The Queens Building
This imposing looking building which dominates Five Ways, Horseley Field, was at one time an important part of Wolverhampton's railway system. it is one of the few old station buildings still standing in the West Midlands, though it is no longer used. built in 1849 as part of the Queen Street Station complex, (later to be known as High Level Station), it was used initially, as a ticket office and administrative block (in the rooms above), for the London North Western Railway Company. The L.N.W.R. as it was more widely known had been founded in 1847, when the Grand Junction Company amalgamated with the London and Birmingham Company.
The Birmingham Wolverhampton and Dudley Company controlled by the Great Western Company, reached Wolverhampton via their Swan Village and Bilston line in 1854. This meant that the town was firmly established as a major railway link and by 1855 it had become the Northern Headquarters of the L.N.W.R. responsible for all standard gauge stock and locomotives. This relationship between Wolverhampton and the L.N.W.R. allowed the town to compete on almost equal terms with the more famous 'railway' town of Swindon.
At the front of the building are two carriageway entrances with two pedestrian entrances at either side, providing evidence that it also acted as part of the High Level Station approach road via Queen Street.
In the early 1880's the widening of Lichfield Street and the remodelling of the Queen Street approach made the building redundant as a ticket office and it was used as a storeroom, though its administrative links were retained. Information regarding its function over the next sixty years is scarce, but its administrative links for the L.N.W.R. were probably retained until 1923, when the 1921 Railway Act came into force and amalgamated the various companies. The L.N.W.R. was merged with the London Midland and Scottish company but the Great Western Company retained its separate identity. It is by no means certain how long the building remained as a storeroom after 1923, but by 1948 when the railways were nationalized, it was being used as an Area Goods Administrative Office. It was closed in 1961, although its function as an office had been reduced gradually from 1958. The building was allowed to deteriorate until 1978, when the West Midlands County Council decided to preserve it. They set aside 10,000 pounds to do this, half of which was immediately spent on boarding up the vandalized windows and preserving the roof. It has been classed as a Grade II Listed Building, but at the present time its future is in some doubt as proposals have been put to the Planning committee to demolish it.
Originally called the Queen's Building, it was designed by Edward Banks and was constructed in the Italianate style. It has yellow brick and sandstone columns and has two storeys topped by two square turrets, both of which used to have clocks. The first floor central windows are moulded in with stone architraves, which consist of semi-circular heads and key blocks.
At one time, wrought iron gates were connected to the carriageway and pedestrian column-supported arches. The gates were considered to be fine examples of wrought iron craftsmanship and showed a pattern of what appeared to be a Tudor rose inside a circle, surrounded by small scroll work. There have been suggestions that these components and the main cross-pieces are made from sections of light gauge rail but it is more likely that they were specially made to resemble the profile of rails. Also, the pattern's heavier parts are believed to have been modelled on the reversible rail used by the early railways. As the building was no longer used and the entrances boarded up, the gates were removed for safekeeping and were believed to be in the possession of the B.T.C. Curator of Historical Relics. However, at the British Transport Historical Records Office (now disbanded), there is no record of the gates being in their possession now and for the present their whereabouts remain a mystery.
The building has recently been refurbished and houses a cafe for use by customers of Wolverhampton's bus station.