Carline Crescent is a modern complex for older people situated near the English Bridge on the corner of Coleham Head and Longden Coleham. It was built on Carline’s Field, named after the Carlines, who were a dynasty of architects, builders and sculptors, active for around a hundred years. John Carline I came from Lincoln to oversee the masonry work for the first English Bridge (opened in 1774). He bought Carline’s Field, and used it as his mason’s yard. His son, John II (1758-1834) later established himself as a successful builder, stonemason and sculptor, both in Shrewsbury and much farther afield. He did the masonry work for St Chad’s Church opened 1792), built Montford Bridge (also opened 1792) and designed and rebuilt St Alkmund’s Church (1795), but his most significant project was the design and building of the new Welsh Bridge between 1793 and 1795. He was also much in demand as a stonemason and sculptor, particularly for church monuments. Perhaps his best-known work is the four lions that guard the base of Lord Hill’s column near the Shirehall (1817). His eldest son, also John, joined him in the business around 1814, and the two worked together until the father’s death in 1834, when John III carried on alone till his death in 1862.
John II built himself a fine house where the Wakeman School now stands. He also moved his stone yard and workshops next door, which is now the Abbey Gardens, where some of the firm’s practice pieces remain. If you look closely you will find in the rockery blocks of stone with the Shrewsbury crest and sculptures representing justice. These must have been some John Carline II’s earliest work, and were originally on the front of the Shirehall in the Square (finished 1785). After the Shirehall was rebuilt in 1837, the family reclaimed them, but why the Shirehall had to be rebuilt after such a short lifespan is another story!