On Wednesday 30th November, Wolverhampton celebrates 150 years of the iconic Prince Albert statue in Queen Square. Affectionately known by locals today as the ‘Man on the ‘Oss’, the statue was sculpted by Thomas Thorneycroft and unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1866 – her first public appearance since the Prince Consort’s death five years earlier. 100,000 people lined the streets of Wolverhampton for Queen Victoria’s visit, which left a lasting impression on Wolverhampton – amongst others, High Green was renamed ‘Queen Square’ and Cock Street ‘Victoria Street’, names they retain to this day.
Last Wednesday, Wolverhampton was visited by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester who, alongside the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Barry Findlay, unveiled a new commemorative plaque as part of a re-dedication of the statue.
Further celebrations will take place this coming Wednesday, 30th November at 1pm, where a freedom parade will take place featuring the Freedom Units RAF Cosford, 210 Battery, West Midland Fire Brigade, West Mercia Regiment who will parade down Dudley Street replicating Queen Victoria’s parade into High Green 150 years before.
At 1.50pm, residents will be invited to raise a toast to celebrate the city and its history.
Wulfrunians are ensuring they celebrate what has become an icon of Wolverhampton. Earlier this year, the Wolverhampton branch of the Campaign for Real Ale made the 150th anniversary of the Prince Albert statue the theme of their 41st Beer Festival.
View the official PrinceAlbert150 website here.
Redevelopment is rolling on in Wolverhampton – but will the negative views of locals change? At West Wulf, we’ve seen some interesting things in the last two weeks that highlight both the best and the worst of people in our city.
Before we go any further, a quick note. Having travelled around the country, Wolverhampton is no better or worse than comparable sized cities. Throw out all the internet polls, all the negative stereotyping. We do have issues in Wolverhampton, with crime, drugs, homelessness. The recent BBC3 ‘Drugs Map of Britain’ programme, ‘Wolverhampton: Getting Off Mamba‘ (click the link to watch if you missed it) was an eye opener to many, but simply went on to reinforce the negative stereotypes of those quick to put the city down.
The truth is simple. If Wolverhampton is to improve, it will take Wulfrunians all pulling together and making the most of the city to do it. No over reliance on the government, the council, the police. It will take a big slice of the 249,000 of us here to change perceptions and it starts with talking our city up.
Unfortunately, we’ll start with a recent negative.
What can we say about this image? Lots of police. A car was just feet away from running into door staff at the Billy Wright pub on Princess Street. If it wasn’t for a lamp post, the car would have ploughed right into the front of the pub – which was reasonably busy (as you’d expect early on a Friday evening). Word on the street at the time was that the driver intentionally aimed for the pub. Whether this is true or just talk is unknown and will no doubt be revealed further down the line.
So, a sign of trouble in Wolverhampton.
And now, on the following Friday, the opposite. People coming together to protest, alongside Wolverhampton’s homeless community, in an effort to raise the profile of the plight of homeless people.
#MarchWithTheHomeless, organised by local man, Ben Aldred, provided a platform for people to show solidarity with homeless people.
Just two very different events a week apart in Wolverhampton that serve to highlight the fluid comings and goings of a modern city in England – both good and bad.
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.
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.
Wolverhampton has a very good cask ale scene. Ask any local Campaign for Real Ale member. Where it has struggled, until this evening, is a modern bar serving craft keg beer – à la Brewdog. Slater’s Wolverhampton changes all of that. In what must be one of the most sought after locations in Wolverhampton, right on Queen Square opposite the iconic (& 150 year old this year) Prince Albert statue, Slater’s are filling a gap. There are places in Wolverhampton to sample the odd craft keg beer. But there’s nowhere dedicated to it like Slater’s is. This bar is filling a gaping hole in Wolverhampton’s night life.
On the official opening night, there were some beers on offer. Bathams Bitter. Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild. Holdens Black Country Ale. Many from Slaters, the excellent (one time controversial) Top Totty, 1995 and Haka amongst them. There was also Cloudwater Black IPA and Konig Lundwig amongst the extensive selection. And this was before a journey to the bottle bar upstairs where beers from Wolverhampton’s Sacre Brew and London’s Sambrooks Brewery are available complete with a panoramic view of Queen Square.
You’ll pay a little more than the local average for a drink at Slater’s Wolverhampton. But then, you get something different – a mixture of tradition and a venue more modern than Wolverhampton has been used to. Give it a go this weekend.
As a follow up to last months ‘Wolverhampton – 25 reasons to be cheerful’ and because there was so much we’d missed – people have prompted us – ‘you can’t miss that off!’, we continue with our second twenty five, bringing the total up to fifty.. yes, Wolverhampton really does have that many reasons to be cheerful.. so give us a smile!
26. Our local accent and dialect – it’s not ‘common’ – in fact it’s increasingly rare and something to be treasured – and has its roots in the old Mercian tongue of the Angles. Thanks to Roberthe Harriman on this suggestion.
27. Wightwick Manor & Gardens. As pointed out by Lynn Hawthorne, 78,000 visitors a year, an internationally-important collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art and William Morris interiors- if you haven’t visited, do so..
28. The beautiful Light House Media Centre – possibly underused as a venue but not underloved and housing the Black Country’s only independent cinema.
29. Our canal network. Constructed for and heavily used during the industrial revolution, with two major junctions (at Autherley and Aldersley), now used by fishermen, cyclists, joggers & walkers and a haven for nature. The City of Wolverhampton Council are also planning a Canal Quarter in the city centre..
30. Our arts & booming creative scene. We have the Newhampton Arts Centre, Eagle Works, Asylum Gallery, WildSide Activity Centre amongst others. Wulfrunians embrace creativeness as seen in the organic development of our Artists’ Quarter, centred on Chapel Ash.
32. Banktock House Park & Museum. A Grade II listed building surrounded by 48 acres of parkland with a museum of Edwardian life. Learn about Wolverhampton’s history & attend some great themed days & events.
33. We have a male voice choir – the Wolverhampton Orpheus Male Voice Choir & they are very good. Catch them this week at Darlington Street Methodist Church for the Civic Carol Service, Wednesday 9th December at 3:15pm. We also have the Wulfruna Ladies Choir. We like our singing in Wolverhampton.
34. We have a cycle club, the Wolverhampton Wheelers – popular with both adults and children, based at Aldersley Leisure Village.
35. Northycote Farm And Country Park, a Tudor farmhouse and park with family events throughout the year.
36. Queen Square (note- not ‘Queen’s Square’). Formerly High Green, the square is timeless. Meeting place for countless generations of Wulfrunians and famous for the MOTH – Man On The Horse – which is, of course, a statue of Prince Albert.
37. Transport links. Our central position means we can get anywhere by car or train in no time – both the north and the south are very accessible, as pointed out by Moira Campbell. We also have the Midland Metro, taking us from Wolverhampton to the centre of Birmingham.
38. Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton’s racecourse and also a fine venue for events and live music, also..
39. Monmore Green – Wolverhampton’s greyhound / dog racing track – another fine venue.
40. Our speedway team, the Wolverhampton Wolves – founded way back in 1928 and a high thrills fans favourite to this day.
41. Wolverhampton has produced some well known faces in both the music scene and on television and radio. Frances Barber, Beverley Knight, Nigel Slater, Suzi Perry, Liam Payne, Mervyn King, Bert Williams, Mark Speight – the list goes on.
42. We have a thriving gaming scene, from role playing to wargaming to board games. As well as having a branch of Games Workshop for many years, Black Border Games, a new independent gaming store has set up in the heart of Wolverhampton and gaming nights also take place at Wild Bytes Cafe.
43. We have a thriving pub scene – not just any old pubs serving generic drinks, but top quality establishments serving good cask and craft beer, lager and cider as pointed out in our article, ‘Our area – beer utopia?’
44. Our proximity to the countryside. We’re part Black Country urban conurbation in the south and east, part South Staffordshire countryside in the north and west. Best of both worlds.
45. Our places of worship. We have some brilliant buildings, not least St Peter’s in the city centre and we have people of many faiths and denominations working together to improve the city and cater for all.
46. Bentley Bridge at Wednesfield. Yes, it may take people away from the City Centre, but – free parking, cinema, restaurants, bowling and all those shops.
47. Bilston Market. Have you visited? It’s great, a proper market and it has retained it’s use – popular, very busy and perfectly situated.
48. We’re right on the UK’s watershed. Depending where the rain falls in Wolverhampton, it will either end up in the Atlantic (via the River Severn) or in the North Sea (via the River Trent & the Humber).
49. Continuing the geological theme, the last ice age or glaciation ended around 18,000 years ago. The southernmost limit of this glaciation in the West Midlands / Cheshire / Shropshire lowlands area was at Wolverhampton and is known as the Wolverhampton or Smestow Line. It’s the reason for the large boulders known as erratics we have lying around, such as the one in West Park – carved from mountains and deposited by glaciers thousands of years ago.
50. We love our darts. As well as hosting the annual Grand Slam of Darts at the Civic Hall, the Cleveland Arms on the Willenhall Road also hosts events with big players and we have the Winmau Darts Centre in Dunstall at the Wolverhampton Indoor Community Sports centre (18 boards and leagues played from the venue).
Wolverhampton’s Christmas Lights were switched on in Queen Square last night by panto favourites The Chuckle Brothers alongside Wolverhampton Wanderers players Dominic Iorfa & Kortney Hause, Wolverhampton’s Mayor and children’s television characters Flip & Bing.
The days proceedings kicked off early on with a market on Dudley Street which lasted into the night. Lichfield Street featured a mini fairground and further stalls, with the main entertainment in Queen Square where a temporary giant video screen had been installed above a stage. People from all over the city attended the switch on, which culminated in a firework display.
City of Wolverhampton Council will no doubt be pleased with the decision to switch the market back to Queen Square as the event was a success.