One of the greatest pleasures of being a poet is when a commission comes along! Particularly so when an enterprise embraces poetry as part of its brand.
Since Beatons opened I’ve been asked to write a poem in honour of the location of each of its tearooms. It involves going to the town or village ‘incognito’ and spending the day teasing out what the place is like at heart, from residents and traders.
Wellington in Shropshire was a bit of a hike from my writer’s retreat in Berkshire, but what a find when I got there…
I’d already been briefed that the town had got behind a regeneration and revival process. I’d heard of the ‘Love Wellington’ initiative created by local businesses. But I discovered a lot more thanks to the extremely friendly strangers who were only too willing to chat, and a large dose of serendipity as to who I found myself talking to.
First up, I discovered it hasn’t got a bookshop, so the carefully curated selection of new books to purchase will surely go down a treat when Beatons Wellington opens. But of course, I had to hold my tongue, so I didn’t let the cat out of the bag as to who my client was!
I parked on the outskirts of town and popped into The Glebe, home to many of Wellington’s Voluntary organisations. Miriam gave me a few leads and I headed down Tan Bank to discover Shropshire’s Fish and Chip Shop of the Year lives here – The Silver Fish
At the apex of the two main streets I found Love Mobility perfectly situated opposite Age Concern Wellington. Both Scott, Manager of the former, and Helen who was volunteering at Age Concern confirmed what I suspected, that once people move to Wellington they tend to stay.
Next stop The Public Library. But on the way serendipity interrupted me. At a tiny garden remembrance bed, a veteran and his carer were planting up crosses in honour of those from the Commonwealth Nations who had served this country. Clifton, the veteran, said ‘before Telford came along, everything was ‘Wellington’…’ He then shared stories about the town’s history explaining that there was a lovely story about a Giant getting lost which explains how The Wrekin, Wellington’s famous hill, came into being. It’s told in an illustrated children’s book by Dave Weston, illustrated by local artist Sian William
Since Beatons Wellington was still enjoying the last stages of its shop-fit, I headed to the café in The Orbit, Wellington’s new 64 seat cinema. There I met many enthusiastic culture lovers and was charmed by volunteer Rob who’s a poetry fan like me. Despite it being not being a market day and dreary weather-wise, everyone seemed remarkably upbeat and as one lady said, ‘Wellington’s got soul.’
With a blossoming station, newly painted shop fronts and a Community Clock that begged to have a mention in the poem, Wellington seems just the town in Shropshire to boast a Beatons Tearooms.
As for the poem which emerged? You’ll have to wait until Beatons Tearooms and Bookshop Wellington opens to pick up your free postcard!
Liz Darcy Jones