Willenhall History Society
Shops in Willenhall
Upper and Lower Lichfield Street
These streets are slightly outside the town centre but once were thriving streets playing an important place in the life of the town.
Upper Lichfield Street was originally called Workhouse Lane - the Workhouse stood on the corner of Little Wood Street.
Lower Lichfield Street had the "lower" added at some point. Originally, as Lichfield street, it was the main road to that city, and to Bloxwich.
There are now few shops left in either street, but in the past Upper Lichfield Street had a selection of shops, especially near the junction with Cross Street, and Lower Lichfield Street had a large number of shops - near the town centre were continuous rows of shops and a few pubs, while further out were smaller shops with houses and factories between.On Upper Lichfield Street the most imposing remaining shop is the imposing brick building on the corner of Bell Alley, now declining somewhat in condition. At one time this was a pawnbrokers. Today it looks much the same and the ornamented brick facade is still impressive. Now, in 2018, the building has been very well restored to its former glory.
Further up Upper Lichfield Street was the old Town Hall and Library , on the corner of Clemson Street. Things are very different today, as the second picture of the remains of Clemson Street, surrounded by the construction site for Morrisons shows.
Towards Union Street there have never been shops on Upper Lichfield Street, but nearer the junction with Cross Street is the 1930s Co-operative building, now William Hill. Opposite is the Lion Hotel, once one of the major coaching Inns of Willenhall, with daily coaches to Birmingham.
Lower Lichfield Street was always more important for shops than Upper. These photos show the street from the junction with Upper Lichfield Street, with the interesting curved building housing the Roy Birch Hardware shop. On the right is a gabled shop front which once housed a paint and decorating shop and had an impressive sign covering the gable.
In the photo on the right, taken on April 30th 1969, the corner shop is the Army and Navy Store, once a common sight in the towns of Britain.
To the left of the photo below is a modern building at the back of the Post Office on John Street. At one time Hall Street continued to join Lower Lichfield Street here, as shown in the old plan above, this was blocked off in the 1930s.
A M Green 1935, Horace Amos 1926, Wilfrid Onions 1929, from Willenhall Red Book.
In 1901, in this part of Lower Lichfield Street, the shops included
Views of the corner of Lower Lichfield Street and Leve Lane, with Middle Gardens between the White Lion Pub and the three storey shop on the right. Both of these are taken in the 1960s, but the shop on the right has changed a lot and is H.H. Whitehouse, Wholesale Clothing, in the later photo. Lower Lichfield Street in January 1987 with demolition of the White Lion and the row of shops in progress.
These three photos show the opposite side of the junction with Leve Lane, with the nicely curving block of shops looking very prosperous on the left in the 1960s. To the right are some older buildings, now replaced by the back of the Post Office building. There were a lot of shops in this part of Lower Lichfield Street at one time! These shops are typical of those which once spread along Lower Lichfield Street out of the town centre and provided for the everyday needs of people living in the terraced streets leading off the main road.The third photo is the sorry state of this corner in 2009, though at least the building on the left is still in use, having been converted to flats.
The final pictures of this series show the shops on their last legs in 2008, the White Lion is no longer - this had been a car park for about 20 years. On the right the major works for Morrisons are taking place, the row of shops have gone, along with all traces of Middle Gardens. You can still see the white building on the corner on the left and the houses, chapel and pub in the background. A one way system is being created for access to Morrisons, the small gardens on the corner of Doctors Piece have gone (once the site of the National Schools). Once the area has settled down it will look a lot better than it does now, as there has been quite a lot of planting of shrubs and trees, but Lower Lichfield Street will never be the same again!
The next section of Lower Licfield Street was another row of shops on the left, with the small gardens on the right. The shops are seen just before demolition in 2008, when they were still occupied by James Honnor Property Management, Tam's Tattoos and the Paradise Fish Bar. In the background, on the right, is the Yale Office block (now also gone) The end of the row of shops are there in the right hand photo, showing Thomas Pedleys Works, which occupied the next section of Lower Lichfield Street (now long gone) In the foreground is the gardens. I know these are not shops, but it all adds to the general picture!
Here again we can see a sequence of photos from the 1960s to 2009. These views show the corner of Froysell Street and Lower Lichfield Street, with the unusual wedge shaped building on the right.In the first picture is the Star Pub. This later became N and G, Manufacturers and Wholesalers, Ladies and Gents Car Coats and Rally Wear. By 2009 it and the adjoining shop, had become EP Limited, Corporate Workwear, but the buildings are looking a bit sorry for themselves.In the sixties there are several shops here, with houses further along. The houses have now gone, but the shop buidings remain. The one chimney pot has survived well over the years!
Further along the street, opposite the corner of Church Street, were further shops, seen here from opposite directions at different dates in the 1960s. There were quite a lot of shops along the full length of Lower Lichfield Street, up to the Junction with St Annes Road and Albion Road, where it turns into Stringes Lane. Some of these photos give a good idea of what the street must have been like in days gone by, with lots of small shops catering for the needs of the people of Willehall. Now that more houses are being built in this part of the town, maybe the dereliction of recent years will become a thing of the past, and Lower Lichfield Street will prosper once more.
The New Directory of the County of Stafford for 1818 shows a few shops in Lichfield Street
The 1842 Pigott and Co's Directory lists the following shops for Lichfield Street:
In 1850, according to the Post Office Directory for Willenhall these shops were located in Lichfield Street:
There were many lock and key manufacturers listed in the street at this date.
Willenhall History Society Website 26.11.2009