It’s here – Debenhams opened its doors in Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre today, with popular ex-Wolves player and artist, Jody Craddock, cutting the ribbon. Will the coming of the respected chain stimulate further retail growth in Wolverhampton? This remains to be seen, but hopes are high that Debenhams will prove to be a powerful cog in the Wolverhampton regeneration machine.
Debenhams is a 93,000 square foot new build construction on the Mander Centre’s south side, replacing the former TJ Hughes, Tesco and various small stores situated on the lower ramps out to St John’s Street and Bell Street – this 1960s concrete building demolished prior to the new three floor building taking shape.
The store comes with a Loaf & Bloom deli kitchen and its own branch of Costa Coffee.
Opening hours are set to be 09:00 – 17:30 weekdays, with 09:00 – 18:00 on Saturdays and 10:30 – 16:30 on Sundays.
Further regeneration is taking place on Bell Street opposite the new store, with old buildings – a former casino and Kwik Save amongst others, being demolished to make way (initially) for a car park, before this prime city centre land is marketed for something more prestigious as part of the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Southside regeneration scheme.
Food festivals and street food events are big business at present. The chance to browse and sample culinary delights from some of the UK’s best street food producers is often too good to resist. Birmingham’s Digbeth Dining Club and the Village Coffee, Bakery & Kitchen spin-off, Codsall Village Dining Club, proves the success of these events.
This weekend is a first for Wolverhampton in a full-on food and drink festival in a designated area of the city centre that hasn’t been used for much other than car parking since, well, the closure of the old market and the construction of the Civic Centre. The event wasn’t open for the public to walk in – tickets were required, though these were free – they still had to be requested in advance, lending that air of exclusivity to proceedings. The first day, Saturday 8 July, was a roaring success, with some retailers admitting surprise at the large amount of customers in attendance.
Amongst the many street food retailers were favourites Slow N Low, Baked In Brick, Canoodle, Handmade Pizza and Nyam Nyam, with Hail to the Ale, Slater’s and The Grain Store providing liquid refreshment.
All signs point to future festivals in a similar location as the city reinvents itself as a top location for food and drink with attractions such as Wolves in Wolves and Queen Square music festivals drawing in people from further afield.
And there’s still today to visit if you missed yesterday!
A quote (attributed to Arnold Schwarzenegger) tells us “The wolf on the hill is not as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill“. Wolverhampton is, metaphorically, climbing a hill as the people of our city aspire to achieve a newfound status, shrugging off the old negative associations. The people of Wolverhampton are hungry for success, hungry for a city they can be proud of. Slowly, the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place and the latest project coming to Wolverhampton holds high hopes of increased tourism, a newly galvanised sense of pride and increased awareness of a myriad of Wolverhampton related facts – often with the added benefit of educational and fun activities. This project is Wolves In Wolves.
What is Wolves In Wolves? You may have seen ‘The Big Hoot‘ in Birmingham or Liverpool’s ‘Superlambananas‘ amongst others. This involved sculptures, decorated by local artists, placed around their respective cities with trails built for locals and tourists to follow. The designs were brilliant, striking, some with a message, others simply for fun. Wolves In Wolves is a similar – Wolverhampton’s largest public art event, that will see 30 wolf sculptures, all individually designed, placed around Wolverhampton city centre and West Park. Organised by local disability arts charity, Outside Centre in partnership with the City of Wolverhampton Council, Wolves In Wolves promises to be a huge success – and, alongside The Boho Press, West Wulf will be working on an interesting design for one of these wolf sculptures.
Positioning for the wolf sculptures is yet to be announced, but they will be in place by early July. There is still time to sponsor a wolf (here), local businesses that have given their support to Wolves In Wolves (and will undoubtedly benefit from the positive publicity both in the build up and during the event) include Enjoy Wolverhampton, Marston’s and University of Wolverhampton. Following display, the wolves will be auctioned off to raise money for charity.
Get behind Wolves In Wolves on social media by using the hashtag #WolvesInWolves2017
It should come as no surprise to people who use pubs in their area that many are endangered. At the last count (the second half of 2015), pubs are closing at a rate of twenty seven a week. This is a lot – though it’s less than the thirty closures a week a couple of years ago. The UK currently has 52,750 pubs – that’s a fifth less than the 66,177 ten years ago. Why are pubs closing? There’s a multitude of reasons, not least beer tax, cheap supermarket cans, changing demographic (and with it, cultural change), high rent – and of course the recession and the smoking ban.
Wolverhampton isn’t immune from pub closures. Far from it. Bushbury is a prime example of an area than once had several pubs, but is left without any. The King Charles was the most recent closure. The website, ClosedPubs.co.uk lists many lost Wolverhampton pubs, but even this doesn’t come close to the full amount that have gone.
A new Facebook page has been launched called ‘Love Your Local‘, with the aim 0f raising awareness of the risk to pubs, bringing pub users together to share information about their pub and providing information on ways people can band together to secure the future of their pub. Nothing is foolproof of course, but registering your local as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) is a good start.
There are a couple of pubs in Wolverhampton with ACV status. The victorious battle for The Claregate saw pub users band together under the banner of ‘Save Our Claregate’ when Marstons were pushing to sell the pub site to a care home company – this would have seen The Claregate demolished and a care home built in its place. The Ashmore Inn, The Harrowby Arms and The Rookery Tavern also benefit from the protection of being ACVs.
The best thing about registering your pub as an ACV is that it’s easy – the local council and the Campaign for Real Ale both provide guidance and anyone can do it – you don’t need to belong to CAMRA or any other organisation for that matter – you only need to care enough about the future of local pubs.
If you care about Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire pubs, visiting ‘Love Your Local’ will help you add a line of defence to your pub/s.
It’s been a busy year in the Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire area. The landscape of Wolverhampton in particular is changing due to the many ongoing construction projects. i10 at the Wolverhampton Interchange in particular stands out as an impressive piece of work, creating a new square in front of the Queens building which will hopefully see much use in the warmer months – hopefully with Costa Coffee and the new Hungry Horse restaurant making use of the space for outdoor seating.
As well as various construction projects, we’ve seen the ongoing development and coming together of non-authority organisations and groups, with work in particular taking place with relation to gaining recognition for Wolverhampton’s Artists’ Quarter. And small independent businesses are thriving and organising popular events of their own – people seem to no longer feel constrained and are pushing their businesses – in many cases with the support of the City of Wolverhampton Council.
All reasons to be positive as the year turns and 2016 begins.
Out of Darkness Cometh Light could well for the first time in a while be an apt motto for our area’s present situation and we at West Wulf are filled with optimism at the promise of a new year where anything is possible.
We’ll leave you with our video of a few of Tettenhall’s Christmas events.
All the very best for 2016.
Wolverhampton’s Archives & Local Studies is to hold its sixth annual History Fair at the Molineux Hotel building on Saturday 14 November.
A popular event, the History Fair sees several groups and organisations come together to discuss aspects of Wolverhampton’s history with members of the public. Amongst the history and heritage societies In attendance will be Lost Wolverhampton’s Billy Howe and the Wolverhampton Archaeology Group. Youngsters attending with parents will have the chance to meet ‘Queen Victoria’ and hear about her 1866 visit to Wolverhampton through interactive storytelling throughout the day.
Wolverhampton Archives houses a huge collection of memorabilia, photographs, film and audio recordings, electoral registers & indexes to births, deaths and marriages as well as a collection of maps, census returns, newspapers, books and local records from schools, churches, clubs, societies and businesses.
The History Fair opens at 10am and runs until 4pm, with admission of £2 per adult, £1 per child, payable on the day – no booking is required. Visit the Wolverhampton Arts & Heritage website for further information and directions to the Molineux Hotel building.
As the final results trickle in, Wolverhampton’s political map has seen a change following the announcement of results at 5:35am as Labour’s Rob Marris took Wolverhampton South West from Conservative incumbent Paul Uppal. It was always going to be a close race between these two candidates and the people have decided by taking Labour’s vote share up from 15,653 in 2010 to 17,374 today, leapfrogging Paul Uppal who increased his share of the votes by 229. Rob Marris is no stranger to Wolverhampton South West, having previously held this seat up until 2010.
Where Labour now have a full house in Wolverhampton and are celebrating locally, those celebrations are tempered by what has happened nationally. Conservative have an overall majority – something that was not predicted prior to the election. It is a narrow majority, but a majority nonetheless. Scotland have almost unanimously voted the Scottish National Party to the detriment of both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Liberals have seen the vast majority of their seats wiped out, with previous supporters possibly punishing them for what was seen by many to be a deal with the devil and lack of action when in the coalition with Conservative. Nick Clegg has stepped down as leader of the Liberal Democrats, talking about the seeming death of British Liberalism in the face of Scottish Nationalism and English Conservatism. Likewise, Nigel Farage of United Kingdom Independence Party has resigned having failed to win his contested South Thanet seat, UKIP only taking one seat despite a surge in national support.