post 170 - Billy's Picture Book 7 - The Old Market Patch

Billy’s Picture Book #7: The Old Market Patch

Changing times around North Street, before the “Civic Centre”

Litch Gate of the old Bluecoat School (Education Offices)

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 Lich gate and the building behind them were in North Street,  built-in 1881, for the ‘Bluecoat School which was removing from older premises in New Street.

When the school was built in 1881 it was quite a different scene that faced you in North Street across from those gates then.

Hundred Years before the Civic Centre.

The Freemasons Arms stood on the same spot now occupied by the   Wulfruna street, entrance, to the Civic Centre in 1880, 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,  including butchers, bakers, pawnshops, at least six Inns and Taverns, not forgetting numerous beer and lodging houses. with stabling for the many horse sales (Horsefair).

The Freemasons Arms  

“The Freemasons Arms”  in Horsefair was just one of the many licensed houses there and we see 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”, at the time 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 1875

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 artisan’s dwelling act.

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

This will become The new Open-air, Wholesale Market, Wulfruna Street – North Street 

Opening Wednesdays, 5 a.m till 1 p.m;  and Saturdays, 5 a.m till 4 p.m; 

Regarding this Wholesale 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 Northside 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. The 1880s Heralds a new Dawn

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 right) which is obscuring the view of the Deanery in the renamed Wulfruna street, it will soon remove to St Peter’s 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

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  1. Bill.
    David Dungar here. I was born in Dam Mill (Wolverhampton side of Bilbrook). Like so much of our Wolverhampton history, Dam Mill is now wiped off the map (now classed as Codsall). My wife\’s maiden name is Watkiss and she too is Wolverhampton born and bred. I was was shipped out to Tettenhall in my mid teens when my Step-Father inherited half a house behind the Rock, in Ashley Mount from his Aunt (she had in turn been left the house by a prominent) Wolverhampton Barrister called Miss Keeley and he bought his sister out. My Step-Father was the famous Wolverhampton Wheeler, Cec Anslow. My Mother previously been married to even more famous Wolverhampton cyclist, Ray Jones (Empire Games Bronze medalist). Both big mates with Percy Stallard. Anyway, back to Fruit & Veg traders in the Retail Market Hall. We noticed there was a Watkiss trading in the Retail Market in the 1950s and wondered if that trader rang any bells with you?

    1. Hi, David nice memories I recall Percy Stallard well, he was a friend of my father’s who married a lady from my birthplace Nursery Street Recal the name Watkiss in the old indoor market on St Peters in the 1950s. I believe they were grocers. Please join our Facebook group Lost Wolverhampton and share your memories with members!

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