The Shropshire Olympian Festival
In 1864 (in the year that the building holding the Tortoise Loft was erected – the date is on the hopper-heads of the downpipes), The Olympian Festival which had started in Much Wenlock in 1850 was brought to the Quarry Park in Shrewsbury. It was a roaring success, and the National Olympian Association was founded the next year. The rest is sporting history. On the weekend of the 17th to 19th June, 2011, Shrewsbury held a re-enactment of this event.
The Friday was mainly a sports day for Shropshire Schools, the Saturday incorporated the Shrewsbury Carnival, the Sunday was a day of varied events, including coracle races on the River Severn and picnics on the grass, concluding with a massed choir singing the anthem ‘Floreat Salopia’, a fitting finale to a remarkable weekend. The costumes and events were a feast for a photographer.
I was there for a while on the Saturday afternoon and all day on the Sunday, when I was one of several Official Photographers producing black and white images for the Retrospective exhibition. The next week was a flurry of photo-processing, to prepare the work. The exhibition is now on show at Theatre Severn, in the Chapel Bar and is well worth seeing. A number of my pictures were selected, among many fine shots from the other photographers. I’m showing some of those that were not selected on this page, and you can see my full set from the Shropshire Olympian Festival on Flickr.
Thank you to all who were involved, and particularly those who were happy to pose in their fine Victorian costumes.