mostlyﬂat.co.uk to see more of her fascinating work. We also appreciate the privileged access to the
story-telling talent of JANE ROBERTS, who kindly produced an exclusive short fictional story for us, as featured on page 17. And not only that: Jane also kindly proofed all 18,047 words of Ludlow Ledger. More word-weaving: janeehroberts.wordpress.com We have been equally blessed with thanks to AIDANN BOWLEY, who – when not behind his easel creating charcoal and pencil sketches, as found on page 19 – is positioned in front of a monitor, beavering away at bridgingunit.com. Then, of course, there’s ANDY BODDINGTON, who you may well know a lot better since his doorstepping for the recent Ludlow North by-election. But what you may not know is that Andy is also an accomplished writer, who generously wielded pen and paper for a frank piece on the day in 1978 his Australian date and he found Ludlow – on page 20. Also, on the writing front, thanks to MIA DAVIS, who composed our fitting tribute to a Ludlow legend (page 5): Graeme Kidd, a man who helped to hone so many people’s publishing paths – including this paper’s editor, who sat in the corner of The Church Inn buying beer in exchange for Graeme’s endless knowledge. Mia, herself, is a professional copywriter, specialising in optimised web content, as well as press releases, leaﬂets, brochure copy – even speeches and slogans. Need any of the above? Try: miacopywriting.webs.com/contactme.htm Big thanks to both the lens and legs of photographer MICHAEL MARTIN, who took the 200 steps to the top of St Laurence’s church tower to capture our front cover landscape of Ludlow, as well as a cold lunchime beside the Teme with racing legend, Archie (overleaf). Martin specialises in commercial, event and portraiture – with a keen eye for equine. michaelmartin.co.uk and 01584 778109 for more info. And last, but indeed not least, CHRIS PRICE, who generously got involved and supplied the photo of Brampton Bryan for our travel piece on page 18.
images above} left to right; top to bottom: Dulcie Fulton, Mia Davis, Richard Stanton, Jane Roberts, Andy Boddington, Michael Martin
advertising: ludlowledger.com/advertising Prize-winning Irish greyhound racer retires to a sofa in town
Odds are he loves Ludlow text } Jon Saxon | image } Michael Martin
– SPORT – It’s a Thursday evening: June 7th 2012. And race number four is about to start. Whilst the electronic hare gathers speed around the Irish dog circuit of Shelbourne Park, the commentator starts his introductions: “In 1: Snow Adam; 2 is Lahern Dancer; 3: Piercestown East; 4: Swords Messi; 5: Abbey Carla; and 6 completes the line-up: Rockburst Mo.” I’m watching the old footage of this 480 metre race online, just as Claire Atkins did last November – after she’d adopted the above rescue hound, seen on screen positioned in trap 1. Seeing as Roden Dogs Trust, where he was rehomed from, had him down as a crossbreed there was no hint at his form, until they located tattoos in both ears: a threedigit in the left; two-digit in the right. The two tattoos - rather than one – meant he raced exclusively in Ireland, and so using greyhound-
data.com they were able to input the IDs and trace his sire-line as far back as 1820, to a British-born racing dog by the name of Pilot. But far more interesting – they also discovered that their ‘Snow Adam’ had raced five months before rehoming: placing fourth. A month prior he strode home in first, with €1,000 in prize money, as he’d done in the two previous races. There were ten wins out of a total of 44 races, with six seconds, and placing nine times in third – awarding a total prize-tally of €3,090 in between his first outing on August 19th 2010, and his last on June 27th 2013. But it’s the race, near enough 12 months from his last, on June 7th, 2012, that I’m concentrating on: “And off they go. And a fast start on the inside: 1: Snow Adam – and leads to the turn. From in second spot we’ve got 4: Swords Messi. Then comes 2, up the inside: Lahern Dancer. But it is trap 1: Snow Adam that leads them
Pigeon racing Record collecting Ghost hunting – July / August –
into the back, from 2: in second. Lahern Dancer: 4, coming back – in third: Swords Messi, and 3 – up the inside – Piercestown East. But out front, and it still is 1: Snow Adam, who sets the pace – but 2: Lahern Dancer now looks a real threat up the inside: 6: Rockburst Mo trying to draw closer, in third. But on to the final bend, Snow Adam digging deep – and here comes 2: Lahern Dancer – but 1: Snow Adam gets there.” It’s a winning time of 29:99, beating his nearest foe by an entire length. And here he is – welcomed into Ludlow life at the age of five under the new name of Archie – standing to a backdrop of Ludlow castle and the River Teme that flows beneath. “I’d never watched greyhound racing before,” admits Claire. “It was fascinating to see how fast he can run. It was that wow factor: that this couch potato could travel at nearly fifty miles an hour around a track. But when you fill in the gaps regarding everything that
happens in their life you realise that it’s not such a good thing. So much so that maybe it shouldn’t continue.” Surveying this gentle giant up close makes you aware that he’s clearly still close to racing form, with his muscle and tone very visible – yet these days he does little more than placidly trip-trap about town, have a mad five minutes sliding about on Claire’s laminate floor, or found sleeping. Let him off the lead though and (tattoos for confirmation, or not) the racer truly rises. It’s then that you can see the winner in him – from a standingstart galloping away, and quite literally like a horse in sound as he thunders back past you. “To see this is fantastic. And that he’s doing it because he wants to – and it’s fun – and not being made to.” And this he does for four laps until he has to have a lie down, and only then is he ready to think about walking home. But just before I too make a move home, Claire shows
me a few snaps of Archie on her phone. “He’s a complete love affair: I have more photos on my phone of him than my children.” The one of him on the sofa, another surrounded by his own cuddly toys, and one of him being fed treats, suggest Ludlow life is more than a million miles away from Ireland and the racing traps of Killkenny, Galway, Harolds Cross, and Shelbourne Park. Of course not all race retirements are as fortunate as Ludlow’s resident ex-racer – but thankfully there’s a tireless few out there fighting their corner. As well as nearby Roden Dogs Trust, doing their re-homing bit, we couldn’t really conclude this tale without raising awareness of The Greyhound Rescue – who, in the past 12 months alone has homed over 500 dogs. Thinking of homing a hound, or would like to donate or fundraise? Give them a call: 07000 785 092 or go online: grwe.com.
Published on Apr 23, 2014
24-page hyperlocal newspaper all about Ludlow, Shropshire – past and present – with columns, short stories and larger cover features encapsu...