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