post 157 - Billy’s Picture Book 7 - Changing Times

Billy’s Picture Book #7: Changing Times


My pictures and stories I hope will illustrate the many changes which have taken place in Wolverhampton at various times particularly in relation to the street scene and general landscape.

If you recall in part 6, I was talking about Molineux House, but if you missed it, follow this link:

Billy’s Picture Book #6: The Other Survivor

Litch gate’s of the old Bluecoat School (Education Offices)

North Street in Wolverhampton – As it was…


Rolling back the years . . .

The elegant lichgate of the ‘Wolverhampton Education Offices’ makes a perfect frame for this busy picture of the old market patch in the summer of 1953.

The gates and the building behind them were in North Street, built in 1881, for the ‘Bluecoat School’ which was moving from older premises in New Street.

When the school was built in 1881 it was quite a different scene you would face when you left through those gates then.

Let me put you in the picture regarding the changing times before the Civic Centre.

The Freemasons Arms in 1880 stood on the spot now occupied by the Civic centre, Wulfruna street entrance, when this area was known as Horsefair.

Map of the area fronting the west side of St Peter’s Church in 1880

The area fronting the west side of St Peter’s Church in 1880, housed a large community living in many courts and closes, and many small businesses, butchers, bakers, pawnshops, at least six Inns and Taverns, not forgetting numerous beer and lodging houses with stabling for the many horse sales.

The Freemasons Arms

“The Freemasons Arms” in Horsefair was just one of the many licensed houses here, and there is a poster on the wall today, announcing the forthcoming sale of this freehold property, to be auctioned by Sollom and Barnett at the Star & Garter Hotel, on the 22nd August 1879.

Thomas Fullard is the licensee at “Freemasons”, and If anyone else takes it on, they will only hold the license for a short period because the land is being sought for the erection of a Wholesale Market Building and Cold Stores.

Land cleared by 1884

Extra proof of this fact is that when the Art Gallery was opened in Lichfield Street by the Mayor of the borough on May 30th, 1884.

On its completion, an important Exhibition of the Arts and Manufactures was held in connection with the opening.

To accommodate this exhibition, a large temporary building was erected on the site in Wulfruna Street where the original wholesale market was later built.

The artisans dwelling act

In the late 1880’s the whole area of Horsefair and Lichfield Street, was demolished and rebuilt

This regeneration was brought about by the town improvements coming with the artisans dwelling act of 1885.

Included in the plans was the clearing of the area fronting St Peters, which prior to 1885, was occupied by houses.

This will become the new Open-air, Wholesale Market, Wulfruna Street – North Street opening Wednesdays, 5:00 am till 1:00 pm and Saturdays 5:00 am till 4:00 pm.

Regarding the market

As far back as 1875, a Wholesale, or Vegetable Market as it was then termed, was held on the footpaths in North Street, as far as St Peters Walk, and both sides of Cheapside.

Prior to this period, growers from Tettenhall and Tettenhall Wood sold their produce in Queen Square and the North side of Darlington Street.

After the area was cleared and re-surfaced, the site was used on Wednesdays and Saturdays by wholesale fruit and vegetable traders, their business on intervening days, being conducted from a shed in Station Drive, this building, expressly erected for the purpose by the old L.N. & W. Railway Co.

In 1902 a permanent indoor Wholesale Market will be erected in Wulfruna Street.

Horsefair is razed to the ground.

Matters of interest:

On the far right, St Peter’s Walk runs up to the church with the Majestic Retail Market alongside it.

St Peter’s school is the large building seen top left which is obscuring the view of the Deanery in the renamed Wulfruna street, soon to move to St Peters Square.

The large building in the center was St Peter’s Institute opened in 1893 in St Peter’s square (old Horsefair).

To its left is the spire of St Mary’s church Stafford street.

The demise of North Street continuing… 1924. A New Horizon

Memories last longer than dreams.

to be continued

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