A Short History Of Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton, like much of the Midlands and the North of the UK, was an industrial city with a history dating as far back as 985AD. Similar to much of England in the 19th and 20th centuries, revolutions in the industrial world of work had a huge impact on people’s lives.

There are many large archives and books covering the history of Wolverhampton in great detail. This post, however, will summarise some of the key events and monumental changes the city saw, and how it became the city we recognise today and we here at Allens Caravans love and adore.

Leisure

Once upon a time there was no digital television or gaming devices, and most notably, there was no internet. Now, this may leave some wondering what on earth did people did for leisure and relaxation? Well, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the arts and associated activities occupied a large part of people’s free time.

The earliest known cinema viewing was in 1909, at the Pavilion in Castle Street. In the following years, going to the cinema became a popular form of entertainment; they even played a big role in World War II and the state propaganda.

Other popular forms of entertainment included music halls, with notable appearances at Wolverhampton’s Hippodrome from Laurel & Hardy, Vera Lynn and Louis Armstrong. In 1934, a reviewer for the Express and Star wrote of Armstrong: ‘’He’s dreadful. When he blows his trumpet his neck swells as though he’d swallowed a melon’. ‘Does everything with the trumpet except play it.’ ‘ A creator in the field of music-a definite and outstanding character.’

Outside was often very smoggy and full of factory fumes and smoke, so Wolverhampton Council decided to offer those working in factories and mines the chance to enjoy fresh air in a pleasant space. They did so by putting a lot of focus on local parks. The 1920s was a popular time for tennis, and some of the parks included tennis courts for the public to enjoy. Notable examples included Hickman Park and West Park, which included a Coronation flower bed in celebration of Queen Victoria.

Those from poorer classes, which formed the majority, would have to find means of entertaining themselves without the need for money. For children, this meant playing in the streets with simple toys. Marbles and hopscotch were typical street games children amused themselves with while parents were either enlisted or at work.

People

Generally speaking, housing in the 19th and early 20th century was of a very poor standard. Without money, residents would be based in cramped, single story housing withQueen Street, Wolverhampton no running water; they’d have to share a communal pump instead.

Women during this time were often still confined to the limitations of the home; cooking, cleaning and washing, particularly those with children. However, when household goods such as toasters, lamps and vacuum cleaners became affordable, people had more free time to socialise and engage with activities outside of the home.

If not in education, children older than the age of eight would be working to earn money for their families. This work could take the form of chimney sweeping, street sellers, factory workers or mine workers. These jobs were often very dangerous and commonly resulted in injuries and death.

Politics

Before the 20th century, only rich families could afford to send their children to boarding school, and if not boarding school, they would hire a governess or tutor. Poorer families, on the other hand, would choose to avoid any offer of compulsory education in favour of their children bringing in extra income.

Politics around this time controlled things such as the local constabulary, whose duties would vary greatly, from collecting fines, to whipping, to moving vagrants on. Records at prisons and holding cells were not as detailed as today; only in the late 1850s did they start including physical descriptions, details of their convictions and crimes. 1849 saw the establishment of the Wolverhampton Borough Police Force; their headquarters based at Garrick Street with a number of cells.

Of course, not to be forgotten at this time were the suffragette movements. A notable member of the suffragette movement, from Wolverhampton, was Emma Lloyd Sproson – also known as Red Emma. Her interest in women’s rights was thought to have begun when she asked a question of Lord Curzon at a political meeting. He refused to answer due to the fact she was a woman!

She married, but proceeded to be arrested twice for demonstrating in the capital; both arrests were for attempting forced entrance into the Houses Of Parliament.

Work

Wolverhampton was well-known for its lock making and iron and steel works, similar to many of the towns in the Black Country. Even to this day, Wolverhampton has maintained the ingenuity of its artisans, particularly in the making of locks.

There were many other prominent forms of trade, but many workers made their primary source of income on the town’s market stalls selling all kinds of goods, from wool and shoes to local produce and pottery. Children would form their own street vending stalls to sell their wares, usually motivated by the fear of ending up in the workhouses.

There is a wealth of history to explore in Wolverhampton and the surrounding areas, as well as plenty of events at Allens Caravans. Whether you are living in the area or visiting one of the local caravan parks for a luxury caravan holiday,Wolverhampton is waiting to be discovered.

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Posted by on Feb 17 2015. Filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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