Tettenhall Road, Newbridge, and Old Hill

The journey from Wolverhampton to Upper Green in Tettenhall has changed considerably since the early nineteenth century. In those days, Tettenhall Road went as far as Newbridge, then ran behind where the shops are today, and crossed the canal over the old bridge, followed by the bridge over Smestow brook. The road then followed what is now Meadow View, after which traffic turned right into Henwood Road, before turning left into Old Hill, and through Upper Street to Upper Green. The route had many difficulties for the horse-drawn vehicles of the day. At Newbridge the road dropped down to cross the two bridges, before rising into Old Hill, and the extremely steep climb up the ridge to Tettenhall village, with its 1 in 5 gradient, which must have been treacherous in snow and ice.

Tettenhall Road at its junction with Paget Road and Albert Road. On the right is the Halfway House.

A view of the same junction looking towards Paget Road, with Halfway House on the left.

Approaching St. Jude's Church, on the way to Tettenhall from Wolverhampton.

Another view of the Tettenhall Road looking back to St. Jude's Church. The tram is on its way to Upper Green.

A similar view, but with a tram travelling to Wolverhampton.

Another view of the Tettenhall Road, with Balfour Crescent on the left.

A tram making its way to Wolverhampton along Tettenhall Road, after passing New Hampton Road on the left.

An enlarged view of the image above.

Tettenhall Road, looking towards Tettenhall, with Newbridge Crescent on the left and Balfour Crescent on the right.

Great improvements were made to the route from Wolverhampton to Tettenhall thanks to the Act of Union between England and Ireland, passed in 1801. Due to the Act, the amount of traffic between Dublin and Holyhead increased dramatically, including the one hundred Irish MPs who had the right to attend the Parliament at Westminster. The route from Holyhead to London was tortuous, with many bad roads and long delays, which led to frequent complaints about the appalling state of the road, and the long journey time.

A parliamentary committee set up to organise the necessary improvements for the Holyhead Road, appointed Thomas Telford as the consulting engineer. He began by organising the route from Holyhead to Shrewsbury, including the building of the Menai Suspension Bridge. Work on this part of the road began in 1815 and took five years to complete. In 1820 work began on the remaining part of the route, which was completed in 1828. The work on the road was undertaken by 24 independent turnpike trusts.

When Telford examined the section between Tettenhall and Wolverhampton he decided to completely avoid the Tettenhall ridge by diverting the road through Aldersley to the Wergs. The chairman of the Wolverhampton turnpike trust rejected Telford's plan because the Aldersley area was waterlogged, and wouldn't provide a proper surface for the road. Telford responded by suggesting that a tunnel should be built through the ridge to Upper Green, but this was also rejected by the Wolverhampton turnpike trust, who finally decided to blast the cutting through The Rock, and build the new canal bridge, and the embankment.

After many difficulties, the work was finally competed in 1823, so that for the first time vehicles could easily pass between Newbridge and Upper Green, avoiding the fearsome gradient at Old Hill. It had been an expensive undertaking, which greatly increased the tolls that were payable on the road. Initially tolls were collected at Chapel Ash, but this was abandoned in favour of two gates, one at Newbridge, and another at Compton. The new road, and the improved access to the upper part of Tettenhall, allowed the village to greatly expand, and made it an attractive place to live for the well to do.

Looking towards Tettenhall and the new canal bridge, and embankment, with the rock cutting in the far distance.

A tram on its way to Tettenhall, passes Crowther Road some time after 1902. The tram is nearing the old boundary between Wolverhampton and Tettenhall where the horse-drawn tram route terminated. Horse dawn trams began running on 1st May, 1878, and operated until 1902 when they were replaced by the electrically-powered Lorain trams, which were the first trams to travel up The Rock to Wergs Road.

A similar view showing a tram about to cross the canal before entering The Rock.

A tram descends The Rock on its way to Wolverhampton.

An early view of Old Hill showing the steep gradient that once had to be ascended when travelling from Newbridge to Upper Green.

A view of Old Hill from the early years of the twentieth century.

A wonderful view of Upper Street looking towards the top of Old Hill. On the left is the Rose and Crown Inn.

Another view of Upper Street showing the raised pavements and railings, and the terraced houses, which were demolished in the 1950s to make way for the council flats.

The Rose and Crown at the top of Old Hill became the Rock Hotel in the final years of the nineteenth century. By 1814 it was known as the Old Rose and Crown. In 1843 its grounds were opened to the public as Rock Villa Pleasure Gardens, complete with a bowling green, and a bandstand. On public holidays there were firework displays and balloon flights.

The view of Tettenhall village from across the canal in the early years of the twentieth century.

A similar view of Tettenhall village from where the playing fields are today.

The view from the new canal bridge, looking at the old canal bridge which carried the main road from Wolverhampton to Tettenhall. The Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal was the first canal to be completed in the area. It was surveyed by James Brindley, and built to connect the River Severn at Stourport to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Great Haywood. Work began at Stourport in 1768 and progressed rapidly. It reached Compton in November 1770, and was completed in May, 1772.

A view of the passenger motor launch 'Victoria' which in the 1890s made regular journeys from Newbridge wharf.

Charles F. Weaver's coal yard and wharf beside the canal at Newbridge.

Henwood Road and the mill race that drove the local flour mill.

Part of Compton mill pool beside Henwood Road.

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