Wolverhampton, West Midlands (the fifth worst city in the world): angels & demons, fly-tipped mattresses and unexpectedly getting drunk

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Last Saturday I met my friend Suki in Wolverhampton predominantly for vegan pizza but I did a bit of solo exploring first. Now I have been to Wolverhampton a handful of times and so I was fully aware I had no reasons to get excited on the train in. But there are some nice historic buildings.

 

Lonely Planet followers have voted Wolverhampton the fifth worst city in the world. In the world! Not even the British Isles. Oh man. Perhaps my finding two discarded mattresses in a remarkably short space of time will explain its low ranking.

Or maybe this defunct company that once provided pencil sharpeners and calculators and other such administrative supplies for businesses at one time.

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The town’s only picture postcard option shows off the famous The Chubb Lock company which is still in operation, so that people can secure their residences and business with confidence.

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Here is the Magistrate’s Court which surely must be kept fully occupied in such an unnerving city. They probably work all weekends.

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Wolverhampton is located in the area known as the Black Country, so named for the industrial revolution which covered everything black with soot. After many years of the council’s begging, Wolvs was upgraded from a town to a city in 2000. Historically a city was only a city in England because it has a cathedral. Wolverhampton just has St Peter’s Church, lovely though it is.

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I didn’t get into the church because a group of homeless gentlemen were occupying the steps and shouting at me through missing teeth. I have been into this church before however my only memory is of a young boy loudly belching and his father admonishing “Stephen! Just remember where you are!“. At home it’s ok to let rip then.

Instead I moved onto the museum and art gallery next door for some interesting artefacts.

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Likeness Guaranteed by David Mack. This was made with thousands of wire coat hangers and the face is modelled on that of Richard Jobson, a TV presenter and ex rock star due to his typically Scottish features.

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And here is how he usually looks.

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This fountain piece had no name but I found it interesting to see such diverse elements as good and evil making friends with each other.

A Shaky snuff box made in nearby Bilston in the 1800s.

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A young Wolvs lass in 1840 would have been mincing down the high street in day wear such as this.

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The Apotheosis of Penelope Boothby by Henry Fuseli. An only child, Penny died in 1791 at the age of 5. Her father Sir Brooke Boothby was traumatised for the rest of his days, was unable to work and lost his fortune. Nothing was mentioned about the mother.

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Back out on the street here is Prince Albert on top of his favourite horse. I wish I could find out the name of the great beast. If anyone knows please leave it in the comments below.

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Queen Victoria unveiled this statue of her late husband on On Cock Street in 1886 (and no I won’t do a Prince Albert Piercing joke). Thanks to the Queen’s visit the street was given far more decorum and renamed Victoria Street. The reason she came to this city (then town) was thanks to the widows of Wolverhampton who sent her kind condolences on Albert’s death in 1861. The Queen was deeply touched and declared if she was to ever appear again at a public function it would be in Wolverhampton. Personally I can think of better places for my first trip out in 5 years.

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I met Suki but unfortunately the Asian café serving the longed for pizza was shut, despite it due to open at noon. We walked around the corner to the other establishment serving vegan pizza to find all the chairs were on tables and a sign saying “Open at 1”.

As we walked back to Suki’s car wondering what on earth we were going to do as we were a way out of the city centre, matey boy wrenched up the shutters of the original cafe. Staffing problems apparently. The floor had not been cleaned for many days and the chef sprinkled the vegan cheese on TOP of my vegetables rather than on the tomato base so it looked like a cat had thrown up on it. “Bl**dy Asians!” said Suki, herself Asian.

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Suki was further unamused at her tomato sauce accompaniment. It was a pale watering orange and tasted only of sugar. The server agreed it was cheap sh*t from the warehouse. We won’t be back at that café but ten out of ten for us getting the only window seat since no-one else was eating in there.

After the pizza I fancied a nice cup of tea so we headed by for the city centre. After we had parked up and walked just a short way we spotted The Giffard Arms from across the street.

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The Giffard Arms is a goths and rockers pub, mostly of the male variety. We got intensely stared at on arrival despite me wearing my Ramones Teeshirt. At least the music didn’t stop playing. On and on went the DJ in the “pulpit” with all my favourites: Zeppelin, Stones, Fleetwood Mac… Suki and my husband Franc used to party there, albeit not together. Well not knowingly anyway.

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The pub is a listed building built in 1922. The décor is spooky throughout, including the toilets and is home to several ghosts which have been witnessed by many and not just psychic mediums.

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Any idea of a steaming pot of tea flew out of the window when we saw large fruity cocktails on offer. We sat on ripped seats and supped off a coffin shaped table. Information link – there was a shortage of coffins in Wolverhampton in 1918 due to a serious outbreak of flu.

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I became quickly inebriated but Suki is hardened. My brain galloped with advanced stupidity. My arms and legs were not co-operating. If they were I would have joined this carefree dancing girl under the influence of hard liquor and the Foo Fighters.

I had plenty of time to walk off the alcohol and consider my immoral behaviour though. There was a train fault on the return journey and I had to hike a good distance home from an alternative rail station.

4 Comments

  1. Last time I was in Wolverhampton, I asked my way and was told: Goo up that gully an’ yow’ll see a stachoo of a mon on an ‘oss. It’s up theer.
    So even the locals don’t all know it’s Albert. Enjoyed this pist – seems Wolverhampton hasn’t changed much in spite of now being a city.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! My first memory of Wolverhampton was when I was 18 and a group of us decided to go for a night out there instead of the usual Dome in Birmingham. They all jumped off the moving train in (in the days before safe doors). I was too chicken and stayed on until it stopped which was miles down the platform. They were on their second drink when I finally caught up with them.

      Liked by 1 person

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