The Grave Before The Cemetery

“Only an Old Directory of Wolverhampton”

George Bridgen’s 1838 Wolverhampton Directory.

One of the first books on Wolverhampton I ever owned was a small directory from 1838 published by Joseph Bridgen and it has been the source of many a story I’ve done over the years.

It was said as a practical printer Mr Bridgen remains unexcelled and his book gives favourable evidence of his work and especially of the excellence of his copper-plate engraving. and he has the merit of having greatly improved the style of job printing.

This 1838 Directory of the Borough of WOLVERHAMPTON including BILSTON, SEDGLEY, WILLENHALL and WEDNESFIELD includes the map of the Birmingham and Liverpool line of Railway, plus the arrival and departure of the MAILS, STAGE COACHES, OMNIBUSES and the LAND and WATER CONVEYANCES.

Many wonderful adverts and the fascinating local place names, and occupations of residents are to many to mention here tonight.

But one place name was most intriguing and deserves further investigation.

On page 25 I found a name to stir anyones imagination Dead Lads Grave

Residents & Occupations and addresses in 1838.

Well it was whilst looking through this most interesting almanac, that I noticed on page 25 amongst the lists of town residents, their occupation’s and addresses, three members of the Glazebrook family and their address, Dead – Lad’s – Grave, and the question of why this area is so called has intrigued me all my life and I am now resigned to say it probably always will.

I have since found out that Dead lads Grave this small cachement of cottage industries was criss crossed by the Seisdon and Merridale Roads, and Birches Barn to Castlecroft Roads and I must presume this curious name may have arisen from the great plague.

This is a section of Merridale on the 1842 tithe map of Wolverhampton.

To find Dead Lads Grave you left Town Centre by way of Chapel Ash. After passing the other mansion on the Merridale Road at that time The Oaks travelling a further threequarter of a mile journey would take you past a large house.

Built in the 1730s as New Merridale Farm. Then extended and improved during occupancy by Thomas Herrick about the beginning of the 19th century and renamed Merridale House.

It was later bought by Thomas Bantock, a canal and railway agent. His son Albert Baldwin Bantock, who was twice Mayor of Wolverhampton and also High Sheriff of Staffordshire in 1920, further improved the property following his father’s death in 1896.

On his own death, without children, in 1938 he bequeathed the house and park to Wolverhampton Corporation. The house was renamed in his honour in 1940.

No actual name shown at the crossroads at Bradmore but here we know now, by reason of the directory, was the area known as “Deads Lads Grave”.

1889, map of Wolverhampton, showing Dead Lads Grave.

On this map from 1889, It shows the name but the houses seem to have now gone, and Bradmore itself has begun to grow, and so had the new craze of Cycling.

Since the invention of the ordinary, or high-wheeler in the late 1800s, when horse drawn carriages were the transport of the day. It was the wealthy classes who owned carriages, and bicycles scared the horses.

But by 1880 there were 213 established cycling clubs in the UK and with the invention of the “safety” bicycle, mass production followed, and this really changed the face of the sport, and people’s attitude to it.

Cycling became affordable to the working classes and it quickly became both a pastime and the mode of transport of the masses.

1906 Historial and Descriptive Guide to Wolverhampton and Vicinity Price 6d.

On page 44 of the guide is the route of the short run to Trysull which I found interesting (or The Dead Lads Grave).

1938 map showing Bradmore Wolverhampton.

1938 the area around Bradmore then, resembles much as it does today. Bradmore School stands on the former Dead Lads Grave and the Bradmore Hotel stands in the same position as it does today on the corner of Birches Barn and Trysull roads.

The returning Bus to Wolverhampton from the New Inn Finchfield.

The Finchfield Bus turns at the edge of Bantock Park on its return journey to Wolverhampton circa 1958, can you hear the ghostly conductor calling out anyone for Dead Lads Grave.

Bradmore windows has now taken up the site of the Old Bradmore Inn.

Acording to Wikipedia… “Historically, burial at cross-roads was the method of disposing of executed criminals and persons who have committed suicide. Cross-roads form a crude cross shape and this may have given rise to the belief that these spots were selected as the next best burying-places to consecrated ground.”

Do you have any other ideas or thoughts on this Dead Lad’s Grave at Bradmore?

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  1. Very, very interesting Billy as are all The Howl posts – I am so looking forward to the next installment.

    All the best, kindest regards

    David Kiernan (Sydney, Australia)

  2. Went to Carlton School in Broad Lane and had never heard of Dead Lads Grave.
    Very Interesting.

    Gary Thomas (Adelaide Australia)

  3. I looked at the pictures on this site with joy and sadness. So many buildings were demolished in Wolverhampton in the sixties, The Swan & Peacock and the row of shops nearby which included a sweet shop and a saddlery shop. The Star & Garter at the top of Victoria Street opposite Beatties. The Hippodrome on the corner of North Street and Queens Square where I saw Cinderella with real Shetland ponies pulling the coach on stage. Between shows the ponies were kept behind the gates at the side of the theatre. My mother worked in the bar at the theatre, I remember her cleaning up round me has I sat on the floor as a small child.

  4. Welcome Janet.
    I agree with all your comments so much of our childhood swept away in the name of progress
    The buildings you mentioned full of happy memories for me.
    Especially the old Hippodrome what a facade, it was such a loss to Queen Square when it mysteriously caught fire in February 1956.
    Please keep in touch and don’t forget we have a facebook group now called Lost Wolverhampton also.

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