Our Century

Charter celebrations for town

Wolverhampton Centenary posterWolverhampton marked its 100th birthday with the start of a Centenary Pageant in May, celebrating the granting of a charter conferring borough status in 1848.

It was also the 1,000th anniversary of the royal grant of land to Lady Wulfruna on which was built the church of St Peter and the early town of Wulfruna Haentune.

Forty principal actors, with 140 bit part players, staged an ambitious series of plays on the extended stage of the Civic Hall.

The Pageant traced the history of the town from Saxon times to the present and even looked to the future through some of the town's manufacturing companies.

Mayor  Alderman Ted Lane"It's a living drama," proclaimed the Mayor, Alderman Ted Lane (pictured left) . "The glorious pageantry of a thousand years."

One of the first major events of the celebration year was Wolves' away FA Cup game at Bournemouth and thousands of fans made their way south for the tie.

Alderman Lane sent a telegram to the team saying: "Wolverhampton expects you to celebrate this year, her centenary, by winning the Cup."

No pressure there, then . . .

Rail crash in a December smog: The West Midlands was plagued with one of the worst smogs of the year which lasted for three days in December, leaving a trail of havoc across the region - including a train crash.

The Black Country alone was heavily blanketed in the swirling fog, resulting in people arriving late for work.

Visibility was down to less than ten yards on some roads. Bus and train services were running irregularly, some up to an hour late, and some train services between Wolverhampton and London were cancelled.

The Paddington to Wolverhampton Express crashed into a light engine in the fog at Lapworth, near Warwick, leaving a number of Wolverhampton passengers shocked but otherwise unhurt.

The driver and fireman of the Express escaped serious injury. The driver had cuts to his face and legs and the fireman slight facial injuries.

After treatment by a doctor the two were taken home by a local train. The force of the collision disconnnected the engine and the first coach of the Express .

The impact shot the light engine forward about 150 yards and the fireman was thrown onto the track.

Dorothy ClementsTrapeze terror . . . A theatre audience watched in horror as a daring young girl on a flying trapeze plunged 20ft to the stage at Dudley Hippodrome in December when the leather mouthpiece from which she was hanging by her teeth gave way.

The curtain was hurriedly lowered and a comedian was ushered to the front of the stage to give a character sketch as the shapely flyer, Dorothy Clements, pictured right, was given first-aid on the stage where she lay unconscious.

Miss Clements, a Canadian, recovered consciousness as she was being placed on a stretcher but at first refused to go to hospital.

She was later detained in Dudley Guest Hospital and it was found she had escaped with nothing more serious than a broken tooth, shock and bruising.

Doctors sign up for a new National Health Service: Doctors throughout the West Midlands joined up for the Labour Party's new "cradle to the grave" National Health Service.

People approved of the fact that they no longer had to pay for every visit to the doctor - and not only was medical treatment free, it included wigs, glasses and dentistry.

Wolverhampton and district, which included Bilston, Coseley and Willenhall, reported that, at the most, only a couple of doctors were against the scheme.

About 500 of Birmingham's 550 doctors had asked to be included and in Dudley, all but one doctor had adopted the free health-care plan.

Health minister, Aneurin BevanTo mark the event, health minister, Aneurin Bevan, pictured right, whose wife, Jennie Lee became MP for Cannock, went to a Manchester hospital for a token ceremony where Lancashire County Council officially handed over to the new regime.

Dave Harrison
He turned a brutal sport into a thing of beauty and for a decade and more was the most recognisable human on earth...