A Journey down the Severn from Thomas Harral’s Picturesque Views of the River (1824)
Image: Llandinam, Montgomeryshire. The engraving shows the combination of themes which recur in Thomas Harral’s description of the Severn, the combination of the grandeurs of nature with human settlement and economic activity. This quotation describing the nearby Welsh countryside illustrates these subjects:
“The Severn, combining with the rich and hilly country through which it flows, here forms a beautiful and characteristic landscape…. On the banks of the stream here, are a few scattered mills for the purpose of spinning woollen thread. The domestic manufacture of flannels, by the farmers and cottagers, extends through this vale from Llanidloes… In the descent …one unvaried expanse of smiling cultivation presents itself on either margin….”
Harral, vol I, p 22-24.
Thomas Harral, Picturesque Views of the Severn, 1824
[Image from Shropshire Archives]
This Journey down the Severn, selects from Harral’s material to explore the experiences of an observant early 19th traveller, following the route of the river. Using engravings based on images by Samuel lreland (d.1800) who travelled the Severn in the 1790s, Harral notes how the mountains of Wales give way to fertile soil and sheep farming, whilst the banks of the river show increasing evidence of human settlement, bridge building, industry and commerce. The route passes through growing towns, such as Montgomery, Shrewsbury and Stourport, as Harral describes local history, architecture and economic activity. Alongside the attractions of nature, he notes the contributions of landowners, engineers and entrepreneurs to the shaping of the Shropshire landscape. Women and workers are absent from his record.Next in this section »
Continue browsing this sectionA Journey down the Severn from Thomas Harral’s Picturesque Views of the River (1824) Introduction: the Severn Waterway Poetry and Visions of the River Severn The Severn and its Origins in Wales Newtown to Montgomery Powis Castle to Welshpool Welshpool to Shrewsbury Shrewsbury The English Bridge, Shrewsbury The Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury Atcham Bridge, Shropshire The Wrekin Buildwas Bridge and the Severn Earthquake of 1773 Coalbrookdale and the Ironbridge Madeley, Broseley and Lilleshall Bridgnorth Bridgnorth’s Economy Bridgnorth Castle Quatford and the nearby Landscape Bewdley The Wyre Forest Stourport Stourport Bridge Worcester Worcester to Upton-on-Severn Tewkesbury Gloucester Gloucester’s Economy and the Severn Trade
Sources and Further Reading
Harral, Thomas, Picturesque Views of the Severn with Historical and Topographical Illustrations by Thomas Harral. The Embellishments from Designs by the late Samuel Ireland. vol.1 and vol. 2, (London, G and W B Whittaker, 1824).
Jeremiah, Josephine, The River Severn: a Pictorial History from Shrewsbury to Gloucester (Chichester, Phillimore, 1998).
Morris, Richard K, The Shropshire Severn (Shropshire Books, n.d.).
Trinder, Barrie, “The most Extraordinary District in the World” Ironbridge and Coalbrookdale. An anthology of visitors’ impressions of Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale and the Shropshire coalfield, Second Edition, (Chichester, Phillimore, 1988).