Chapel Ash Today, Looks Sad And Tired

St.Marks Presbyterian Church

But once upon a time it was twice in-spired!

Advert – “NOW 1879-80 – Charles Clark coach and carriage builder Chapel Ash.”

Chapel Ash was well established on this main arterial route, through Wolverhampton, as a fine residential and commercial centre, when the above Advert appeared in ‘Stevens Directory’, which listed all commercial businesses in the Town at the time.

Charles Clark made carriages for horse transport, but even then there is a great indication that we will soon be entering the age of the motor car, and Clark’s will take over a large slice of the west end of Chapel Ash where they traded for the next 100 years.

New Charles Clark building on the corner of Bath Road Circa 1950
New Charles Clark building on the corner of Bath Road Circa 1950

Charles Clark is well established here in 1950, at the opening of a new showroom in Chapel Ash, by the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor H.Bowdler.

At that time they also had old buildings across the road, as used car sales showrooms. Then in the mid 1960’s, a choice piece of ground close by became available, and the building they took on then, regretably still stands today as a forlorn legacy to their once illustrious name.

Derelict Charles Clark building on Merridale Road 2009
Derelict Charles Clark building on Merridale Road 2009

Those who travel via Chapel Ash into Wolverhampton these days may, as I do, look at the derelict former showrooms once belonging to the prestgious firm of Charles Clark, on the corner of old Lord Street with dismay at their continuing neglect.

What makes it even more sad if you can remember this imposing building it replaced.

The United Presbyterian Church 1963
The United Presbyterian Church 1963

At the time of the Markets move to Salop Street in the early 1960’s, and the general clearance and tidying up of the area across to Brickkiln Street and down to Chapel Ash, we lost another of our fine old Victorian Churches as its congregation declined.

The United Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Lord Street and Merridale Road, (Mr Bidlake, archtect, Mr Cockerill, builder,) was a plain yet elegant structure with a substantial, rather than lofty spire, rising 96 feet. It opened October 14th, 1870, the entire cost being £3,200.

It stood alongside its vicarage for just short of a century. It is pictured here on the 24th of May 1963, redundant, and awaiting demolition, to be replaced by the now derelict showrooms that was once part of Charles Clark, Chapel Ash.

The Old Bell circa 1890s
The Old Bell circa 1890s

The Chapel Ash area, together with the town end of Tettenhall Road was laid out in the twenty years after the Napoleanic wars, as the first suburb of the town.

The whole area was graced with elegant designed houses the best of which stll survive today, and also at both of its approaches, two elegant Victorian Churches.

When the above photograph was taken in the 1890’s, in the days before the motor car, the only traffic to be seen around the junction of Merridale Road and Compton Road, and Tettenhall road leading out of Chapel Ash, in to the Shropshire countryside, was horse drawn or pushed by hand.

On the corner of Compton Road before the (now abandoned) Eye Infirmary came on this spot, was the Postal / Telegraph office.

Opposite on the left, the elderly couple are crossing from outside the Old Bell Inn, which for many years, with the green grocers adjoining, were on the corner of Lord Street. Towering over the roof of the Bell is the tall spire of the Presbyterian Church, on the opposite corner of Lord Street.

A flourishing Chapel Ash Circa 1955
A flourishing Chapel Ash Circa 1955

Apart from a new road lay-out and increased traffic problems nothing much has changed regarding the look of Chapel Ash, although now in 2010, its buildings are suffering from years of neglect, and the old established trades of butchers, fish merchants and greengrocer’s, have now been swept aside.

The vacant shop spaces have been taken up by fast food outlets, and estate agents. On the positive side the one remaining church, Saint Marks, has been saved and has become offices.

I firmly believe as long as Marstons (nee Banks’s) keep it as their home, Chapel Ash itself will remain a vibrant part of old Wolverhampton.

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  1. very impressed about your website can anyone remember the grocer shop in chapel ash which used to do home deliverys in the late 1950`s and early 1960`s before the big supermarkets were taken over. if my memory serves me well i think it was hamblins. can anyone recall it please
    many thanks

    1. I remember Liptons, The HOME AND CALONIAL , I remember Miss Horton’s and the hair ribbons they sold as well as wool and materials. My father built the clock on Charles Clarks building in Chapel Ash and my aunt ran Bennett Clark’s photographers with partner William Hart, who she later married.

      1. What a glorious past Wolverhampton family history you have Jan.
        Bennett Clark now theres a name to conjure up many memories and stories.
        I have many photo’s take from the studio of this prolific Wolverhampton photographer.
        I shall post a picture on the forum and on our facebook group. and hope other interested members will add their thoughts on this great Wulfrunian.

  2. I’m not sure about Hamblins, but I do recall Blakemore’s that used to be in Chapel Ash. My farther worked there until 1971 when it closed down and for a while in the 1960s was one of the delivery drivers.
    Blakemore’s was once a big name in Wolverhampton and had I think 3 shops at one point, but by the 1960s when I was a child there was only the Chapel Ash one left. It was the building of the ring road that finally caused it’s closure with Chapel Ash being isolated from the rest of the town.

  3. I nursed at the Eye Infirmary from 1958 to 1960, I would love to hear from anyone who also nursed there at that time.

    My surname was Cochran

  4. Brilliant website what happened to the bell turret on the top of Charles Clarks as I believe it was removed from Cann Hall in Bridgnorth in the 1950’s and the wood copied and placed on the building?.

  5. Thank you Clive, Its still there as it has always been, and I am under the impression it was a copy of the one thats on the Bridge clock tower alongside the “Boatyard.”
    You are probably right though about Cann Hall was’nt that knocked down around the early 1950’s.
    Any way there is certainly a Bridgnorth connection .

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