Footage from Media Archive for Central England
“Out of darkness cometh the light” reads the motto on Wolverhampton’s coat of arms. It is a sentiment the city certainly carried into the 1970s, when major redevelopment saw almost all of the Georgian and Victorian architecture demolished to make way for a new age.
1. In 1970, Wolverhampton was already well under way into making preparations for a new era. This documentary, funded by the County Borough Council, provides a snapshot of the city at an important transitional moment.
2. The future was wide open for Wolverhampton. Anything seemed possible, and the grand civic ambition it held for itself meant destroying much of its heritage.
3. From its early beginnings as a market town, Wolverhampton built itself through the years around St Peter’s Collegiate Church.
4. But as the city made a great step towards change and advancement in the 1960s and 70s, buildings which had stood for centuries were torn down in the name of progress.
5. New modern high-rises were built in their place. Despite their historical significance, many of the previous ancient houses had become run down with damp and had no internal water supply. These flats provided all the modern conveniences anyone could hope for.
6. Another big part of the development was the modernisation of the city’s shopping facilities. Multi-storey shopping centres, like the Mander Centre, replaced the rows of Georgian and Victorian shops which had stood there before.
7. The process of building the Mander Centre was a lengthy one. First the site had to be cleared.
8. And then construction could begin.
9. Soon the new shops were ready for their tenants.
10. And the builders raised a glass to the success of the building.
11. The Central Arcade on Victoria Street was spared demolition and was instead incorporated into the Mander Centre, a fate which sadly escaped the neighbouring Queen’s Arcade.
12. The inside of the finished building seems almost futuristic by comparison, looking something like the war room from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove. Perhaps the architect was a fan!
13. But the work wasn’t over yet. In order to speed up goods-delivery to these new shopping centres, the city’s road system had to be re-arranged.
14. These old roads had originally been used by horse-drawn coaches, making coaching inns, such as The Star and Garter, a common sight among the streets. All of these were demolished during the 1960s.
15. The new roads were created. Here we see Chapel Ash from above the newly constructed roundabout, which would link together the main roads into town from the south, west and north.
16. Today, the only Georgian buildings still standing are Giffard House and Molineux House (pictured).
The film and stills on this page are taken from Britain on Film, a digital archive of UK places that mean the world to you. 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to now will be digitised and can be watched for free on BFI Player.
Britain on Film is funded by the National Lottery funding and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The Media Archive for Central England is the public screen archive for the East and West Midlands. An independent charity and company based at the University of Lincoln, MACE acquires, catalogues, preserves and makes widely available moving image materials that inform our understanding of the diverse cultures and histories of communities between the Lincolnshire coast and the Welsh border.