It was a strange location, for our first station.
Does anyone recall Old Heath town before the upheaval of the 1950’s its industrial heritage still intact, with its many Victorian terraces and courts, and the three Churches offering solace to the working class folk that lived there.
Wednesfield Heath blossomed thanks to coal mining and with the opening of the Wyrley and Essington Canal to allow coal to be transported from the area to Cannock.
As the centuries past the area grew and spawned neighbouring Park Village Springfields and Fallings Park.
By the time Wednesfield became part of Wolverhampton in 1966, Heath town was being completely transformed with a mass of new housing, most notably its distinctive tower blocks.
And its behind these three Tower blocks that we find a little hidden secret that firmly belongs to my journal – Lost Wolverhampton
If we go back in time to a few weeks before Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, this area of land across Wednesfield Heath was mainly undeveloped. But from this moment on, it would grow rapidly, encouraged by the early development for Steam locomotion, and successful opening of the Grand Junction Railway, which ran on the Liverpool and Manchester line. ( from Birmingham to Newton Junction )
I believe when the site of the railway station was being decided on vested interest in the canals caused opposition in Wolverhampton so this first and what became known as the Old line running through Heath Town and Park Village was built to bypass the town, its early Wolverhampton station being at Wednesfield Heath…
So to take advantage of this situation , on the arrival of the The Grand Junction Railway in 1837, – Mr John Gough owner of the Star and Garter, in Wolverhampton town centre who didn’t want to miss out on this new form of travel erected a large hotel adjoining the station at Wednesfield Heath, the tenancy of which he gave to Paul Law, his tenant at the Star.
Paul Law then established a service of buses between his hotel in Cock Street and the new one at the Heath.
This, one of many old inns had quite a large share of the coaching business well provided for in Wolverhampton at that time.
Of course with the railway came the street. This picture, taken in 1903 shows the Lorain tram traveling back to town from Wednesfield, about to pass the Bank on the corner of Railway Street. The Star public house is opposite, on the corner of Cross Street. The Railway Hotel was situated adjacent to the station entrance, with access from a large drive at the end of the street.
Unfortunately some 30 years before this photograph was taken passenger trade ceased from Railway Street when other stations opened in centre of town, but it remained open for goods and parcels until 1965.
Obviously with passenger trade ceasing to arrive at Heath Town the need for accommodation also ceased, and we see by this notice published in the London Gazette in 1921. The Railway Hotel has become private accommodation and is known as “Heathfield House”.
Now besides Mr George Bates listed above who later became, Alderman Bates, Mayor of Wolverhampton during War. Before his Mayoral duties commenced, alongside his wife, he ran a Bible Class from the Wesleyan Chapel, on the corner of Wolverhampton road and Dean Street.
A Mr Easthope, a draper had part of the old House at one time and a Mr Hogan a former Headmaster of Springfield Road school was there for a while.
This is a photograph of the once Railway hotel – Heathfield House taken after the major 1950’s and 60’s development at Heath Town.
At this time according to Kellys 1965 Directory it was the home to 19 flats.
If you notice you can see the solitary brick gate post in both pictures.
You see in 2012 the old house as gone and been replaced by a childrens park and play area.
( Talk about unspoilt by progress.) It depends on your point of view!