Friday, 21 November 2014

The Bear

There was once a pub in Shrewsbury called The Bear, which no longer exists. However, across the road are the Bear Steps, which keep the name retained in Shrewsbury history. This area is called Fish Street, and remains mostly unchanged to the point that one could easily imagine that they'd actually stepped through time into the past, if it wasn't for the modern day traffic.

This area of Shrewsbury is quite well known for its funny names- Grope Lane being the alleyway that leads to it from the high street, named as such due to the prostitutes that used to frequent it.
I'm not sure if the name "Fish Street" has any link to the prostitution, but the pub that still exists there called The Three Fishes, was once such a famous brothel that even today there are some elderly folks who refuse to go in simply because of the reputation it had when they were young.
I was informed once that The Bear Steps were once called The Bare Steps for the prostitution, but this turned out to be wrong. The Bear Steps are named for the Bear Pub . And that got its name because they used to have a bear that would dance in the street for the entertainment of the public.

Apparently this hook in the ground was once used to tether the bear down while it was made to dance. It's very strange to think that Shrewsbury once had such public displays.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to explore the building that used to be the Bear Inn, which has recently reopened as a cafe. So at the time that I explored it, it was a work in progress.

A large opening in the ceiling to the upper floor...

There was actually a hook suspended above this hole, so that they could lift goods upstairs back in the day. The upstairs area was full of stuff.

 There was a pretty good view of the street from the upstairs too.

The Bear Steps

Grope Lane

The balcony of the Bear Steps Gallery

Long time readers of this blog will recognise Fish Street from my rooftopping escapades on the rooftop maze.

The former Bear Inn had an interesting attic, which was pretty tiny but was allegedly one of the most haunted attics in Shrewsbury, and had sent psychics running in fear due to some presence.
Take from that what you want. I love a Shrewsbury legend purely for the sake of the legend itself rather that its believability.


There was also a cellar but that was fixed up and all modern, although at one point all the buildings down Grope Lane were apparently connected, before being split off into individual shops. The cellar retained the buildings connectivity for longer than the individual shops, but apparently the Bear Steps Inn is the only way down there, although the other shops have yet to clarify that.

This means that somewhere behind a wall, in the cellars bathroom, is a blocked up doorway to an entire unexplored cellar.

But I guess since this place has reopened I might never see it. But I got a few shots of what I could explore...

It wasn't much but this little chunk of Shrewsbury had a surprising history, and has now reopened into a lovely cafe. Look for it next time you're out in Shrewsbury. It looks good, and the owner is really friendly. Check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the intriguing photos. We hope to visit the cafe.