Whitchurch, home of Canals, Clocks and Cheshire Cheese
Whitchurch, located on the Cheshire and Welsh borders, is the oldest continuously inhabited town in Shropshire being the site of an early mediaeval castle. Built on a low hill, Whitchurch provided a perfect location for the Roman town of Mediolanum (meaning “The place in the mid plain”) on a major Roman route, half way between Chester (Deva) and Wroxeter (Viroconium).
The name ‘Whitchurch’ comes from the original Norman Church made from ‘white stone’ – the current church of St. Alkmund was built in 1712 of red sandstone and its clock workings were made by J.B. Joyce & Co, the oldest established maker of tower/turret clocks. Joyce clocks can still be found all over the world from Big Ben in London to the Customs House in Shanghai – and the Eastgate clock in Chester, one of the most loved and photographed clocks, was made in Whitchurch. The original J.B. Joyce building still exists in Whitchurch High Street.
Despite being in Shropshire, Whitchurch is widely considered to be the home of Cheshire cheese, one of the oldest recorded cheeses in British history. In the early 1900’s Cheese fairs were held in the old market hall in Whitchurch on every third Wednesday. When the Whitchurch Arm of Thomas Telford’s Llangollen Canal opened in 1811 cheese was transported by horse drawn boat to Ellesmere Port (65 miles) and took 24 hours, non-stop – except for changing horses along the way.
Local cheesemakers Belton Cheese, Applebys and Windsors are all still famous for their cheeses.
There’s lots going on in Whitchurch all year round with a market every Friday and a Makers Market on the first Saturday of the month.
In May there is a Walking Festival, closely followed by a Food and Drink Festival
In June it’s music and mayhem at the Party in the Park
September sees the Canal Boat Rally and October 7th Blackberry Fair, the wildest, wackiest street festival you will ever find, full of actors, musicians, street theatre, fire-breathers, clowns – fun for people of all ages. The theme is sustainability and the name simply signifies Autumn.
Further information can be found at www.whitchurch.info
This article was published in the April edition of the Whitchurch Gossip