Wolverhampton

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Wolverhampton (/ˌwʊlvərˈhæmptən/) is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. For Eurostat purposes Walsall and Wolverhampton is a NUTS 3 region (code UKG35) and is one of five boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the “West Midlands” NUTS 2 region. In 2004, the local government district had an estimated population of 239,100; the wider Urban Area had a population of 251,462, which makes it the 13th most populous city in England.

Historically a part of Staffordshire, and forming part of the metropolitan county of the West Midlands from 1974, the city is commonly recognised as being named after Lady Wulfrun, who founded the town in 985: its name coming from Anglo-Saxon Wulfrūnehēantūn = “Wulfrūn’s high or principal enclosure or farm”. Alternatively, the city may have earned its original name from Wulfereēantūn = “Wulfhere’s high or principal enclosure or farm” after the Mercian King. Nevertheless, the name Wulfrun is commonly used in the city – for example, for the Wulfrun Centre or for Wulfrun Hall.

The city’s name is often abbreviated to Wolvo, “W’ton” or “Wolves”. The city council’s motto is “Out of darkness, cometh light”. People from Wolverhampton are known as Wulfrunians, or, colloquially, “Yam Yams” due to regional phraseology.

The city grew initially as a market town with specialism within the woollen trade. During and after the Industrial Revolution, the city became a major industrial centre, with mining (mostly coal, limestone and iron ore) as well as production of steel, japanning, locks, motorcycles and cars – including the first vehicle to hold the Land speed record at over 200 mph. Today, the major industries within the city are both engineering based (including a large aerospace industry) and within the service sector.

A local tradition states that King Wulfhere of Mercia founded an abbey of St Mary at Wolverhampton in 659. Proof of such an abbey has not been found to date.

Wolverhampton is recorded as being the site of a decisive battle between the unified Mercian Angles and West Saxons against the raiding Danes in 910, although sources are unclear as to whether the battle itself took place in Wednesfield or Tettenhall. The Mercians and West Saxons claimed a decisive victory and the field of Woden is recognised by numerous place names in Wednesfield.

In 985, King Ethelred the Unready granted lands at a place referred to as Heantun to Lady Wulfrun by royal charter, and hence founding the settlement.

In 994, a monastery was consecrated in Wolverhampton for which Wulfrun granted land at Upper Arley in Worcestershire, Bilston, Willenhall, Wednesfield, Pelsall, Ogley Hay near Brownhills, Hilton near Wall, Hatherton, Kinvaston, Hilton near Wolverhampton, and Featherstone. This became the site for the current St. Peter’s Church. A statue of Lady Wulfrun, sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler, can be seen on the stairs outside the church.

In 1179, there is mention of a market held in the town, and in 1204 it had come to the attention of King John that the town did not possess a Royal Charter for holding a market. This charter for a weekly market held on a Wednesday was eventually granted on 4 February 1258 by Henry III.

It is held that in the 14th and 15th centuries that Wolverhampton was one of the “staple towns” of the woollen trade, which today can be seen by the inclusion of a woolpack on the city’s coat of arms, and by the many small streets, especially in the city centre, called “Fold” (examples being Blossom’s Fold, Farmers Fold, Townwell Fold and Victoria Fold), as well as Woolpack Street and Woolpack Alley.

In 1512, Sir Stephen Jenyns, a former Lord Mayor of London and a twice Master of the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, who was born in the city, founded Wolverhampton Grammar School, one of the oldest active schools in Britain.

Wolverhampton suffered two Great Fires: the first in April 1590, and the second in September 1696. Both fires started in today’s Salop Street. The first fire lasted for five days and left nearly 700 people homeless, whilst the second destroyed 60 homes in the first five hours. This second fire led to the purchase of the first fire engine within the city in September 1703.

From the 16th century onwards, Wolverhampton became home to a number of metal industries including lock and key making and iron and brass working. On 27 January 1606, two farmers, Thomas Smart and John Holyhead of Rowley Regis, were executed on High Green, now Queen Square, for sheltering two of the Gunpowder Plotters, Robert Wintour and Stephen Littleton, who had fled to the Midlands. The pair played no part in the original plot but nevertheless suffered a traitor’s death of being hanged, drawn and quartered on butcher’s blocks set up in the square a few days before the execution of Guy Fawkes and several other plotters in London.

In Victorian times, Wolverhampton grew to be a wealthy town mainly due to the huge amount of industry that occurred as a result of the abundance of coal and iron deposits in the area. The remains of this wealth can be seen in local houses such as Wightwick Manor and The Mount (both built for the Mander family, prominent varnish and paint manufacturers), and Tettenhall Towers. Many other houses of similar stature were built only to be demolished in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 19th century the city saw much immigration from Wales and Ireland, following the Irish Potato Famine.

Wolverhampton gained its first parliamentary representation as part of the Reform Act 1832, when it was one of 22 large towns that were allocated two Members of Parliament. It was incorporated as a municipal borough on March 15, 1848 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 before becoming a County Borough in 1889.

In 1866, a statue was erected in memory of Prince Albert (often referred to locally as “The Man on the Horse” or “MOTH” and is a common meeting place for the city’s youths), the unveiling of which brought Queen Victoria to Wolverhampton. The unveiling of the statue was the first public appearance Queen Victoria had made since the funeral of her husband the Prince Consort. A 40-foot (12 m) tall archway made of coal was constructed for the visit. The Queen was so pleased with the statue that she knighted the then-mayor, an industrialist named John Morris. Market Square, originally named High Green, was renamed Queen Square in honour of the visit. The statue replaced a Russian cannon captured from Sevastopol during the Crimean War in 1855, and remains standing in Queen Square.

The railways reached Wolverhampton in 1837, with the first station located at Wednesfield Heath, now Heath Town on the Grand Junction Railway. This station was demolished in 1965, but the area exists as a nature reserve just off Powell Street. Wolverhampton Railway Works was established in 1849 for the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway and became the Northern Division workshop of the Great Western Railway in 1854.

Wolverhampton had a prolific bicycle industry from 1868 to 1975, during which time a total of more than 200 bicycle manufacturing companies existed there, but today none exist at all. These manufacturers included Marston, Sunbeam, Star, Wulfruna and Rudge.The last volume manufacturers of bicycles left Wolverhampton during the 1970s, the remnants which shut down during the 1980s being small companies including Percy Stallard (the former professional cyclist) and Jack Hateley.

Wolverhampton High Level station (the current main railway station) opened in 1852, but the original station was demolished in 1965 and then rebuilt. Wolverhampton Low Level station opened on the Great Western Railway in 1855. The site of the Low Level station, which closed to passengers in 1972 and completely in 1981, is currently undergoing redevelopment. Wolverhampton St George’s (in the city centre) is now the northern terminus for the Midland Metro light rail system. Wolverhampton was one of the few towns to operate surface contact trams and the only town to use the Lorain Surface Contact System. Trolleybuses appeared in 1923 and in 1930 for a brief period, the Wolverhampton trolleybus system was the world’s largest trolleybus system. The last Wolverhampton trolleybus ran in 1967, just as the railway line through the High Level station was converted to electric operation.

England’s first automatic traffic lights could be seen in Princes Square, Wolverhampton in 1927. The modern traffic lights at this location have the traditional striped poles to commemorate this fact.

In 1918, David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, announced he was calling a General Election at “The Mount” in Tettenhall Wood. Lloyd George also made his “Homes fit for heroes” speech at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in the same year. It was on the idea of “Homes fit for heroes” that Lloyd George was to fight the 1918 “Coupon” General Election.

Wolverhampton was represented politically in Victorian times by the Liberal MP Charles Pelham Villiers, a noted free trade supporter, who was also the longest serving MP in parliamentary history. Lord Wolverhampton, Henry Hartley Fowler was MP for Wolverhampton at the turn of the century. Sir Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander, a member of the Mander family, was Liberal MP for Wolverhampton East from 1929 to 1945, distinguished for his stance against Appeasement and as a supporter of the League of Nations; known as “the last of the Midland radicals”. More recent members have included the Conservative mavericks Enoch Powell and Nicholas Budgen. In 2005, former Bilston councillor and MP for Wolverhampton South East, Dennis Turner entered the House of Lords as Lord Bilston.

Powell was a member of Edward Heath’s Tory shadow cabinet from 1964, until he was dismissed in April 1968 following his controversial Rivers of Blood speech in which he warned of massive civil unrest if mass immigration of black and Asian commonwealth inhabitants continued.

Large numbers of black and Asian immigrants had settled in Wolverhampton in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly in the Whitmore Reans, Blakenhall, All Saints and Heath Town areas. Wolverhampton is home to a large proportion of the Sikh community, who settled there during the period (1940–1970) from the Indian state of Punjab. Today, the Sikh community in Wolverhampton is roughly 8% of the city’s population.

In 1974, as a result of local government reorganisation, it became a metropolitan borough. The United Kingdom government announced on December 18, 2000 that Wolverhampton would be granted city status, making it one of three “Millennium Cities”, an honour that had been unsuccessfully applied for in 1953, 1966, 1977, 1985 and 1992. Wolverhampton also made an unsuccessful application for a Lord Mayor in 2002.

Many of the city centre’s buildings date from the early 20th century and before, the oldest buildings being St Peter’s Church (which was built in the 13th century but has been largely extended and refurbished since the 15th century, situated on Lichfield Street) and a framed timber 17th century building on Victoria Street which is now one of just two remaining in the area which was heavily populated by them until the turn of the 20th century. This building was originally a residential property, but later became the Hand Inn public house. It was completely restored in 1981 after a two-year refurbishment project and has been used by various businesses since then – currently as a second hand book shop.

In 1960, plans were announced to build a ring road around the centre of Wolverhampton. By the end of the 1960s, more than half of the ring road had been completed, stretching from Snow Hill to Stafford Street (via Penn Road, Chapel Ash and Waterloo Road), followed a few years later by a section between Snow Hill and Bilston Street. However, the final section between Bilston Street and Stafford Street (via Wednesfield Road) was not completed until 1986.

The centre of Wolverhampton has been altered radically since the mid 1960s; with the Mander Centre (plans for which were unveiled on 15 April 1965)being opened in two phases, the first in 1968 and the second in 1971. Several refurbishments have taken place since.

The Wulfrun Centre, an open shopping area, was opened alongside the Mander Centre’s first phase in 1968, but has been undercover since a roof was added in the late 1990s.

Central Wolverhampton police station was built just south of the city centre on Birmingham Road during the 1960s, but operations there were cut back in the early 1990s when a new larger police station was built on Bilston Street on land which became vacant a decade earlier on the demolition of a factory. This was officially opened by Diana, Princess of Wales, on 31 July 1992.

The town centre (as it was then) had several cinemas during the 20th century, the last of these was the ABC Cinema (formerly the Savoy) on the corner of Garrick Street and Bilston Street, which closed on 17 October 1991 after 54 years. It has since been converted into a nightclub, with part of the site being converted into the offices of a recruitment agency in 2005.

A modern landmark in the town centre is the Crown Court on Bilston Street, which opened in 1990 as the town’s first purpose built crown court.

Many department store chains including Beatties, Marks and Spencer, British Homes Stores and Next have stores in the centre of Wolverhampton. Rackhams had a store on Snow Hill for some 25 years until 1992. This building was then divided between a Netto supermarket and the local archives service but by 2006 its future was under threat as part of the proposed Summer Row retail development. This led to the closure of the Netto supermarket in June 2007 and the closure of the archives service in October 2008. However, the Summer Row project has since fallen through and the building remains dormant.

In 2000 Wolverhampton was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the millennium celebrations in 2000.

From the 18th century, Wolverhampton was well known for production of the japanned ware and steel jewellery. The renowned 18th and 19th century artists Joseph Barney (1753–1832), Edward Bird (1772–1819), George Wallis (1811–1891)were all born in Wolverhampton and initially trained as japanned ware painters.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery was established in 1884.

The School of Practical Art was opened in 1850s and eventually became a close associate of the Art Gallery. Among its students and teachers were Robert Jackson Emerson (1878–1944), Sir Charles Wheeler (Emerson’s most famous pupil and the sculptor of the fountains in Trafalgar Square), Sara Page who established her studio in Paris, and many other artists and sculptors recognized locally and nationally.

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre was opened in 1894.

There is a thriving Creative Industries Quarter in Wolverhampton, easily accessible by public transport just off Broad Street. From the newly opened Slade Rooms, the art house cinema the Light House Media Centre and the University of Wolverhampton. All of these institutions are closely linked to the City of Wolverhampton College’s Creative Arts department.

Wolverhampton lies northwest of its larger near-neighbour Birmingham, and forms the second largest part of the West Midlands conurbation. To the north and west lies the Staffordshire and Shropshire countryside.olverhampton city centre falls outside of the area traditionally known as the Black Country, although some districts such as Bilston and Heath Town and the Willenhall side of Wolverhampton fall within the Black Country coalfields, leading to confusion as to whether the entire city falls within the region. Modern usage has tended towards using the term to refer to the western part of the West Midlands county, excluding Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry. Examples would be UK Government regional bodies such as the Black Country Development Corporation, under whose remit the city fell.

The city lies upon the Midlands Plateau at approximately 120 m (394 ft) above sea level. There are no major rivers within the city, although the River Penk and River Tame (tributaries of the River Trent) rise in the city, as does Smestow Brook, a tributary of the River Stour, and thence the River Severn. This means that the city lies astride the main east-west watershed (British usage, meaning drainage divide, of England.

The geology of the city is complex, with a combination of Triassic and Carboniferous geology; specifically Bunter and Keuper sandstone, and Upper and Middle Coal measures. There is also an area of dolerite intrusions.

The vast majority of Wolverhampton is governed locally by Wolverhampton City Council, although some small areas are governed by South Staffordshire District Council.

The area administered by the City Council is represented in the national United Kingdom parliament by three MPs representing Wolverhampton South West, Wolverhampton South East and Wolverhampton North East constituencies, with the areas administered by South Staffordshire District Council being represented by South Staffordshire constituency. The entire city is part of the West Midlands constituency of the European Parliament.

Since the abolition of West Midlands County Council in 1986, Wolverhampton City Council has been a unitary authority. South Staffordshire District Council is a two-tier authority, with some services provided by Staffordshire County Council.

Wolverhampton gained the beginnings of modern local government in 1777, when the Wolverhampton Improvement Act was passed by Parliament. This allowed for the establishment of 125 Town Commissioners who undertook a variety of local improvement work such as punishing bear baiting, improving drainage, widening streets and by the end of the century street lighting had been provided at every street corner and over the doorway of every inn, and water supply had been improved by the sinking of ten new wells and the provision of a great water tank in the market place. Policing had been improved with the appointment of ten watchmen and attempts were also made to regulate the markets and inspect hazardous food.

Wolverhampton parliamentary borough was created by the Reform Act 1832, which included areas currently located with the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell such as Wren’s Nest, New Invention and Gornal. It was one of 22 large towns that returned two Members of Parliament. Under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885, the original borough was replaced by three new single-member constituencies: Wolverhampton East, Wolverhampton South and Wolverhampton West.

In 1837, Wolverhampton Borough Police was formed. It was disestablished in 1966,and the larger West Midlands Constabulary, which covered not only Wolverhampton but the County Boroughs of Walsall, Dudley, West Bromwich and Warley took over its duties and was headquartered in the city. This force was then replaced in 1974 with the West Midlands Police.

Wolverhampton was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1849 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. The town was then made a County Borough in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888.

In 1933, the boundaries of the borough expanded, taking in areas from Cannock Rural District and Seisdon Rural District, with very little of the surrounding urban area being affected, with only Heath Town Urban District being abolished.

The bulk of the formerly independent urban districts of Bilston (a borough itself after 1933), Tettenhall and Wednesfield were added to the borough in 1966, along with part of the urban district of Coseley and small parts from Sedgley and Willenhall.

Wolverhampton was one of only two County Boroughs (the other being Liverpool) to have no changes made to the boundary during the 1974 reorganisation of local government, the borough already having a population larger than the 250,000 required for education authorities. This contrasted with both the Redcliffe-Maud Report, and the initial White Paper for the 1974 reforms where large areas of the present South Staffordshire district were to be added to the borough. During the 1974 reforms it was placed within the West Midlands Metropolitan County.

Wolverhampton was also a Royal Peculiar covering a large area.

The various symbols within the arms are representative of the history of the city. The book represents the education within the city, specifically the 16th century Wolverhampton Grammar School; the woolpack represents the mediaeval woollen trade within the city; the column is a representation of the Saxon pillar that can be found within the churchyard of St. Peter’s Collegiate Church in the city centre; whilst the keys are representative of the church itself and its dedication to St. Peter. The padlock represents one of the major industries of the area at the time of the granting of the arms – that of lock-making; whilst the brazier at the top is indicative of the general metal-working industries in the area. The cross is ascribed to King Edgar.

The motto on the coat of arms is ‘Out of Darkness Cometh Light’.

Prior to 1898 there was a former coat of arms that had been in use since 1848, though these arms were never officially granted.

 

The tables below detail the population change since 1750.

 

Historical population of Wolverhampton
Year 1750 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 7,454 20,710 29,253 35,816 46,937 68,426 90,301 111,033 68,291 75,766 82,662
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 94,107 95,328 102,342 133,212 143,213 162,172 150,825 269,168 265,631 257,943 251,462

Traditionally, Wolverhampton’s economy has been dominated by engineering and manufacturing industries. However, in 2008 the economy is dominated by the service sector, with 74.9% of the city’s employment being in this area. The major subcomponents of this sector are in public administration, education and health (32.8% of the total employment), while distribution, hotels and restaurants take up 21.1%, and finance and IT takes up 12.7%. The largest non-service industry is that of manufacturing (12.9%), whilst 5.2% of the total employment is related to the tourism industry.

The largest single employer within the city is Wolverhampton City Council. which has over 12,000 staff.Other large employers within the city include:

  • Banking: Birmingham Midshires (headquarters)
  • Education: University of Wolverhampton and City of Wolverhampton College
  • Construction: Tarmac, Carillion (headquarters) & Carvers
  • Brewing: Marston’s, formerly Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries
  • Aerospace: H S Marston, MOOG and Goodrich Actuation Systems a part of Goodrich Corporation
  • Retail: Beatties (now owned by House of Fraser)
  • Manufacturing: Chubb Locks
  • National Health Service, New Cross Hospital

Wolverhampton is one of the major retail centres in the West Midlands Region, being placed at fourth largest in 2006, with an annual turnover of £384 million. It is expected to become the second largest retail centre within the region by 2015.

Many of the traditional industries in the city have closed or dramatically downsized. Famous companies once based in the city include:

  • Steel manufacturing; British Steel, later known as Corus. Wolverhampton was one of Britain’s top three iron and steel producing centres. Most of the steel industry no longer exists in this city, but remnants of the areas numerous old steel works still exist.
  • Vehicle manufacturers and Motor Industry: AJS, Clyno, Guy Motors, Henry Meadows, Kieft Cars, Norton-Villiers, Sunbeam, Sunbeam Motorcycles
  • Aerospace: Boulton Paul Aircraft
  • Tyres: Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
  • Paint, varnish, printing inks and property: Mander Brothers

Goodyear opened a large factory on Stafford Road, Fordhouses, in 1927. However, it was decided in December 2003 that tyre production at the plant would be discontinued with the loss of more than 400 jobs. This came after some 2,000 job losses at the plant since 1997. The end of production came in 2004 but the factory remains open for tyre moulding and tractor tyre production.

In recent years, Wolverhampton City Council has embarked on several city improvement and regeneration schemes. One such project was Summer Row, a new £300 million retail quarter for Wolverhampton city centre. The project, which was to be undertaken by Multi Development, would involve clearing of existing buildings, and in 2006 a compulsory purchase order was issued to over 200 owner / occupiers in the surrounding area, including Cleveland Street. Construction of Summer Row was originally earmarked for 2008, with a completion date listed as 2010, but the 2008 recession put the project on hold. In January 2011, the Summer Row project was officially declared dead as the government permission for the compulsory purchase order expiry date rolled round without the council having found the necessary financial backing for the project. Debenhams however, who were listed as the anchor store of the Summer Row project, have revealed that they are still interested in opening a store in Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton is near to several motorways, with the following being within 7 miles (11 km) of the city centre:

  • M6 linking the city with the north-west of England (including Manchester and Liverpool), Scotland and London via the M1. This section opened between 1966 and 1970. The section of M6 motorway nearest to the city is one of the busiest within the UK.
  • M5 connecting with the south-west of England, and London via the M40 (opened 1970)
  • M6 Toll which bypasses the busiest section of the M6 near the city (opened 2003)
  • M54 linking the city with Telford, Shrewsbury and Wales

The main roads radiating from the city centre meet the city’s Ring Road, which is acts to keep through traffic out of the city centre itself.

Other major roads passing through the city include:

  • A41 between London and Birkenhead
  • A449 between South Wales and Stafford
  • A454 between Bridgnorth and Sutton Coldfield
  • A4123 between Wolverhampton and Birmingham. Constructed in 1927, it was the first purpose built inter-city road in the United Kingdom within the 20th century, and was said to be the longest stretch of new road in Britain since the Romans. It took just three years to complete and cost £600,000.

The city’s railway station is served by the West Coast Main Line. It has regular rail services to London, Birmingham and Manchester, as well as many other major cities in the UK. The Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway has started itsailway station is due for redevelopment, with the main station buildings being demolished in a project called Wolverhampton Interchange. It is due to open in 2012.

There are many local services, including those on the Cambrian Line, the Walsall to Wolverhampton Line, the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line and the Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line. There are also many closed stations within the city, including Wolverhampton Low Level, which was the most northerly broad gauge station on the Great Western network.

The Midland Metro, a light rail system, currently connects Wolverhampton St. George’s to Birmingham Snow Hill station via West Bromwich and Wednesbury, mostly following the former Birmingham Snow Hill-Wolverhampton Low Level Line. There are plans for further lines within the city, with both a city centre loop and a line to Walsall via Wednesfield and Willenhall, mostly following the route of the closed Wolverhampton and Walsall Railway. the station was formed in 1999.

There are many miles of canal network: the Birmingham Main Line Canal, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the Shropshire Union Canal and the Wyrley & Essington Canal are all to be found.

The Grand Theatre on Lichfield Street is Wolverhampton’s largest theatre, opening on 10 December 1894. It was designed by C. J. Phipps and completed within six months. Included amongst the people to have appeared at the theatre are Henry Irving, Charlie Chaplin and Sean Connery. It was also used by politicians including Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George. The theatre was closed between 1980 and 1982.

The City’s Arts & Museums service, run by the council, covers three sites: Wolverhampton Art Gallery, home to England’s biggest Pop art collection after that held at the Tate; Bantock House, a fine historic house with Edwardian interior with a museum of Wolverhampton located within Bantock Park; Bilston Craft Gallery with exhibitions of contemporary crafts.

Eagle Works Studios and Gallery situated in Chapel Ash, is a self run artists’ group. It provides studio accommodation for eighteen visual artists, mostly painters. Its small gallery holds a regular programme of exhibitions to show and promote contemporary art in the city.

The National Trust owns two properties on the edge of the city that are open to the public: Wightwick Manor, which is a Victorian manor house and one of only a few surviving examples of a house built and furnished under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, and Moseley Old Hall, which is famous as one of the resting places of Charles II of England during his escape to France following defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. English Heritage owns Boscobel House, anther refuge of Charles II.

Nearby museums also include the Royal Air Force Museum, at RAF Cosford, the Boulton Paul Association at Pendeford and the RAF Fire Service Museum at Wolverhampton Airport., whilst Chillington Hall, which boasts of grounds designed by Capability Brown and Himley Hall are nearby examples of houses open to the public.

Sunbeam built many early Grand Prix cars and was the only British make to win a Grand Prix in the first half of the 20th century. Sunbeam also built several holders of the Land speed record, including the first vehicle to travel at over 200 miles per hour (322 km/h), the Sunbeam 1000 hp. Kieft Cars built Formula Three cars in the early 1950s. Their best known driver was Stirling Moss. AJS was heavily involved in motorcycle racing either side of World War II, which included winning the 1949 World Championship in the 500cc category.

St. Peter’s Collegiate Church is located at the highest point within the city centre, and is the leading church of the Parish of Central Wolverhampton. The Grade I listed building, much of which dates from the 15th century, is of significant architectural and historical interest; and is the seat of the Bishop of Wolverhampton. The earliest part of the church dates from 1205. The former grounds of the church (known as St. Peter’s Gardens) contain several artifacts: the Horsman Fountain, the Harris Memorial, a Saxon Pillar and Bargaining Stone. The Horsman Fountain dates from 1896, and commemorates Philip Horsman, a local businessman who founded Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and the Wolverhampton & Staffordshire Eye Infirmary; whilst the Harris Memorial commemorates a wireless operator in World War I who, whilst posted to an Italian ship, continued to send messages whilst under heavy fire until he was killed by shrapnel on 15 May 1917.

The church of St. John in the Square is located on the southern side of the city centre, and is a Grade II* listed building. It opened in 1760, although it was only given its own parish in 1847. It contains a Renatus Harris organ, of which there is a local story that it was played by Handel during the first performance of Messiah, prior to its installation in the church. The church was endowed by Sir Samuel Hellier, guardian of the Hellier Stradivarius and known to scholars of the organ.

Wightwick Manor is a Victorian manor house located on Wightwick Bank on the western side of the city and one of only a few surviving examples of a house built and furnished under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. Wightwick Manor was built by Theodore Mander, of the Mander family, who were successful 19th-century industrialists in the area, and his wife Flora, daughter of Henry Nicholas Paint, member of Parliament in Canada. It was designed by Edward Ould of Liverpool in two phases; the first was completed in 1887 and the house was extended with the Great Parlour wing in 1893. It is a Grade I listed building. The nearby Old Malhouse is a Grade II listed building.

The Molineux Hotel is a former mansion house originally known as Molineux House, which later served as an hotel and is planned to be the home of the city’s archive service in March 2009. It is a Grade II* listed building, and stands in the city centre. It was constructed in about 1720, with extensions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1860 the grounds were opened to the public as Wolverhampton’s first public park, whilst several years later the park was leased out to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, for the Molineux Stadium. The hotel was closed in 1979, and restoration work started in 2005.

The statue of Prince Albert that stands in Queen Square was erected in 1866, and is one of the most recognised landmarks within the city. It is colloqually known as “The Man on the Horse”, and was unveiled by Queen Victoria, on what is reputed to be her first public engagement after the death of Prince Albert.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

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