The Central Arcade and
The Central Arcade.
|In the Central Arcade at the top, was Suzanne’s Ladies
Outdressers, which later became Knights seeds. They sold much the same
thing as Bakers but were much smaller. Opposite Knights, on the other
corner of the arcade was the nicest and poshest shirt sellers in
Wolverhampton. My mother used to buy me a shirt from there every two
years, a real dressy thing it was. It was only a small shop with two
windows on one side and a door on the corner. The biggest shop in the
arcade was Rosensteins. She was a Jew and would not let anybody behind
the counter handle the money. She sold clothes, cushion covers and
curtains. She used to wear black and had a big apron with a big pocket
where she kept the money. She wouldn’t let any of the shop assistants
handle the money, she would walk the shop and give the change to
| She owned the bottom end of the arcade, all but one shop
on the corner which sold stationary and pens and pencils. On the other
side was a big shoe shop, a sweet shop and in the centre were two
curvatures, where bands used to play on the balcony upstairs. The
balcony was in a half circle and a band would play there on a Saturday,
when I was a kid. Unfortunately it gradually died out. On that corner
was a pub with a narrow staircase leading to a café upstairs. It was one
of the biggest cafés in town.
The Central Arcade after the fire which destroyed
Further up was a toy shop with 4 big windows, another place
sold corsets and there was a health food shop which sold uncommon sweets and
things like that. The arcade went down to St. John’s Lane, which led to
Victoria Street. On the left-hand side of St. John’s Lane was Mander
Brothers paint storage building.
Going from the Central Arcade to Snow Hill; first there was
a big yard where Knights stored all of their seed and potatoes in sheds.
There was a wallpaper shop on the corner and the Hen and Chickens pub. The
Hen and Chickens was an old fashioned coaching house and was there for
years. It was a long, single storey building and it was where the trams and
buses used to stop. It went pretty early on and was well looked after, and
used by Wolverhampton people.
Looking up Snow Hill. On the left is the shop
belonging to P.K. Paddey who sold ales and stout, and in the centre
is the Agricultural Hall. Courtesy of Eardley Lewis.
|The shops went all the way up Snow Hill. There was an
old fashioned music shop called Lings. They sold sheet music. Across
the road was Paddey’s the Irish outdoor people. It was an off
licence and sold beer and booze, which was on the floor in barrels
and bottles. Next was a sweet shop and then Tweedies, the sporting
shop which sold tennis and cricket things and then Billinghams
garage, which came up to the corner of Market Street. Billinghams
took all that corner, and sold cars and did repairs.
Next to Paddey’s was Hughes and Holmes, where we used to get
the majority of the engineering tools, like drills, taps etc. The next shop
on the corner sold ladies dresses, towels, tea towels. I ought to know the
name as I went there many times for towels, tea towels and cloths.
On the corner of Snow Hill was the Agricultural Hall that
was there before the Gaumont. It had semi-hard seats, some with hard plush
on them and the others were wooden seats or benches. It was a reasonable,
posh place and was very nice for the time, The rough picture places were the
Pavillion, the Olympia in Thornley Street and the Globe in Horseley Fields.