Ludlow Self Catering Holiday Cottages, Shropshire
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Ludlow was described by Country Life as the most vibrant small town in England and I have to agree. For, unlike other towns, many of the traditional shops in Ludlow have survived and prospered, it is not dominated by many of the high street chains you find everywhere. There are numerous specialist food shops and independent clothes shops. Bodenham's, a clothing retailer, is one of the oldest shops in the and celebrated its 600 th anniversary in 2005. There are three supermarkets in the town the most controversy being caused when Tesco was eventually built in Corve Street on the old cattle market site. The town also boasts its own brewery, Ludlow Brewery, once again. It started in 2006 and has recently moved into new, larger premises, a converted engine shed, close to the station.
In 2004 the council was granted funding from Advantage West Midlands to build a new Eco-Park on the outskirts of the town on the other side of the A49, with space for new 'environmentally friendly' office buildings and a park & ride facility. The park and ride has made it possible for the town to manage large crowd pulling events such as Food Festival without bringing the town centre to a grinding halt.
More construction work began in 2006 on the same section of by-pass by Bennett's development company on a much-debated piece of land on the town's fringe known as The Foldgate. The land had been designated for commercial use. A petrol filling station, Travelodge hotel and pub chain pub / restaurant, opened in late 2008 after the previous plans to include a number of 'high-street' stores generate a huge amount of local opposition and was thrown out when an independent official branded it 'damaging' and 'out-of-place' with the character of the old town.
On 26 June 2007, rising flood water caused Burway Bridge in Ludlow to collapse severing a gas main and causing 20 homes in nearby Corve Street to be evacuated. The pictures of one house collapsing into the river Corve made the national press and television. The bridge is now replaced with a new construction.
In June 2011 planning permission was given for the development of a 5 star Caravan Park on the outskirts of Ludlow. It is to be on an old RAF camp on the Overton Road and will cost over three million pounds. It is hoped it will be open in 2012.
The town is also home to an arts and cinema centre - The Ludlow Assembly Rooms - that hosts live music, theatre, stand up comedy and talks. It also acts as an arts community centre, has a visual arts gallery, and on most evenings, shows a film, from a wide variety of genres (including classic, arthouse, and blockbuster). With the recent reductions in funding from the Arts Council its future was in doubt but a rescue plan involving the Herefords Courtyard Centre for the Arts seems on the cards.
The Ludlow Festival has been held annually since 1960, during the end of June and the start of July each year. An open area within the castle serves as the stage and backdrop for various Shakespearean plays, while a number of supporting events at various venues include classical and pop/rock concerts, varied musicians, lecture talks from public figures, and entertainers.
The annual Ludlow Marches Festival of Food & Drink is a food festival that takes place in and around Ludlow in September. Centred on Ludlow Castle, where over 200 local, small food producers showcase and sell their wares, the three-day event involves the town centre in food and drink trails including the famous 'Sausage Trail'. The Ludlow Food Festival was the first food festival and it has been widely copied across the UK. However, it has kept to its original brief to show case local small producers and suppliers.
The Medieval Christmas Fayre is another annual event in Ludlow taking place during late November, again centred on Ludlow Castle and the market square. It has proved very popular and has gone from strength to strength
Ludlow has featured in movies and TV programmes including Tom Sharpe's Blott on the Landscape and 90s TV adaptations of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling and Moll Flanders.
Ludlow has connections with a number of figures in the arts. Miltonís Comus was first performed in Ludlow Castle in 1634, and the ashes of Alfred Edward Housman, poet and author of "A Shropshire Lad" are buried in the graveyard of St. Laurence's Church and marked by a cherry tree. Stanley J. Weyman, the novelist known as the "Prince of Romance", was also born in Ludlow. The naval historian and novelist Captain Geoffrey Bennett (Sea Lion) lived in Ludlow after his retirement in 1974 up to his death in 1983 and his ashes were interred in the parish churchyard. Sheena Porter, a childrenís novelist, many of whose works are about Ludlow and the surrounding area, won the Carnegie Medal in 1964 for her wonderful novel, Nordy Bank. She was a Librarian in Ludlow when I was young and still lives in Ludlow. A year ago I had the pleasure of meeting her again, shortly, strangely, after I had just re read Nordy Bank.