Steelhouse Lane Is Today In Pain

Now just a distant memory. Steelhouse Lane Circa 1960s

We start in the mid 1960’s. The northern end of Steelhouse Lane looking from Gordon Street on the left across to Jenner Street on the right and through to the Cleveland Road / Bilston Road island.

At that time this 200 yard stretch of rented late Victorian Villa properties similar in style were mixed between family accommodation and business properties of which there were a variety including two Newsagents, Cobblers, Butchers Greengrocers Bakery, Fish shop, and a Public House with the quaint name of “Why Not”.

There was even a Refrigeration Service shop on the corner of Gordon Street but I doubt if many households in Steelhouse Lane owned a Fridge at that time.

The place looks the same but for the terrace say Trees. Steelhouse Lane 2006.

The now redundant and derelict Royal Hospital Cleveland Street car-park now occupies the entire left side of Steelhouse Lane between Gordon Street and Sutherland Place, pictured here in 2006

In the background built on land which at one time was Portland Place towers the tall stack of the hospital waste disposal unit.

On the East side of the lane opposite is the Renault Garage / with its frontage being on the Bilston Road were across from “The Royal”  Metro stop on the line to Bilston.

Nothing left but memories now, from the likes of Rogers bakery the ‘Why Not Inn’, just two of the long gone occupants of the many businesses seen here in 1960.

It’s a case of Spot the Difference. Steelhouse Lane 2011.

Fast forward just four years The now redundant and derelict Royal Hospital Cleveland Street car-park still looks the same although the foliage is slightly more dense.

On the corner of Jenner Street “Renault” have extended the car showrooms and workshops.

Off course the main change has been to the background with the subtraction of the Disposal plant on the corner of Cleveland Road still a cul-de-sac, and the addition of the large tower block of the student accommodation, on Wednesfield Road.

But today they say the transformation is about to commence “But don’t hold your breath”. The Plan – June 2011.

This is a copy of the plan submitted by a certain Supermarket chain, whom one or two may have heard are finally about to embark on the transformation and do wonderous things, with our former Royal Hospital site.

To help you get your bearings on this plan. To take the earlier three pictures I was standing close to the proposed Island sited in the bottom right corner of the plan.

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  1. Does anyone remember Mrs Doody’s paper shop in Steelhouse Lane? my mother’s family lived in Kent Road, and Mrs Doody was their family newsagent during the years when I was growing up, and I guess for years before that.

    1. Hi bill I tried replying to Maggie a few years back, I’m interestd to no about steelhouse lane and get a print of a good photo, I was born next to the why not I will have a look at you’re Facebook group Dave

  2. I remember mrs doodys shop in steelhouse lane I lived in Gordon st at the time ibeleive she had a dog with 3 legs that was what we were told at the time I was a young lad at the time so I cannot say this was true and at 81 years old now ifound your message whilst finding steelhouse lane and Gordon st on the net yours d punter

  3. Hello Mr Punter
    Have you had a look at Gordon Street of late there has been a lot of changes around All Saints
    Incidently I have a little office at No. 70 Gordon Street and I am there most days , if you would like a visit get in touch. By the way I have a facebook Group Lost Wolverhampton you may find that interesting.

  4. Hi I live in Australia and my grandmother Rachel Minshall (nee currin) had the shop on the corner of Gordon St & Steelhouse Lane which I believe is shown in the top picture. My Mom Mary Minshall recently passed away and whilst I do have some information on steelhouse lane I would dearly love to hear from someone who knew of or perhaps friends that knew of Grans shop. Regards, Sue in OZ

    1. Hello Sue, nice of you to get in touch.. Yes John one of our team of experts remembers the shop. ran by Mrs Minshall.
      It was on the opposite corner of Gordon Street to the one shown in the above photograph. It was a general store selling mostly groceries, sweets, toys etc….

      John seems to think there was a son that had a small warehouse in Steelhouse Lane selling toys and fancy goods later moving to larger premises on the Bilston Road .
      The shop in question was later sold to a family called Cartright. who had two daughters Wendy and Kitty.
      Please keep in touch and let us know more about your early life before Australia.

      1. Hi Billy, thank you so much for a prompt response. I am disappointed that the picture is not the one I thought, but I was only going on Mom’s description. If anyone has a picture of the shop I would dearly love to receive an email copy.

        Yes John is correct about the son – name of Sidney Minshall (first born of Rachel & John Minshall) John was also known as Jack. Sid was married to Daisy and they did indeed have a toy warehouse. At Christmas as a young girl I was allowed to go and pick a toy as my present. I thought I was very lucky. When I have a little more time I will gladly email again with some more details. Thank you again. Kind regards, Sue in OZ

  5. I am nearing the completion of a local history book on the south east (forgotten) corner of Wolverhampton. It focuses on Rough Hills but also includes the surrounding areas including All Saints, where I went to primary school in the 1950s, and Steelhouse Lane. Unfortunately, I cannot help with the original enquiry as I was more familiar with the Major Street end of Steelhouse Lane. On our way to or from school, we sometimes stopped off at Adey’s shop at the top of Cable Street to get sweets; almost opposite, at the bottom of Caledonia Road, was an off-licence run by Mr Tye, ex head (?) groundsman at Molineux. Quite often Wally Hales, a colourful character from Caledonia Road, would pass us on his pony and trap and an exchange of words would take place. We continued past Marandola’s old ice cream warehouse and turned into All Saints Road opposite the Summer House pub. Folk who lived there in the 40’s and 50’s have told me about other local characters like Nellie Cox who frequented the pub in the 1940s and would leave singing at the top of her voice; Phoebe Buxton’s veg shop further up towards Bilston Road; two popular pubs, the Why Not and the Hen and Chicken, just around the corner in Eagle Street. I also have fond memories from the 1960’s of a rather good chippy (Roger’s?) in that part of the Lane. Do any of these people or places bring back any memories?
    It’s worth bearing in mind that Steelhouse Lane has experienced ‘pain’ before. In the 1860s, the Reverend Henry Hampton who was to go on and set up a Mission church and school in the road is quoted as saying: ‘it was not really decent for a woman with any sense of propriety to walk down Steelhouse Lane. The Lane used to be full of dog-fighters, pigeon flyers and other rough characters.’ Life sometimes goes (almost) in full circle.

    1. ‘it was not really decent for a woman with any sense of propriety to walk down Steelhouse Lane.’

      This quote from the good Rev made me smile. He had arrived to the Church St John in May 1862 under a cloud. He had been barred from office in Islington by the Bishop of London, for continuing to preach in an unconsecrated building. There had also been a question of misappropriation of sacramental alms.

      In March 1863 The Islington Gazette has the headline: The Rev Henry Hampton Again…

      The Rev brought a Mr Allen to Court at Stafford and claimed damages of £2000 from him for falsely speaking and publishing that Rev Hampton had been living in adultery with a person he represented as his daughter, and also that he had been charged with theft and suspended by the Bishop for 2 years.

      Mr Allen, who had been the organist at St John, was sacked by Rev Hampton in his first days at the Church. Allen pleaded ‘Not Guilty’

      The Jury were locked up, and after a lengthened deliberation, found a verdict for The Rev Hampton with one farthing damages.

  6. Hello Derek

    I also went to All Saints Primary School in the 1950s and remember going to Adey’s shop to buy sweets and remember her three legged dog in particular, as one day he bit me! I think I was given extra sweets and as I don’t remember suffering from the bite it wasn’t a problem.

    Also, I remember Wally, who used to collect food waste, vegetable peelings etc from many houses in the area. We lived in Pond Lane and he used to collect there. I believe he kept pigs and used to keep them behind the shop diagonally opposite Adey’s shop, if I remember this correctly.

    I have just started doing some small scale research on All Saints School and believe that you may have a brother Roger, who was in the same class as me. I would be interested to find out your memories of the school.

    Carol (née Hyde)

    1. Hello Carol,

      Really good to hear from another All Saints ex-pupil. I lived on the Rough Hills estate in Cheviot Road and started at the school in 1954 and left in 1960. No brothers (or sisters) unfortunately.
      Many happy memories of the estate and school which inspired me to write a book about the history of the Rough Hills area, the 1950’s estate and the surrounding areas like Parkfields and All Saints. Lots of help from information at Wolverhampton Archives and several people who kindly responded to an Express and Star enquiry. Didn’t realise how difficult a book would be, its still unpublished but I will probably put it on the internet very soon.
      I have devoted several pages to the school’s history and my own memories of the school so should be able to help with your research. I remember Mrs Sutton in the Infant School, May Day dancing and May Queen processions, outside toilets, cold classrooms. Inevitably the legendary Head of the Junior School, Mr Lancaster, looms large in the memory bank as well as wonderful class teachers like Miss Kirby and Mr Tod. Walking to Monmore Green School for dinners, learning to write with ink. Celebrating All Saints Day in the church, Father Shannon. Good memories of successful school football and cricket teams and bad memories of singing and country dancing.
      I would love to hear of your own memories of Pond Lane (and the Monkey House pub and the Dixon Street Playing Fields?). I live in Gloucestershire these days but still get up to Wolverhampton from time to time to see relatives, friends and the occasional Wolves match. I cannot do justice to my memories of All Saints in a few sentences; maybe an exchange of our email addresses so I can pass on more detail if you are happy with that


  7. My Gt Grandmother lived at 17 Steelhouse Lane in 1911 Fanny Tomkins/Fanny Robinson with her Husband Alfred Robinson.
    My Grandparents Robert Matthews and Sarah Harriet Tomkins lived there.

  8. Derek i remember Dixon street playing fields in the 80s, I was from rough hills Durberville rd and is kids played football against parkfields. Think it was 20 aside jumper goal posts,also in 1986 I broke my leg in the fields,,Remember also the monkey house bon fires,,as a kid I remember the families who we used to hang out with,,Cartwrights,,Timmins,,of Cheviot road,,great memories

  9. My mom’s family came from Roughills 6 Wessex road,,David and Floss Ellis,,children kieth,Eileen,Lynda,Graham and June,,my mom was Lynda or Lyn,,

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