Our Century

Noisiest town in Britain

Cannock fire dept 1927
Helmets gleaming, ladders stowed and their engine polished to perfection, the men of the Cannock Fire Brigade pose for the camera in 1927.

Wolverhampton was, in August, branded the noisest town in Britain because of the range of noises from mouth organs to motorcycles.

It was so bad new bye-laws were introduced and the Express & Star received a string of letters complaining about "night noises".

One man, from a city three times the size of Wolverhampton, claimed the town was the noisiest in Britain.

One writer complained of the constant din of motorycles fitted with inefficient silencers - and went a step further by calling Wolverhampton "probably the noisiest town in the world."

When tackled on the problem the chief constable said he did not think Wolverhampton was a particularly noisy town although the exceptionally heavy traffic continually passing through must be "a great source of anxiety to property owners," he said.

He added that there would surely be less noise now that the trams were being removed.

John Ireland, of Wolverhampton Motor Services Ltd, said: "Considering this is a big manufacturing town for motorcycles and cars, I think motorists in Wolverhampton are a very decent lot."

He added: "The grumblers seem to forget the seaside resorts where the young bloods are thoroughly noisy."

But some town defenders rated Wigan as THE place for noise.

Dudley police 1927
Dudley Police force in 1927

Charabanc hits tree - 11 hurt: Eleven Wolverhampton people were injured in a horrific charabanc crash near Welshpool in August.

A tyre on the vehicle burst, the steering column snapped and the vehicle ploughed into a tree.

The driver deliberately steered into the tree to prevent the charabanc dashing through a hedge, down a steep bank and into a ditch.

Luckily all the passengers were thrown clear and ferried to hospital in Welshpool.

Another charabanc, taking passengers to West Bromwich, was first at the scene of the crash and helped with the emergency.

The driver of the wrecked charabanc told the Express & Star that he was returning to Wolverhampton from Aberystwyth when a front tyre burst as he was overtaking an Austin Seven car. "It went off like a gun," he said, adding that the steering column broke at the bottom.

"I could see that if it went into the hedge it would have gone straight into a field and a big ditch and then turned over. I made it turn into a tree to stop it."

The driver sustained a broken rib and the ligaments of one leg were smashed. He added that if the vehicle had gone over the hedge everyone would have been killed.

"It was a miracle it happened as it did, he added. The front spring of the vehicle itself was embedded several inches into the tree and it took some effort to pull clear.

Masses in harmony at the Molineux: After a hard week at work what better way to relax at the weekend than by tickling the tonsils with a little community singing in the open air at Wolverhampton's Molineux Grounds in January.

Swanee River, Land Of Hope And Glory and There's A Tavern In The Town, echoed across the streets as townsfolk raised their voices accompanied by the prizewinning Metropolitan Works Band, under the direction of Joseph Lewis and Harold Casey.

Before hitting the high notes, the singers were given a few helpful hints by Mr Lewis. He emphasised that everyone must join in and they must all sing together.

He told the gathering that he wasn't using a baton because the crowd wouldn't see it. Instead, his associate Harold Casey , would give the necessary "physical jerks" to help the singers harmonise.

Printed on the Community Singing sheet were instructions to "take a deep breath" and hold it. According to Mr Lewis the gathering must sing with the breath HELD to make more sound - and they must not get out of step with the singing.

Mr Lewis promised the crowd that if they got into a mess he would blow a whistle for them to stop. Presumably if they were still holding their breath they would be in no fit state to singalong-a-Lewis.

Wolverhampton going to the dogs . . . Plans for greyhound racing on a massive scale in Wolverhampton were unveiled in August by a town business syndicate formed for the purpose.

The idea was to build a track, probably in the Penn Fields area, on up-to-date lines with every facility for making greyhound and whippet racing not only a popular local sport, but a social attraction.

However the big drawback was a shortage of greyhounds - and the syndicate intended to get over this hurdle by making the breeding of dogs part of the plan.

Work was due to start on the project as soon as a definite site had been chosen and the grand opening was planned for the spring of the following year.

Allan Onions
There was a sick club at the pub. People paid in threepence a week...