It has to be said that Market Drayton does not receive the best press from bloggers. Despite the copious moorings in proximity to what is the largest settlement on the Shropshire Union Canal between Nantwich and Wolverhampton few people seem to have a good word for it. Here's what Cap'n Ahab of Wand'ring Bark has to say on the subject: (link)
I'd agree that the town has seen better days, with more than its fair share of closed down shops and boarded-up pubs. Interestingly, the volunteer-run town museum ascribes the start of the town's decline to the opening of the Trent & Mersey Canal (!) which lead to the rise of the nearby town of Stone as an alternative outlet for local agricultural produce. But I've always had a soft spot for the place, particularly after I once unexpectedly spent New Year's Eve in a local hotel and was given a warm welcome by the locals including being invited to join a party which they had spent quite a lot of money on tickets for.
Local people are well aware of the town's problems. The local Market Drayton Advertiser neatly summed up cause and effect in last week's print edition. On one page a letter from a resident bemoaning the state of the town and the fact that it was increasingly difficult to buy anything useful in a town centre occupied by charity shops, insurance offices, estate agents and , of course, empty units whilst on another an article reporting a planning application for yet another out-of-town retail development.
But the town does have some redeeming features. The centrepiece "Corbet Arms Hotel", just visible in Cap'n Ahab's photo reproduced below (without permission, hope you don't mind, Andy) is in line for refurbishment and re-opening soon.
The town still enjoys a weekly open-air market that fills the town centre with stalls every Wednesday as well as an indoor market twice a week (although as I was there on a Friday you'll have to make do with a photo of the original market hall in the town centre):
There are black-and-white timber-framed buildings dotted about the town centre.
It's not quite true that "you can't buy anything useful" as there is a branch of renowned regional grocer/delicatessen T O Williams of Wem in the High Street.
Impressively for a town of only 11,000 people it has a cinema/theatre
and even more impressively it still has a proper post office, rather than a counter tucked away in the back of WH Smith's (and it does have a WH Smith's!)
There are some fine pubs in the town - proper pubs catering for all age groups and not just aimed at the 18-25 market. In fact I've found more pubs I like in Drayton than in my home town of Hereford, which probably has five times as many! The Red Lion is one of the best. . .
. . .not least because it is now the brewery tap for the resurrected Joule's Brewery, formerly of Stone about which I shall say more in a future post.
And if all the excitement gets too much there are any number of quiet and peaceful corners of the town to enjoy
So next time you're passing this way, give Market Drayton another chance - although to begin with it might be better to choose a Wednesday market day!