Express & Star Walsall and wolverhampton
M baker commented
My local was the Penn Cinema on Warstones Road. My early memories are somewhat vague regarding the first film I saw, but the Saturday matinee was the time all the kids off the estate caused their usual weekly chaos, much to the annoyance of the usherettes! I do have memories of the westerns with Tex Ritter, Gene Autry, and of course, Roy Rogers and Trigger. There was also the gangster film serials with “The Black Hand Gang” or something along those lines, along with the Disney classics such as Snow White, Pinocchio, etc.
It was pennies to get in but, if you’d spent your cinema money on “suck”, there was always someone ready to open the side door for a couple of acid drops!
A little “nostalgia” for all Old Wulfrunians who once said. “Will you take me in Please?.
Nowadays the first experience of a cinema visit for a child is probably on occasion to see a new Disney release or the like, but my first visit was nothing like that.
It was in the summer of 1943. The place the “Savoy’ in Garrick Street there was just my mother and I, dad was away on war work, at that time.
I remember we queued at the entrance to the front stalls at the corner of Old Hall Street, and when we finally recieved our tickets and went down the stairs into the cinema I recall we had to stand for awhile just 50yds from the screen and the main feature a western, “Jesse James” was halfway through.
I gazed up at this large screen and in full technicolour, what a sight, it was awe inspiring to me as a six year, old.
After waiting a short while standing looking looking up at the screen we were found two seats, and as the film reached its climax , and the background music; the hymn, “Yes Jesus loves me” played at ‘Jesse’s funeral , the sorrowful tears ran down my face, and at that moment I was completely lost to films, and film music forever.
On the corner of Queen Square and Dudley Street was Culwells, the big stationers and the Lyons tea shop, before the Shakespeare pub. The Shakespeare sticks out a bit and the building is finished in black and white. It had a bad reputation, lots of prostitutes went there as they did in the Posada in Lichfield Street. At the top of Victoria Street was the Queens Arcade. Heinz, the biggest tobacconists in the town was there, upstairs and downstairs. They used to do gentlemens hairdressing and shaving. Upstairs was all cigarettes and cigars, the biggest tobacconist in the town. It was right on the corner and there was a gents and ladies outfitters on the other corner. There were various shops in the entrance and a big circle with a branch off it. In there was the biggest second hand booksellers in Wolverhampton. They had four big windows which used to face an opening in which there were some steps which led into Victoria Street, next to the tobacconist.
In the 1920s, Woolworths in Victoria Street was one of the most popular shops in the town. It was outstanding, everything was good quality and cost just 6 pence or under. They were the cheapest, nothing was over 6 pence. People brought knives, forks, spoons and things like that to build the household utensils up. There was an upstairs and downstairs and at the time there was just one Woolworths in the town, the other one came later. Then across the road was Halfords, the big cycle and motorcycle shop.
Harry Willetts commented
i have found that my ancestor is listed here in 1951 census on Bilston Street .They had come from Wales, Does this street still exist? Would it have been a rural area in 1951 as his occupation was Ag mach ... I'm assuming this is something agricultural. What type of area would this have been in this period? Any help would be much appreciated.
Hello. I was born in Hednesford in 1952 and my family moved to Heath Hayes when I was 18 months old. We lived at 383 Norton Rd and I believe that our old house is the only one still standing in that street. We emigrated to Australia in 1962 and moved to New Zealand in 1964. I finally went “home” in 2002 for a visit with my husband and was lucky enough to be invited into our old house by the owners John and Doreen Hall. I am very interested in this site as it is my roots and would like to be involved in contributing to the site. My maiden name was Derry (parents Joe and Daisy) and had two brothers Hubert and Ray. Regards
Jon Bill commented
Enjoyed your site I to was born in heath hayes so was my father. both in the same house in bank st dad in 1915 myself in 1938 my great grandparents also lived in the same st. My husbands family also came from Heath Hayes his grandfather a driver for Harpers buses
[Deleted User] commented
Hi Was so interested to look on your site, only came across it yesterday. My dad came from the Wimblebury road, and my nan and grandad (Rich and Agnes) used to keep the Cons club, I am sorry i don’t have much information but will try and see if i can trace anything. I loved the old photos, it is a really interesting site.
Pam Rabon commented
The Catacombs Wolverhampton. I recall round about 1968/69 it oppend for youngsters on a Friday night 7 till 9pm,The records played was soul, can any one remember this. Also I recall it being a progressive music club again can any one remember this.
The Octopus can any one remember the DJ,s name from 1971-73.
Your page is fantastic. Only just found it. Born in 47. My haunts were the Casino in the arcade. I was 15 at the time. Saw Spencer Davis group there and the Moody Blues when Denny laine was the lead singer. I was a mod in those days. Later the Ship and Rainbow in Wolverhampton. Didn't know it at the time but met Sharon Osborne there she was with her day. Not very old, she wore white ankle socks which looked so out if place. Later into the Dirty Duck and the Soders Web in station street
Dave hamilton commented
Only just discovered your site. Absence of transport meant I stayed local to the west midlands.
1968-69 coffee bar in walsall the Del Rio, with the most fantastic juke box. Was 15 at the time, soon I was discovering clubs all over the area. In Walsall There was the George Hotel,later to be shut and reopened as the 'Femina', never the same again, the Caves, the Cavern, the Speakeasy,........etc.
In Brum, Barbarella's and Rebecca's. No such name as 'northern soul' then of course. But my favourite place was the Catacombs in Wolverhampton, Great DJs like Alan S and the late Bob Crocker not to forget Blue Max. main regret is that getting married, fatherhood etc etc etc I lapsed and lost touch with the scene, still had all my sounds though, bet they're worth something now.
1989, went to a Catacombs Reunion in Wolverhampton and heard so many records that I'd not heard before, including Frank Wilson, and when it came on there was a flood of people onto the floor, and i said to my mate, "don't remember this one."
I now know people of about my age (56) who never stopped going and I hear tales of places like the mecca and casino and wish I'd experienced those places.
Tom Baines commented
Great site, feel free to pop onto Black Country Gob and utilise our forums as thats what they're for. I'll add a link to our main page too if you'll do the same.
All the best
My cousin Inga has put me in touch with this site re the 27.01.65 Grass Roots movie 'A Black Country' presented by my uncle Wesley Perrins. Can you help me to get a good copy.
I see you have other info about him
Dave Rainham commented
I'm looking for information on descendants of Matthew and Sarah Billingham. In particular their daughter Eleanor. They lived in the Cradley Heath area
I have just started researching the Billingham's from my fathers mothers side of the family.
My grandmother was Alice Claudine Billingham born 1938 in Cradley Heath and her father was Claude Billingham, I think his father was a George Billingham as far as I can see from census and was born in Hellingdon, Daventry in Northamptonshire. I think his farther was a Samuel Billingham.
I was hoping that maybe someone could shed some light on these names.
Wesley Ruben commented
I have a n old book.
From mission hall cradley heath.
Awarderd to miss eliza billingham.
I like to know who she was.
My BURLEY ancestors of Cradley/Cradley Heath, married into BILLINGHAM line and together were responsible for start of Methodism in the area. Original group began in a nailshop in Tibbetts Garden. Any further info would be appreciated
L popham commented
Came here for more of the Express and Star would like to see nov 1974 when the paper dealt with a shortage of council homes in the city and how they planned to build a large number of prefabs
Add please March24th 1980
Headline - council top of tories shame list - concerns over Wolverhampton taking on far too many staff
Scott Mason commented
I’d like to see published Monday December 1st 1980 ,when the paper posted a front page article on miners accepting a 13p per hour pay rise