|Area: 69.44 kmē|
Wolverhampton is a city and metropolitan borough in the English West Midlands, traditionally part of the county of Staffordshire. In 2002 the local authority had a population of 239,358; the Urban Area had a population of 251,462.
The city was named after Lady Wulfruna, who founded the town in 985: its name came from Anglo-Saxon Wulfruneheantun = "Wulfrun's high or principal enclosure or farm". Many buildings and firms in Wolverhampton are named after her. Its name is often abbreviated to "W'ton" or "Wolves". The city council's motto is "Out of darkness, cometh light".
The United Kingdom government announced on December 18, 2000 that Wolverhampton would be granted city status, making it the first "Millennium City" and one of three.
A monastery existed in Wolverhampton in Saxon times, founded by Lady Wulfruna and consecrated in 994. This became the site for the new St. Peter's Church in 1425. A statue of Lady Wulfruna, sculpted by Sir Charles Wheeler, can be seen on the stairs outside the church. By the 13th century Wolverhampton had grown to become a thriving market town. The city was famous for its part in the woolen trade, a fact that can be seen by the inclusion of a woolpack on the city's coat of arms, and by the many small streets, especially in the city centre, called "Fold" (examples being Blossom's Fold, Farmers Fold, Townwell Fold and Victoria Fold), as well as Woolpack Street.
From the 16th century onwards, Wolverhampton became home to a number of metal industries including lock and key making and iron and brass working.
In the 19th century the area to the south-east of the city became known as the Black Country because of the heavy industrial pollution which covered the area in black soot. In Victorian times, Wolverhampton grew to be a wealthy town mainly due to the huge amount of industry that occurred as a result of the abundance of coal and iron deposits in the area. The remains of this wealth can be seen in local houses such as Wightwick Manor and The Mount (both built for the Mander family, prominent varnish and paint manufacturers), and Tettenhall Towers. Many other houses of similar stature were built only to be demolished in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 19th century the city saw much immigration from Wales and Ireland; in the 20th and 21st centuries immigrants have come from places further afield, such as the Caribbean, South Asia, Africa and eastern Europe.
Wolverhampton was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1849 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.
In 1866, a statue was erected in memory of Prince Albert, the unveiling of which brought Queen Victoria to Wolverhampton. The statue stands in Queen Square and is referred to by many locals as simply "the Man on the Horse" and is also known as the "MOTH". The unveiling of the statue was the first public appearance Queen Victoria had made since the funeral of her husband the Prince Consort. A 40 foot tall archway made of coal was constructed for the visit. The Queen was so pleased with the statue that she knighted the then mayor, an industrialist named John Morris. Market Square, originally named High Green, was renamed Queen Square in honour of the visit. Two farmers, Thomas Smart and John Holyhead of Rowley Regis, were hanged in High Green, now Queen Square, in January 1606, for sheltering some of the Gunpowder Plotters who had fled to the midlands. The pair played no part in the original plot but nevertheless suffered the traitor's death of hanging, drawing and quartering on butcher's blocks set up in the square a few days before the execution of Guy Fawkes and several other plotters in London.
Commemorative traffic lights in Princes SquareEngland's first automatic traffic lights could be seen in Princes Square, Wolverhampton in 1927. The modern traffic lights at this location have the traditional striped poles to commemorate this fact.
The railways reached Wolverhampton in 1837, with the first station located at "Wednesfield Heath", now Heath Town. This station was demolished in 1965, but the area exists as a nature reserve just off Powell Street. Wolverhampton railway works was established in 1849 for the Shrewsbury and Birmingham Railway and become the Northern Division workshop of the Great Western Railway in 1854.
Wolverhampton High Level station (the current main rail station) opened in 1852, but the original station was demolished in 1965 and then rebuilt. Wolverhampton Low Level station opened on the Great Western Railway in 1855. The Low Level station still exists, although it is currently disused, having closed to passengers in 1972, and completely in 1981. It is supposedly the best preserved example of a large Victorian station in the UK. Wolverhampton St George's (in the city centre) is now the northern terminus for the Midland Metro light rail system.
Wolverhampton was represented politically in Victorian times by the Liberal MP Charles Pelham Villiers, a noted free trade supporter, who was also the longest serving MP in parliamentary history. Lord Wolverhampton, Henry Hartley Fowler was MP for Wolverhampton at the turn of the century. Sir Geoffrey Le Mesurier Mander, a member of the Mander family, was Liberal MP for Wolverhampton East from 1929 to 1945, distinguished for his stance against Appeasement and as a supporter of the League of Nations; known as "the last of the Midland radicals". More recent members have included the Conservative mavericks Enoch Powell and Nicholas Budgen.