“Only an Old Directory of Wolverhampton”
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
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.
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”.
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.
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 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 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.
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?