I can never think PizzaExpress without recalling love affairs, tangled, sometimes complex, occasionally eased over a well stretched pizza. Now PizzaExpress is coming to our town. I’d like to know your views on whether this is good for Ludlow.


Way back in the late 1970s, marauding hoards of archaeologists young and old met in PizzaExpress in Covent Garden on a Friday night to debate the world of the past – and our fears for its future – over glorious pizza. I was there seeking love amid heritage. I stoked my passions for both with carafes of red wine.

Fast forward twenty years to the 1990s and yet again I have memories of love around pizzas. My then companion represented one of pop industry’s leading singers and barely got a break from the pressures of business. I was building a company in Oxfordshire and rapidly approaching burnout. Together we whiled away what evenings we could spare in Marylebone PizzaExpress, sharing our fascination for heritage and love of pizza.

Twenty years onwards again, and pizza and heritage are in my mind again. But I am not sure I am in love with what’s happening.

The Marches on Ludlow’s Market Square has applied for a licence for serve alcohol when it converts to PizzaExpress. It’s the building that used to be the George Inn.

I like PizzaExpress.

But I can’t ignore that this is also another intrusive national brand coming to our town of independent traders. In recent years we have seen Costa, WH Smiths, Fat Face and Crewe invade. Wildwood took over De Greys. I see tourists packing Costa and local people rushing along the street clutching an insulated cup of the branded steaming brew. (Please don’t rush, this is Ludlow.) I’ve drunk Costa coffee occasionally but in my book it’s a beverage marked down for emergencies rather than a pleasure. As for Fat Face and Crewe, the shirts in their windows cost more than I would ever consider spending on clothes. I confess to buying a newspaper or two in Smiths.

I don’t care much for brands. The only brand I slavishly adore is Marmite. I have never had a Marmite pizza and I can’t see one on the PizzaExpress menu. But as a Marmite Baby, I’m thinking of experimenting in that direction.

In a unique town like ours, national chains fail to sparkle against the local provision. But they do attract customers, especially visitors lured by the huge advertising campaigns of the major chains – or maybe they really like Costa Coffee. But if we get more national brands moving in, Ludlow will become nothing other than a clone shopping town with historic buildings attached.

We don’t have any planning or other powers to prevent the arrival of an international pizza chain. The conversion of The Marches to PizzaExpress can’t be blocked.

But I would like to know whether you think this is a good idea or another slip down a slippery slope to Ludlow losing its unique character.

The application

PizzaExpress has applied to Shropshire Council for a Premises Licence to be known as PizzaExpress, The Marches, 19 Castle Street, Ludlow SY8 1AT.

Supply of alcohol: 11am to midnight Monday to Sunday. Late night refreshment: 23:00 to 00:30 Monday to Sunday. Recorded music and opening hours: 11am to 00:30 Monday to Sunday.

New Year’s Eve: permitted hours (set nationally).

Representations should be sent to: licensing@shropshire.gov.uk

16 thought on “Poll: Will arrival of PizzaExpress in Ludlow chip away at historic character of our town or bring great pizzas with love attached?”
  1. Not keen on the idea of Pizza “anything” in Ludlow – enough takeaways as it is. Don’t like my coffee in buckets either, so Costa’s out for me too. PS When did this application go in? or doesn’t it need to as it’s already got a licence?

    1. We must not forget the Marches is yet another chain, that of Punch Taverns. Pizza Express infinitely better the Punch !!

  2. Watch out for all the litter. How many fines has our wonderful council issued in the last 12 months?

  3. Not meaning to sound negative, but it is a sign of the times towards corporate Americanism where everything is chain’s and eventually the independent will not exist.
    I am glad from my own point of view that I am towards the last 20 years of my life as at least I have enjoyed the crop of great food places and independent pubs.
    Having spent 10 years in the USA and not a single independnt in the vicinity I can tll you it soon loses its novelty when youhave done the lot and each one of the chain wherever it is is identical.

    Ludlow is losing, slowly and irretrievably, its uniqueness. Just somthing we all have to get used to.

  4. love the live music nights in the marches as do a lot of my friends. Bringing a chain restaurant in its place will ruin what little enjoyment/nightlife we do have. In saying this pizza express is my favourite chain, however they’re overpriced and the food is not always great. The marches is top notch as it is.

  5. Like the other new arrivals in the town it is a case of seeing an opportunity to cash in on an historic and lovely town and in the process contribute to its destruction.

  6. Difficult choice here, and maybe not as straight forward as it may appear. Are there any independents waiting in the wings to take over The Marches? If so, they get my vote every time. However, I fear that it may be a case of Pizza Express or nothing.

  7. I’m sorry but…. Pizza Express make their pizza with as much love as my dog makes poop!
    I am actually considering moving to Tenbury or Bromyard or even Lemner to escape the fru-fru frock shops, namby-pamby nick-nack shops and tax dodging chains that clog up Ludlow.
    How can a town that hosts TWO amazing food festivals and the birth place of so many indi retailers and caterers and a stunning micro brewery even contemplate welcoming a faceless restaurant giant? Oh well all be able to boast about how progressive we are… Wrong! This is regressive thinking, firmly inside the box. If you want bland food slathered in salt and fat go to Old Market, Hereford. Please maintain independence, individuality in ludlow.

  8. Andy

    Just like London buses having not had a decent pizza outlet we are now contemplating another. Pizza 10 in Quality Square opened last year and now has a takeaway licence. It is not a chain, high quality and discreetly situated.

    Why another in a visible location and potential for street littering. Perhaps I’ve answered my own question re visibility.

    Nick Tonkin

    1. AND we’ve had The Ludlow Pizza Co. For a good few years now; Lying half way between Munchies and Pizza 10 on the calorie and gourmet scale!
      And with The Cob Oven Co. Doing so well building everyone their own pizza ovens, who goes out for a slice anymore anyway?!?!?

  9. Andy, further to my previous comment ,Is it possibly to include in the planning process a demand for PIZZA EXPRESS to provide additional bins and contribute to their collection?You know where I live. I can track down all the litter that comes out of town already{not from the local Chinese} On a separate note I helped on a Clee Hill litter clean up years ago[still ongoing] Can I help you do the same for Ludlow?Regards Barry.

    1. I am not keen on yet another chain coming into town that buys in all its ingredients from a central source. Also I do not like the length of the licensing hours it has put in for in an area that has a high number of residential properties.

      However, equally I am just as un happy about yet another charity shop opening in the town, there are too many already

  10. We need to retain our independent shops. We already have Pizza Ten and other outlets. The hours for selling alcohol seem excessive for a food outlet.

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