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New book sheds light on Drapers history

A new book which sheds fresh light shed on a powerful Shropshire trading company has been launched.

The Shrewsbury Drapers Company 1462- 2017: The Legacy, by local historian Nigel Hinton, explores the 555-year history of the Shrewsbury Drapers Company from its establishment in 1462 by charter from Edward IV.

Hinton’s detailed research uncovers how Shrewsbury’s merchants were way ahead of the game in how they used ‘livres’ to finance their international trade with Europe. Livres can be seen as the forerunners of today’s bitcoins.

“It's a tale of wool, war and wealth with the early use of bitcoin and quantitative easing,” explains Nigel, a former master of the Shrewsbury Drapers Company.

“The book demonstrates that there were no shrinking violets amongst the drapers of Shrewsbury. As middlemen they ruthlessly dominated the Welsh woollen cloth trade in the Marches region becoming the predominant guild of the region in the 15th and 16th centuries.

“I bring some of these turbulent characters vividly to life. They lobbied parliament to give them a monopoly and when Parliament failed to oblige they created their own by refusing to buy wool from the Welsh markets, thus squeezing their competitors into submission.”

The story concludes with chapters on the activities of today`s drapers, with their most important work remaining housing, including the provision of 25 new homes at Drapers Place, in Shrewsbury, opened this year.

Christine Holmes, a member of the Drapers Company, who receive all profits from the book, said: "It is a fascinating and wonderfully crafted tale.”