Saturday 9th January 2016
The Dolphin is a remarkable survivor, having been closed for a considerable time a few years ago. It was built in 1820 alongside what was the Shrewsbury to Whitchurch turnpike. This area of Shrewsbury was being industrialised at the time.
Down the slope behind the pub was the Flax Mill alongside a section of the Shrewsbury Canal, close to the Shrewsbury to Crewe railway line, please see below regarding the Mill.
In 1874 the Dolphin was acquired by Trouncer’s Brewery of Shrewsbury. They were founded in 1807 and were located on the opposite side of the River Severn to the town in the Longden Coleham area. The buildings still survive and are used as a store. They are Grade II listed. Trouncer’s Brewery were taken over by Ind Coope & Allsopp in 1952.
That company closed their Shrewsbury brewery in 1954 with beer thereafter coming from Burton upon Trent. The two Burton breweries of Ind Coope and Allsopps had merged in 1937.
At the time both of them were in the top ten of British breweries in terms of capacity. Later they became even larger when they merged with Ansells and Tetley-Walker, the latter also being the result of an earlier merger, in 1961. The company was renamed Allied Breweries in 1963. I know this is a bit of a digression but it places the pub into context.
In the early years the Ditherington Flax Mill provided the pub with considerable custom. It was constructed in 1797.
Later, during the last quarter of the 19th Century the Mill was converted into a maltings. The building still stands and there is a good view of it from passing trains and there is no mistaking its former use. It was owned by William Jones & Co. They went into receivership in 1934 and it closed. It is notable because it was the first iron-framed building of its size in the world, so is extremely important.
The maltings were used as Army barracks during the Second World War. It reverted to its former function in 1948 and mostly supplied Ansell’s of Aston, Birmingham until its second closure in 1987. The painted signs, which are still visible, on the brickwork of the building show the owners to be Albrew Maltsters. It is Grade II listed and it is now a community and arts centre and is undergoing considerable expansion.
Back to the Dolphin, I believe it became a Free House in the 1990’s, presumably after a period of ownership by the Punch or Spirit Pub Companies that were created following the Beer Orders. In 2000 a small brewery was installed an outbuilding at the rear of the pub. From 2001 It produced beer for the pub and sold some on when it traded as “The Dolphin Brewery”. I visited during the early 2000s, and remember their beers as being quite good.
Things changed a little in 2006 when Mark (Os) Osmond purchased the pub. Apparently he was unaware of the brewery round the back. Some beers were later brewed but it ceased production in the autumn of 2008. To be fair to Mr Osmond, who was not a brewer, and the comments over the lack of home-made beers, it is very difficult to free up a whole day to make beer, especially after his wife had a baby in 2008.
The pub closed around September 2011 and it was thought that it had been lost forever. That was until a knight in shining armour arrived in the form of Joule’s Brewery of Market Drayton, Shropshire.
They purchased the pub in November 2012 after it had been closed for over a year, and set about restoring it in their wonderful style that is so reminiscent of days of yore.
There is no doubt that the rehabilitation of the pub is nothing short of excellent. As you enter you can see that there are two distinct areas either side of the door. To the left the room has floorboards and there are leatherette settles either side of the fireplace (in use) with loose small tables and stools in front. There is a dartboard and it would appear that the darts team is very active.
A beautiful Joules mirror adorns the wall yet the crowning feature of this side of the pub are the hanging gas lamps that have been completely restored and provide their atmospheric warm glow of light. Back over to the left side of the pub that contains the glossy wooden bar counter with all the hand pumps. The floor here is covered with shiny flagstones.
The room is home to a second fireplace surmounted by another brewery mirror, the furniture is similar to the other side of the pub. What was once another room is found at the back of this area. It leads to decking looking out over the railway line. There is a beautiful etched mirror in this back room. One of the hand pump handles was made for the old Joule’s company in the 1950s with their name embossed up the handle. Another pump handle is the end of a fire hose, acknowledging the proximity of the Fire Station.
There are normally three Joule’s beers offered. Two regulars and a seasonal are normally on. On the occasion of my visit there was Pale Ale (4.1%) and Blonde (4.3%) representing the regulars. Old No 6 (4.8%), a winter warmer was the seasonal offering. Two guest beers are normally available. When I called in they were Derventio (Derby) Feast (4.8%) and RCH (West Hewish, Somerset) Old Slug Porter (4.5%). They also serve Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Old Rosey Cider (7.3%).
Pub snacks are served such as toasted sandwiches. There are also daily specials that are more substantial. This pub is close to the town centre and shouldn’t be missed if you are in Shrewsbury.
The Dolphin Inn, 48, St Michaels Street, Shrewsbury SY1 2EZ. Tel: 01743 247005
Open: Monday-Friday 17.00-23.00; Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 19.00-22.30
From Shrewsbury railway station it is very easy to get to this pub.
Leaving the station, go right under the railway line. Keep walking with the Post Office Sorting Office on your right, then the fire station on your left. After this you should see the pub on the left side of the road.
From Shrewsbury Bus Station you can get to the pub on routes X5, 25 and 511.
Times are variable with nothing much on Sundays.