Since the 1970's, Bilston Street has changed almost beyond recognition. Much of the western end of the street disappeared under the new police station and the ring road development. The ex-Sainsbury's supermarket occupies the old St. George's church and graveyard, and much of the northern side of the street lies under the new dual carriageway. Bilston Street was the focal point for the local community. It had many small shops that catered for everyday needs, and several public houses. The town's cattle market was there, as was the hub of the local authority's transport system. Most of the buildings were nothing special, although the street did include several good Georgian houses.

Bilston Street has hardly been mentioned in any of the books of old photographs of the town, and the old landscape is rapidly being forgotten. Hopefully these photographs will re-kindle old memories and pass on what was there to a younger generation. Most of the photographs were taken in the 1970's, a little while before demolition started. If anyone has any other photographs that I can add, or any memories of the street, please contact the webmaster.


The walk starts at the junction of Bilston Street and Market Street, alongside what is now the new police headquarters and ends at the junction of Bilston Street, Bilston Road and Steelhouse Lane.

On the left is J. Green's cycle shop, and next door at numbers 8a and 9 are two shops that were last occupied by S & S Washing Machines. Previously number 8a was occupied by E. A. Gray (Continental Stores) Limited, and H. H. Manning's hairdressers shop was at number 9. The two shops occupy the ground floor of one of the fine houses that were in this part of the street.
The Clifton Cinema during demolition in 1981.

It was built in 1863 as a theatre, and during its lifetime has seen many changes. It began life as the Prince of Wales, later becoming the Star, and then the Hippodrome.

It became known locally as the 'Blood Tub' because many of the plays at the time featured a murder. When the original Theatre Royal in Cleveland Road closed, the Hippodrome became the New Theatre Royal. In 1913 the theatre was badly damaged by fire and then subsequently rebuilt. It became the Clifton in 1931 after being converted to a cinema.

It closed in February 1966 and the following month re-opened as a bingo club, which finally closed in 1978. After several years of dereliction, it was demolished to make way for the new police headquarters which opened in 1992.
Another view of the Clifton Cinema.

Across the road from the Clifton Cinema at numbers 150 and 151 is Cozens & Company's factory where all kinds of industrial belts were produced. On the right is Smart Shoe Repairs' shop, and the premises of G. P. Hammond, a commercial artist.


Another view, looking towards Market Street.


A final view of the cinema, as demolition progressed.


Next to the cinema is a car park with S & S Washing Machines' workshop at the rear.


A grand house that once stood on the site of the car park, above. The fine early 18th century house was eventually converted into shops, and demolished in 1953.

This view from the Hertz car sales car park on the southern side of the street is looking towards the junction of Piper's Row and Walsall Street. The building opposite was the premises of car dealer, John Ireland. It is now the site of the new police headquarters. The remains of some of the once-grand buildings can still be seen.

On the corner of Pipers Row is the once popular Blue Ball public house, and across the road, under demolition is the premises of Alexander Sloan, house furniture.


Walsall Street junction.


The fine Georgian house that stood on the corner of Walsall Street and Bilston Street.


St. Georges Church from Bilston Street. Until recently the site of Sainsbury's supermarket.


The shop on the left was once occupied by L. Morrison, a radio dealer.


In its later years the shop on the left was a junk shop where all kinds of old electrical and electronic bits and pieces were sold.

This photograph, taken from the corner of Market Avenue shows the premises of A. G. Tarver Limited, shopkeepers' outfitters.

A. G. Tarver Limited had two adjacent shops, the one on the left and the one in the photograph above. In the centre is Collings Supplies Limited.

Another view of the shops on the previous photograph, just before demolition. On the right, at the corner of Market Avenue is the Crown & Cushion public house.
Another view of the Crown & Cushion, on the corner of Market Avenue.
The Crown & Cushion, and some of the shops on the south side of Bilston Street.

Next door to the pub was Ernest Higgs & Son Limited, stationers, then T. R. & G. L. Bailey, confectioners and newsagents, and next left, J. C. Burns & Company, corn merchants.


A final view of the Crown & Cushion.


Looking back along the route so far covered. All of the buildings in the photograph are on the site of the modern ring road roundabout.

Frederick H. Burgess Limited were on the northern side of the street next to the cattle market. They were farm machinery suppliers.

The view looking towards the old Cleveland Road bus depot. On the left is the Red Cow and on the right the Bull's Head.


The Red Cow was a Mitchells & Butlers public house. 


The Bull's Head, which was also a Mitchells & Butlers public house, stood on the corner of Transport Road.


On the right is the back of the Cleveland Road Depot, headquarters of the Corporation Tramways Department. It was built in 1901 in readiness for the electric trams which were in operation the following year.


Another view of the old tram depot.


Two doors away from the Red Cow was a butchers shop, run by John C. C. Price & Company Limited.


Another public house in Bilston Street was Banks's True Briton, which stood on the corner of Bath Street.


Opposite is Middle Cross Street. The building on the left with the sloping television aerial is the premises of Martin Erskine, Television aerials and repairs. The shop on the corner is Classic Shoe Repair Specialists.

On the immediate left was E. Arnold's shoe repairs, then J. David's butchers shop, William J. Rooker, and Mrs G. Hopkins who had two adjacent shops, number 75 and number 76. She also lived at number 77 as a young girl. The shop with the canopy is Woottons Stores, which sold grocery. On the front is an advert for Priory Tea.
I would like to thank Reebekah Gamston for the following information:

Mrs Gladys Hopkins had two adjacent shops, number 75 which was her antiques shop and home, and number 76 her second hand clothes shop. She also lived at number 77 which was her home when she was a young girl, living with her parents.

Gladys sold all kinds of things at number 75 and would buy jewellery and other items from people who came into the shop. She also bought things from jumble sales and sale rooms, and loaned money against items that were brought into the shop. Behind the shop was long middle room, with a kitchen at the rear, and a small outhouse. Upstairs was a single bedroom.

Number 75 later became a vegetable shop, selling items that were bought from the Wholesale Market in Wulfruna Street, and delivered to the shop by Billy Whitehouse.

In Number 76 Gladys sold second hand clothes which were mainly bought from a lady called Mrs. Rafferty, or from jumble sales. Other washed and ironed clothes were purchased from people who brought them to the shop. Behind the shop was an extension where Gladys bred budgies for sale. Above the shop were two small bedrooms that were accessed from the bedroom in number 75.

Number 77 had once been a large shop and had floor to ceiling windows that were whitewashed to make it look as though there were net curtains. It was a far from ideal home, cold in the winter, and too hot in the summer. There were flagstone floors on which the children learned to write with sticks of chalk. In the back room was a cooker, a fire, and furniture. The house had no running water. Water had to be brought in a container from number 75. The roof was just corrugated asbestos sheets.

There was also a single bedroom with two beds, one for Les and Freda Short, and another for their five children. They sold TREND coal.


Behind the street lamp is BA Textiles, and T. & R. C. Evans, butchers. On the far corner of Sharrocks Street is W.E.S. Wolverhampton Limited, Electrical Wholesalers. The company was previously in Bell Street and were stockists and wholesale suppliers of everything electrical. 


The view looking back to W.E.S., and some of the many small shops that were such a feature here.


Bilston Street Post Office & Savings Bank, and F. Davies, gents hairdresser.


The substantial building in the centre was the Horse & Jockey public house.


The walk ends opposite the premises of E. J. Nicholls Limited, timber and tool merchants. The company specialised in joinery, doors and decorative plastics, and moved to Stafford Road, Fordhouses.

Return to the
articles section