Of all the things I didn’t expect to come out of my time at university, a blossoming relationship with Wolverhampton was certainly one of the more unanticipated. But as several of my close friends are residents, I’ve had to spend my fair share of time there of late.
I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with this town. Sorry, city. According to the Telegraph, Wolverhampton became a city in 2000 as part of the millennium honours (no cathedral – controversial!). It’s a city with a lot of character. After living in a small city on the other side of the Midlands with the personality of a teaspoon (apologies to friends who know which city it is I’m bashing. I love you all, I just dislike the city) this is a trait I’ve grown to really appreciate in a place. Of course, the city has it’s down sides. The cabbies are all a bit mad, there are areas my friends won’t let me walk through alone, and I have been winked at by more creepy old men than I wish to remember. But every town has it’s faults. Sure, many people there have slightly questionable views on certain issues,** but at least they actually talk to each other on the bus. And what’s more, the buses themselves talk to you in a Wolverhampton accent. Haven’t you got to love a place whose transport system pronounces the word road as ‘rowd’?
So, here are a few facts about Wolverhampton. Because knowledge is power. You’re welcome!
- The UK branch of MENSA is based in Wolverhampton
- Natives of Wolverhampton are called ‘Wulfrunians’. This is because the city is named after Lady Wulfruna, who founded the town in 985AD and was the granddaughter of Ethelred I
- Wolverhampton was the first town in Britain to introduce automated traffic lights, in 1927 in Princes Square at the junction of Lichfield Street and Princess Street
- The Sunbeam motor car, built in Wolverhampton, became the first vehicle to hit 200mph when it broke the land speed record in 1927
- Trolleybuses appeared in England in 1923 and in 1930 for a brief period, and Wolverhampton was the world’s largest trolleybus system
- Josef Stawinoga, who lived in a tent on the ring road for 30 years prior to his death in 2007, was a local celebrity. When he had to have his tent replaced in 2003, it made the national news. It is thought he was a Second World War veteran, whose status as a POW had left him with claustrophobia and unable to live in sheltered accommodation, but the council’s ‘meals on wheels’ service visited him regularly whilst he was living on the roundabout. There is talk of a statue being erected on the roundabout in his honour.
- 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
- Wolverhampton’s most famous sporting son, footballer Billy Wright, was the first player in the world to earn 100 caps playing for his country. Wright spent his entire 20-year career at Wolves, and played 105 times for England between 1946 and 1959, captaining the national side on 90 occasions
- The city’s newspaper, the Wolverhampton Express and Star, recorded daily circulation figures in early 2009 of 128,836, making it the biggest selling regional daily paper in the UK
- Wolverhampton was included in the Top Five Worst Cities in the World 2009, voted for by Lonely Planet readers. What Wolverhampton has done to irk the website’s community so is unclear. The most prominent criticism comes from an anecdote (its validity unknown) about a Wolverhampton local meeting George Bush in New York the day after the September 11 attacks and comparing his town centre to the Ground Zero site
** See the anecdote / transcribed conversation at the end of my previous post which was given to me by a friend from Wolverhampton.
This post was written with some help from: