But once upon a time it was twice in-spired!
Advert – “NOW 1879-80 – Charles Clark coach and carriage builder Chapel Ash.”
Chapel Ash was well established on this main arterial route, through Wolverhampton, as a fine residential and commercial centre, when the above Advert appeared in ‘Stevens Directory’, which listed all commercial businesses in the Town at the time.
Charles Clark made carriages for horse transport, but even then there is a great indication that we will soon be entering the age of the motor car, and Clark’s will take over a large slice of the west end of Chapel Ash where they traded for the next 100 years.
Charles Clark is well established here in 1950, at the opening of a new showroom in Chapel Ash, by the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor H.Bowdler.
At that time they also had old buildings across the road, as used car sales showrooms. Then in the mid 1960’s, a choice piece of ground close by became available, and the building they took on then, regretably still stands today as a forlorn legacy to their once illustrious name.
Those who travel via Chapel Ash into Wolverhampton these days may, as I do, look at the derelict former showrooms once belonging to the prestgious firm of Charles Clark, on the corner of old Lord Street with dismay at their continuing neglect.
What makes it even more sad if you can remember this imposing building it replaced.
At the time of the Markets move to Salop Street in the early 1960’s, and the general clearance and tidying up of the area across to Brickkiln Street and down to Chapel Ash, we lost another of our fine old Victorian Churches as its congregation declined.
The United Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Lord Street and Merridale Road, (Mr Bidlake, archtect, Mr Cockerill, builder,) was a plain yet elegant structure with a substantial, rather than lofty spire, rising 96 feet. It opened October 14th, 1870, the entire cost being £3,200.
It stood alongside its vicarage for just short of a century. It is pictured here on the 24th of May 1963, redundant, and awaiting demolition, to be replaced by the now derelict showrooms that was once part of Charles Clark, Chapel Ash.
The Chapel Ash area, together with the town end of Tettenhall Road was laid out in the twenty years after the Napoleanic wars, as the first suburb of the town.
The whole area was graced with elegant designed houses the best of which stll survive today, and also at both of its approaches, two elegant Victorian Churches.
When the above photograph was taken in the 1890’s, in the days before the motor car, the only traffic to be seen around the junction of Merridale Road and Compton Road, and Tettenhall road leading out of Chapel Ash, in to the Shropshire countryside, was horse drawn or pushed by hand.
On the corner of Compton Road before the (now abandoned) Eye Infirmary came on this spot, was the Postal / Telegraph office.
Opposite on the left, the elderly couple are crossing from outside the Old Bell Inn, which for many years, with the green grocers adjoining, were on the corner of Lord Street. Towering over the roof of the Bell is the tall spire of the Presbyterian Church, on the opposite corner of Lord Street.
Apart from a new road lay-out and increased traffic problems nothing much has changed regarding the look of Chapel Ash, although now in 2010, its buildings are suffering from years of neglect, and the old established trades of butchers, fish merchants and greengrocer’s, have now been swept aside.
The vacant shop spaces have been taken up by fast food outlets, and estate agents. On the positive side the one remaining church, Saint Marks, has been saved and has become offices.
I firmly believe as long as Marstons (nee Banks’s) keep it as their home, Chapel Ash itself will remain a vibrant part of old Wolverhampton.