Before The Iron Horse Arrived
At the onset of the Victorian age, the coach and horse was still one of Wellington’s principle means of communication with the outside world. As a form of passenger transport, coaching was at the height of its popularity during the early Nineteenth Century, when upwards of 3000 coaches worked along the country’s roads. Competition for trade was fierce and by 1828, no fewer than 13 London-bound coaches passed through Wellington every day on their way from Shrewsbury, with many of them making scheduled stops at either the Falcon Inn (now the Old Orleton) or the Cock Hotel on Watling Street. These establishments played a vital part in the coaching trade, providing food and accommodation for weary travellers, fresh horses for the next stage of the journey and smaller carriages for passengers who needed transport to other locations. The Falcon, also received and forwarded letters and parcels from Wellington’s postal district via the Royal Mail coach. However, this long established system was quickly wiped out of existence when the railway arrived in town during 1849.
As the death of the stagecoach Industry demonstrated, not every business in Wellington benefited from the coming of the railways and this was certainly true of the Talbot Inn, which was one of the town’s most prominent hostelries until its demolition in the late 1840s. The Inn had stood on the corner of the Market Square since at least 1723, on the site of what is now the entrance of Station Road and was greatly improved at the beginning of the Victorian period, serving as an important meeting place for many local organisations, including the manor court of Lord Forester, who also owned the premises themselves.
In 1846, the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway obtained an Act of Parliament to build a line through the centre of Wellington. It passed through the stable, coach houses and offices of the Inn, prompting Forester to petition Parliament with a list of his many objections to the scheme, which also affected other parts of his considerable estates in the area. He was eventually compensated to the tune of £5,286 and 15s. for his various losses and the railway company purchased the site in 1848, when a day-long auction of the Inn’s effects was held, before demolition work began.
Away to Bony Bank
Before the cutting across Church Street was made, the area occupied by the Railway looked very different. Between Barber’s and WH Smith’s, were at least four buildings with frontages onto Church Street, including a grocery, drapery and tea dealership belonging to John Danby, while Thomas Baddeley’s ironmongery business and workshop stood on the opposite side of the road. Part of the land acquired by the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway for the station buildings formerly belonged to All Saints parish church and included the old vicarage house, which stood adjacent to the retaining wall below the modern day churchyard. During construction work, some mortal remains had to be removed from the area and crosses were integrated into the ironwork of the new station buildings as a mark of respect to the former inhabitants of the site. Some of these crosses can still be seen today and one of them is incorporated into the weather vane that stands on the roof of the booking office. Allegedly, the exhumed bodies from the old part of the churchyard were not treated with such reverence and they were taken and dumped between two railway bridges in Wrockwardine Road, at a place which became known locally as Bony Bank’!