For the first time in a century, Charles Darwin’s birthplace, which takes pride of place on The Mount, could become a landmark for global heritage. With the current tenant’s lease coming to an end, a group of stakeholders aim to re-confirm Shrewsbury’s intrinsic links with Darwin.

A ‘steering group’, led by Shrewsbury Town Council, has been formed in order to bring the house, which is currently used as office space, back into public hands. The group consists of a range of stakeholders including the Shrewsbury Business Improvement District (Shrewsbury BID), University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS), The Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Shrewsbury Civic Society, Darwin International Institute for Study of Compassion, Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury School. The common belief is, it’s about time the important location becomes a hub, solidifying Shrewsbury’s rightful claim as the birthplace of Charles Darwin providing a space to promote ecology, education, scientific discovery, community building and supporting the visitor economy.

With expertise in fields of research, the environment, business, academia, tourism, heritage and community engagement, the team has strong foundations for ensuring the next steps for the Mount House move forward with the general public’s interest in mind.

Should the group be successful in its bid to take over the house, sympathetic renovations will be made, where necessary, transforming it into a vibrant, desirable area for locals and visitors from afar. The site may also become an anchor institution for UCS, housing Life Sciences courses, appropriately linking with Darwin’s heritage, further increasing the interest from academic talent.

Similarly to the Flaxmill Maltings, the group will create a ‘Friends of the Mount House’ initiative to enable full community engagement in the project. Opportunities will involve carrying out research into family links to Darwin, stewarding on open days and planning activities.

As annual visits to the historic Flaxmill are expected to exceed 100,000, public access to Darwin’s House will inevitably run parallel. The proposed new tourist attraction will raise the town’s national and international profile, highlighting its significance in Darwin’s younger years.

Paul Kirkbright from University Centre Shrewsbury, said: “We are very excited to be part of such a meaningful and worthwhile proposal. Shrewsbury is the only place on Earth that can claim itself as Charles Darwin’s birthplace and the fact we have the opportunity to open up his home to the public is fantastic. We can start something that can be of real benefit in the future and do Darwin justice.”

Aleks Vladimirov from Shrewsbury Business Improvement District, said “The Mount House creates a unique opportunity for us to revitalise a link between Darwin and Shrewsbury. This will have benefits for the town in a number of ways including the attraction for the wider visitor economy.

We’re now preparing for the biggest Darwin festival to date following last year’s success. Between 8th-24th February, we have more than 40 events taking place, cementing our place in Darwin’s story”

The Mount House was the Darwin family home built by Robert Darwin, Charles’ father, in 1798. Charles called the Mount his home until the age of 22. He then left Shrewsbury to take his famous voyage around the world.