Discovery of historic cellar in Shrewsbury town centre – an update
Concerns have been raised about the future of an historic cellar rediscovered by workmen in Shrewsbury town centre in October 2018. The cellar lies under the corner of Murivance and St John’s Hill, adjacent to the home of Mr Alan Fox.
Clive Wright, Shropshire Council’s chief executive, said:-
“The council understands the interest in the discovery of this cellar located under the highway. We suspect that the cellar was sealed off at some point in the distant past in order to widen the road. There are many cellars attached to properties in Shrewsbury, but the possibility that a part of one wall of this cellar being the historic Town Walls is very exciting, even though this is not certain.
“Our concern is that there is less than 100mm (four inches) from the top of the vaulted roof to the top of the highway, and this poses an obvious risk of potential collapse given the weight of modern vehicles and is a threat to the safety of the public. Our initial solution was to fill the cellar full of concrete as currently it is only accessible through a small hole in the roof where a few bricks are missing.
“However, we have now reconsidered this option, our engineers have sharpened their pencils, we have rethought our approach in the response to feedback, and we will cap the cellar roof by casting concrete pads over and up to the arch apex and then placing a steel plate on top of this. We believe that we can then make it safe and reinstate the highway without increasing the height of the finished surface. This will preserve the cellar and in addition we will also record what can be seen within it.
“Mr Fox has made claim that he owns the cellar and we have invited him to share a copy of his deeds with us as all other records available indicate otherwise. However, once the cellar is preserved and made safe we are willing to come to an agreement on future ownership.
“We understand that Mr Fox may wish to break through into the discovered cellar from another cellar that is part of and which can be accessed from his property. Once ownership is established or agreed we are happy for him to do this and extend his property in this way, provided he gains the correct planning permissions to do so.
“It may be felt by some that the council has been trying to avoid spending money on what might be private property. This isn’t the case, our priority has always been to balance public safety with preserving the past in a sensible way. We take public opinion very seriously and we hope our actions demonstrate this.”