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.
If you haven’t visited Wolverhampton city centre in a while, you might just be in for a surprise. There are areas of the city that you will no longer recognise – even if your last visit was just a few years back. We’ve covered the various construction projects in Wolverhampton previously, but it’s time to take a look at work on the new Debenhams store that is rising from the ashes of the south side of the Mander Centre. The 1960s building that we knew of as Owen and Owen and TJ Hughes amongst other guises has now gone, demolition seeing to that and the shops that lined the ramps that lead onto St John’s Street / Victoria Street and Bell Street.
Above the ramps, the area that housed Tesco has also been wiped. We’re talking a large area, some 93,000 sq ft according to the Mander Centre – compare that to previous plans for a 70,000 sq ft store at the doomed Summer Row. It is indeed refreshing to see, with internet shopping currently in vogue, so much faith in Wolverhampton from the owners of the Mander Centre and Debenhams. This is no small project – you can’t fail to notice the sheer scale, with cranes rising from Wolverhampton’s skyline visible from miles around.
The Mander Centre itself is some way through a refurbishment, with the atrium area being redeveloped. Gone are the central lifts which, when complete, will open out the centre area allowing unhindered views from north to south. A new lift is in place at the Farmers Fold entrance. Unfortunately, the demise of BHS sees the Mander Centre with another empty three storey building. Add onto this the closure of the city centre’s Mothercare store (poor timing saw this disappear alongside BHS last week) and there is a bigger blank canvas than was anticipated. Positives see H&M taking the area that once housed Woolworths and all that space for other big names to step in.
It’s all change in this area at the moment, with shoppers eagerly awaiting the rise of Debenhams – still quite a wait yet though, the new store is scheduled to open in Autumn 2017.
It’s all go. Our first news update video includes Slater’s Wolverhampton craft beer bar (with a short clip from opening night), open mic day at Wild Bytes Cafe, change in Wolverhampton through demolition and construction (at the Mander Centre and The Sunbeam at i10) and Doreen the Movie’s showing at Hail to the Ale micropub in Claregate.
This year, we aim to capture moments in time in Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire to keep you updated. If there’s an event you’d like to see us cover, drop us a comment.
You simply can’t say there isn’t enough going on in our area. In fact, there’s probably more happening in Wolverhampton and our surrounding villages at the moment than there has ever been. This is because, as well as the large amount of small independent businesses willing to try something different and offer residents a new experience, people have decided that they want to make a difference and are going out to get involved in their community on a greater scale than (possibly) ever before.
Wild Bytes Cafe on Darlington Street is a good example of a small business striking out and trying new things. From open mic days / evenings to art exhibitions to knitting, writing and gaming nights, Wild Bytes offers something that is needed in a city that has (we have to be honest) struggled in recent years. As Wolverhampton undergoes development, places like Wild Bytes provide a place for people to meet and an outlet for talented local people. We’d imagine that once the grand vision for our city is complete, Wild Bytes will be a strong player taking on the big, established chain cafes and coffee shops.
Something else you’ll see in the suburbs and villages especially is the emergence of amateur theatre. Local groups are putting on some brilliant shows. The Tettenhall Amateur Players with ‘Dinner’ and Codsall Dramatic Society with ‘The Unexpected Guest’ ate just two popular local drama / theatre groups proving incredibly popular.
We often mention how good things are at the moment for beer and cider drinkers in our area. Over coming weekends, we’re spoiled for choice again. There are three beer festivals within a few miles of Wolverhampton city centre. This weekend,Walsall CAMRA’s Walsall Real Ale & Cider festival takes place at Walsall Town Hall. Closer to home we have Cafe Metro in Bilston’s Springfest beer & cider festival from Thursday until Saturday and also, Sacre Brew‘s Brew Studio Bar will be open on Friday (Hootenanny) and Saturday (Soiree)
In a couple of days, the West Wulf blog will be one year old. The idea & formation of West Wulf is five years old. Time flies! What started as a means of providing a media outlet for AFC Wulfrunians, the west Wolverhampton football club, has developed into a Wolverhampton & South Staffordshire news, events and ideas portal. We’ve reported on numerous events such as the rise of the award winning Hail to the Ale micropub in Claregate and Britain’s Best Small Community Market 2016, Make It or Bake It in Tettenhall. We’ve charted the activities of independent businesses such as Wild Bytes Cafe in Wolverhampton. We’ve provided news on the many construction projects in Wolverhampton and had a hand in gaining the west Wolverhampton Artists’ Quarter the recognition it deserves as well as highlighting the ever improving pub selection in the area. Our most popular reports have been the two sets of ‘twenty five reasons to be cheerful‘, which proves that Wulfrunians love their city and constantly seek it’s good points.
Most recently we’ve created the ‘Wolverhampton Paths & Pubs‘ group on Facebook, enabling like minded people to come together for country walking and in support of our pubs – something that also has a tie in with the new ‘Love Your Local‘ Facebook page – designed to encourage people to value, use and where needed, protect their local pubs.
We wouldn’t be here without you, people of Wolverhampton, South Staffordshire and beyond – our readers. As we begin the third month of 2016, we thought we’d lick a finger, put it in the air and see which way the wind is blowing in Wolverhampton at the moment..
Bite sized news for March 2016
There are some exciting times ahead. Work has begun on the extension and refurbishment of Wolverhampton Railway Station’s car park – raising the capacity from 450 to more than 800 long stay spaces. This will pave the way for the eventual extension of the Midland Metro and rebuild of Wolverhampton Railway Station. The entrance to the car park will also be relocated to Mill Street / Corn Hill. More information, particularly about the extension of the Midland Metro can be found here in a Proof of Evidence.
i10 is filling up. There is already a branch of Superdrug operating at Victoria Square, with a new Hungry Horse pub / restaurant, The Sunbeam, under construction. In February, it was announced that national chain Kaspa’s Desserts would be the next tenant, taking over two units within i10 – Wolverhampton will be its 31st UK branch.
Just a stroll away, City of Wolverhampton Council have announced that the Canal & River Trust has acquired the former Crane Foundry on Bailey Street, Horseley Fields for purposes of regeneration – a boost to the council’s Canalside Quarter plans.
A couple of pub openings now – Slater’s Wolverhampton opened last weekend and is proving a hit, in what must be the perfect location – right on Queen Square opposite the Prince Albert statue. In Codsall on Tuesday 22nd March, The Crown – now a Joule’s pub, will open its doors following an extensive refurbishment. Just over a week later in Wolverhampton city centre, the previously mentioned Hungry Horse restaurant, The Sunbeam, will open – scheduled for Wednesday 30th March.
Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre, although a little devoid of shops at the moment, promises to be a top shopping destination by the end of 2017. Have a look at what’s going on here.
Finally, local & national press (here & here) have reported on a Wolverhampton beggar who reportedly takes home up to £500 a day. Yes, takes home. This beggar has a house and is, if reports are correct, rich – earning only £12,000 less than Prime Minister David Cameron does annually. When you pause to consider that the average salary in Wolverhampton is only £20,000 compared to the UK average of £26,500, you will understand why some kind hearted Wulfrunians as well as genuine homeless people are a little angry.
That’s all for now! Keep reading and thank you for your support.
It’s not difficult to miss the transformation taking place in Wolverhampton city centre at the moment. Demolition is taking place on Bell Street where the south facing wing of the Mander Centre is to be removed, replaced with a shiny new build Debenhams store and many shops in the centre are now boarded up ready for expansion and construction. Just around the corner, we have the Summer Row area. Prior to 2008’s financial crash, this was to be Wolverhampton’s flagship development. A new outdoor shopping area stretching from Worcester Street to Snow Hill and encompassing all that lay in between. Existing businesses were served compulsory purchase orders and things looked good – until investors pulled out. The money was no longer there.
Since this dark time, things have picked up. There are several new tenants on Cleveland Street. The old Panahar restaurant building – unfortunately something of an eyesore as it reached the end of its life, has been pulled down. And next? The building that sits near the corner of Cleveland Street and Snow Hill – the former Netto, is to be demolished, temporarily turned into car parks whilst the City of Wolverhampton attempts to secure investment. We have our own hopes for this area – large enough to encompass something special, something that will bring people back into the city centre.
A cinema encompassing an entertainment complex – maybe an ice rink. Just a short walk away from Wolverhampton’s new youth zone, The Way, a cinema would bring in young people and families – groups that Wolverhampton needs to keep attracting if it is to thrive in the future. Southside could really be something.
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.