In the year AD 985, Wolverhampton was a little cluster of landowners and farmers. In 1068 about 200 people lived here – and 14 of them were slaves.
Quaint, rustic Wolverhampton developed into a market centre, specialising in the wool trade. During all this time All Saints was prime farmland. During the late 1700s, the Industrial Revolution was about to change Wolverhampton forever. Deposits of coal and iron meant over 100 foundries sprang up in town.
In the early 1800s the town found royal favour. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, liked the town and was a frequent visitor to the racecourse, which is now the West Park.
It was a fashionable place to be and grew rapidly. A church and a schoolroom were first established in 1864 in Steelhouse Lane, on the site of a disused pigsty.
It was replaced with a new church in 1895, which is the one that still stands today. All Saints School opened in the same year. Even in those days the founder, Revd Henry Hampton, said about the area, “it is not decent for a woman with any sense of propriety to walk down Steelhouse Lane”.
The Lane was full of dog-fighters, pigeon flyers and other rough characters. Henry Hampton again, “this is essentially a poor mans church to provide for the miners and grimy iron-workers of Steelhouse Lane, Monmore Green and part of Rough Hills”.
In the 1970’s the world economy hit harder times. The downturn finished off much of Wolverhampton’s iron and steel. Many renowned firms could not compete against new mass production techniques.
All Saints was in decline with low incomes and ageing housing. Its long-standing record as a red-light district didn’t help and it had become an area to be avoided.
Demolition men cleared several streets of housing; its iron foundry and abattoir was shut down. In 1980, the newly built Ring Road cut off All Saints from the town centre. More streets fell to the bulldozer, while the promised re-building somehow didn’t happen. Travel West Midlands closed their large bus depot in 1995 and soon after the Royal Hospital closed in 1997. It was looking like All Saints didn’t have a future.
The first ten years of the new millennium have continued to introduce some significant physical changes to the area. Tesco UK bought the Royal Hospital site and many of the non listed buildings have now been demolished.
The former GKN site on Steelhouse Lane has now been demolished in preparation for a housing development.
The ABCD Partnership, the City Council and ASAN have been working together with local residents to create affordable homes for owner occupiers. The site includes Gordon Street and parts of Raby Street and Vicarage Road.
The ABCD Heritage Project and Walking for Health created a series of heritage trails around the All Saints and Blakenhall area. These give you a guide to the buildings and points of interest which form part of the area’s rich history.