The 1930s were a time of recession, unemployment and hardship for many. By 1932 there were almost 3.5 million people out of work, because many of the traditional industries were no longer competitive in the post World War One international market.

The West Midlands faired comparatively well at this time because of the many new industries that appeared and provided much needed employment. As the decade progressed, wages increased and the price of food fell. There was better housing as slums and overcrowding largely disappeared, thanks to the large number of new houses that were built.

People’s expectations improved and cinemas flourished in every local town, as did dance halls for the young. After the passing of the 1938 Holidays with Pay Act, seaside resorts became very popular for summer holidays. Shopping centres thrived and people were more mobile because of better public transport.

Towards the end of the decade, the outbreak of war looked inevitable and so many local industries increased production in readiness for the terrible conflict that was to follow. Jobs were plentiful and many people worked longer hours. The standard of living greatly increased until the hardship of war began to predominate.

The gas showroom was built in 1880 in Darlington Street, on the corner of Waterloo Road.

The gas showroom in the mid 1930s.

A corner of the gas showroom after the remodelling and extension in 1929. It remained in use until 1938 when it was replaced by the building that is still there today. The new showroom opened in 1940 and was designed by local architects Lavender and Twentyman. The building, which is known as Clock Chambers is locally listed and now contains a shop and offices.

An advert from 1938.

The gas-powered heat treatment shop at Henry Meadows Limited in Park Lane, engine and gearbox manufacturers.

Gas appliances in the late 1930s, for the works canteen at J. E. Jenks and Cattell Limited, metal stamping, Neachells Lane, Wednesfield..

A fine view of Queen Square with J. Lyons & Company's restaurant on the left, next to the mock-Tudor Shakespeare pub, an Atkinsons house, followed by the popular Reynolds restaurant, and the premises of Alfred Hall and Son, one of the town's most expensive tailors.

The view in the opposite direction with Barclays Bank on the left, St. Peters Gardens and the Art Gallery.

A close-up view of the Art Gallery, which opened in 1884.

Another view from Queen Square, with Lich Gates on the left, St. Peter's Church in the background and Barclays Bank.

An evening view of Queen Square looking towards Montague Burton Limited, tailoring, next to Darlington Street. On the left is Craddock Brothers Limited, shoe shop.

A fine painting of Queen Square, from the 1930s Wolverhampton Official Handbook.

The Town Hall in the 1930s.

The South Staffordshire Permanent Building Society at 34 Princess Street, on the corner of King Street. The premises opened in 1921 when the firm rented the building, which the society bought in 1922. The building (in 2023) now houses a betting shop.

The Heath Town swimming baths, library and public wash house, opened on the 16th December, 1932.

Heath Town Library.

Wolverhampton Girls' High School, Tettenhall Road, opened in September 1911 with 180 pupils. It was built at a cost of £18,500 by Henry Lovatt of Darlington Street and originally had five classrooms, an assembly hall, a physics laboratory, a lecture theatre, a preparation room, cookery and dining rooms on the ground floor, with nine classrooms, a chemical laboratory, a lecture theatre, a preparation room, an art room, and a library on the first floor.

The grandstand at Dunstall Park.

Reade Brothers began in King Street and soon moved to Victoria Street, roughly opposite were the derelict Beatties store now stands. On the 1st December, 1893, the firm purchased the large building in Cleveland Road, now known as the Dixon’s building. The firm was extremely successful until the formation of  the National Health Service in 1948 which greatly changed the patent medicine industry, leading to a decline in sales.

The firm decided to sell the Cleveland Road premises and move into a smaller building in nearby Sharrocks Street. The firm continued in business until one of the directors, Mr. J. L. Scott, an experienced chemist who was in charge of research and development, retired in 1972.

The Royal Orphanage scouts and cubs in 1936.

The Royal Orphanage senior girls in 1936.

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