Pontesbury is a rural village in the heart of Shropshire. It has a rich and ancient history, from the group of Iron Age farmers who chose Pontesford Hill to be their last ditch fortification and built their ramparts circling the summit, to the Romans and Anglo Saxons whose languages gave the village its name. The natural advantages of Pontesbury’s location – seven miles south west of Shrewsbury on an established route ; well watered by the River Rea and the Pontesford and Plough brooks, and set amongst useful crop growing land – have ensured that people through the centuries have recognised its strategic and natural resources and settled here.
The Normans left a castle on the rising land behind the Baptist chapel, although there’s just the road layout and an appropriately named ‘Bailey Crescent’ left to remind us of their influence. Now and then in medieval times the area was raided by Welsh cattle thieves looking for rich pickings in the isolated farms around the village.
By the 19th century Pontesbury was a thriving village of shopkeepers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, innkeepers, cobblers, and tailors (in 1851 there were twenty four tradesmen in the village). By the turn of the century, miners had also arrived in numbers, attracted by the quarrying, coal and lead mining in the locality. However after this brief period of industrial activity when the population increased there was no further significant increase until the 1930s when Pontesbury rapidly developed as a dormitory village.
In the 2011 census the village population count was 3,227, a large village by any standards with many excellent amenities and ideally placed on the edge of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It boasts both primary and a secondary schools, the latter named after Mary Webb, an authoress who lived at The Nills and Roseville in the village. Both schools are situated in the shadow of Pontesford Hill. There is a doctors surgery, a dentist practice, a library, a hardware shop, a butchers, a co-op, hairdressers, churches and chapels, inns and restaurants and a host of other trades and businesses associated with an active village.
Leisure activities and clubs on offer are many and various: amateur dramatics, photography, a monthly forum group, walking, a ukulele band, badminton and gardening to name but a few. The annual hill race is keenly contested by locals and all comers but more elusive than a commemorative plaque or cup awarded to the victors of that race, is the Golden Arrow said to lie hidden on Pontesford Hill awaiting discovery. “It’s nought but a legend”, Mary Webb might say, but it certainly gave her the title of one of her most loved books and is a hint that there is a rich heritage of folklore clinging to the hills and byways around this most modern village.