A Description of the
Historical Walk from the
Wolverhampton History & Heritage Website: www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/home.htm
This walk takes you to a number of locations and buildings that have
played an important part in the city's past. The complete walk is 2.1
miles long and should take about one hour and a half to complete,
excluding any time spent in St. Peter's Church.
The Southern part of the walk, which covers some of Wolverhampton's
late 19th and early 20th century industry, is
optional. If this part is excluded, the walk is reduced to about 1.6
miles and should take about one hour and 10 minutes to complete.
Parts of the walk may be unsuitable for wheelchair users:
- The statue of Lady Wulfruna is in the middle of a flight of steps,
between Lich Gates and the Civic Centre.
- The walkway from Wulfruna Street to North Street is quite steep.
- Direct access to St. John's Church from Church Street is up some
The walk starts in Lichfield Street, which is about 10 minutes walk
from the railway station and 5 minutes walk from the bus station or
Piper's Row car park.
1) The walk starts at the entrance to St.
Peter's Gardens in Lichfield Street.
Wolverhampton was a prosperous wool town in the 16th
century and there would have been a merchant's Guildhall. This was
possible situated in the right-hand corner of the gardens, by the
entrance. When the original buildings were demolished in about 1880, a
panel showing coats of arms was discovered on the chimney breast of a
Tudor building. This could have been the Guildhall as there was a Royal
coat of arms, the coat of arms of the Drapers, the coat of arms of the
City of London, and the coat of arms of the Merchants of the Staple.
2) Walk past the fountain, behind Barclays
Bank and turn right. Follow the slope to the top.
On the left you will see the remains of a Saxon cross. The 12
foot high pillar, profusely covered in carvings, possible dates from the
12th century, but may be older. Gerald Mander mentions in his
'History of Wolverhampton' that it may date from the 8th
century and could be a re-worked Roman column from Viriconium, near
In the churchyard, to the right, you will see the bargain stone. In
medieval times, bargains were sealed by a handshake through the hole in
3) Retrace your steps to the rear of Barclays
Bank and turn right into Lich Gates.
St. Peter's Church has an ancient and interesting
past. In 994 Lady Wulfrun, a relative of King Ethelred II endowed the
existing Church of St. Mary at Hantun with extensive lands. By 1080 it
was called the Church of Wolvrenehamptonia. The town which grew up
around the church became known as Wolverhampton. About a century later,
the church was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul and then to St. Peter
alone. At this point it's worth taking a little time to look around the
church, there is a lot to see inside.
4) Continue along Lich Gates by following the
paved walkway to the left of the church, overlooking the Civic Centre.
About 35 metres on the left, you will see a flight of steps leading down
towards the Civic Centre. Half-way down you will see the statue of Lady
Little is known about Lady Wulfrun. In 943 she was
taken prisoner when the Danes led by Olaf Guthfrithson raided Tamworth.
In 985 King Ethelred II gave her an extensive area of land on which the
present city now stands. In 994 she endowed the existing church of St.
Mary with the land. She had at least two children. Wulfric Spott founded
Burton Abbey and another son, Aelfhelm, became ealdorman of Northumbria.
5) Continue down the steps, turn
right and walk to Wulfruna Street. Turn left, cross the entrance to the
underground car park and the entrance to the Civic Centre car park. Turn
left and walk down the slope towards Giffard House.
Giffard House was built for Peter Giffard of Chillington and
completed in 1734. The Giffards were Catholics and on completion the
house was given to the Catholic Church. At the time Catholic worship in
public was illegal, but was allowed in private. The house contained a
small private chapel which anyone was allowed to attend. From 1803 it
was the residence of Bishop Milner, who lived here until his death in
6) Turn left and continue along
North Street to the old Town Hall.
The old Town Hall, now the Magistrates Courts was built between
1869 and 1871 to replace the previous Town Hall which was on the same
site. The architect was E. Bates and the building is in the style of a
French Chateau. It contained the mayor's parlour, council offices, the
quarter sessions court, and police cells in the basement.
7) Turn left into Cheapside, walk
up the slope and turn right into Exchange Street. On the left-hand side
you will notice a yard with a half-timbered building at the back.
This is one of only two surviving timber framed buildings in
the city centre and possibly dates back to the 16th century.
In the 18th century it was owned by George Cope who was a
wine merchant and ran Cope's Wine Lodge (now a branch of the
Staffordshire Building Society) in Queen Square. After being empty for
many years the building was restored by the Council in 1980 and is
presently occupied by Wolverhampton Enterprise Limited.
8) Continue to the end of
Exchange Street and cross Queen Square.
The statue which commemorates Prince Albert was unveiled by
Queen Victoria on 30th November 1866. The sculptor was Thomas
Thorneycroft (1815-1885). A pavilion and a grandstand to house two
thousand spectators were erected in the Market Place, a public holiday
was declared and many thousands of people lined the streets. Gas-lit
illuminations and a series of triumphal arches depicting local industry
were built along the processional route. During the proceedings Queen
Victoria knighted the Mayor, John Morris.
9) On leaving the statue, walk
downhill and turn into Victoria Street. Opposite Beatties store you will
see a blue plaque on the side of Pizza Hut.
This is the site of the Star & Garter, which was the town's
main hotel. It occupied the site of a house in which King Charles I
sheltered during the Civil War, and from this the hotel was named. The
hotel was built in about 1815 and extensively modified in 1836. The
hotel was demolished in the early 1970s when the Mander Centre was
10) Continue walking down
Victoria Street until you reach a half timbered building on the left.
The timber framed house, known locally as Lindy Lou's, is the
city's most famous building after St. Peter's Church. It dates back to
the first half of the 16th century and in the early 17th
century was called the Hand Inn. Lindy Lou's was a toy shop, and
previously had been a tea shop called The Copper Kettle, and a bakers.
In the late 1970s Lindy Lou's was restored. It was stripped down to its
timber frame and completely rebuilt.
11) Continue down Victoria
Street, cross the traffic lights into Worcester Street and continue
along Worcester Street.
About 50 metres beyond Temple Street, on the opposite side, you
will see a row of old buildings. In the centre is the old Scala cinema,
which opened in December 1913 as the Picturedrome. It became the Scala
in 1918. The cinema closed in 1956 and has since been a bingo hall, a
wrestling venue, a dance hall and a night club. Its future is uncertain
as the area is being redeveloped as part of the St. John's Urban Village
Scheme. When you do this walk it may no longer exist.
12) Continue along Worcester
Street and turn left into Church Street. On the opposite side of the
road you will see a blue plaque on the side of the Telecom building.
This commemorates bicycle maker Daniel Rudge, who was a bicycle
maker and landlord of the Tiger's Head which was near to where the
plaque is today. He tool part in the bicycle races that were held in the
grounds of the Molineux Hotel and won the very first race to be held
there. In 1870 he started manufacturing racing machines, the first of
which was a high wheeler. They soon became the best racing machines that
were available at the time.
13) Walk to the top of Church
Street and up the drive to St. John's Church.
St. John's Church and St. John's Square formed the first
large-scale development in this part of Wolverhampton. Following their
completion, Snow Hill was soon developed and the town spread southwards.
Work on the church began in early 1756. The architect was William Baker,
of Audlem in Cheshire and the builder was Roger Eykyn of Wolverhampton.
Building began in early 1756 and by the autumn of 1758, much progress
had been made. Unfortunately there was a disastrous overnight fire which
caused a lot of damage. The church was finally completed in 1776.
14) Walk around the church and
leave by the northern gate and enter George Street.
The buildings on the left-hand corner of George Street were
once part of a convent that was run by The Sisters of Mercy. In the
convent was a school which opened in 1849, the Calvary Chapel, Hanover
House and St. John's Cloisters. Most of the buildings date from the late
18th century and early 19th century. The Sisters
of Mercy moved to another convent in Penn and most of the buildings are
now used as offices. The chapel is still in use as a Pentecostal chapel.
The school joined St. Chad's boys college in Fallings Park.
15) Continue along George Street
until you reach the blue plaque on the right-hand side.
George Street is one of the best examples of a late 18th
/ 19th century street in the city. The plaque commemorates The
Villiers Reform Club which met here in the early 1880s. It was named
after Charles Pelham Villiers (1802-1898) who was a member of Parliament
for sixty three years, and holds the record for being the longest
serving M.P. in Parliamentary history. From 1835-1885, he sat as M.P.
for the constituency of Wolverhampton and then from 1885 until his death
in 1898 as M.P. for Wolverhampton South (Bilston).
16) The next part of the
walk is optional. If you wish you can miss out the next three
locations and proceed directly to Snow Hill. If not, turn right
at the top of George Street, cross the ring road and walk along
Dudley Road to St. John's Retail Park.
Wolverhampton once had an important vehicle
manufacturing industry. This is commemorated with a series of
plaques that are mounted on the retail park's perimeter fence.
They feature Sunbeam and Clyno which made motorbikes and cars.
In its heyday, Clyno was the country's third largest car maker.
There is also a plaque for Briton cars and Star. Guy Motors is
also featured. The company became well known for its lorries and
17) Continue along Dudley
Road and turn first right into Frederick Street. Walk to the
bottom and you will see the Moxley Foundry on the right.
The Moxley Foundry was the Star Engineering Company’s
factory. Star was formed by Edward Lisle and initially produced
cycles. The company became famous for its high quality cars,
which were very successful. The Moxley Foundry opened in about
1896. The company’s first car was built in 1897. Star also
produced lorries and vans. The first van was produced in 1902
and was said to be the first van to have a totally enclosed cab.
It sold extremely well.
18) Turn right into Thomas
Street, walk to the top and turn right again. Along St. John’s Retail
Park perimeter wall you will see three plaques.
These commemorate Sunbeam’s attempts at the world land speed
record in the 1920s and early 1930s. The company’s first successful
attempt on the record was in 1922 when K. Lee Guinness clocked
133.75m.p.h. at Brooklands. This was followed by Malcolm Campbell, who
pushed the record to 150.87m.p.h. in 1925. The 1000h.p. Sunbeam was the
first car to exceed 200m.p.h. on 29th March 1927. Another
high speed car called the ‘Silver Bullet’ reached 198m.p.h. in 1920.
19) Turn left into Snow Hill and
proceed to the Church of St. Mary and St. John.
The Catholic church was built in between 1851 and 1855. It was
designed by Charles Francis Hansom, from Clifton, who was the younger
brother of the Hansom Cab designer. The foundation stone was laid in
October 1851. The church was opened in 1855 by Cardinal Wiseman and the
Chancel was dedicated to God by Cardinal Newman, and the late Archbishop
Ullathorne in 1880. The brick building next door used to be the church'’
Catholic school, but has now been converted into a community centre and
20) Proceed along Snow Hill until
you reach the Wilkinson store, opposite the Central Library.
This was the site of two of Wolverhampton’s most important
cinemas. The first was the Agricultural Hall which was built in 1863 and
converted to a cinema in 1913. In 1931 it was demolished to make way for
the Gaumont which was the city’s first super cinema. It was horse shoe
shaped and could accommodate 2,000 people. It was officially opened on
September 5th 1932 with the film ‘A Night Like This’. The
cinema was an important popular music venue in the 1950s and 1960s and
many of the leading groups came here. The Gaumont closed in 1973.
21) Across the road you will see
the Central Library.
It was built by H. T. Hare in the free renaissance style and
completed in 1902. It is a grade II listed building. The library was
built to commemorate the sixtieth year of Queen Victoria’s reign, but
was a little late for the event. The building has a fine staircase and
an upstairs reading room with a balcony. The plaques above the first
floor windows carry the names of many of the famous writers and above
the entrance is the royal coat of arms. It has continued to be
Wolverhampton’s main library since it opened, but due to space
constraints the city archives have moved across the road.
22) Turn into St. George’s Parade
and walk to Sainsbury’s supermarket.
The right-hand side of the supermarket occupies the old St.
George’s Church which was consecrated on 26th August 1830.
The architect is thought to be James Morgan who was assistant, and later
partner of the famous John Nash. The church is built of brick and
encased in Tixall stone. The building cost approximately £10,000. In
1849 the churchyard had to accommodate the many victims of the 1849
cholera epidemic in mass graves. In 1898 the burial ground was
landscaped as public gardens. The church closed in 1978.
23) Cross the road and walk along
Old Hall Street to the Adult Education Centre.
The Adult Education Centre is on the site of the Great Hall,
which was a moated Elizabethan manor house. In 1560 it became the home
of the Leveson family, who were wealthy wool merchants. In about 1767
the Old Hall became a japanning factory when it was occupied by Jones
and Taylor. In 1783 another japanning company, Obadiah and William Ryton
took over and in about 1820 the company became Ryton and Walton. The
name was changed to Walton and Co. in 1842. In 1883 it closed,
everything was sold and the Hall demolished.
24) Walk to the end of the street
and turn right. Walk along Garrick Street and Market Street until you
reach Queen Street on the right.
On the left in King Street you will see the Old Still Inn,
which dates from the mid 18th century. The inn and the row of
fine Georgian houses are one of the earliest examples of town planning
in Wolverhampton. They were built between 1751 and 1753. In 1896 the
licensee at the Old Still was Maria Tate. Her husband James, was a wine
merchant who ran his business from the Inn. Their daughter became Dame
Maggie Teyte, who was a world famous soprano. Her career spanned from
1906 to 1955. She died in 1976.
25) Turn right into Queen Street
and walk to the Walkabout pub.
The building was originally the old library and later the
County Court. The plot of land was purchased in 1814 and the building
was completed within 18 months. It was initially built as a single
storey building. The library was so popular that an extension was
required and so the upper floor was added in 1829. In 1857 the library
moved to Waterloo Road and the building was converted to the County
Court. It continued in use as such until the new Court was opened in
Piper’s Row, in the late 1980s.
26) Continue along Queen Street
until you reach the Euro Bar, which is number 46.
This building was the City’s first modern hospital. It opened
in June 1826 and was called the Dispensary. It was built at a cost of
£1,600. The President was Viscount Dudley. There were 12 Governors, 1
physician, 1 surgeon and 2 house visitors. In 1833 the building was
extended at the rear and was in use until the Royal Hospital opened in
1849. In 1850 the building became the Royal Wolverhampton School. The
founder was John Lees and there were 15 boys and 2 girls. In 1854 the
school moved to its current location on Penn Road.
27) Continue along Queen Street
until you reach the Armed Forces Careers building, which is number 43a.
This building was the Mechanics Institute. The site was
purchased in 1835 and by early 1836 the building was completed. The
building was designed by ‘amateur’ architect William Walford, who was
one of the trustees. There was a library, lecture room, reading room and
a house for the librarian and the caretaker. By 1845 the building was
rarely used and the committee was seriously in debt. New trustees were
appointed and the institute became known as the Athenaeum. In 1869 the
building became the new free library, until 1872, when the library moved
to Garrick Street.
This is the end of the walk. You can now retrace your
steps to the railway station, bus station or Piper’s Row car park. All
of which are just a few minutes walk away.