A Journey down the Severn from Thomas Harral’s Picturesque Views of the River (1824)

1700 - 1830 (c.)

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.

Text by: Malcolm Dick

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1532-0A Journey down the Severn from Thomas Harral’s Picturesque Views of the River (1824) 562-0Introduction: the Severn Waterway 517-0Poetry and Visions of the River Severn 514-0The Severn and its Origins in Wales 516-0Newtown to Montgomery 518-0Powis Castle to Welshpool 519-0Welshpool to Shrewsbury 520-0Shrewsbury 521-0The English Bridge, Shrewsbury 522-0The Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury 524-0Atcham Bridge, Shropshire 525-0The Wrekin 526-0Buildwas Bridge and the Severn Earthquake of 1773 529-0Coalbrookdale and the Ironbridge 530-0Madeley, Broseley and Lilleshall 535-0Bridgnorth 536-0Bridgnorth’s Economy 537-0Bridgnorth Castle 538-0Quatford and the nearby Landscape 539-0Bewdley 540-0The Wyre Forest 542-0Stourport 543-0Stourport Bridge 545-0Worcester 546-0Worcester to Upton-on-Severn 547-0Tewkesbury 550-0Gloucester 551-0Gloucester’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).