An A-Z Journey Around Britain

50 Wolverhampton


Enoch Powell was the MP for Wolverhampton South West from 1950 until 1970 and a classical scholar. He opposed multi-cultural Britain. Racism has not disappeared from Britain but, despite the spite of Powell, the races now coexist in a way that was beyond his will, imagination and education. Britain made social progress because some people tried really hard and because others settled for decency. 7% of the population of Wolverhampton are Sikhs. Enoch has gone, and the people of Wolverhampton relish the 377 restaurants that are dominated by the best curry houses in the country.

Wolverhampton Wanderers play football in a stadium that has the splendid name Molyneux. Liverpool won a League title there in 1976. Today Gags Tandon of Wolverhampton runs the addictive and informative Anfield Index podcast. Tandon is of Asian descent and a Liverpool fan. He is an industrious enthusiast and likeable, and amongst the many podcasts that constitute the Anfield Index there is one that is called the Desi Podcast. This links Liverpool fans from England, Pakistan and India. It is not as eloquent as the Greek and Latin texts that inspired Powell but it says more about the potential of ordinary human beings than the educated classicist ever did.

Before the Liverpool football team became world famous, Billy Wright was England captain and he played for Wolverhampton Wanderers. To modern eyes he looks more like a politician than a footballer. In Liverpool he was regarded as too loyal to the establishment, and fans are suspicious of him never being booked when playing football.

Innovation at Wolverhampton has not been restricted to football podcasts. Between 1868 and 1975 Wolverhampton had 200 bicycle companies. Sunbeam was the first of these bicycle companies and later, after it discovered a really bulky alternative to pedals, it made cars that broke land speed records and that raced in the Grand Prix.

Wolverhampton has had several names. The name Wulfren appeared in 1070. Wulfren was an Anglo-Saxon king. The locals are known as Wulfrenians. Noddy Holder was born in Walsall but became a Wolverhampton musician and roadie. He may have had the loudest voice in rock and roll. His conversion to being a Viking Wulfrenian and the strength of his tonsils may not be a coincidence.

Wolverhampton has a population of nearly 250,00. A University was inevitable. Its website proclaims in the proud utilitarianism admired by academics that 95% of its students go into work or further study. 5% includes scope for personal tragedy and drug addiction. Hail to the Ale is a neat micro-pub in Wolverhampton but its patrons have modest habits.

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The town does not attract tourists but the Art Gallery and Central Library are both impressive buildings and distinctive. Wolverhampton is also in Staffordshire, so there is plenty of walking nearby although the local farmers can be unfriendly. Wolverhampton walkers, though, are organised and have an annual Walking Festival. This includes a one mile stroll called the Toddle Waddle. The Wolverhampton football team is a fading force but has potential that could be realised with competent owners. I saw Liverpool win 5-1 there, and it was the day that I realised the team of Mr Paisley was about to become special.

Next week, disappearing butchers and chocolate, York (and fingers crossed that the floods there will have subsided).

Howard Jackson has had four books published by Red Rattle Books. His 11,000 mile journey around Brazil is described in Innocent Mosquitoes. His latest book and compilation of horror stories is called Nightmares Ahead. Published by Red Rattle Books and praised by critics, it is available here.

If you want to read more about his travels click here.