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Wolverhampton Past

December 10, 2013

‘Wolverhampton was once such a lovely town.’  We must all have heard something similar and I don’t think it is just a feeling of nostalgia.
When I come into the town from any direction I have to agree that it is not looking too good. Today I am travelling on the bus from Compton and the approach to Chapel Ash is marked by the derelict Eye Infirmary and the Charles Clark building. Up we go through Chapel Ash, a shadow of its former self since the Ring Road sliced through the bottom of Darlington Street. Before the Ring Road Darlington Street led naturally to Chapel Ash, post Ring Road the idea of going through a subway, albeit with a sunken garden in it, just didn’t have the same appeal. So Chapel Ash was left separated from the town centre and shoppers stopped visiting.

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The bus turns right at the Ring Road and then first left up past the retail market. Not exactly derelict but definitely in a sorry state not least because of its location. On its former site with the wonderful old wholesale market building it would have stood more of a chance of competing in today’s world. Now, tucked out of the way, I feel very sorry for those whose livelihoods depend upon passing trade, which a market usually does.  Remind me, just how did we lose our wonderful Market Square in front of St Peter’s?

We cross the bottom of Victoria Street and  Worcester Street. There is a row of old shops just falling down and the question is ‘Why?’  I remember walking down from Queen Square and the whole nature of this part of town was totally different from Queen Square and even from Victoria Street, of which it is really just an extension. Remind me, what are the plans for this area now and will it be worth the cost?

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Up Cleveland Street we go, a dispiriting road of  sixties and seventies development although I can just see some old workshops in the back yards of properties which are nice.Today I am off to Wolverhampton Archives and so I am walking through the Mander Centre. It is raining hard and as I walk through there are buckets lined up at strategic points to catch the rain. Remind me again, just how did we lose our Victorian  Arcade and was it in the name of improvement and something that would last?

I walk to Molyneux House, under the Ring Road which my father always said was built in the wrong place, far too close to the town. I emerge from the subway and pass a lovely old pub, The Wanderer, derelict of course, whose days must surely be numbered.

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It has been a journey which leaves me wondering where everything went wrong and just what did happen to Wolverhampton’s beautiful old streets and buildings? We cannot get back what has been lost but we can save the heritage we have and make sure that we make the best of what we have left. Springfield Brewery, the shops in Worcester Street, the J. N. Miller buildings, those around the Royal Hospital and many more landmarks are disappearing before our eyes and it is a disgrace. The question is, how do we stop it?

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2 Comments
  1. Gill Matthews Wyken Worfield permalink

    Generations of my family lived in Wolverhampton and I can remember the beautiful Victorian arcade. Then they built the Mander centre and then the ugly Wulfrun centre. The beautiful Georgian and Victorian town was a victim of the 1960’s ! Ugly concrete and ring roads cutting through what were once elegant streets.
    Re the original market square was next to St Peters church but was moved to its present site in the name of progress.

    • How on earth we lost the wonderful Arcade Gill I really don’t know, nor how we had the ghastly Ring Road foisted on us. Roads are a big problem especially in rural areas with busy roads separating communities which were once joined and making moving around in anything apart from a car often impossible.

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