The Elephant Never Forgets

Query Corner

Query Corner

“Hello Billy, I found your email address on your blog – which I stumbled across by accident. I moved from Wolverhampton more than thirty years ago but often look at the City websites to keep up-to-date.

For many years, I have been trying to find someone with knowledge of the Stafford Street area of Wolverhampton.

For some years I have been trying to find the history of a piece of ground in (Lower ?) Stafford Street, which was used as a football pitch/recreation ground.

It lay between Stafford Street and North Street and in the 1940s, I’m sure I can remember seeing air-raid shelters on it.

I should be so grateful if you can tell me anything about it. My father was born in that area in 1905 and when his father died in 1918 they were living I believe at N0.4 Boscobel Place.



Street plan of Boscobell Place
Street plan of Boscobell Place

Now there’s a name to conjure up a little bit of Wolverhampton History. Many an old Wuffler with an historic appetite will gather this once small ancient court off Lower Stafford Street inherited its name from that famous house just 3 miles distant from Codsall.

The house built on the domain land of Whiteladies during the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by John Giffard of Chillington. Its name is derived from Italian, ‘Bosco Bello’ – Fair Wood. Now as you can see this picture its descriptive name would still have been appropriate when this map of 1875 was drawn up as most of this area still mainly consisted of gardens.

Regarding the “Rec”, the ground in Question.

Yes Eileen I remember the piece of waste ground you mention quite well, it was situated between North Street and Stafford Street, bordered by Red Hill Street and Boscobel Place.

It did indeed have air-raid shelters built at the top at one time, and I remember Red Cross Street School close by also used it for sporting activities, eventually they built a clinic on the site it in the 1950’s.

1932-33 Hindes Red Book describes it as such:

Known as Red Hill Street open space. This space is now open to children after school hours from 5.00pm till dusk each day except Sunday. Two sets of See-saws and Swings were erected during 1931.

Map of Red Hill Street and surrounding area 1947
Map of Red Hill Street and surrounding area 1947

For all the ‘Old Wufflers’ who have memories to share of this bustling triangle from the Gladstone North Street and the Elephant and Castle Stafford Street, down to the ‘Five Ways’, above is a map I have drawn-up to stimulate those dormant minds.

Entrance to Stafford Street Congregational Church
Entrance to Stafford Street Congregational Church

Summerhill Lane / Windmill Bank, now Lower Stafford Street, a further little stimulation.

Early maps show Wolverhampton had two windmills quite near to the town centre, this was the site of one of them on the east side of Lower Stafford Street, and right up to the mid 20th century the name Windmill was frequently used for parts of this area.

This is a pre-war photo of Lower Stafford Street, between Beaumont Street on the right and Bonemill Lane, on the left.

It shows the entrance to Stafford Street Congregational Church, with the Clinic and Assembly rooms next door partly concealed by the run-down properties that adjoined it .

One of my earliest memories is of a visit here aged three during the war with my mother to be immunised. It must have worked because almost seven decades later I am still here. Thank God!

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  1. I am so pleased to be told of this site ,a fellow relative living in Canada sent me this site.
    My grandfather lived in Camp st so I remember all around this area as I spent many happy hours around there , we are also interested in Lower Stafford st as our great grandparents had lived there but when I came on the scene I do not remember any houses being there.

    Best Wishes, Pat.

  2. Dear Pat
    Thank you for getting in touch. I am so pleased you have fond memories of the area around the “Londes”. That ancient carrageway that once adjoined North Street ; parts of which can be seen today, between Deanery Row and Camp Street.
    Please join the new forum and put any queries you may have about the Wolverhampton you wish to recall to yours truly or the (what we hope will be) an ever growing panel, of passionate old “Wulflers”
    All the very best

  3. I have had the most wonderful walk down memory lane, thank you!
    I have the most happy memories of W-ton, as a child I came from the Bradmore area, and Bantock park was a very happy playground, however I was at my happiest when I went to visit my beloved Grandmother who lived in Waterloo Road.
    I can recall going down to the back garden gate and letting myself into another world, walking up to the grocers for Gran and playing without any fear in the roadways.
    My mother was one of the Wilding girls( my grandmother was Jane Wilding,) and I believe mother went to Red Cross street school as her sisters did.The youngest attended St Peters

    .I can remember some Friday or Saturday nights being taken by my Gran to a “Club” not far from 5 ways in North Road is this possible?there was music played and dancing.
    I loved playing in my Grans “big” house, and many years later on my return for a visit much to my shock the house had been pulled down.I have been thinking about making a return visit as I now live in Australia,I do believe I will be in for a shock.
    I guess thats what they call progress.I was say nothing stay the same.
    Thank you for a wonderful site.
    Ann Boddis herd. Melbourne.

  4. IN the 40s/50s we were living in north rd on the corner of hill st.
    The house at the front and factory behind.
    The company was and still is E.MARSH UPHOLSTERERS.
    Any pictures,or info most welcome. IN1959 we moved the factory over the rd to Bone mill lane.

  5. My grandmother Alice Sprake lived on the corner of North Street and Red Hill Street, and my father Oliver Rhodes went to Red Cross Street school. He used to have to feed the pigs before he went to school, and also in the evening before he was allowed to do his homework. If there wasn’t time to get it done, he got the stick in the morning. I’m assuming that his mother perhaps had not remarried at this time. I remember her having Irish ‘lodgers’ who used to spend quite a bit of time in the Gladstone! And her ‘new’ husband used to grow tobacco in a glasshouse near the pigsties. No doubt, most of that area has been consumed by WWFC?

  6. Actually Chris Your grandparents house forms part of Wolverhampton University today, facing the rear of the Asda Store.
    You sound to me you are not local, If you are and unsure of the location I could show you exactly were the Sprake family lived in North Street.

    Please join our forum and perhaps also our Facebook Group Lost Wolverhampton.

  7. An interesting piece of history. I live on the Boscobel estate opposite the Hatherton Arms pub. I find it amazing that an area can look so different in the old days. I am too young to remember the old buildings but I am fascinated in history.
    I have always wanted to find out about the old houses that my parents remember and said was a close knit area.
    I am glad I found this website and will follow the comments.
    Spen Dean

  8. My Mum war born in 1924 in the Court Houses at the top of Stafford St and later lived in Great Western Passage until marrying in 1948. Not verry long before she died she and my father (they met at Guy Motors) drafted a plan view of Stafford St and it named all the shops, houssholders, businesses etc from the 3os to the 50s. It is very interesting. She died in 2016 at 92 and my father last year at 94. I’m sorting all their many papers etc and am wondering if anyone can think of a good home for this plan- it’s about 28″ by 20″ (A1 I think). Does anyone have any good ideas- if so please contact me on [email protected]

    1. Hi Heather, Stafford Street – North Street my playground, born in 1937 in Nursery Street covered now as most of the area is, by the University. Any tale of stafford Street is like grist to the mill for me. Oh I wish you had shared this story with me before your mom and dad past on. I would have loved to talk to them. What were their names? I would certainly like to see their drafted plan I have similar ones A.4 size of Lower Stafford Street

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