The Big Garage

January, 18th 1978 – The Big Garage

What happened to The Big  Garage?

During the 1960’s  and 70’s, we old Wulfrunians seemed to be forever mourning the continuing loss of our Victorian and Edwardian buildings.

This old depot’s facade made a silent departure.

But the mutilation of the former Tram depot another casualty on Cleveland Road seemed to pass by unnoticed.

Opened for the tram system in 1902 there were extensions for buses and trolleybuses in 1913, 1921, and 1932, but the depot remained with its distinct tramway style entrances until 1977.

Official Opening – Wednesday, January 18th, 1978

Cleveland Road Garage
Cleveland Road Garage

Cleveland Road Garage and other assets of the former Wolverhampton Corporation Transport Department were transferred to the West Midlands Passenger Executive in 1969.

It soon became apparent that the garage, two adjacent buildings on levels that differed by ten feet, was unsuitable and inadequate for modern and large – scale bus fleet operations.

The upper building fronted Cleveland Road the lower faced on to Bilston Street.

Transforming them into an up-to-date purpose built garage called for almost an entire demolition and the construction of a new building

It took two years to complete at a cost of £1.550 million (net)

During contraction work, problems were encountered

Old offices were found to have been built on piers over a network of ‘catacombs’ some arched and some domed.

These had to be penetrated to a depth of fifteen feet to provide solid foundations.

All buses now come into the garage by the Cleveland Road entrance and pass through fueling, oiling, and watering services before deployment to any part of its upper and lower levels for parking and maintenance.

The highest levels of general development have been achieved

 

Before and after.
Before and after.

The major part of the new garage is of portal frame design. It is 5 metres high at the sides and 8.7 meters at its centre.

Its roof, spanning an area of 6,400 square metres is one of the biggest in the Midlands without centre supports.

With side support columns kept to a minimum, there is an easy passage for buses.

In the two-storey administration block fronting Cleveland Street, are the engineering, traffic and administrative departments.

Union officials also have their own accommodation within the garage.

Included in the block’s safety and security precautions are shot-gun proof screens for staff working in the area where cash is handled.

There are security alarms throughout the block which also houses a modern canteen showers and toilet facilities

The Big Garage as seen through the January mist today - Jan 18, 2017
The Big Garage as seen through the January mist today – Jan 18, 2017

The right place – The wrong time?

Every solution creates problems and who would have that the inner ring- road made to reduce the towns foreseen traffic problems in the 1950’s.

Would itself bring about the demise of our new bus depot after just 15 years by isolating Cleveland Road from the town centre?

On the 1st of November 1993, all operations were transferred to other garages the majority going to Park Lane, Fallings Park Wolverhampton.

Did no one consider the Ring-Road?

The garage was sold then as part of a package to Tesco who later changed their mind on future development

All Saints Action Network formed to promote the All Saints and Blakenhall areas finally leased it to use as a car-park

And now in the year 2017, the old former tram depot is boarded up. Plans have been submitted to demolish it and re-develop the site with new housing.

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