The Grand Theatre the only surviving theatre in the Black Country today in 2013, designed by eminent architect Charles J. Phipps, and constructed by Wolverhampton builder Henry Gough in the splendid location of new Lichfield Street, in 1894. It is today considered by many as the finest theatre in the Midlands.
When you visit the grand theatre, Wolverhampton, you cannot fail to notice the great chandolier that dominates the auditorium.
Its giant, sparkling fringes of crystal (now lit of course by electricity) are almost the only reminder now left in the theatre of its opening over a century ago..
The Grand Chandelier is a silent memorial to the Men of Meynells
The men of Meynell’s who made that chandolier would have scoffed at the idea of a 40 hour week and paid holidays. Although Dickens had then been dead for almost 25 years, the social scene in the Midlands in 1894 appears to have remained very much as in his day.
Meynell’s men began work at 6.30a.m. probably after a walk of several miles.
At 8.00 a.m. they adjourn to the nearest pub. Probably the Dan O’Connell opposite the works or the Warwick seen here, around the corner opposite St Patricks Church in Littles Lane.
There they would enjoy a breakfast of a glass of beer and dry bread. After that they worked through the day till 7.00p.m.with perhaps a midday snack of ‘bread and marg‘, if they were lucky. On Saturdays they packed up early at 3.00p.m. Work, in those days, was certainly a mans whole life, if he could get it!
The firm began as Dixon and Vardy in premises just off Pipers Row in 1798 and it was originally formed to make chandeliers and brass fittings.
They were listed in 1834 as engine pump, gas fittings etc..manufacturers Bilston Street.
Later the named changed to Thacker and Company and shortly after that the firm was taken over by a Mr Ready.
He later brought Mr James Meynell, a Yorkshireman into partnership and then the firm became Ready and Meynell. Above is their advert from 1851
By the 1890’s Mr Ready had retired and in the Red Book dated 1892 under Brassfounders we find Meynell and Sons, Montrose Street.
The skilled craftsmen of the Wolverhampton firm of Meynell and Sons who fashioned the chandolier are long since gone and forgotten along with their works in Montrose Street, swept away in the name of progress. Now in 2013, only remnants of their work remain.
For those not familiar with Meynells Works, Montrose Street and the area around St Mary’s and St Patrick’s Church’s. These pictures are for you.
The above map will give you an idea of the layout before the ring road came and cut a swathe through North Street Stafford Street down to the canal. Sweeping from its path St Mary’s, St Patricks, Meynells Factory along with Montrose Street itself.
Montrose Street probably owes its start as a result of the close proximity to the canal Basin.
Montrose Street is shown on the 1942 Tithe Map, but only the south side (seen above), of the street is built on to any degree.
Soon though there will be a population explosion around this area (known as Carribee Islands at that time) as thousands of Irish immigrants fleeing poverty in Ireland settle here in this small area between the Birmingham canal and Stafford Street in the 1850’s.
I would think it would take a further twenty years before Meynells established their new works in Montrose Street.