Beer Enthusiast To Open A Famous Ale Shrine, The Dolphin, Shrewsbury

THE DOLPHIN, Shrewsbury which was purchased following the approach of a beer enthusiast by Joule’s Brewery, Market Drayton at the end of last year  is due to re-open its doors early August, following a full refurbishment.  The pub has been undergoing extensive restoration and local craftsmen have been busy reinstating the old bar and small snugs.

The building originates back to 1820 and stands alongside what used to be the Whitchurch turnpike, an industrial district bordering Coton Hill, north of Shrewsbury railway station.  There were warehouses and factory’s either side of the Shrewsbury canal and the Whitchurch to Crewe railway and the pub served the local factories and canal.  Owned by Trouncers & Co. in 1874, the Ale House was tied for beer and stout and free for spirits. The pub had eight private and three public rooms and served mainly the local canal workers.  The restoration has re-recreated the public rooms, now providing a snug, the bar and the lounge.  The name ‘The Dolphin’ refers to the sea creature or could have been transcribed from the French word, son of the king, usually the eldest son of the French King, who was known as the Dauphin, from the middle of the fourteenth century.

Trudie Meredith from Joule’s commented ‘We have really enjoyed working with Steve who is a beer and old pub fanatic, his extensive research has lead to the Dolphin sign being re-created with a symbolic cherub travelling on a heraldic dolphin depicting the interest the Victorians once had in Greek & Roman methodology and echo’s the nostalgia associated with the bygone era of pubs and real ale.


Steve with sponsorship from Joule’s Brewery saved the pub after it had been abandoned, eventually being put up for auction.  The plan is for it to become  a true ‘local’ in a strategic and important growing community in Shrewsbury, somewhere it can promote passion for beer,  local pubs and continue to establish its reputation in the town. Trudie from Joule’s commented; ‘Steve wants to provide the customers with a wonderful nostalgic trip to a bygone era of pubs and ale, serving perfect ale, in traditional surroundings with cosy rooms, real fires, and antique benches and tables – that’s right up our street so we were very keen to make this happen.  His passion is infectious and he insisted on preserving every detail, even down to the original gas lights – the only pub to have working gas lights in Shropshire.


Steve Illidge, has worked in the world of hospitality since the age of 16 and for the last year has gained valuable experience working with ‘Brunning & Price’ at The Woodbridge Inn, Coalport. Steve was involved in the initial opening of the Woodbridge, building the brand in the local community. Steve loves pubs and the community value and spirit they provide.  The food offering will support local suppliers: honest, wholesome, simple, hearty pub food, reflecting the traditional surroundings in which it will be served.


Steve, ‘the locals thought the Dolphin was about to be lost forever which would have been a tragedy for an original parlour pub – with original gas lights still working. Joule’s are brilliant sponsors and have given us the freedom to make this happen. I am sure it will be a great little pub again – saved in the nick of time, I had really thought it was close to becoming flats so this is really great news. A lot of pubs are closing, but there are very few pubs like this one – it’s really special.

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Steve Illidge with The Dolphins new swing sign