In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, the building that stands between the offices of the Wellington Journal and the former Lloyds Bank in Church Street was home to an Ironmongery business that once belonged to Samuel Corbett. He began his commercial life as a Blacksmith in King Street and founded an agricultural engineering company in Park Street before 1850
Park Street and Then The World
By the end of the Victorian era, S Corbett and Son were one the best known manufacturers of barn machinery in the country, being particularly renowned at the time for their patent ‘Plymouth’ grinding mills. The Company proclaimed that the product was ‘the world’s best’ and could ‘grind into the finest meal all kinds of ,grain, chemical, vegetable or mineral substances’. This appears to have been no idle boast, with the Plymouth model picking up over 80 agricultural awards from societies and shows throughout Europe, including first prize at the Royal Agricultural Society of England’s trials in 1890. If further proof of the product’s quality were needed, the mills were exported from the company’s Park Street Works across the British Empire and beyond, as demonstrated by a glowing review in the ‘Colonies of India’ publication from 1890, which described the mill as the ‘most serviceable of its kind’.
Into The Twentieth Century
The shop in Church Street later passed from Samuel to his son William, who had relocated the business to Alexandra Road by 1909, manufacturing galvanised iron tanks under the name of W. Corbett & Company. The Park Street enterprise remained as an important local manufacturer for much of the Twentieth Century, when the company’s range of products was expanded to include horse hoes, sheep troughs and seed drills, before closure in 1974. Although the Park Street Works has since been demolished, its presence in the area is commemorated in the name of the Cambrian Row housing development (the ‘Cambrian’ being another model from the Company’s grinding mill range) that now occupies the site, while the Corbett family memorial still remains in a prominent position on Lych Gate Walk, in All Saints parish church yard.
At the beginning of the Victorian period, this building was home to the Shropshire Banking Company. As a consequence of its location on the edge of the east Shropshire coalfield, Wellington began to enjoy a commercial upturn in its fortunes during the latter stages of the 1700s. Thomas Eyton, the Registrar-General of Shropshire, took advantage of this trend in 1805, when he opened the town’s first regular banking facilities in partnership with two prominent local Industrialists, John Wilkinson and Joseph Reynolds.
Decline and Rebirth
The Eyton family, who held the Manor of Eyton-On-The Weald Moors, had become prominent landowners in Wellington after Thomas Eyton’s father had moved to the town in the 1750s. However, this was to change in 1817, when Eyton committed suicide after falling into alcoholism and running up severe debts. To pay his arrears, the Exchequer moved for an order of sale to seize some of Eyton’s property, which included three houses in Church Street, lands in Leegomery Road, a pew in Wellington Church and six other houses in Vineyard Road. It was at this point that Eyton’s son, who was also called Thomas, moved back to the family’s ancient seat of Eyton Hall.
The Wellington Journal
Until 1965, the building standing on the corner of Church Street and Queen Street was the headquarters of Shropshire’s leading local newspaper of the period, ‘The Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News’.
The Journal was not the first regular newspaper to be printed in the town, as this honour belonged to Robert Hobson, who also founded the ‘Hobson and Company’ printing and stationery business in the Market Square. This was the same concern that had originally belonged to the Houlston family, one of the largest provincial printers in England at the beginning of the Victorian period. Hobson founded ‘The Railway Messenger or Wellington Advertiser’ in 1849, which later became known as the ‘Shropshire News, Wellington Advertiser and Mineral District Reporter’, until its demise in 1874. At that time, the newspaper was absorbed by the Journal, when the ‘Shrewsbury News’ part of its title was also added.
Foundation, Consolidation and Departure
The Wellington Journal itself was established by Robert Leake in 1854, five years after Hobson’s publication and quickly became the area’s leading local paper. This fact was demonstrated by the lengthy number of publications whose titles appeared under the newspaper’s mast head, all of which had been incorporated into the Journal in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. By 1892, this included the ‘Wellington Standard’, which was one of several ‘Liberal’ publications to be printed in the town, as was the ‘Shropshire Examiner’, published in Wellington between 1874 and 1876. Wellington’s long association with newspaper production ended in 1965, when the Journal relocated to new premises in Ketley, where the ‘Shropshire Star’ is now published.