Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|City of Wolverhampton|
|Status:||Metropolitan borough, City (2000)|
|Ceremonial County:||West Midlands|
- Total (2002 est.)
3,447 / km²
|Wolverhampton City Council|
|Leadership:||Leader & Cabinet|
|MPs:||Rob Marris, Ken Purchase, Dennis Turner|
Wolverhampton is an industrial, commercial and university city and metropolitan borough in the English West Midlands, traditionally part of the county of Staffordshire. In 2002 the city had a population of 239,358.
The city was named after Lady Wulfruna, who founded the town in 985. The name literally comes from Wulfruna's town on the hill (heaneton meaning town on the hill). It is often abbreviated to "W'ton" or "Wolves". The city council's motto is "Out of darkness, cometh light".
Wolverhampton lies northwest of its larger neighbour Birmingham, and forms the second largest part of the West Midlands conurbation. To the north and west lies the Shropshire and Staffordshire countryside.
It is the 13th largest town or city in England, although its local authority boundaries are drawn much more tightly than most other authorities, and includes no other towns of major size. As a district, it is 44th largest in England. Unlike most metropolitan authorities, Wolverhampton did not increase its population in the major 1974 reorganisation of local government (which included the creation of Metropolitan Counties), as it already exceeded the target population size of 250,000 people. This means that many other authority areas, whilst being traditionally much smaller, show up as 'larger' in most population size listings.
The traditional area associated with the city extends far outside its local authority boundaries, including areas that are currently within Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley metropolitan boroughs, plus areas of South Staffordshire district. In fact, were the boundaries of the former Royal Peculiar (1479–1846) in effect today, Wolverhampton would have a similar population to that of Manchester.
Wolverhampton city centre falls outside of the area known as the Black Country, although some districts such as Bilston and Heath Town fall within the Black Country coalfields, leading to confusion as to whether the city itself falls within the region. This confusion is not helped by the names of UK Government regional bodies such as "The Black Country Development Corporation", under whose remit the city falls.
Districts within the city include Bilston, Wednesfield, Tettenhall, Bushbury, Heath Town, Compton, Blakenhall and Oxley. In addition to this, areas within the traditional districts of Willenhall, Coseley and Sedgley are to be found within the city boundaries.
A monastery existed in Wolverhampton in Saxon times (being consecrated in 994), this was founded by Lady Wulfruna. This became the site for the new St. Peter's Church in 1425. A statue of Lady Wulfruna sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler can be seen on the stairs outside St. Peter's Church. By the 13th century Wolverhampton had grown to become a thriving market town. The city was famous for its part in the woolen trade, a fact that can be seen by the inclusion of a woolpack on the city's coat of arms, and by the many small streets, especially in the city centre called "Fold" (examples being "Blossom's Fold, Victoria Fold and Townwell Fold).
In the 19th century the area to the south-east of the city became known as the Black Country because of the heavy polluting industry which covered the area in black soot. In Victorian times, Wolverhampton grew to be a wealthy town mainly due to the huge amount of industry that occurred in the town due to the abundance of coal and iron deposits in the area. The remains of this wealth can be seen in local houses such as Wightwick Manor and The Mount (both built for the Mander family) and Tettenhall Towers. Many other houses of similar stature were built only to be demolished in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, there was much immigration from Wales and Ireland into the city during the 19th century, a process that has continued from them, and continues today, with immigrants from the Caribbean, South Asia, Africa and eastern Europe and their descendants forming a valuable part of the city's life.
In 1866, a statue was erected in memory of Prince Albert, the unveiling of which brought Queen Victoria to Wolverhampton. The statue stands in Queen Square, previously known as Market Square, and is referred to by many locals as simply "the Man on the Horse". The unveiling of the statue was the first public appearance Queen Victoria had made since the funeral of her husband the Prince Consort. A 40ft tall archway made of coal was constructed for the visit. The Queen was so pleased with the Statue that she knighted the then Mayor, an industrialist Sir John Morris . Queen Square, previously called Market Square was originally known as High Green and as Wolverhampton was the town where the gunpowder plotters were tried (with the exception of Guy Fawkes) they were hanged in High Green.
The railways reached Wolverhampton in 1837, with the first station located at "Wednesfield Heath", now Heath Town. This station was sadly demolished in 1965, but the area exists as a nature reserve just off Powell Street. Wolverhampton High Level station (the current main rail station) opened in 1852, but the original station was demolished in 1965 and then rebuilt. Wolverhampton Low Level station opened on the Great Western Railway in 1855. The Low Level station still exists, although it is currently disused, having closed to passengers in 1972, and completely in 1981. It is supposedly the best preserved example of a large Victorian station in the UK. Wolverhampton St George's (in the city centre) is now the northern terminus for the Midland Metro light rail system.
Wolverhampton was represented politically in Victorian times by the Liberal MP Charles Pelham Villiers, a noted free trade supporter, who was also the longest serving MP in parliamentary history. Lord Wolverhampton, Henry Hartley Fowler was MP for Wolverhampton at the turn of the century. He was followed in more recent times by Conservative mavericks Enoch Powell and Nicholas Budgen.
The Midland Metro also terminates within the city centre.
Wolverhampton has its own minor airport to the SW of the city. Expansion of the airport is planned, but these plans are being fought by local residents.
Within the city are also many miles of canal network; the Birmingham Canal, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal, the Shropshire Union Canal and the Wyrley & Essington Canal are all to be found.
Music and arts
The rock group Slade and the one hit wonder Babylon Zoo came from Wolverhampton, as do soul/ R&B singer Beverley Knight and Drum n Bass guru Goldie. Wolverhampton has a number of live music venues : the biggest is technically the football ground, the Molineux stadium, but the biggest indoor venue is the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, with a standing capacity of 3,000. Second to that is the Wulfrun Hall which has a standing capacity of just over 1,100 and is part of the same complex as the Civic Hall; both are owned and run by the city council. There are also a number of smaller venues with capacities between 100 and 250: the Little Civic and the Wolverhampton Varsity being the most longstanding of these. The city is also home to Regent Records, a choral and organ music recording company.
The Grand Theatre and the Arena Theatre are located in the city centre, with a multiplex Cineworld cinema located at Bentley Bridge , Wednesfield, and a smaller cinema, The Lighthouse , housed in the old Chubb Buildings in the city centre. While Cineworld caters mainly for popular tastes, showing Hollywood films and other big-budget films as well as some Bollywood films, The Lighthouse shows a range of older and foreign language films as well as some new releases. The Lighthouse has also played host to art shows and incorporates a café and bar. For art, there is also the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, run by the council, which now houses Englands biggest Pop Art collection, and Eagleworks Studio in Chapel Ash, run by a small artist group, which has periodic exhibitions and group shows.
Wolverhampton is home to the Express and Star newspaper, which boasts of having the largest circulation of any provincial daily evening newspaper in the UK.
The city is also home to three radio stations, 107.7 The Wolf, Beacon Radio and Radio WABC. The BBC also has a studio on Newhampton Road.
Wolverhampton Grammar School was founded in 1512, making it one of the oldest active schools in the UK. Old boys include Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England since July 2003 and Sir David Wright , former British Ambassador to Japan.
In 1835, the Wolverhampton Mechanics' Institute was founded, and its lineage can be traced via the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College (1935), to The Polytechnic, Wolverhampton (1969) to today's University of Wolverhampton, given university status in 1992. The main University campus is in the city centre, with other campuses at Compton, and in the nearby towns of Walsall and Telford.
Wolverhampton was represented in the football Premier League by Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. during the 2003-04 season. However their poor form has seen them relegated to the Coca-Cola Football Championship (previously known as Division 1) for 2004-05.
"Wolves", as they are known, are one of the oldest English football clubs, and were one of the 12 founder members of the Football League. Their most successful period was the 1950s, where they won 3 League Championships and 2 FA Cups, and were involved in the earliest European friendlies. They were hailed by the press as "The Unofficial World Champions" after one of their most famous victories, against Honved of Hungary. They were also the first English team to play in the Soviet Union. In total, they have won three League Championships, four FA Cups, have two League Cup victories and many other minor honours, including reaching the UEFA Cup Final in 1972, and appearances in the last eight of both the UEFA Champions League, and the European Cup Winners' Cup. They are also the only club to have won five different league titles (Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, Division 4 and Division 3 (North)).
Wolverhampton is also home to Wolverhampton & Bilston Athletic Club and Wolverhampton Wolves, one of the leading Speedway clubs in the UK.
Wolverhampton Racecourse is located at Dunstall Park, just to the north of the city centre. This was one of the first all-weather horse racing courses in the UK. There is also greyhound racing at Monmore Green. West Park, a large park near the centre, was converted from a racecourse.
The following people were born in Wolverhampton (source: The Book of British Birthplaces, A.J. & Marilyn Mullay, 2002):
- Frances Barber
- Sir William Maddock Bayliss
- Alfred Noyes
- Tessa Sanderson - Gold medallist, javelin, 1984 Olympic Games
- Billy Wright - the Northern Irish "loyalist" terrorist leader (not the Wolves footballer of the same name!)
- Sir Charles Wheeler - sculptor and former president of the Royal Academy
- Sir Jack Hayward, OBE - Son of Wolverhampton factory owners. Self made millionaire. Great benefactor of many charities. Fighter pilot in the Second World War. President of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
- Meera Syal - Actress, novelist and comedian
- Katie Fletcher - adult actress, later became a well read novelist .
- David Wright - Former UK Ambassador to Japan
- Rachael Heyhoe-Flint - Captain of the England Women's World Cup for Cricket team 1973.
- Hugh Porter - Olympic cyclist, broadcaster and media personality.
- Jonathan Wild - Self-penned Chief Thieftaker General of Great Britain and Ireland
- Sir Charles Pelham Villiers - Member of Parliament for sixty three years, Charles Pelham Villiers holds the record for being the longest serving MP in Parliamentary history. A statue of him stands in West Park in Wolverhampton.
- Stephen Byers, former Cabinet Minister, Labour Party politician.
The following were closely associated with Wolverhampton:
- Oscar Gustave Rejlander - 'the father of art photography'
- Enoch Powell - politician, poet, scholar and soldier.
- Sir Richard Leveson - Vice Admiral of the Fleet for Life, hero of the Battle of Cadiz, 1596
- Button Gwinnett - signer of the US Declaration of Independence
Localities in the city of Wolverhampton include:
- Ashmore Park
- Bilston, Blakenhall, Bradley, Bradmore , Bushbury
- Castlecroft , Colton Hills , Compton Codsall
- Dunstall Hill
- Fallings Park
- Goldthorn Park
- Heath Town
- Merry Hill, Monmore Green
- Old Fallings , Oxley
- Palmer's Cross , Pendeford , Penn, Penn Fields , Portobello , Priestfield
- Tettenhall, Tettenhall Wood
- Wednesfield, Whitmore Reans , Wightwick, Wood End
- Express & Star town and city guide: Wolverhampton
- Visit Wolverhampton
- Wolverhampton History & Heritage Society
- Wolverhampton Archives
- Wolverhampton City PCT, Wolverhampton's NHS Primary Care Trust
- The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals, Wolverhampton's acute hospital
- Wolverhampton Linux Users Group
- Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club
- Wolverhampton Grammar School
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