Wednesfield High Street used to fall under the Wednesfield Urban District Council. Wednesfield and Heath Town former Urban District Councils from 1894, were eventually swallowed up by Wolverhampton. Heath Town was absorbed in 1927, whereas Wednesfield remained entirely independent and physically separate until the early 1950’ when Wolverhampton’s overspill housing policy began and new estates were built there. The overspill agreement marked a complete turning point for Wednesfield. In 1951 only 2,000 people lived in the overspill area, and by 1971 that figure had quickly grown to 19,000 souls.
Memories of Wednesfield High Street
Wednesfield was described as ‘a town or a village consisting principally of one street’ and this was the High Street. And this street remained narrow and congested for many years consisting mainly of pubs, shops, and terraced houses.
My story starts when Thomas Howe was born in Oxford Street in 1865
He married Clara Marlow in 1888 at St Paul’s Church in Wednesbury. They had two sons, James born in 1903, and John (Jack), who was born in 1905, and a daughter Bertha who married one Abel Poole.
Thomas, who was originally an edge tool plater, would eventually purchase the freehold of the ‘Angel Inn’, located on the High Street in Wednesfield. Later, he would leave the license to his son, Jim.
His other son, Jack, kept the shop almost next to the Angel, where he traded as a greengrocer for many years, before retiring in the 1950s.
As none of the family wished to carry on in the licensed trade, Jim Howe, later sold the Angel Inn, to Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries in 1958.
Jim’s son recalls the ‘Good old Days’ looking up Wednesfield High Street from St. Thomas’s Church
The reason I have chosen this postcard featured below, of Wednesfield High Street, pictured in the late 1960s, is because it prominently shows two totally different High Street businesses that were owned, at one time, by the two brothers.
Jim Howe Junior ( inset) under the sign of the Angel Inn in 1932, shares with us an insight into the lives of the people, including his father and uncle, who lived and traded in Wednesfield High Street in the 1930s and 1940s.
On the left-hand side was a builders yard, next to which, was a small shed where Mr. Bunting carried out shoe repairs.
Adjacent to this was the Fruiterer’s & Greengrocers owned by my uncle, Jack Howe (The white building on this later photo).
Then came three terraced houses, two of which were occupied by my aunt and uncle, Lil and Bert Badger, and the last, by a family named Simmonds.
These old terraced houses were later (as seen in the photo) replaced by a branch of Barclays Bank.)
Next door was an entry to the rear of the Angel, and the pub itself.
The Adey family were the occupants of the house next door to the Angel, and then came Done’s bakery and shop. Which itself, was one of the oldest established businesses in Wednesfield.
If I remember correctly, there was another house before you came to the Tiger public house, followed then by a further three small houses.
There was a terrible fire in the late 1930s at one of these houses and three people (I believe named Spencer) were burned to death.
The next building was the butcher’s shop, run by Bill Oaks, and finally at the end of the street was a corn merchant and a grocer, which was run by a Mr. Wooton, and later a Mr. Bailey.
On the other side of the street, none of the old buildings remain, with the exception of the ancient hostelry, the Dog and Partridge.
Next to the pub came greengrocers called Salts. Then there were several houses before you came to a building which housed the Toc H charity.
This was followed by possibly three more houses, one of which was occupied by a family called Parry, before you came to Mrs. Evan’s sweet shop.
The Post Office was next, which was run by Mr. Stanley Broomhall, who was also a local Councillor. Next door was an opening which led to the council yard where all the council vehicles were kept.
Next came another grocer, which I believe was called Wrights. Followed by the old Wednesfield Council Offices, a confectionary shop run by Mrs. Williams, a butcher, a fruiterer named Powell, yet another butcher shop owned by a Mr. Downing. Then came the Rose and Crown public house, after which was a chemist shop run by Mr. Patterson and his daughter.
The last two shops before the Regal Cinema were a barbers shop run by Ernie Hubball, and a newsagent kept by Mr. Needham.
My father was a good friend of Mr. Davis a former manager at the Regal, this friendship took root when the Great Nixon a mind reader came to town, and my father at the Angel was asked to hide an article somewhere in Wednesfield. The great Nixon blindfolded, then walked around the town, followed by a gathering crowd until he eventually found it. Then during the evening performance, he would do his mind-reading act on stage in the interval between the film show.
Although Jim has not lived in Wednesfield High Street since the 1950s, he says he still holds fond memories of it, but he’s not sure he likes how it’s changed.