Arthur Arrowsmith

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A modest man. A true legend, and I knew him.

He was a shining light for old Wufflers in the dark days just after the war and Wolverhampton’s legacy was certainly enriched by Express and Star artist Arthur Arrowsmith for it was he who gave us priceless works of art for the price of a three halfpenny newspaper.
And it was Arrowsmith who showed me and many others the hidden delight of Old Wolverhampton his scenes a delight I have carried with me all my life

Arthur Arrowsmith was an inspiration to everyone who loved the Wolverhampton atmosphere of the post war years.

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He could find beauty in the most unlikely spot.

Canals were once a vital part of Midland industry in 1948 when Arthur made this sketch of the basin close to Broad street Bridge, Wolverhampton.

Apart from the canal itself this area is almost unrecognisable today. On the left the old Hay Basin has long gone along with the Union Public House at the rear-side that fronted Broad Street.

Of the two iron bridges one was saved and now features amongst the attractions at The Black country museum.

In the background on the left Arthur captures two of the last bastions of steam in town at that time. The first an old steam engine as it leaves the High level station shortly before its modernisation for Electric trains, and behind the station the steaming colossus of the Cooling Tower at Monmore Green.

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The Cooling Tower in Commercial Road. Seen from Bilston Road bridge over the Birmingham Canal.

Notice the Canal railway interchange crane on the opposite side of the canal to the Central Electricity Board Works.

Now, a little story regarding Bilston Road and Monmore Green.

Just after the war an American visitor to Bayliss Jones & Bayliss, Monmore Green once wrote in a bestselling travel book the following commentary on the town of Wolverhampton.

“I approached it from Birmingham through one of the most depressing industrial areas I have ever encountered. framed by the railway compartment window at any stage in the journey was a scene which might have been called ‘Squalor’ and hung in an art gallery.


By the time I reached Wolverhampton; a large industrial centre by English standards I was ill-disposed toward it. The streets leading from the station were dreary, the buildings unimpressive, the people looked tired and work soiled – understandable, perhaps, because it was toward evening when I arrived. But the next day, instead of escaping from town, as I had originally intended I was offered a book ‘Sunlight and Shadow,’ a book of local drawings by A. Arrowsmith and made some interesting discoveries…


Wolverhampton is a town of character and also a town of contrasts. Where beautiful country side is easily accessible, and glimpses of natural unspoiled beauty are to be found in the most unlikely spots. The first scene guided me to the main Shrewsbury road where copper Beech and Lime trees lent character to the sidewalks and on the outskirts of town where two greens both picturesque and both with a smattering of handsome buildings.”

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The two village greens he saw were of course at Tettenhall. The first can be seen above.
Arthur Arrowsmith captures this scene to perfection showing the Lower Green enclosed by several fine buildings; one of them a lovely half-timbered Inn of great age. Splendid trees also grow in great profusion on and around it. Through their foliage can be seen the tower of Tettenhall Church, and the tall stacks of Courtaulds Works at Dunstall.

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A family favourite resort on the border of town looking its best in the summer sunshine of 1948.
With the candles of chestnut trees near the pool, adding a pleasant and serene note and all this just a short three halfpenny bus ride from the bustling town centre.

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10 comments

  1. Hello again Billy,

    Wow, what a wonderful story, this makes me feel very proud to have been born in Wolverhampton and something I can pass on with pride to my two boys.

    You must have dozens of these Billy…don’t be shy now, one or two a month would keep me very happy.

    Please keep up this great work.

    Kindest regards
    David Kiernan (Sydney Australia)

  2. Nice blog about Arthur Arrowsmith Billy. Found the Tettenhall sketches particularly nostalgic as I spent many a happy summers day there in the early 50’s.

    Keep up the good work. Your efforts are much appreciated.

    Ian Hunt
    Alberta, Canada.

  3. I woke this morning with the memory of Arrowsmith’s wonderfully evocative drawings still fresh in my memory. As a young teenager I would often remember seeing his technically accurate, yet also wonderfully artistic interpretations of a landscape I thought I already knew well, however, he showed me a depth of observation I could only marvel at.

    Thank you Arthur Arrowsmith.

  4. I lived in Villiers Street, Wolverhampton between 1946 and 1952. We had the ‘Star’ every evening. I don’t remember when Mr. Arrowsmith started publishing his drawings but I was always interested in them when he did. Later I often visited the places he had illustrated. I was born in Wednesbury but moved to goldthornhill after my parents bought a greengrocers there. Are there any books of his drawings I wonder? I now live in France but I still miss the blast furnaces and factory chimneys!

  5. My goodness, I remember this stack – I watched it from my bed in the Royal Hospital. I could see the stack going up and down as the gasses took in and passed out. A wonderful yet whistful memory of a particular time in W-ton. I wonder how many of us have that memory?

  6. Nice one Alison, was the operation on your tonsils it seems the removal of children’s tonsils was the norm in the days during the war and thereabouts I spent time in the Royal in 1941 for that reason But I only remember the ice cream afterwards.

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