“WHERE HAS ALL THE FLOUR GONE”
Continuing with places of interest
A further look at Steen & Blackets Map of 1871 – throwing a little light on No.2, “The Union Mill””, No.3, Gas Yard, No.4, The Union Tap Inn”.
THEN & NOW
Many times in my childhood and youth , I have walked to my grandparents home in Colliery Road, from my home in Nursery Street, on a a short walk I used to call “The Scenic Route”.
It led across Stafford Street and Faulkland Patch, joining the canal at Lock Street. Then along the Birmingham canal from Broad Street to Horseley Fields, a journey that would stir the imagination,of any child.
Along its three-quarter mile length, you would pass over and under eye-catching cast iron and blue brick bridges, and marvel at the numerous basins lined with aged old buildings that complimented them.
The marvel of course and the jewel in the crown, was the majestic “Union Mill”.
Ever since it was built in 1813 Union Mill must have been an outstanding feature of the main line.
THEN AND NOW
At the top, the overgrown mill site in 2008, Whilst below is the same view of the the mill itself. Unused now in the early 1980’s
To help you picture this scene better, notice the building behind the hoarding on both veiws, .Two canal basins at one time serviced this building, the large Mill Street goods station.and it still towers above the canal in 2014
“The Union Mill” and the part it played in the industrial birth of Wolverhampton.
In 1812 Benjamin Mander of Wolverhampton promoted the Wolverhampton Flour and Bread Company which built and operated the Union Mill, together with the Union Poor House, as a philanthropic adjunct to his existing business ventures.
It was run on the principle that the miller and the baker were the same person and that resulted in cheaper bread.
All five floors were serviced by a external lift down to the boats moored in the wide basin beside the mill.
There was also a small basin at the eastern side of the mill were they kept there own boat.
When this picture was taken in June 1989, the Union Mill in Horseley Fields, which just a year earlier had been saved from demolition, was gutted by a mysterious blaze ( where have we heard that before), and Council Inspectors are seen here deciding whether the building should be demolished for safety measures.
This main building as we know now, was demolished, The two surviving buildings can now be seen today standing at the bottom of Union Mill Street.
In Wolverhampton as elsewhere, many a street or public house names can give us a valuable clue to the history of the adjacent area, and Union Mill Street with the “Union Tap” on the corner are two such names. We have just seen with the Union Mill how this name initially came to be.
But what about No. 3 on the map “Gas Yard”
Well a few years after the Union Mill was established. On a large piece of land adjacent to it, the newly formed, Wolverhampton Gas Light Company’.built the towns first Gasworks here in , Horseley Fields.
Production began on 17th September 1821.and “Gas Yard” was named after the nearby gasworks. and can be seen alongside the Gasometers on the map of 1871.
Although by this time the tanks were empty as gas production had been transferred to the new works on Stafford Road.
Now Gas Yard came to my attention many years ago whilst researching my family tree when I discovered:
Joseph Kirk – my great, great, great grandfather, was born 1790 in Wolverhampton, and died January 21st 1871 in, The Gas Yard, Horseley Fields , Wolverhampton
Source: Death certificate for Joseph Kirk 1871)
Occupation: 1851 Boatman ,
Source: Note sometime in late 1835, a certain John Jones, aged 28, stole Seven Hundred weight and two quarters of iron from the canal boat of one Joseph Kirk, in Wolverhampton.
He was committed to prison by the Rev. J. Clare.
Jones could read imperfectly . Sentenced to 7yrs transportation.
Looking across Horseley Fields from St James’s Street, at the rather sterile “Union Mill Street” today in 2014, we notice the only real link with the past is the name,
The Municipal Free Reading Rooms that stood for many years on the left facing corner, have now been replaced by the large block of tall flats, that feature on the north side of Horseley Fields from Corn Hill down to Union Mill Street.
The same view across Horseley Fields in 1961 looking at “The Union Tap”.
1961 was I believe the year this historic inn called “Last Orders Please” for the final time, before succumbing to the bulldozers in 1964.
“The Union Tap”.stood on the opposite corner of Union Mill Street were the stand of trees are today.
The sign on the wall on at the time of the photograph states “Trumans” their present brewery supplier were established in 1866, but the “Union Tap House” itself was almost certainly established on this corner well before this time.
The licensee in “Pigots Commercial Directory in 1835, in was a “William Radnal”.
As a trailer for the next post- No Eleven, where we shall look at memorable sites across the road, from Union Mill Street.
Here is a view taken from Union Mill Street. looking up Horseley Fields possibly from around late 1960’s, or early 1970’s.
On the corner of Union Mill Street, once the site the Reading Rooms, now stands Horseley Fields car sales and petrol station.
Then on the corner of St James Street, opposite,occupying nearly all the length of ground up to Mary Ann Street is George Jennings, Undertaker’s.
The remaining four older buildings in that block, at that time housed a local bookmaker, whom I knew well, Tommy Butler, and also Hancox & McCarthy the jewellers, were a girl friend of mine fifty years ago had her ears pierced. The white building pictured centre left, a grocers then, is not as you would suspect on the corner of Mary Anne Street, it is in fact on the corner of Gough Street.
The short length of some 100yards between Mary Anne Street and Gough Street, is at this time, slightly set back and occupies just two businesses. Bergs of Wolverhampton, credit drapers and William Gough & Sons builders.
Bergs Drapers modernistic, window full building, can be seen jutting out above the Funeral directors.
Post No. eleven will I hope reveal a fascinating insight, into the renowned business’s that were along this area of Horsely Fields between Shakespeare Street and Mary Ann Street in years gone by.
Memories of Horsely fields continues…