Shrewsbury Roman Catholic Cathedral was constructed in 1853 to the design of Edward Welby Pugin going on from initial drawings made by his father Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. The size limitations of the site and the fact that the Cathedral had to be squeezed in between two existing streets, has always meant that the entrance into the Cathedral at its West End was awkward and abrupt. In the 1990’s a side ramp was constructed to give access to the North side Sacristy door but the entrance was tortuous and meant that disadvantaged members of the congregation could only reach the interior of the Cathedral after having first passed through the Sacristy, using a door that has to be kept locked.
Following two successful applications for funding from the First World War Memorial Fund in 2014 and 2016 respectively, Phase I of the works focussed on improving the principal access and entrance into the Cathedral in order to make it easy for persons of all abilities to enter and leave through the same doorway. To either side of the central porch were a pair of walled off garden spaces which were colonised to provide room for a pair of side entrance steps to serve a reconfigured central porch, creating sufficient room to allow a platform lift to be constructed in the southern side garden. New cast iron railings and gates were manufactured and installed by Topp & Co. Internally, an oak draught lobby was erected at the West end and lettering and emblems now beautifully decorate the glazed doors and panels.
In 2018, Phase II of the works saw the upgrading of the First World War memorial plaque vestibule connecting the West end of the Nave to the South (side) porch. This has now been transformed into a more special space for contemplation and even for quiet prayer: with a new provision a new lighting and heating scheme. The secondary entrance on Belmont to Cathedral House was also reconfigured and a new set of cast iron gates and railing (again from Topp & Co.) were installed creating a coherent boundary to the precinct, marked by the unmistakable cobalt blue quatre-foil.