Specks On A Dusty Road – Part ten


Steen & Blackets Map of 1871.
Steen & Blackets Map of 1871.

Continuing with places of interest

A further look at Steen & Blackets Map of 1871 – throwing a little light on No.2, “The Union Mill””, No.3, Gas Yard, No.4, The Union Tap Inn”.
Many times in my childhood and youth , I have  walked to my grandparents home in Colliery Road, from my home in Nursery Street, on a a short walk I used to call  “The Scenic Route”.

It led across Stafford Street and  Faulkland Patch, joining the canal at Lock Street. Then   along  the Birmingham canal from Broad Street to Horseley Fields, a journey that would stir the imagination,of any child.

Along its three-quarter mile length, you would pass over and under eye-catching cast iron and blue brick bridges, and marvel at the  numerous basins lined with aged old buildings that complimented them.

The marvel of course  and  the jewel in the crown,  was the majestic “Union Mill”.


No.2 on the map was The Union Mill”. The  picture show its  canal side position.
No.2 on the map was The Union Mill”. The  picture show its  canal side position.

Ever since it was built in 1813 Union Mill must have been an outstanding feature of the main line.


At the top, the overgrown mill site  in 2008,  Whilst below is the same view of the the mill itself. Unused now in the early 1980’s

To help you picture this scene better, notice the building behind the hoarding on both veiws,  .Two canal basins at one time  serviced this building, the large Mill Street goods station.and it  still towers above the canal in 2014

“The Union Mill” and the part it played in the industrial birth of Wolverhampton.

In 1812 Benjamin Mander of Wolverhampton promoted the Wolverhampton Flour and Bread Company which built and operated the Union Mill, together with the Union Poor House, as a philanthropic adjunct to his existing business ventures.
It was run on the principle that the miller and the baker were the same person and that resulted in cheaper bread.
All five floors were serviced by a external lift down to the boats moored in the wide basin beside the mill.

There was also a small basin at the eastern side of the mill were they kept there own boat.

“The Union Mill” after the fire in 1989.
“The Union Mill” after the fire in 1989.

When this picture was taken in June 1989, the  Union Mill in Horseley Fields, which just a year earlier had been saved from demolition, was  gutted by a mysterious blaze ( where have we heard that before), and Council Inspectors are seen here deciding whether the building should be demolished for safety measures.

This main building as we know now,  was demolished, The two surviving buildings can now be seen today standing at the bottom of Union Mill Street.


But what about No. 3 on the map “Gas Yard”.
But what about No. 3 on the map “Gas Yard”.


In Wolverhampton as elsewhere, many a street or public house names can give us a valuable clue to the history of the adjacent area, and Union Mill Street with the “Union Tap” on the corner are two such names. We have just seen with the Union Mill how this  name initially came to be.

But what about No. 3 on the map “Gas Yard”
Well a few years after the Union Mill was established. On a large piece of land adjacent to it, the newly formed, Wolverhampton Gas Light Company’.built the towns first Gasworks here in , Horseley Fields.

Production began on 17th September 1821.and “Gas Yard” was named after the nearby gasworks. and can be seen alongside the Gasometers on the map of 1871.
Although by this time the tanks were empty as gas production had been transferred to the new works on Stafford Road.

Now Gas Yard came to my attention many years ago whilst researching my family tree when  I discovered:
Joseph Kirk – my great, great, great grandfather, was born 1790 in Wolverhampton, and died January 21st 1871 in, The Gas Yard, Horseley Fields , Wolverhampton

Source: Death certificate for Joseph Kirk 1871)

Occupation: 1851 Boatman ,

Source: Note sometime in late 1835, a certain John Jones, aged 28, stole Seven Hundred weight and two quarters of iron from the canal boat of one Joseph Kirk, in Wolverhampton.
He was committed to prison by the Rev. J. Clare.
Jones could read imperfectly . Sentenced to 7yrs transportation.


Then “Union Mill Street” in 2014.
Then “Union Mill Street” in 2014.

Looking across Horseley Fields from St James’s Street, at the  rather sterile “Union Mill Street” today in 2014, we notice the only real link with the past is the name,

The Municipal Free Reading Rooms that stood for many years on the left facing corner, have now been replaced by the large block of tall flats, that feature on the north side of Horseley Fields from Corn Hill down to Union Mill Street.


Then “Union Mill Street” in 1961.
Then “Union Mill Street” in 1961.

The same view across Horseley Fields in 1961 looking at “The Union Tap”.

1961 was  I believe the year this historic inn called “Last Orders Please” for the final time, before succumbing to the bulldozers in 1964.

“The Union Tap”.stood on the opposite corner of Union Mill Street were the stand of trees are today.
The sign on the wall on at the time of the photograph states “Trumans” their present brewery supplier were established in 1866, but the “Union Tap House” itself was almost certainly established on this corner well before this time.

The licensee in “Pigots Commercial Directory in 1835, in was a “William Radnal”.


Looking up Horseley Fields from Union Mill Street late circa 1960’s.
Looking up Horseley Fields from Union Mill Street late circa 1960’s.


As a trailer for the next post- No Eleven, where we shall look at memorable sites across the road, from Union Mill Street.

Here is a  view taken from Union Mill Street. looking up Horseley Fields possibly from around late 1960’s, or early 1970’s.

On the corner of Union Mill Street,  once the site  the Reading Rooms, now  stands Horseley Fields car sales and petrol station.

Then on the corner of St James Street, opposite,occupying nearly all the length of ground up to Mary Ann Street is George Jennings, Undertaker’s.
The remaining four older buildings in that block, at that time housed a local bookmaker, whom  I knew well, Tommy Butler, and also Hancox & McCarthy the jewellers, were a girl friend of mine fifty years ago had her ears pierced. The white building pictured centre left, a grocers then, is not as you would suspect on the corner of Mary Anne Street, it is in fact on the corner of Gough Street.

The short length of some 100yards between Mary Anne Street and Gough Street, is  at this time, slightly set back and occupies just two businesses. Bergs of Wolverhampton, credit drapers and William Gough & Sons builders.

Bergs Drapers modernistic, window full building, can be seen jutting out above the Funeral directors.

Post No. eleven  will I hope reveal a fascinating insight, into the renowned business’s that were along this area of Horsely Fields  between Shakespeare Street and Mary Ann Street in years gone by.

Memories of Horsely fields continues…

Facebook Comments


  1. I`ve done almost the same journey as you Billy, I would get off the Fordhouses bus in Stafford st, walk down Broad st to the canal then along the towpath to corn hill then up corn hill to my grans shop in horseley fields, all at the ripe old age of 9ish till I was 14. A safer place in those days mind.

  2. Great times weren’t they then Miff, Not many of us left to recall the ramp that led up the side of the old working Mill Basin on to Corn Hill in the 1950’s. What a shame progress wiped away all the charactor that was once abundant around that area.

  3. Spent some time working and playing! in Horseley Field. Started work in 1970 at the GPO postal delivery office garage. This was under the delivery office which was at the top of Corn Hill. Remember getting my <Mars Bars from the chandlers shop which was opposite the delivery office in Corn Hill. Used to drink at night in the Wheel Inn which was next door. Used the "Iron Duke" cast iron public toilet many a time. This used to be on the right hand side of the railway bridge as you went down corn hill towards the Great Western pub. You can still see the remnants of the splash back on the wall!! The garage was moved to the bottom right of Union Mill Street where I worked for many years. Used to look out of my office at that glorious Union Mill building. The remains of the postal garage which closed in the early 2000's still remain. Wonderful memories. Must be getting old eh!!

  4. To keep your mind active as I see you do Steve will always keep you young, would you be old enough to recall the ramp that led you from Corn Hill down alongside the Mill Basin on to the towpath were in the late 1940’s 50’s would still be packed with working boats. That and other similar places along the canal at that time were my playgrounds .
    Join our forum and our Lost wolverhampton Facebook group Steve and keep in touch and share memories.

  5. Hi billy , just browsing through your lost wolverhampton web site ,& find it very interesting , i was born & bred a wolverhampton lad now reaching my older years but have fond memories of old wolverhampton as you no doubt have along with others ,nearly all of my parents families came from horsely fields area/ willenhall road specifically, looking at your memories of ale houses interests me sigificantley as my late fathers parents kept a public house from when it opened in the late 1800s right up till my grandfather retired having been the longest serving tenant for the then william butlers brewery,[which then became the springfield brewery] he kept this particular house after coming back from canada as a young man during the gold rush & having met my nan went to keep the public house. The name of the public house was called The Mazzeppa which was located on the willenhall road in between the Malt Shovel which is still in existence then followed by the Royal Oak ,Then the named P H a little further was the Merry Boys.my interest mainly being there seems to be very little ever mentioned of my grand parents house or old photo graphs except for one badly damaged one of which i do have a copy also i do have copies of the alterations made to the int/ext carried out by the brewery which i recieved from the archives at moulineaux house you may be able to with your background assist me in finding out a little more history of such an important piece of my family connection to wolverhampton. Yours sincereley Steve Winfield

  6. My mothers family grew up in Gough Street, next to Goughs builders.I have many fond memories as a child visiting my gran & grandad.Saturday nights you could hear the singing from the Star Vaults in Horsely Fields,or The Three Crowns,known locally as Micky Moonies.There used to be a toy shop known as dolls hospital where I would visit every saturday afternoon just to look around and spend my pocket money which was 1d or 3d (can’t remember)or just to look at all the dolls.Also a wonderfull fish & chip shop where fish & chips were served in newspaper,they always seemed to taste better then.How many of you out there can remember these places ?

    1. Hi Kath, I’ve been reading these posts while searching for information and photos of the Three Crowns pub. I lived there in the 1970s when my parents were licensees. If anyone has any photos it would be great to see them. I’ve been looking for at least 10 years.

  7. Kath you certainly have fond memories as I do of the late Horseley Fields . I have placed this last comment of yours on our Facebook Group “Lost Wolverhampton” Lets see what it stirs up. best Wishes

  8. Hi Billy, what number were your grandparents in colliery road? We lived at 70, opposite the Warewell cycle factory gates. Made excellent goals when the factory was closed

    1. Hi Kevin
      Not sure of the house number, In the 20’s I would say, about four doors up from the School. Whose girls playground backed on to their garden. Your house would have been round the bend toward Eastfield Road.
      We have a Facebook Group Lost Wolverhampton Kevin please join us.

  9. I used to live in ‘The Wheel’ with my parents around 1968 ,and we used to walk to school past the corn mill, and remember the canal basin before the bridge. The smell from the mill and cats everywhere ,( keeping the mice under control so one of the workman told us )then when we got to school we had the smell of the M&B brewery, great days
    My brother stood on the ice on the canal basin and fell through up to his waist, mom went mad when we got back to the pub,we were only 6 and 7 years old .The shop across the road used to pass us sweets on a sunday afternoon through the letterbox, we would ask for 2d worth of mixed sweets and the daughter used to take the money through the letterbox and pass the sweets through .
    We used to play in an old post office van next to the stables in the pubs courtyard, we use to sit there for hours trying to turn the steering wheel and flick the switches on the dash board.

      1. No Billy that would be great , I havent got a lot of photos but I will try and ask my mom if she has any .
        Thankyou for bringing back memories of being able to play out and not worry, about anything , we had great adventures around the Wheel , especially at the back of the courtyard and the three stables that stood there in a time warp .
        Keep up the great work .

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