27/10/2014 - Permalink

The face of Shrewsbury’s trade

Related topics: Leisure and culture / My area

A fascinating website bringing together the best of the old and new of Shrewsbury’s outstanding shopping experience has been launched.

The website, www.thefaceofshrewsburystrade.org.uk, is the result of a collaboration between artist Paola Alessandri-Gray and Shropshire Council’s Shropshire Archives service which brings together an extraordinary collection of 19th century photographs with their modern equivalents.

Paola had been thinking for a while about the intriguing character of all the independent shops that contribute to make Shrewsbury such an interesting place.  There are shoe shops and wine merchants, jewellers and haberdashers, florists and upholsterers, booksellers and caterers and all sorts of other specialised retailers.  However, it was a chance discovery of reproductions of some of the Della Porta photographs in a book that led to the opportunity to work with Shropshire Archives.

The collection of over 100 photographs were taken in Shrewsbury in 1888 by Joseph Lewis Della-Porta, a 25-year-old skilled photographer, whose family ran the Della Porta shop based on the Square in Shrewsbury.  The original glass negatives are one of the treasures held by Shropshire Archives.  These have now been digitised and are available online for the first time, shown alongside Paola’s images of modern day Shrewsbury’s shops.

Paola Alessandri-Gray said:

“Discovering the Della Porta photographs in the Archives was the catalyst that provided the project with a very strong identity and coherence.  It has been a privilege and a pleasure meeting all the people who work so hard to run an independent business in town. They have all been enthusiastic about taking part, and I am grateful to them all for their time and their welcome.”

Tina Woodward, Shropshire Council’s deputy Cabinet member responsible for museums and archives services, said:

“This is a wonderful partnership between a Shropshire artist and Shropshire Archives that demonstrates the relevance and quality of our collections.  We hope the website will highlight these for a worldwide audience.”

For further information about Shropshire Archives visit www.shropshirearchives.org.uk, email archives@Shropshire.gov.uk.