Wolverhampton's Listed Buildings

Municipal School of Art
now Annexe to Art Gallery
Corner of St. Peter's Close and Wulfruna Street

Listing: 1870s.

Plaque: Sir Charles Wheeler KCVO CBW PRA, 1892-1974, Sculptor, Freeman of the Borough of Wolverhampton, 1958, studied here.


On this page we originally wrote:

No body seems to know the exact date or the architect or the builder of this building.  It has always been a puzzle as to why there are no records.  The School of Art moved from Darlington Street in about 1884 to a new building at the rear of the art gallery.  It was built at the same time as the art gallery and designed to be architecturally part of it.  The end of that building can be seen at the far right of the photo above.  As the School of Art was not then designated as a Municipal School of Art, and was located in Darlington Street, it seems highly unlikely that this building was erected in the 1870s - and if it was, then it was not, at that time an art school.  This building seems to appear on the 1902 Ordnance Survey and, someday, someone ought to check earlier maps for further clues.  This suggests a date for the building of between 1884 and 1902 - and there is nothing in its appearance which flatly contradicts this.  What was the art school is now part of the art gallery.  Originally one person was in charge of both institutions.  But at some time the posts were split.  And at some time the art school got pushed out of their main studio (but retained the cellars, where a distinguished school of printing operated) and back into this new "annexe").  But when and why all this took place is not known."

But now (February 2008) we have got some way to solving some of these problems, with the discovery of this print in Building News, 24th June 1887. 

The print is titled "Board of Guardians' Offices, Wolverhampton.  Wm. Doubleday, Architect, 67 Colmore Row, Birmingham".

The notes to the illustration (ibid, p.956) say:  "This building is situated in St. Peter's Close, opposite the Deanery.  It contains offices for the clerk to the Guardians, registrar's office and strong room, dispensary, consulting and waiting rooms, &c.

The style is simple and severe;  red brick being used for the mouldings and enrichment, the stone dressings also being red, and the roofs of brindled tiles. An asphalte flat on the first floor forms the yard for the caretaker.  The contract was finished without extras by Messrs. David Evans and Sons, Wolverhampton, at a cost not exceeding £3,000.  The design was by Mr. Wm. Doubleday, of the late firm of Banks and Doubleday, of Wolverhampton, and now of 67 Colmore Row, Birmingham."

If further confirmation of this identification were needed, we would note that the 1902 Red Book refers to the Wolverhampton Union's offices being in St. Peter's Close.  However, the 1909 Red Book refers to their being in Stafford Street.  This would probably be the building at the corner with Whitmore Street (which was later used as the offices of the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths and then by Wolverhampton Polytechnic/University).  But that building has a date stone on it reading "1885", indicating it was built before these office, perhaps for some other body or purpose.  One way or another,  it looks as if the Guardians were not in these offices for long before they were persuaded out by the town council, who wanted to expand the Art Gallery and Art School.  Whenever this move took place, the name panel (shown below) was installed. 

We also originally said:  "The listing does not attempt to give a style for this building. Judith Newton suggests that it is Scottish influenced Arts and Crafts, arguing that the main part of the building is quite consistent with that classification and the corner turret can best be accounted for in those terms. We might even add that James MacLaren designed a lot of Board Schools and used a lot of turrets. He seems too early (and, in the 1870s, too distant) to suggest attributing this building to him directly;  but it seems reasonable to suggest some sort of influence of Godwin, MacLaren or the Scots brigade generally."  Now that we know the name of the architect, we are no nearer being able to label the style.  And at the moment we know nothing more about William Doubleday. 

This panel is the only elaboration or ornamentation on the building.  It gives neither date nor architect.