One of the oldest buildings in Wolverhampton centre and certainly one of the most iconic, is to reopen as a coffee shop as revealed by proprietor Charlie Causer.
19 Victoria Street has an interesting history, having survived Wolverhampton’s two great fires in 1590 and 1696 and has seen a multitude of businesses come and go. The building commonly referred to as the Lindy-Lou or the Copper Kettle was constructed in the late 1500s – shortly before the Gunpowder plot (and the hanging of some of Guy Fawkes’s co-plotters in High Green, today’s Queen Square), Shakespeare, the union of England and Scotland and with either Elizabeth I or James I on the throne. At this time, Victoria Street was called Tunwall Street and would be called Cock Street before arriving at its current name during the lifecycle of the building.
The building is one of only two remaining timber framed buildings in Wolverhampton along with the rear section of the Lych Gate Tavern. 19 Victoria Street stands on stone foundations which are now partially obscured as Victoria Street has risen over the years. The earliest records show that the building was owned by Sir Walter Leveson (1609) and was a pub, the Hand Inn, ran by a Mr Worthington. The building has more recently been a bakers, a tea shop, the Lindy Lou baby / toy shop, a welfare advice centre, clothes shop and Wulfrun Books, a book and collectables store.
The coffee shop, to be known once again as the Lindy Lou’s, promises to give a new lease of life to this much loved historic building and with careful internal renovation works recently completed, business owner Mr Causer is currently planning an opening date for Wolverhampton’s newest independent business.
Read more about 19 Victoria Street on the Wolverhampton History Website here.
Get yourself down to Wild Bytes Cafe on Darlington Street from 19:00 this evening (Saturday 23 January) for an art exhibition from Jamie Howe entitled ‘Manic Man’.
From the Wild Bytes event page:
Jamie Howe is a bipolar artist living on the edge, close to madness. Touching genius. He has the variety of Picasso, the mysticism of Austin Osman Spare and captures emotion in vibrant abstract pieces made of refuse and paint. Starting off being obsessed with portraiture and savouring a moment in time with acrylic dye; to make something permanent. Howe, like many famous artists before him, has been gripped by mental illness and has lived his life swaying between depression and mania, often dangerously, always, through art, expressing the world through the medium of paint, photography and sculpture.
This exhibition is a rare insight into the life of a recluse who has to create to survive in this destructive world living in a chaotic mind.
“The artists journey is roller coaster. I keep thinking it will end but fire always returns to me and it keeps on going. I burn myself out and paint 30 paintings during my nights of insomnia and then the fatigue sets in and I am useless for days, weeks, Ill and empty. But like a Phoenix I am reborn out of the ashes and go happily on search for the holy grail. It could be a scribble, a rumple, a tear, a smiling tooth. I have to capture things. The world is passing me by!”
Howe’s use of colour is outstanding and his work – much of it eclectic, some of it disturbing but none of it boring, will draw you in. You’ll instantly get an insight into the working of Howe’s mind – and what’s more, the event is free, with the artist himself on hand to discuss techniques and elements of his work.
Too many people rely on transport these days. Years ago, people had no option other than to walk. Walking carries many benefits – some obvious, such as improvement to physical health. Others not so plain to see – walking in the countryside has been proven to improve psychological well being.
If you already enjoy walking, you’ll know all about public rights of way in the countryside, bridleways and so on. For those of you who don’t, well, read on.
An overview from gov.uk reads as below:
You have the right to access some land for walking or certain other leisure activities.
- use public roads and pavements or public rights of way, eg footpaths or bridleways
- use your right to roam on open access land including mountains, moors, heaths, downs, common land and some land around the England Coast Path
If neither of these apply, you may still be able to access private land if either:
- the landowner has given permission (‘permissive access’)
- there’s a local tradition, or right, of access
Basically, there are footpaths that run through the countryside that are accessible to walkers (some – bridleways & byways are also accessible to horse riders, cyclists and so on, we won’t cover this but you can read more here). How do you find these footpaths? Well the obvious clue is in looking for the signs, as below.
You can purchase walkers maps – or a decent Ordnance Survey map of your area will show footpaths. Staffordshire Council host a wonderful map on their website, which allows you to look for rights of way in your part of Staffordshire. They are colour coded by type and the map allows zooming in to a good degree to search. The map doesn’t include Wolverhampton, but Wolverhampton’s borders with Staffordshire are included.
There is also the Bing maps Ordnance Survey layer, which you can select to see rights of way.
A walking project
We’re going to look at putting together a walking project for the West Wulf area and beyond.
The aim will be to get people together for purposes of physical and psychological well being, to attempt to learn to appreciate the countryside around us, to use some of our neglected rights of way (some are overgrown through lack of use) and finally, to socialise – the final destination of a walk where possible should be a local pub or cafe, which we will support by giving them business.
Interested? Contact us and let us know.
More information on walking in general can be found below:
We’re lucky enough to have a couple of independent cafés in our area which are incredibly unique and increasingly treasured by local people. We visited Wild Bytes Café , the excellent internet cafe on Darlington Street and caught up with owner, Samantha Pitfield following her Natwest Enterprise Award win at the Princes Trust Celebrate Success Awards. From Samantha, we discover the difficult periods she overcame, the motivation that drives her to succeed and why she feels Wolverhampton needs a place like Wild Bytes.
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself & your background..
Born and bred in Wolverhampton, I was educated at Tettenhall College during the ’90s and enjoyed spending time in town and at West Park. At 16, I moved to Cyprus and worked for a Scuba diving company while doing my A levels. I had developed a passion for Theatre during my early years and returned to the UK to attend University near London. I graduated from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, with a BA (Hons) in Stage Management and worked behind the scenes in the Theatre Industry for 8 years.
I left showbiz behind in favour of motherhood, and after suffering a number of miscarriages, I was going to have a baby. Everything was going really well and my baby boy was growing to a healthy size. We decided on a name and planned for the future. At this point, I was completely unaware of the trials I would have to face as a mother. The impact of his tiny life, changed me forever.
On 15th July 2009 I gave birth to my son, Kael. He arrived a week early, but I was happy to see him. Unfortunately there were serious complications and he was kept in a neonatal ward for days. They kept him on the ventilator as long as they could before deciding to let nature take its course. We removed the tubes and prepared to say goodbye.
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. I will never forget the pain. After 27 hours without breathing assistance, he passed away on the morning of 19th. I sat on the bed with Kael on my chest and held him as he took his last few breaths and then he was gone. I lost him. It broke my heart. I’ll never forget.
I was thrown into a whirlwind of emotional distress, yet the desire to have a baby consumed me. All I wanted was to be a mother. After losing Kael, I felt that no-one understood what I was going through. A lot of people told me, to ‘move on and get a job’, and to ‘stop focusing on the past and look forward to the future’. I felt pressured to ‘get over it’, but I had no know idea how to do that?
After a period of intense depression, I moved back to my hometown and tried to ‘get a grip’. I went through another pregnancy only this time I got to take my baby girl home and it was the best feeling in the world. Becoming a mother and getting to spend every day with her as she grew, felt amazing. I was starting to be more positive. I was finally ready to ‘move on’.
Wolverhampton has a great creative scene… I would like to collaborate with this crowd to help regenerate the city and provide a space for local culture to flourish.
Wild Bytes Café appears to be becoming more successful by the month – what was your initial inspiration behind starting the business and setting up in Wolverhampton?
One evening while sitting in my garden admiring my homegrown tomatoes, the muse caught me and I was inspired. My daughter was approaching her 2nd birthday and like many parents I wanted her to grow up in a healthy, prosperous city. I wanted to make a valuable contribution to my community and help locals in their quest for a better life. I didn’t know how to do that, but I knew I had to do something. After a week of brainstorming with my partner, I was beginning to find a way.
Initially, I wanted to turn a double decker bus into a ‘not-for-profit’ mobile internet café. Soon after, I came to realise that if I settled down and opened a profitable local business, I could provide a stable life for my family and maybe inspire others in my community to do the same.
I got to work setting the café up in Wolverhampton City Centre in 2013, with a view to open in 2014. I had been looking at properties all over the city for a while but always came back to one favourite. 15 Darlington St. The old art shop on the corner by ‘Beatties’, House of Fraser. It had been unused as a retail space since 2010, when The Paint Box, an independent art supply shop, stopped trading. It was a special building and had been left to deteriorate. I felt the need to fix it up and bring some life back in to it. So I did.
Ideally, where would you like to see Wild Bytes in five years time?
Wild Bytes is still young and has a lot of growing to do. At the moment, we are very happy to serve the local community and although I have lots of ideas for the immediate future, eventually it would be great to open other branches in the UK. Everyone needs a place like Wild Bytes in their life, and the ultimate goal would be to go global. For now, I am happy to take each day as it comes, anticipate the future and be flexible.
You’re an award winner! How did that feel – and was it at all expected?
It feels wonderful to be recognised for my efforts, but I genuinely didn’t expect to win. The Prince’s Trust helps a huge number of people overcome serious difficulties to achieve their dreams, so I was really pleased just to be nominated. I didn’t think I’d get through to the finals, let alone be named the winner.
I have been told by a couple of people that Wild Bytes has given them a reason to come to the city again, which is encouraging to hear.
You run a couple of regular event evenings – how are they going, and do you plan more?
Being able to host events is amazing and we are really pleased that so many people have joined us. We get locals and out-of-towners who are all very happy to pop in to the city for a friendly evening of socialising. I have been told by a couple of people that Wild Bytes has given them a reason to come to the city again, which is encouraging to hear.
We have a couple of game nights, a wool night and a writers meet up, that take place fortnightly. We also host a poetry night called ‘Viva Voce’, which was initially held once a month, but is now every other month. We also host Open Mics on occasion. Recently we started putting on Art Exhibitions upstairs at the Café and officially launched the ‘Gallery’ at our first anniversary bash. The next one will be from an artist called Jimmy Riddle, which we hope to launch in the run up to Christmas.
The Wolverhampton Green Party has also been hosting their meetings at Wild Bytes since the beginning of the year and have committed to another year with us despite offers from other venues in the city.
We are always open to suggestions for new events and try to accommodate a range of groups. We hope to be seen as a great place for the community to host meetings and get togethers, put on classes as well as shows. Wolverhampton has a great creative scene – Musicians, Poets, Artists, Storytellers, Writers, Entrepreneurs and Designers to name a few of the specialities – I would like to collaborate with this crowd to help regenerate the city and provide a space for local culture to flourish.
Describe Wild Bytes in 3 words..
Coffee. Connections. Community.
For all the latest on Wild Bytes Cafe, visit:
We want people in Wolverhampton to be as passionate about our small and independent businesses as we are. If Wolverhampton is to build upon its recent upturn in fortunes (Wolverhampton is in the top ten fastest growing areas in the UK), each and every one of us needs to spread the word and make use of our excellent small and independent businesses.
We can all do our bit to show these enterprising business owners that they have made the right decision in choosing to set up in Wolverhampton – that we appreciate them as much as they appreciate our business.
We have prepared a Facebook header image that we want as many Wulfrunians as possible to make use of and share. Spread the word, change your header to the below image and ask your friends to do the same. Let’s show the independents that we appreciate them setting up in Wolverhampton.
How to update your cover photo –
First of all, if you haven’t yet, ‘Like’ our Facebook page!
Right-click the below image and choose the option to save it.
To add or change your cover photo in Facebook, go to your profile. Hover over in the top-left of your current cover photo and click Update Cover Photo. Locate the image you saved.
We will also be posting a Twitter cover / header image soon, so keep an eye on the Independent Wolverhampton project page here.
As part of this drive, we’ll also be looking at some of Wolverhampton’s streets that play host to several independent businesses, but don’t necessarily see the footfall of streets closer to Queen Square.
Places such as Worcester Street and Cleveland Street for example, host the likes of Silver Machine, Pupa, Skalsa, Magnum, Vinyl & Vintage, PC 2000, Banerjee Studio and many more. Not heard of these places? Then pay them a visit!
Together we can do our bit in showing our support for our small and independent businesses. Changing your header image is just the start.
We’re blessed to have such enterprising talent in Wolverhampton – so much so that there’s no way we could cover each and every event – and that’s just the independent ones. Today, between 6pm & 9pm at Wild Bytes Café on Darlington Street, you can see the artistry of local people in Wild Wool Wednesday, a local art exhibition.
For those who don’t know, Wild Bytes is an independent café vying for trade alongside the high street giants – and we think it outdoes them in many ways. For a start, it’s an internet café, it has a constant display of local art, it hosts games nights and provides a platform for writers to come together. On top of all this, the food and drink is very good and if this most friendly of cafés had a watchword, it would be ‘community‘.
Wild Bytes Café is located in the old art shop between Beatties and the Post Office on Darlington Street. Visit their Facebook page for up to date information and news here.