A Portrait of Wolverhampton
as viewed through the paintings of local artist Alan Eaton
                 with commentary by Bev Parker

When I first saw Mr. Eaton's paintings I was greatly impressed by the attention to detail and accuracy of his work. The examples shown here were copied from photographs, some of which you may recognize. Although black and white photographs are all that we have to accurately portray views of old Wolverhampton, they lack a realism which only colour can offer. These images provide that realism and leave the viewer with an unparalleled view of early 20th century street scenes, and a strong feeling of actually being there.

Queen Street in about 1900.
This view of Queen Street shows a fine and elegant Victorian street.  This used to be the main thoroughfare into town from the railway station entrance in the Queen's building, until the rebuilding of Lichfield Street and Railway Drive.

On the right is the Congregational Church which was built in 1865 and designed by George Bidlake. It was demolished in 1971. Also prominent is Allen's piano showroom, W. Tandy butchers, and Webberley's wine and spirit merchants.

Dudley Street in about 1900.
Even in 1900 this was a busy shopping area. The shops on the immediate left were to disappear a few years later when Woolworths opened their store. The store included the premises of Hyam and Co., an old established gents outfitters who had been there since the late 1870's. Most of these buildings have now disappeared, but the familiar tower of St Peter's church is visible in the background, as is the Barclays Bank building on the far side of Queen Square, and the upper storeys of the Queens Hotel which is now Lloyds TSB Bank.
Queen Sq.jpg (47851 bytes) Queen Square in 1929.
This view of Queen Square shows a much quieter and less congested street scene than we are used to today. On the left is the famous J. Lyons restaurant, well known for its excellent cakes, one of their delivery vans is parked outside. The next building is the mock-Tudor Shakespeare pub which is an Atkinsons house. To its right is the popular Reynolds restaurant, and the premises of Alfred Hall and Son who were one of the town's most expensive tailors. Just visible at the top of Victoria Street is Tyler's boot market.
On the far right-hand side of Queen Square is the dome of the Hippodrome. It was built in 1898 as the Empire Palace of Varieties, and became the Hippodrome in 1921. It was badly damaged by fire in 1956, and demolished a little later. The white building to its right, and behind the Wolverhampton bus is the old premises of Phillips and Jones which was a well known furnishing store. The brick building next to it and behind the trolley bus is the old Electric Theatre which opened at the end of January 1910. Trolley buses started running here in October 1923 and Wolverhampton's trolley bus system became the largest in the world. On the corner of Exchange Street is the National Provincial Bank, which externally has changed very little. The statue of Prince Albert is still in its original position, and behind it are the public conveniences which were built in 1902 to cater for people visiting the Art and Industrial Exhibition. They are believed to be the first in the country to cater for both men and women.

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