Shifnal’s Coaching Days
In the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century Shifnal town enjoyed considerable prosperity catering for coaching traffic. The main road through Shifnal was turnpiked early (1726) as part of the route from London to Shrewsbury, and Shrewsbury Road was built to make an easier way through the town than Church Street. There was a regular stagecoach service through the town from 1681, but it was in 1785 when the Irish mail coaches began to pass through Shifnal en route from London to Holyhead that transport became really important in the local economy. At the beginning of the 19th century the Holyhead mail coach could do the journey from London to Shifnal in 27 hours. In 1831, after Thomas Telford’s improvements to the Holyhead Road (including laying out Victoria Road through Shifnal), the journey time was reduced to 16.5 hours, using 150 horses along the route. Two Shifnal inns, the Jerningham Arms and the Star, competed in catering for the lucrative trade brought in by the coaches. In 1829 18 coaches a day, including the Holyhead Royal Mail coaches, stopped at Shifnal to change horses and set down and pick up passengers. However, it seems that this traffic was already declining even before the railway reached Shifnal, in 1844 there were only nine coaches a day. When the railway from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury was opened in 1849 the remaining coaching trade rapidly disappeared.