She came from by “The Besom Yard”

Like every other town and city, over the years old Wolverhampton has had its share of unusual folk. In the 80’s we had Dave the radio carrying cowboy, who handed over to Ezra the Dudley Street Evangelist. The  picture below shows a great Wolverhampton character of yesteryear.

Margaret Gibson
Miss Margaret Gibson – a remarkable lady.

Miss  Gibson, had her claim to fame, as ‘Singing Margaret’ she made her name.
In my town she spent a while and on many a young face she brought a smile.
A lost soul with a genteel manner who would sing a hymn, and accept a tanner.
There were times though she caused a scene, crossed in love; they say she’d been.
Do you recall the Old market patch! her former stage, now just a memory from a bygone age.
An age when life wasn’t all about gain. I regret we’ll never see those times again.

Art Street Peel Street Salop Street Junction 1920's
Art Street Peel Street Salop Street Junction 1920’s

Everyone in Wolverhampton knew her, especially around Art Street were she lived. She was inoffensive, honest and poor. Margaret Gibson was her name but she was always better known as ‘Singing Margaret’. It was rumoured that she was related to a wealthy local family who had turned her out for some youthful misdemeanor. Others reckoned she was ‘crossed in love’, and that was why she never married.

Prince of Wales shares Margarets audience outside the market hall 1927.
Prince of Wales shares Margarets audience outside the market hall 1927.

Singing Margaret earned her living such as it was, by singing to crowds in the streets of Wolverhampton and around its busy market. For her age she had a fine voice and had obviously been an attractive girl, in her prime. My grandfather told me her two favourite hymns were Count your Blessings and When the roll is called up yonder -I’ll be there; and local growers with stalls on the open patch would send her to Astburys for a pint of tea and cakes and they would let her keep the change out of a tanner. Then later they’d get together and fill a flat box with veg, she’d thank them kindly and carry it home through town, down to Art Street – still singing as she went.

Astbury and Clayton confectioners 1931.
Astbury and Clayton confectioners 1931.

Astbury and Clayton with their prominent ‘Hovis’ sign stood next door to the ornate Lich Gates built for the former Bluecoat School built in 1881; at that time The Wolverhampton Education Offices. This little block of shops, which included some seventeenth century buildings stood opposite the market patch and were pulled down in the 1930’s. Just the lich gates and the Education offices remained, up until the 1950’s. Today on this ground between Mitre fold and Giffard House, in whats left of North Street, stands the Telephone Exchange.

A lost soul now departed, along with Art Street her former home and the old Market patch in North Street,  her former stage.  R.I.P. Margaret and thanks for the memory.

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