Our Century

Surprise death of Mayor

September 14 was a sad day for Wolverhampton as the Express & Star reported the death of the town's mayor and chief magistrate Alderman S Theodore Mander at the age of just 47.

Theodore ManderThe Mayor had fallen ill in August while on holiday in Llangollen. An abscess was found on Alderman Mander's liver and lung. He had an operation but died while recovering at his home, Wightwick Manor.

His death came just weeks after the celebrations in Wolverhampton for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Kent on July 23 - the first official Royal visit to the town since Queen Victoria unveiled a statue of her late husband Prince Albert in 1866.

Pub wife dies in fire: Hundreds of curious people cycled from Wolverhampton to Tansley, near Bridgnorth, in March after the Express & Star reported a sensational fire at the Boar's Head pub.

At first the new landlord and his wife were both thought to have perished in the blaze, but then the husband Francis James turned up alive and was charged with the murder of his wife, Frances. Gruesome souvenirs of the incident were taken away by some of the sightseers.

But on April 3 Francis James was freed at a court sitting at Bridgnorth Town Hall when the police were unable to produce sufficient evidence.

Royal visit: April 27 - The Royal Train stops at Wolverhampton's Low Level railway station en route from Dublin to Windsor for the Mayoress of Wolverhampton, Mrs S T Mander, to present a bouquet to Queen Victoria. Among the gifts received by the queen is a medallion carved from coal in the shape of a bust of the monarch by 10-year-old Norah Green, of Whitmore Reans.

Double joy in Boer War: The relief of Ladysmith in the war in South Africa resulted in wild celebrations across the Black Country in March. Thomas Parker, Wednesfield Road, Wolverhampton, sent all 900 workers on immediate holiday and whistles were sounded at factories and church bells were rung.

Later, on May 19, the Express & Star reported "Gallant Little Mafeking Relieved at Last" and even wilder celebrations broke out. Crowds filled Wolverhampton town centre with singing in Queen Square and the bells of St Peter's Church rang through the night.

Torchlit processions were organised in Dudley and Wolverhampton and street celebrations also took place in West Bromwich, Stourbridge, Walsall and Stafford.

Drunken dispute: A quarrel in Charles Street between White Hart Inn regulars and labourers David Bryan, aged 20, and James McCormick, 22, came to blows and McCormick used a razor gashing Bryan from face to neck, almost severing an ear. Bryan was found lying in the road and taken to the town's general hospital.

Police launched a hunt for McCormick which ended on January 15 when he surrendered at Wolverhampton police station. On January 18 McCormick admitted unlawfully and maliciously wounding Bryan and said he was half drunk at the time.

Explosive demise! John Jackson, the publican of the Brockmoor House pub, Brierley Hill, died in May when an explosion rocked the premises and blew out his bedroom window. The 47-year-old was known to possess powerful gun cotton explosive and used to keep it inside his shirt. A coroner later recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Arsenic and old ales: Wolverhampton Town Council heard in December that 17 out of 23 samples of beer from the town have been found to contain traces of arsenic. It is believed that this may be responsible for an increase in the number of neuritis patients at Wolverhampton General Hospital.

Len Vale-Onslow
I reckon that bang on the head all those years ago made me a bit barmy.