Lost Buildings of Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton Wholesale Market
by Bev Parker

Wolverhampton's fine wholesale market is sadly missed. It was designed by J. W. Bradley, and built in 1902 in brick and terracotta. The elegant building lay along the northern side of the old market place, opposite the Retail Market Hall.

A view from an old postcard showing the market place.

The building on the left-hand side of the above photo is the Retail Market Hall which opened in March 1853, and had a wonderful cast iron and glass interior. It closed in 1960, and was demolished in January 1961.

The "Market Patch", as it was known, was not only used as a market place but also for other activities including the annual fair. On Saturday evenings the market would often often be crowded with bargain hunters. Any remaining fresh items were sold-off cheaply, and people set up soap boxes to give the passing customers the benefit of their opinion on matters religious, political or whatever.

A local resident, Mary Alcock, remembered the 1930s, when her mother persistently heckled a Black Shirt speaker, which lead to other members of the crowd chasing the speaker off his soap box and pursuing him round the market patch, beating him up as he fled.

A much earlier postcard shows the wholesale market to the right. Giffard House can just be seen behind the shops at the bottom of the market patch.

The wholesale market on a busy market day.

The view looking down Horsefair in the late 1930's, with carts that belonged to the various market traders. The van in the foreground bears the name R. Kay, who sold fish and fruit. On the right is what was then the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College and is now the University.  Beyond it are the buildings of St. Peter's School.

Wolverhampton's Cold Air Stores and Ice Factory, which adjoined the Wholesale Market.

Wolverhampton Cold Stores and Ice Factory adjoined the Wholesale Market. The manager was Mr. G. A. Wakelam. There were five cold store rooms and an ice store, which together had a storage capacity of over 20,000 cubic feet. The ice plant could produce 10 tons of pure clear ice each day.

The most up-to-date equipment was used, and the temperature of the rooms could be varied to suit the requirements of the various goods in store. The stores opened on Saturdays and week days to receive and deliver goods between 7 a.m and 5 pm. Goods were also received on Saturdays, between 10 pm and 11.30 pm, and on Sundays between 8 am and  9.30 am. The facilities were extensively used by butchers, fish, game and poultry sellers, dairymen, florists, provision merchants, brewers, and yeast merchants etc.

A 1970s view of the back of  the wholesale market and the cold store.

The interior in its heyday. All of Goodall's staff, the horse and cart, and the delivery boy and his bicycle on the balcony, pose for the photograph. From an old postcard. Thanks to Alex Chatwin.

The market patch in the 1950s.

The ornamental stone plaque by the main entrance.

The market seen from across St. Peter's Gardens. Courtesy of David Parsons.

A fine view of the wholesale market on its last day of opening. Courtesy of David Parsons.

Another view of the wholesale market on its last day. Courtesy of David Parsons.

A final view of the wholesale market on its last day. Courtesy of David Parsons.

This photograph, taken in 1974 during demolition, shows the wonderful exterior decoration, and the superb wrought-iron gates that were such a feature of the building.

The main entrance with its intricate and decorative ironwork. The town's coat of arms was displayed on the tiles above the name.

The main entrance from inside, looking towards the western end. The photograph was taken a few days after closure when demolition work had just started.

The western end showing the offices on the back wall, and above the balcony on the right.

Another view of the western end showing the offices that were behind the front wall.

The view looking towards the eastern gate gives an idea of the overall size of the building.

A view of the interior and the offices.

The eastern end of the site.

Demolition quickly got underway.

The building was demolished in April 1974. 

Demolition continues.

Another view of the demolition.

The view across St. Peter's Gardens.

Giffard house can be seen behind the ruins.

Looking eastwards towards the polytechnic, as it was then.

It seems that the only thing saved from the wreckage was some of the wrought ironwork which was displayed in the polytechnic's School of Art and Design building.

The site of the market after demolition. Courtesy of David Parsons.

A last look at the site as it is redeveloped for the Civic Centre. Courtesy of David Parsons.

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