Sir Henry John Newbolt – Poet, novelist, naval historian, government adviser and man of letters Henry John Newbolt was born in Baldwin Street, Bradley, in 1862. His father was vicar of St. Mary’s Church but died when Henry was four years old. The family then moved to Walsall, where he attended Queen Mary’s Grammar School. At the age of ten, Henry was sent to a boarding school in Lincolnshire and from there went to Clifton College, Bristol, and Oxford before beginning a legal career. He married Margaret Edwina Duckworth of the prominent publishing family and had two children; a boy, Francis and a daughter, Celia. Following his marriage he moved increasingly in literary circles and was knighted in 1915. Behind the prim Edwardian exterior lay a more complicated domestic life for the poet: a ménage à trois. His wife had a long-running lesbian affair with her cousin and childhood love, Ella Coltman. One of his poems, in which he refers to someone as ‘dearest’, is entitled ‘To E.C.’ He became Ella’s lover and divided his time between the two women so there was no jealousy. Henry Newbolt is probably best remembered for for his vigorous and imperialistic poems of the sea, such as Drake’s Drum, and for Vitaï Lampada (‘There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night’). A public house is named after him in his home town of Bilston and a blue plaque is displayed on Barclay’s bank near the street where he was born. Sir Henry John Newbolt died at his home in Campden Hill, Kensington, London, in 1938, aged 75.
Thomas Newcomen – Born in Dartmouth, Devon, in 1664, Thomas Newcomen was an ironmonger by trade and a Baptist lay preacher by calling. Not much is known about the personal history of a man considered an eccentric and a schemer by locals. In those days flooding in coal and tin mines was a major problem, and Newcomen was soon engaged in trying to improve ways to pump out the water. The atmospheric engine he invented, often referred to simply as a Newcomen engine, was the first practical device to harness the power of steam to produce mechanical work. This became an important method of draining water from deep mines and can claim to be the single most important invention of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. It is usually said that the first successful steam engine was erected by Thomas Newcomen with his partner John Calley in 1712 at a coal works in Tipton near Dudley Castle. Recent evidence suggests though that the first was actually built in Wolverhampton. Letters written by Newcomen engineer John O’Kelly in 1721 to a business associate and by J T Desaguliers FRS in his Course of Experimental Philosophy (1744) both refer to the first successful Newcomen Engine being used to draw water for a Mr Back of Wolverhampton. W O Henderson in his 1948 Newcomen Society paper identified Mr Back as William Bache, a Wolverhampton mine owner who was in financial trouble, but could not link him to the Newcomen engine. He identified a possible location of the Wolverhampton Engine at a site off the Willenhall Road based on quotes from Dr Wilkes diaries, which provide evidence of an engine having been built near another Wolverhampton engine belonging to a Mr Sparrow, and an account book from 1714 links William Bache with a Newcomen engine. A recently discovered map of 1770 coal borings in east Wolverhampton shows the old engine pit of the Sparrow engine mentioned by Dr Wilkes. Nearby at the end of Cross Street, just behind Moore Street, is a 22 yard deep engine pit on land that belonged to William Bache in 1712, and this may be the exact location of Thomas Newcomen’s first successful steam engine. By the time Thomas died in 1729, there were at least 100 of his engines working in Britain and across Europe and they were still influential into the 20th century. A working replica can today be seen at the Black Country Living Museum, which stands in part of what was Lord Dudley’s Conygree Park.
Alfred Noyes – Born in Wolverhampton in 1880, the poet and novelist Alfred Noyes was the son of Alfred and Amelia Adams Noyes. When he was four, the family moved to Aberystwyth, where his father taught Latin and Greek, and the Welsh coast and mountains were an early inspiration to the poet. Between 1903 and 1908, he published five volumes of poetry and among his best-known poems from this time are The Highwayman and Drake, a two-hundred page epic about life at sea. Alfred married Garnett Daniels in 1907 and they had three children, and his increasing popularity allowed the family to live off royalties. He taught English Literature at Princeton University in America and became a noted critic of modernist writers such as James Joyce. In 1922 he began a three volume epic called The Torch Bearers, which attempted to reconcile his views of science with religion. After the death of his wife in 1926, Alfred converted to Roman Catholicism and married again before moving to the Isle of Wight, where he continued to write essays and poems, culminating in the collection, Orchard’s Bay (1939). He died in 1958 and was buried on the Isle of Wight.
Jacqui Oatley – The first female football commentator on Match of the Day (Fulham v. Blackburn Rovers, 2007) was born in Codsall in 1975 and went to St Dominic’s, Brewood as well as Wolverhampton Grammar School. While studying German at Leeds University, Jacqui sold lottery tickets at Molineux in return for match tickets. She went on to work as a news reporter with BBC WM, before moving to London to become a sports reporter for BBC London, then joined Radio Five Live. She was the first woman to commentate on a football match on British network radio in 2005, covering the England women’s internationals at the 2005 UEFA Women’s Championship. Her subsequent interview with UEFA President Lennart Johansson became an international news story due to his controversial comments on women’s football. Jacqui commentated at the Women’s World Cup in China in 2007 and at the Beijing Olympics and on the Euro 2009 final between Germany and England. As well as being a reporter on Football Focus, The Football League Show and Final Score on BBC One, she has reported from the World Snooker Championship, British Moto GP, Open Championship golf, tennis and rugby league. Ardent Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter Jacqui is also an FA qualified football coach. In 2016, she was awarded an MBE in recognition of her work to increase the participation of women in football, and received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Wolverhampton for her contribution to sports broadcasting. Her mother Sonja, a former Codsall county councillor, was awarded and MBE in 2011.
Sean O’Connor – Wolverhampton born Sean O’Connor started his career at non-league club Hednesford Town, moving to Dundee United in 2000. After a short spell in Ireland playing for Portadown, Sean returned to Scotland to play for Morton and Queen of the South, scoring the third Queens goal in the 2008 semi final victory over Aberdeen that took Queens to the first Scottish Cup Final in their 89-year history.
Sean O’Driscoll – Highly regarded Wolverhampton-born former Doncaster manager Sean O’Driscoll played football for Fulham, Bournemouth and Ireland. He retired after appearing in a then club-record 423 league games for Bournemouth, where he began his managing career before moving on to Doncaster Rovers and brief spells at Crawley Town, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City. Known for being a quiet, private man, he earned the ironic nickname ‘Noisy’ during his time at Fulham. Sean replaced Noel Blake as head coach of England’s Under-19s side in 2014, and the following year he was confirmed as the new assistant manager to long-time admirer Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool.
Bernard O’Mahoney – Author Bernard O’Mahoney lived in Wilkes Road, Codsall, for 20 years after moving from Dunstable as a child in the 1960s and his mother lived in the village until her death in 2009. Since the 1990s he has made his name as a writer of true crime books. A former member of the Essex Boys gang, he renounced a criminal past to write about his experiences of the dark side of the nightclub world in the best-selling So This ls Ecstasy?, published in 1997. The book was updated and reprinted under the title Essex Boys to coincide with the release of the film of the same name. Bernard served for three years in the army and saw a tour of duty in Northern Ireland’s so-called ‘bandit country’ when republicans were dying on hunger strike. His book about that period, Soldier of the Queen (written with Mick McGovern) was published in 2000.
George Onions – Born in 1883 in Bilston, the son of Zacary and Amy Onions, George Onions was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be given to British and Commonwealth forces. He was 35 years old, and a Lance-Corporal in the 1st Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment, during the First World War when the following deed took place on 22 August 1918. South of Achiet-le-Petit, France, Lance-Corporal Onions, having been sent out with one other soldier to get in touch with the battalion on the right flank, saw the enemy advancing in large numbers. Seizing his opportunity, he boldly placed himself and his comrade on the flank of the advancing enemy and opened fire. When the enemy were about 100 yards from him the line wavered and some hands were thrown up, whereupon the lance-corporal rushed forward and helped by his comrade, took 247 German soldiers prisoner and brought them back to British lines. He was later commissioned into the Rifle Brigade and after the war he served in the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary. In 1939 he was commissioned a Captain in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment for National Defence, but resigned his commission in 1941 and died in 1944. His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset.
Roger Ormerod – Born in Wolverhampton in 1920, Roger Ormerod worked as a county court officer, an executive officer in the Department of Social Security, a postman, and a shop loader in an engineering factory before becoming a prolific writer of ingenious and densely plotted mystery novels after his interest in crime fiction began with Sherlock Holmes stories. The backgrounds to Roger’s intricate, gripping stories show ingenious use of his varied workplace experiences as well as his hobbies of painting, photography, amateur tailoring, wine making, stereo photography and high fidelity. He said of his writing philosophy: ‘I am principally interested in human motivation in respect of crimes, rather than the mechanics of them. My main intention is to entertain rather than to instruct.’ The first of his novels, Time to Kill, featured P.I. David Mallin and was published 1974, when Roger was 54. Between then and 1998 (he died in 2005) Roger wrote 22 standalone crime novels: four novels in a series featuring Philipa Lowe and Oliver Simpson; 16 books in a series featuring private detective David Mallin; and 11 in his Richard and Amelia Patton series – a total of 53 books. Trevor Royle, in the St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, summarized Roger Ormerod’s writing style as having a ‘nonchalance reminiscent at times of Raymond Chandler. As well as realism of background, Ormerod’s writing is notable for its terse and natural dialogue and for an ability to switch the direction of the narrative.’ Roger also received positive reviews for his characterizations and insights into complex human relationships and motivations. ‘Eclectic, underrated Ormerod can be relied upon to come up with the startling goods.’ – Sunday Times.
Mark O’Shea – Herpetologist, photographer, author, lecturer and television personality Mark O’Shea was born in Wolverhampton in 1956. His parents were both school teachers who encouraged his interest in reptiles, although they might have reconsidered in the early years had they known that by the 1980s he would have over 200 snakes in the house! After leaving school, Mark worked at the Royal Hospital, studied biology at Wulfrun College and Wolverhampton Polytechnic, and is now internationally famous as the presenter of the Animal Planet/Discovery Channel series ‘O’Shea’s Big Adventure’ (known as ‘O’Shea’s Dangerous Reptiles on Channel 4), which chronicles his many field excursions to find reptiles around the world. Mark’s other films include episodes of the series Safari Park, charting the day to day activities of West Midland Safari Park and the Ongava Game Reserve. In 1993, he was bitten by a canebrake rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus atricaudatus) and almost died. He has been on the receiving end of several other snakebites, spider bites and scorpion stings. He was Curator of Reptiles at the West Midland Safari Park from 1987 until 2002 then became Consultant Curator of Reptiles. Mark has conducted herpetological fieldwork in over 30 countries on six continents and has written books such as Dorling Kindersley’s Handbook to Reptiles and Amphibians, Venomous Snakes of the World, and Boas and Pythons of the World. He also designed a set of six postage stamps featuring The Dangerous Snakes of Papua New Guinea, for Post PNG. Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and The Explorers Club of New York and received the Millennium Award for Services to Exploration (Zoology) from the British Chapter of The Explorers Club. In 2002 he was made an honorary Doctor of Science at the University of Wolverhampton.
Sara Wells Page – Born in 1855 at Moxley, Staffordshire, Sara Wells-Page studied at Wolverhampton School of Practical Art and at the Académie Julian in Paris, and travelled widely in Italy. She was associated with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, where she exhibited her painting ‘A Golden Venetian’, influenced by her Italian impressions. Wolverhampton Art Gallery has three of her artworks in its collection: a large-scale oil painting called ‘Andromeda’, a small portrait ‘The Princess’, and the Art Nouveau style ‘Whisper of Spring’, donated by members of the Page family in 1977. This well-known and prosperous family has included Sara’s father, who was a successful timber merchant, and elder brother Samuel Wells Page, a solicitor and the official receiver for Wolverhampton and Walsall.
Geoff Palmer – Born in Cannock in 1954, professional footballer Geoffrey Palmer was a Wolves fan throughout his childhood. He joined the club as an apprentice in 1970 and after turning professional the following year he spent 16 years with Wolves, playing at right-back 495 times in total. He won League Cup after victories over Manchester City in 974 and Nottingham Forest in 1980, making him one of four Wolves players to feature in both triumphs. He stuck with the club after relegation in 1982, winning promotion back at the first attempt. After a short spell at Burnley Geoff rejoined Wolves under manager Bill McGarry and eventually retired 1986 to join the police force, where he was employed for 23 years until retirement in 2009. He now lives in Codsall.
Thomas Parker – Born in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, in 1843, electrical engineer, inventor and industrialist Thomas Parker was described by Lord Kelvin as ‘the Edison of Europe’. Though now almost forgotten, he was the first motorist and his inventions greatly changed people’s lives for the better. His father, Thomas Wheatley Parker, was a moulder at the Coalbrookdale Ironworks founded by Abraham Darby in the early 18th century and the Parkers had worked there for several generations. After attending the local Quaker school, young Thomas first worked as a moulder with his father and was soon offered the post of chemist in the electroplating department, where he began to develop his own ideas into products, such as the award-winning Kyrle Open Grate, and was highly regarded by his fellow workers. In 1882, he set up business with Paul Bedford Elwell to make accumulators at a factory in Commercial Road, Wolverhampton, where Elwell’s family made nails and horseshoes. Thomas patented improvements in lead-acid batteries and dynamos and was a pioneer of manufacturing equipment that powered electric tramways and lighting, including the first electric lighting used underground in a mine.
Elwell-Parker dynamos supplied lighting in industrial works as well as equipment for a tramway in Blackpool in 1885, the first electric tramway in the country. A prototype battery-powered tram was tested on the tramway in Birmingham and several electric cars were built. In 1889 the Electric Construction Corporation (E.C.C.), was founded to manufacture electrical equipment and it purchased the Elwell-Parker company. A large new factory was built in Bushbury, Wolverhampton. Thomas developed an improved process for the production of phosphorus, and a new phosphorus factory opened in Wednesfield, known as ‘The Wednesfield Furnace’. In 1891, the company supplied an electric bus to the London Electric Omnibus Company (the first mechanically powered vehicle licensed for use on London streets). In 1894 Thomas resigned from the company and set up Thomas Parker Ltd in Wolverhampton to make electrical equipment. He designed the high voltage DC system for distributing electricity in Oxford and Birmingham and parts of London. His 1896 petrol car featured several of his inventions, including the first sparking plug, monoblock engine and modern carburettors. In 1897 he formed the Midland Electric Corporation, the first company in the world to distribute electricity over a wide area. In the general election of 1892 he stood as a Liberal Party candidate for Kingswinford, where he was defeated by the incumbent MP, Alexander Staveley Hill, though he earned the nickname Honest Tom. He later refused a knighthood because of his radical views.
In 1893, he became a Justice of the Peace in Wolverhampton. Thomas lived in Tettenhall with his wife Jane and nine surviving children until his retirement in 1908 to Ironbridge, where he purchased Severn House. He had a laboratory and workshop at home, gave lectures on science and promoted a decimal system of his own creation, based on English weights, measures and currency (sample boxes of weights could be obtained from him at Ironbridge). One of his last projects was the design and construction of a shallow draft motor boat for use on the River Severn at Ironbridge. He bought an ironworks – Court Works – which he ran with his son Charles. They improved the process of making wrought iron and manufactured a perpetual sundial. Another son, Thomas Hugh Parker, was an inventor who built a prototype steam powered car in 1901 and later worked on hydraulic brakes and four-wheel steering. A man of deep religious beliefs, Thomas died aged 71 in 1915. One of his last projects was the design and construction of a shallow draft motor boat for use on the River Severn at Ironbridge.
Suzanne Paul – After growing up in the Whitmore Reans area, Suzanne Paul (born Susan Barnes) worked as a sales demonstrator for almost two decades before moving to New Zealand in 1991, arriving with just $15 in her pocket and a lot of determination. She went on to build the country’s most successful direct marketing company, which she sold five years later for $39 million dollars. She then became one of the country’s most popular television personalities. In 2005, because of delays in opening her Maori Culture venture, Suzanne lost everything and was declared bankrupt. Instead of giving up, she won an early discharge from bankruptcy, which gave her the Metro Magazine title of ‘Woman with the most integrity’, and relaunched herself through her trademark styled infomercials. In 2007 (aged 50) Suzanne won and became the oldest champion of TVNZ’s Dancing With The Stars (New Zealand’s version of Strictly Come Dancing) despite dancing with a broken rib. The indefatigable Suzanne has also published a best-selling memoir, But Wait, There’s More, launched her own clothing range, and starred in an acclaimed stage show, Stepping Out, receiving great reviews for her timing, superb line delivery and skills as a tap dancer.
Liam Payne – Born in Wolverhampton in 1993, Liam James Payne gave up his early ambition to be come an Olympic runner to focus on his singing. At the age of 12 he joined Pink Productions, a performing arts group based in Wolverhampton, that allowed him to showcase his talent in front of a real audience for the first time. Liam moved on from St Peter’s Collegiate School to study music technology at Wolverhampton College’s Paget Road campus. He auditioned in 2008 for The X Factor TV series when he was 14 and returned in 2010, when he was placed with four others into the boy band One Direction. Propelled to international success by the power of social media, their two albums Up All Night and Take Me Home, broke several records and the group have now sold over 14 million singles and 8 million albums. The Huffington Post named 2012 ‘The Year of One Direction’ and Liam has been dubbed ‘the Sexiest Singer Alive’. In 2014, One Direction became the first group to score four consecutive No 1 debuts on the US Billboard 200 album chart when their album, Four, sold 387,000 copies in its first week. Despite his global fame, Liam often comes back to Wolverhampton to visit his family and girlfriend Sophia Smith, who went to St Peter’s Collegiate School with him.
Jonathan Pedley – A leading authority on wine, Jonathan Pedley was born in 1962 in Wolverhampton, where he attended the Royal School. After studying at Oxford he took a job with Grants of St James’s, where he became a Master of Wine and helped re-establish the company’s School of Wine. He has since been a consultant to Carlsberg and Waitrose, made TV and video productions with Keith Floyd, and written two books about wine.
Brian Pendleton – Born in Heath Town, Wolverhampton, in 1944, Brian Pendleton was a multi-talented musician and the original rhythm guitarist with sixties R&B legends, The Pretty Things. Whilst he was still a baby his family moved to Dartford in Kent and it was Dartford Grammar School that he attended as a teenager, in the year below fellow pupils Mick Jagger and Dick Taylor. Brian learned to play guitar and played in a number of jazz bands before answering an advert to join the Pretty Things (featuring ex-Rolling Stone Taylor) in 1963. Nicknamed ‘The Yeti’, Brian featured on their first two albums, The Pretty Things and Get The Picture, and during the period of the band’s greatest commercial success, when they enjoyed hits such as Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down and Honey I Need. Brian played the memorable slide guitar on Rosalyn, and The Pretty Things sound of the period owes a great deal to his driving rhythm guitar playing. David Bowie was a big fan of the Pretties and asked Brian Pendleton to join his band. In the Spring of 1965, Bob Dylan toured the UK and footage was filmed which would appear in the documentary Don’t Look Back. Brian featured in this film in the scenes relating to the broken glass and Donovan and Dylan performing for each other. As Donovan plays , Brian can be seen as the tall fair haired young man wearing a dark jacket standing against the door of the room, having given up his seat for his friend Bob. In late 1966, exhausted by life on the road, he quit the band and turned his back on pop stardom to become an insurance underwriter. He followed this career for over 20 years, although he continued to play guitar with the Kent Jazz Orchestra, was a member of a band named So What, performed with The Fabulous Moose Brothers, and guested with the Pretties at the 100 Club in Oxford Street in 1994. In 2001 Brian, who had been suffering from lung cancer, was found dead at his flat in Maidstone, Kent. He is survived by two sons.
Dora Penny – Dora Mary Powell, née Penny, was born in Swindon near Trysull in 1874, the daughter of Rev Alfred Penny and Dora Mary Heale. Following the death of her mother six days after Dora was born, she lived at Highfield with her grandmother while her father served as a missionary in the Melanesian and Solomon Islands. She rejoined her father at Wolverhampton, where he had been appointed Rector of St Peter’s Church in 1895 and married Mary Frances Baker. She was a childhood friend of Caroline Alice Roberts, whom Edward Elgar married in 1889. As well as being stepmother to Dora, she was the sister of William Meath Baker, sister-in-law to Richard Baxter Townshend, and a close friend of Isabell Fitton, all of whom feature in Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’. Dora Penny soon became acquainted with Edward and Alice Elgar and inspired the composer’s ‘Dorabella’ variation, which contains a mysterious cipher that has never been solved. The cipher contains 87 characters spread over three lines and appears to be made with 24 symbols, each comprising one, two or three semicircles oriented in one of eight directions. Dora enjoyed dancing to Elgar’s music and her variation captures her graceful, delicate spirit. It also, in a teasing way, makes light of her stutter in the opening woodwind phrase that may be sung to her nickname (‘Dor-a-bel-la’). On meeting the Elgars for the first time she was left to look after Edward and quickly discovered that music was the last thing he wanted to talk about. He asked if she ever saw Wolverhampton Wanderers play, and was excited when he found that her house was only a stone’s throw from the Wolves ground (the rectory was at 57 Waterloo Road). In the months that followed they became good friends and met on several occasions, walking on the Malvern Hills, discussing map reading, going to football matches, taking a tram to watch horse racing at Dunstall Park, and kite flying at Boscobel House. Dora also took singing lessons, sang in the Wolverhampton Choral Society, and kept diaries during her years at Wolverhampton which record in passing this circle of friends. Her personal account, Edward Elgar: memories of a Variation, was first published in 1937. Dora Penny married Richard Crofts Powell in 1914 and moved to East Grinstead, Sussex, where she died in 1964.
Mike Perkins – Comic book artist Mike Perkins was born in 1970 and is originally from Bushbury, Wolverhampton. He began drawing at a very early age and remembers illustrating the Lone Ranger in nursery class when he was just four years old. A few years later he was photocopying his own comic anthologies and selling them at school during lunchtime, as well as working a Saturday job in a local comic shop, the Place. After attending the Bournville College of Art in Birmingham he set himself up as a self-employed artist and pursued work in comics. As well as illustrating children’s books and educational literature, his career has included computer game design, album covers and business-centred graphic design. comic book work that he is best known. His work in the American market with DC Comics and Caliber Comics included an adaptation of Doctor Faustus and he then signed exclusively with Marvel Comics, where he has continued to work on books such as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Captain America. Mike is now married and based in Florida. His most recent project has been illustrating The Stand: Captain Trips, Marvel Comics’ ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s novel.
Pauline Perry – Born Pauline Welch in 1931 in Wolverhampton, daughter of John George Embleton Welch and Elizabeth Cowan, the future Right Honourable Baroness Perry was educated at the city’s Girl’s High School and Girton College, Cambridge. In 1952 she married Oxford University lecturer George Perry and had three sons and a daughter. She became a teacher and philosophy lecturer, working in England, Canada and the United States. She lectured in education at Exeter and Oxford Universities and was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools in 1981. She became vice-chancellor of South Bank Polytechnic in 1986 and subsequently held other roles in higher education, including pro-chancellor of the University of Surrey and President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She has also been active in the Southwark Cathedral and Church of England community and the City of London. Pauline was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1991 and became a life peer as Baroness Perry of Southwark, of Charlbury in the County of Oxfordshire the same year. She sits on the Conservative Party benches and was appointed a Conservative Whip in the Lords in 2011. Her books include The Future of Higher Education and The Womb in Which I Lay, which movingly explores the love, grief and guilt in relationships between mothers and daughters.
Suzi Perry – Television presenter Suzi Perry was born in an RAF hospital in Shropshire and raised in Finchfield, where she attended Smestow school and had a job as a lighting technician at the the Grand Theatre. Suzi’s father, Tony Perry, was the former saxophonist of The Strollers, one of Wolverhampton’s earliest and most popular groups who came together having worked as apprentices at the Boulton and Paul Aircraft factory. Tony became directly involved with the management of Trapeze, the area’s first ‘supergroup’ and also managed The Red Lemon Electric Blues Band, originally featuring Adrian Chiles on bass (Suzi appeared with them on stage as a dancer). Tony had run the PMA Agency in Waterloo Road in partnership with George Maddocks (former drummer with the Strollers) and been a director of the Club Lafayette, one of city’s top venues of the late 60s and early 70s which played host to bands such as Status Quo, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin. Both men later joined the Astra Agency which handled affairs for many leading local groups. After leaving school, Suzi went on to study business and finance at Wolverhampton Polytechnic and after college took a break in Japan as a fashion model before starting her television career as a presenter for Sky Sports and the BBC. She has reported on motorcycle racing and appeared in sports-related programmes such as Wimbledon, the Boat Race, the London Marathon, Royal Ascot, the Great North Run and Formula 1 Grand Prix motor racing. Suzi was also a co-host of Five’s The Gadget Show, where she met her future husband, Bastien. She was the first celebrity bride to post her wedding pictures on Twitter when they were married in 2009 by an Elvis impersonator. Suzi is a patron of Promise Dreams, a charity based in Wolverhampton that raises money for children who are seriously ill and provides treatment, help and support for both them and their families. She has received an Honorary Fellowship of Wolverhampton University as well as an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Engineering for broadcasting, her passion for science, and her encouragement of the next generation of entrepreneurs. After Sir Jack Hayward died, Suzi gave a fine tribute to him and to the city: ‘Some people don’t think Wolverhampton is very magical – I think it’s the heart of magic.’
William Perry – The Tipton Slasher, aka William Perry, was a prize fighter born in 1819, the son of canal narrowboat parents from Tipton. Six feet tall and weighing 13st 4lbs, he was a ‘hard-man’ with a constitution which enabled him to drink heavily without losing his exceptional physique. The Slasher was a relentless fighting machine, willing to trade pain and punishment with any man in the ring in a primitive trial of strength and endurance. He gained his nickname because he fought with round right-arm blows in a slashing motion and regularly held court at The Fountain Inn, proudly showing the scars earned in brutal contests. He took part in eleven official fights, winning six, drawing two and losing three, and his longest contest lasted 133 rounds when he beat Tass Parker of West Bromwich in 1844. He was English heavyweight champion from 1850 to 1957 and is best remembered for his gallant last stand against the formidable Tom Sayers, who was then at the height of his powers. ‘Old Tipton’ acquitted himself bravely in a bloody fight that lasted for one hour and 42 minutes and absorbed tremendous punishment, losing what remained of his teeth. He retired from boxing afterwards to become the landlord of various public houses, including the Bricklayer’s Arms in Walsall Road, Wolverhampton. William married Ann Maria Challingworth in 1851 and had a son in 1854. He died of alcoholism and pulmonary congestion in 1880 at home in his small Bilston house, where he had been living in much reduced circumstances He was buried at St John’s Church, Dudley, and a bronze statue of him stands in the Coronation Gardens, Tipton, where his ghost is said to haunt the attic of the nearby Fountain Inn.
George Phoenix – Landscape, figurative and portrait artist and sculptor George Phoenix Edwards was born in 1863 in Wolverhampton, the second of seven surviving children of George William Walter Edwards, a hairdresser, and his wife Jane, née Phoenix. He studied at the Birmingham School of Art and early stage in his career he was supported and encouraged by Wolverhampton builder and patron of arts Philip Horsman, whose posthumous portrait Phoenix painted in 1900. His many other portraits included several Mayors and Town Clerks of Wolverhampton and Bilston, doctors and nurses of South Staffordshire General Hospital, Lord Bishop of Lichfield Dr Kempthorne, and Sir Charles Tertius Mander and his family, as well as posthumous portraits of Sister Dora of Walsall and Douglas Harris of Wolverhampton. His landscape paintings depicted mostly English countryside – Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Lincoln – and were much influenced by Henry Mark Anthony. He also painted landscapes of Normandy and Holland and often painted ‘old Wolverhampton’. In 1922, his large-scale painting ‘The Old Hill, Tettenhall’ was presented to Wolverhampton Art Gallery by subscription. His religious paintings include ‘The Spirit of Christ’ and ‘The Prodigal Son’, now at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. As an illustrator, he contributed drawings and cartoons to Punch. George worked in both oils and watercolours and took as his artistic name the maiden name of his mother, his paintings usually being signed ‘Geo Phoenix’. They were shown at the Royal Academy, the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery and the New Gallery. After living in London he returned to Wolverhampton in 1890 and married Julia Critchlow the following year. From then on he lived permanently in Wolverhampton and maintained a studio in the Merridale Road and then in Clarendon Street. A respected and active member of local society, he participated in the organisation of the Wolverhampton Art and Industrial Exhibition in 1902 and created its large-scale pictorial panorama. A souvenir album of the Exhibition was illustrated with his watercolour and his humorous cartoons depicting the main organisers of the Exhibition have been preserved at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. In 1907, he wrote a book, Wolverhampton Art Gallery Pictures, which became the first guide-book of Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Written in a form of a conversation with a lady-friend, it provides useful information about the ways of local art patronage, early years of Wolverhampton Art Gallery and art criticism of the Edwardian period. In 1922, he presented six paintings to the Gallery as his personal tribute to the survivors of World War I. Among them was ‘The Grandmother’s Wardrobe’, considered his finest work. He regularly participated in Wolverhampton Art exhibitions and his solo show in 1927 included more than one hundred paintings and works on paper as well as a sculpture bust of industrialist Alfred Hickman. The exhibition was described in the local press as demonstrating ‘versatility, imagination and craftsmanship’. Another show was organised in 1932 to celebrate 50 years of his artistic career.
Tiffany Pisani – Born in Wolverhamton in 1992, British/Maltese model Tiffany Pisani was the youngest entrant and winner of Britain’s Next Top Model reality television show in 2010, earning a £1 million modelling contract, a covershoot for Company magazine and the chance to appear in the latest campaign for beauty giant Revlon. She grew up in in Attard, Malta, with her parents and older sister Joanna after her mother Gill, who grew up in Dickinson Road, Wombourne, met her father, Pieiie while on holiday on the island. Tiffany’s grandparents, aunt and cousins still live in Wombourne, where she visits several times a year and was baptised at St Benedict Biscop Church. English is her first language, but she attended a Maltese-language school where she attained fluency in Maltese. Since winning Britain’s Next Top Model she has been based in London and has worked in Milan, Paris and Hong Kong.
William Pitt – Born at Fordhouses in 1749 and baptised at Tettenhall, William Pitt attended Wolverhampton Grammar School. In 1780, he took the lease of the 230 acre New House farm in Pendeford and experimented with innovations such as dressing arable land with lime and marl (clay), feeding mangolds to cattle, and developing new ways of sowing and of harvesting crops. Following his example, other farms in Pendeford also pioneered agricultural developments such as seed drills and threshing machines. In 1796, William Pitt’s General View of the Agriculture of the County of Stafford was published and he went on to write several other important books on agriculture. William died in 1823 and was buried at Tettenhall church.
Robert Plant – Charismatic singer Robert Plant was born in West Bromwich, grew up in Halesowen and went to King Edward VI Grammar School for Boys in Stourbridge. He wisely abandoned training as a chartered accountant after two weeks to become instead part of the English Midlands blues scene. In 1968 he met guitarist Jimmy Page, who asked him to join The Yardbirds, and Led Zeppelin soon followed. Robert was named #1 on Hit Parader’s list of the 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All-Time, and was voted the ‘greatest voice in rock’ in a poll conducted by Planet Rock. The down-to-earth superstar lives in Bewdley and became Wolverhampton Wanderers’ third Vice President when he officially receiving the honour before kick off at the club’s first match of the 2009 season against West Ham. Robert was five years old when he first visited Molineux, recalling that, ‘my dad took me down for the first time and Billy Wright waved at me. Honest, he did. And that was it – I was hooked from that moment.’
Hugh Porter – Born in 1940 and raised in Parkfields, Wolverhampton, Hugh William Porter is one of Britain’s greatest former professional cyclists, winning four world champion titles in the individual pursuit (an all-time record) as well as a Commonwealth Games gold medal in 1966. He was educated at Dudley Road Junior School and St Peter’s Collegiate School and started racing as a junior for Wolverhampton Wheelers when he was 16, becoming a regular at weekly track meetings at Aldersley Stadium. His father, Joe, was also a cyclist. Hugh has been married to Anita Lonsbrough since 1965 and for more than 30 years has been ‘the voice of cycling’, commentating on the sport for ITV as well as BBC TV as well as commentating at the Winter Olympics and major swimming events. Hugh’s achievements were celebrated in 1972 when Cycling Weekly awarded him his own page in the Golden Book of Cycling. He was made an MBE in 1973 for services to cycle racing and was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame in 2009, in which year he was made Freeman of the City of Wolverhampton and had a road named after him in Aldersley. At the British Cycling annual awards dinner in Birmingham in 2015, Hugh was presented with the Dave Saunders trophy – named after the doyen of cycling Journalists – in recognition of his services to the sport. In 2015, he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Sport award at the Black Country Sport & Physical Activity awards hosted by the Black Country BeActive Partnership where, accompanied by his wife Anita, he received a standing ovation. A modest man, despite his many achievements, Hugh lives in semi-retirement in Tettenhall and still cycles several times a week locally as well as around the Shropshire lanes. He is also involved in organising the Carver Marathon and Round The Wrekin Sportive, which supports Compton Hospice.
Lisa Potts – Former nursery teacher Lisa Potts saved many of her school children’s lives from a machete attack by a man with severe paranoid schizophrenia. During the attack in 1996 at St Luke’s Primary School in Blakenhall, Lisa’s arm was almost severed and four children were injured. She was 21 years old at the time and suffered severe cuts to her head, back as well as both arms. In 1997, Queen Elizabeth II presented her with the George Medal for saving the children’s lives despite her being injured. Her attacker was sent to a secure mental hospital indefinitely. Lisa, who suffered severe scarring, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder subsequently worked as a counsellor and started a charity, Believe To Achieve. Based in Wolverhampton schools, this aims to encourage independence and enhance self-esteem in children. Lisa published her story as an autobiography titled Behind the Smile, with a foreword written by Cherie Blair. She still lives in Wolverhampton, now has two children of her own and works as a community health visitor in the Bridgnorth area. Lisa received a degree in nursing and a one-year BSc in public health after four years studying at the Wolverhampton University, and in 2015 she received the university’s Business Achievement Award in recognition of her work in setting up Believe to Achieve.
Don Powell – Christened Donald George Powell, Don was born in Bilston in 1946. His parents were steelworker Walter (Wally) and Dora, who worked at Woden Transformers – making electrical components. In the 1950’s, Don joined the local Boys Scouts group, where he learnt how to play drums. He attended the Etheridge Secondary Modern School and was a keen boxer and athlete, practising every night after school, and later became a member of the Bilston Athletics Club. He began work at an iron foundary and studied metallurgy at Wednesbury Technical College before joining his first group, The Vendors, which Dave Hill later joined as lead guitarist, before a name change to The ‘N Betweens took place. Jim Lea then became bass guitarist and Noddy Holder was recruited as singer. In 1969, The ‘N Betweens changed their name to Ambrose Slade, and then in 1970 the name was shortened to just Slade. In 1973, when Slade were popular in Europe and number one in the UK Singles Chart with Skweeze Me Pleeze Me, Don was badly injured in a car crash in Wolverhampton, in which his 20-year-old fiancee Angela Morris died. He broke both of his ankles and five of his ribs and was unconscious for six days before eventually pulling through. By mid-August he was back recording with the group, though the accident left him with no senses of taste and smell, and to this day he has severe problems with his short-term memory. When Slade split up, Don owned and operated an antique import/export company before he reconvened the band as Slade II in 1993 with Dave Hill. He has remained active with various line-ups to this day and has released the albums Keep on Rockin’ and Cum on Let’s Party! In 2000 Don had a cameo role in the BBC TV version of Lorna Doone, and in 2004 he moved to Denmark where he now lives with his Danish wife Hanna. His biography, Look Wot I Dun – My Life in Slade, was published in 2013 and looks in detail at Slade’s long career as well as Don’s life, which included booze-ups with Ozzy Osbourne.
Enoch Powell – Born in Birmingham in 1912, John Enoch Powell was Conservative MP for Wolverhampton South West from 1950 to 1974 . The Powells were of Welsh descent, having moved to the Black Country during the early 19th century. His great-grandfather was a coal miner, and his grandfather had been employed in the iron trade. A mesmerising orator, Enoch Powell was often thought of as a future Prime Minister, until in 1968 he made his controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, warning on the alleged dangers of mass immigration. He was sacked from his position as Edward Heath’s Shadow Defence Secretary and memorably remarked that ‘all political lives end in failure’, including his own. Nevertheless, his supporters claimed that his large public following helped the Conservatives to win the 1970 General Election, and perhaps lose them the following election at which he endorsed a vote for Labour. Before entering politics, he had been a brilliant classical scholar at Cambridge, becoming a Professor of Ancient Greek at the age of twenty-five. During the Second World War he served in staff and intelligence positions, reaching the rank of brigadier in his early thirties. He was also a gifted writer and poet, and his Collected Poems appeared in 1990. Despite his earlier atheism he became a devout Anglican, having thought in 1949 ‘that he heard the bells of St Peter’s Wolverhampton calling him’ while walking to his flat in his future constituency. Often an outspoken, prickly and divisive figure, his talents and integrity meant that he was admired across the political spectrum, including by Denis Healey and Tony Benn, a personal friend.
Emma Purshouse – Freelance performance poet, writer, stand-up comedienne and workshop facilitator Emma Purshouse lives in her home town of Wolverhampton and performs her work nationally. She is a published author and winner of poetry slams and has a degree in English from Wolverhampton University as well as an MA in creative writing. Emma has performed at venues that include the Lighthouse Cinema, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, The Gateway in Shrewsbury, Cheltenham Festival of Literature and London’s Whitechapel Gallery. She received Arts Council funding to produce and promote ‘The Professor Vyle Show’, a one hour, one woman performance poetry play where characters from a traditional Punch and Judy show are transported into the world of daytime television. When working with children, Emma is keen to show that words are fun, and she is currently working in West Midlands schools as part of the Birmingham based Write On project. She also ran a children’s writing group for Wolverhampton Libraries for ten years. Two of her children’s poems were short-listed for the Belmont Poetry Prize in 2005 and another poem was highly commended in 2007. Emma began working as a stand-up comedian in 2005 and as her character, Penny Whistle, she has appeared at Wolverhampton’s Varsity, Stourbridge Town Hall, Bridgnorth’s Cinnamon Café, Manchester’s Comedy Balloon, The Station in Solihull and The Holly Bush in Cradley Heath. Emma’s advice to people just starting out is, ‘Go for it; sometimes you get to share a dressing room with someone off the tele.’ Her CD, Upsetting the Apple Cart, was released by Offa’s Press in 2010. Fair or Fowl, a CD of poems for children, has been released by Rowan Berry Press. Working with photographer Martin Parr in 2012, Emma and Dame Margaret Drabble wrote articles and stories based on conversations with women of the Black Country. Margaret spent a number of days in the area and Emma used her local knowledge and relationships to introduce her to Black Country women, as well as the local dialect. Margaret Drabble subsequently wrote three beautiful, locally resonant, short stories: ‘That Lucky Dress’, ‘Hot Pork Sandwich’ and ‘Going Home’. Emma’s novel, Scratters, set in the Black Country, was shortlisted for the Mslexia unpublished novel prize in 2012. She is a descendant of nail-makers and together with two other Black Country poets, Iris Rhodes and Marion Cockin, her poems were published in The Nailmakers’ Daughters. Emma has also written a brilliant introduction to poetry for children, ‘I once knew a poem who wore a hat’, as well as a delightful guide to the Staffs and Worcs canal, and edited, with Dave Reeves & Simon Fletcher, The Poetry of The Black Country. Emma Purshouse has been chosen as the Wolverhampton’s first ever Poet Laureate and will be a champion of poetry for the city, leading the way in raising the profile of poetry in Wolverhampton as well as working on poetry events, including at the fourth Wolverhampton Literature Festival early next year. Emma’s website
Hayley Price – Born in 1966, Hayley Price began gymnastics at age 7, coached by Hazel Palmer at the Wolverhampton Gymnastics Club and later by John Reeves at the Redditich & Bromsgrove OLGC. A double British Gymnastics Champion, she represented Great Britain in the World & European Championships and at the Los Angeles Olympics. Now a TV sports commentator and media presenter, Hayley has been inducted into Wolverhampton Sport’s Hall of Fame and is founder of a national sports schools fitness programme.
Paul Raven – Acclaimed bass-player Paul Raven was born in Wolverhampton in 1961 and attended Woodthorne Infants and Junior schools and Regis Comprehensive, now The King’s School. His music career included stints in Neon Hearts and glam rock band Kitsch before in 1982 he joined the seminal industrial post-punk band Killing Joke, who inspired iconic 1990s grunge rockers Nirvana. The band’s hits included Love Like Blood and Pandemonium, and they were covered by Metallica and Foo Fighters. Paul left Killing Joke in 1987 before forming Murder Inc and joining Ministry, Prong, Pigface and Mob Research, but he remained on good terms with his old band, rejoining them for a further two albums. His seven records with Killing Joke included Hosannas from the Basement of Hell. Sadly, Paul died aged 46 in 2007 of a suspected heart attack in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was recording. Bandmates Jaz Coleman and Geordie Walker described him as ‘possibly the funniest man on planet Earth and a brother to us all’.
Oscar Rejlander – Born in Sweden around 1813, Oscar Gustave Rejlander set himself up as a portraitist at number 42 Darlington Street in Wolverhampton in the 1840s, then changed his business to that of a photography studio. As well as portraits, he created erotic work using circus girls, street children and child prostitutes as models (his Charlotte Baker series remains notorious). He experimented widely to perfect his photography and may have invented, combination printing. He was a friend of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll), who collected his early child work and was inspired to set up his own photography studio. Oscar later made one of the best known and most revealing portraits of Dodgson and in 1857 created an outstanding allegorical work, The Two Ways of Life. This seamlessly montaged combination print was made using thirty-two images and was admired by Queen Victoria, who ordered a 10-guinea copy to give to Prince Albert. In 1862, after the success of The Two Ways of Life, Oscar Rejlander moved to London and married Mary Bull, who was twenty-four years his junior. She had been his model in Wolverhampton since she was aged 14. He continued to experiment with double exposure, photomontage, photographic manipulation and retouching, becoming a leading expert, lecturing and publishing widely. He sold portfolios of work through bookshops and art dealers and photographed homeless street children to produce popular social-protest pictures such as ‘Poor Joe’ and ‘Homeless’. He collaborated with other pioneers such as Julia Margaret Cameron and his images illustrated Darwin’s classic treatise on The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Oscar Rejlander’s radical ideas and works were so influential that he has been called ‘the father of art photography’. Other important Wolverhampton pioneer photographers of influence in the medium’s development include Bennett Clark, Claude Elsenhoffer, Edwin Haseler, Asher Susser and Henry Whitlock. In 2016, the National Portrait Gallery raised nearly £75000 to purchase an album of Oscar Rejlander’s work, including an unseen self-portrait with his wife Mary and a photograph of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s son, Lionel Tennyson.
Pauline Richards – Born in 1968 in Wolverhampton, Pauline Richards competed in many national and international athletic meetings, including the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur and the European Championships, specialising in the 400 metres and heptathlon. Her strength of personality and the body to match led to the 6ft athlete being selected in 1997 as one of the entertainers on the long-running ITV series Gladiators, where she became better known as Rocket. She also appeared in Gladiator, the epic film by Ridley Scott. Pauline currently works in London as a personal trainer and was a fitness adviser for Leonardo Di-Caprio on the set of Inception.
David Rodgers – The charismatic museum curator and writer David Rodgers was born in Sheffield in 1942 and began his museum career at the City of York Art Gallery. In 1969 he took up his first museum directorship at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, becoming its first designated curator. Until then the gallery had been supervised by the senior tutor of the adjoining School of Art and Design. David brought new vigour with a period of refurbishment, an exciting and popular exhibition programme and an energetic, sometimes controversial, collecting policy. He began to acquire a significant collection of British and American Pop Art that became the best outside London. Among the pictures were works by Andy Warhol and Richard Hamilton, Lichtenstein’s Purist Painting with Bottles, and Peter Blake’s Cigarette Packet. Despite some mockery from the local press, exhibitions of these works raised the gallery’s profile, increased visitor numbers and won the support of the art world and local community. David Rodgers became known as one of a new breed of young curators changing the ethos of public museums. He enjoyed the company of artists and established valuable relations with the Wolverhampton Polytechnic, organising exhibitions by contemporary artists such as Tom Phillips and John Langton. He also gave new prominence to the gallery’s collection of Victorian genre painting. In 1980 he left the gallery and went on to write books about Rossetti and William Morris, contributed to the Macmillan Dictionary of Art and was an advisory editor and contributor to the Oxford Companion to Western Art. He met his long-standing companion, Clare Martin, in Wolverhampton when she was still a schoolgirl and she sustained him through periods of ill-health until his death in 1999. A stylish, warm and witty man with a gift for friendship and humour, David suggested his own epitaph: ‘David Rodgers: he was very jolly.’ He established The Friends of Wolverhampton Art Gallery & Museums as a registered charity to encourage friends and acquaintances to raise funds that continue to help the Art Gallery build its collection. His foresight, inspiration and passion enabled the gallery to form a collection that is now internationally renowned.
Carina Round – ‘Raven haired, thrift store shopping, sailor mouthed, British singer/songwriter. Drifting between Los Angeles and somewhere in the West Midlands.’ Born in 1979 in Low Hill, Carina Round grew up listening to the turntable given to her for her fifth birthday . She attended Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary and Junior Schools and Heath Park Senior School. In the summer of 1996, following a gig in a basement acoustic club in the city, she was given a support slot at Ronnie Scott’s club in Birmingham. This led to work with the likes of David Gray, Elbow and Ryan Adams, with whom she performed their co -written song, Idiots Dance’ as an encore. Carina joined Simon Smith, Marcus Galley and Tom Livemore to record the band’s debut album The First Blood Mystery. This was followed with The Disconnection, then tours of the USA and UK with the likes of James Blunt. Carina moved to Los Angeles in 2005, where she made the Slow Motion Addict album, and was chosen as Annie Lennox’s support act for a US tour. Often compared to PJ Harvey, Carina considers that she is more directly influenced by Patti Smith. In 2009 she became a touring member of Puscifer, working on their album Conditions of My Parole and opening the live shows. Her songs ‘For Everything A Reason’ and ‘Do You’ are on the soundtrack of the FX series American Horror Story. In 2011, Carina toured with Puscifer again and released her album, Tigermending, featuring Dave Stewart, Brian Eno and Billy Corgan. Carina’s album Deranged To Divine, released in 2016, is a collection of her best work over 15 years.
Kevin Rowland – Singer-songwriter and frontman for Dexys Midnight Runners, Kevin Rowland was born to Irish parents in Wednesfield in 1953 and spent much of his early life in Blakenhall. His first group, Lucy & The Lovers, was short-lived but he went on to form The Killjoys and later a new soul-influenced band, Dexys Midnight Runners. Many of his songs, such as Come On Eileen, were inspired by Kevin’s Irish ancestry and are immediately recognisable through his idiosyncratic vocal style. When Dexys disbanded in 1987, lifelong Wolves supporter Kevin recorded a solo album, The Wanderer, and a collection of classic songs called My Beauty. In 2003, he reformed Dexys Midnight Runners, featuring only one other original member, and embarked on a successful comeback tour backed up with a greatest hits album. As Homer Simpson predicted, ‘We haven’t heard the last from him yet’, and the band’s first new album in 27 years, ‘One Day I’m Going to Soar’, was released in 2012.
Arthur Rowley – George Arthur Rowley, nicknamed ‘The Gunner’ because of his explosive left-foot shot, holds the record for the most goals in the history of English league football. It seems improbable that his haul of 434 goals from 619 league games (a long way ahead of second-placed Dixie Dean on 379) will ever be surpassed. Arthur scored another 30 goals in Cup and other professional matches. He could pass, dribble and beat players for fun, and scored some of the most memorable long range goals ever seen in English football, with a shot as powerful as the great Bobby Charlton. He holds the club record for most goals in a single season at both Leicester City and Shrewsbury Town. He was Leicester’s second all-time top goalscorer, netting 265 League and FA Cup goals in 321 games, including 16 hat-tricks and his 41 penalties broke the club record. Born in 1926 in Wolverhampton, Arthur played for Wolverhampton Wanderers as a youth then for West Bromwich Albion and Fulham before moving on to Leicester, where in the 1956-57 season he scored an incredible 44 goals in 42 games. He was poised to overtake Arthur Chandler’s record at the club when manager David Halliday shocked the City faithful by transfer-listing him at the age of 32. Arthur then took over as player-manager at Shrewsbury, where he is record goalscorer with 152 league goals, and later had spells as manager at Sheffield United and Southend. When he needed knee surgery in the 1990s, it was Shrewsbury and Wolves who organised a testimonial, with the Filbert Street faithful chipping in through a collection. Despite being a goal-scoring phenomenon, Arthur was a quiet, modest man, always quick to praise the role of his team-mates. A true gentleman, he played the game in the right spirit, never deliberately fouled an opponent and never complained to referees. Arthur represented Shropshire in three Minor Counties Championship matches between 1961 and 1962 as a right-handed batsman and leg-break bowler. He worked for a pools company following his retirement and died in Shrewsbury in 2002 at the age of 76. He was the younger brother of Manchester United legend Jack Rowley. Arthur was the first player to be named in Shrewsbury Town’s Hall of Fame and was shortlisted for the English Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Richard Salter – The Salter story began in Bilston in 1760 when Richard Salter made a spring out of an old file to improve the working of his brother William’s ‘pocket steelyard’, a scale similar to the fisherman’s scale of today. By 1825 his nephew George had taken over the company, which became known as George Salter & Co. and later established a large, well equipped manufacturing site in West Bromwich. From here the company produced a wide variety of scales including the UK’s first bathroom scale, irons, mincers, potato chippers, coin-operated machines and another ‘first’ for the UK, the typewriter. The business thrived throughout the 1900s and by 1950, employed over 2000 people, still in the same area and owned by the same family. Now owned by the US-based HoMedics company, Salter Housewares is active in over a hundred countries and is still the #1 brand for bathroom scales in the UK.
Tessa Sanderson – Heptathlete and javelin thrower Theresa (‘Tessa’) Ione Sanderson was born in 1956 in Jamaica of Ghanaian ancestry. She later emigrated to Wolverhampton and was the UK’s leading javelin thrower from the mid-1970s, winning silver in the 1978 European championships and gold in the Commonwealth Games three times, after which she shared a long standing rivalry with Fatima Whitbread. Tessa won the javelin gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics, becoming the first British black woman ever to win Olympic gold. Her long career lasted at senior international level until 1996 as she became the second ever track & field athlete to compete at six Olympics. After retiring, Tessa served as Vice-Chairman of Sport England and was made CBE for her services to sport and charity. A Wednesfield housing estate, Sanderson Park, was named after her, located on the playing fields of her former school, Wards Bridge High. She is currently helping to run an academy in London that finds and trains athletes to represent Britain in the 2012 Olympics. In 2009 Tessa made history again by organising the first 10K road run through the Olympic Park, an event that now takes place annually. A year later she married Densign White, former Olympic Judo player, in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Sathnam Sanghera – Award-winning journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera was born in Prosser Street in Park Village, Wolverhampton, in 1976. His Punjabi parents, who still live in the city, had emigrated to the UK in 1968 and he is the youngest of their four children. He attended Wolverhampton Grammar School on a scholarship before studying at Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he learned that the greeting ‘alroight cock?’ was to be avoided and graduated with a first class degree in English Language and Literature. Sathnam was raised as a Sikh and at the age of ten he worked part-time in a sewing factory. Before becoming a writer he also worked at a burger chain, a hospital laundry, a market research firm and a literacy project in New York. As a student he was employed at the Express and Star in Wolverhampton and dressed up as a ‘news bunny’ for L!VE TV. Between 1998 and 2006 he was a reporter and feature writer for the Financial Times before joining The Times as a columnist and feature writer. His first book, The Boy With The Topknot, is a memoir about growing up in Wolverhampton and coping with his father’s schizophrenia. Sathnam’s parents still live in Ettingshall Park and get on well with their neighbours, despite the language barrier. Sathnam subsequently failed the audition to narrate the audiobook of his own autobiography because he had become too posh and didn’t have tte right voice. His first work of fiction, Marriage Material, was published in 2013 and is a modern version of Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives Tale set in Wolverhampton. Sathnam’s meticulous research for the book involved working in four different convenience stores in ‘Blakenfields’.‘It’s affectionate’, he says of his novel. ‘I love Wolverhampton. But I think anyone who has grown up here has at some point rejected it. I wanted Wolverhampton to be a character in the book. It’s as important as everyone else to the story.’ Marriage Material was shortlisted for the 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award and is being adapted for television.
Charles Simon – Actor Charles Simon had a long and busy career in which he played dozens of parts on stage, screen and radio. He was born in Tettenhall Wood (then in Staffordshire) in 1909 as the younger son of three children of an army family. After leaving school at 14 he opted for the stage, training at the Irving Academy of Dramatic Art in Cheltenham and first appeared professionally at a local cinema reciting The Shooting Of Dan McGrew to accompany the 1924 silent movie of that name. In 1928 he arrived at Stratford, and in 1936 he founded the Darlington Repertory Company – becoming a friend of George Bernard Shaw – which lasted until 1951. After wartime Royal Air Force service as a Bomber Command staff officer he joined the BBC repertory company and made more than 1,000 broadcasts. He didn’t relinquish the stage. At Lowestoft weekly rep in the mid-1950s he was a mentor to the young Barbara Leigh Hunt, who said he was ‘a wonderful light comedian with a tremendous sense of style’. Charles found national fame when he took over the role of Dr James Dale opposite Jessie Matthews -always ‘worried about Jim’ in BBC radio’s soap opera Mrs Dale’s Diary, rebranded as The Dales. When the series ended in 1969 he went on to appear in more than 20 films, dozens of television programmes and many stage roles. He spent six years as master of ceremonies at the Lyric Theatre music hall in Covent Garden, memorably played a grotesque geriatric in Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective, and was seen on the big screen in Shadowlands, Mike Leigh’s Topsy Turvy and 102 Dalmatians. He made his at the National Theatre at the age of 80 and toured the world tour with the Cheek By Jowl theatre company. His performances combined mischievousness and sardonic wit with a malicious glee, subtly suggesting aspects of character in a single glance. His career began playing juvenile leads for actor-manager Seymour Hicks in the 1920s and by the time of his death in 2002, Charles’ 79-year career was the longest in British showbusiness. He worked with Peter O’Toole on his last film, The Final Curtain, which was released posthumously, and had just finished making a television commercial in Italy when he died. The producers asked him to stay on for an extra week because he was the life and soul of the party, and they were enjoying his company so much. Charles married twice and is survived by a son and two daughters, who were with him when he passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Slade – The band started out as the N’Betweens in the 1960s and rose to prominence a decade later with 17 consecutive Top 20 hits and six number one singles. All of their chart-toppers were written by singer Noddy Holder and bass guitarist Jim Lea, who like drummer Don Powell was both born and raised around Wolverhampton. Joined by lead guitarist Dave Hill, the band changed its name via Ambrose Slade to The Slade and, finally, Slade, and abandoned their temporary skinhead look. Managed by Chas Chandler, Slade became the most successful British group of the 1970s glam rock era and were the first act to have three singles enter charts at number one. They sold more singles in the UK than any other group of the period and Merry Xmas Everybody sold over a million copies globally. They toured Europe and the USA (playing to massive audiences of 50,000 people), made the underrated cult film, Slade In Flame, released over thirty albums, and were acknowledged as a major influence by artists such as Kiss, Mötley Crüe, Queen, Noel Gallagher and The Clash. Noddy was the first frontman to encourage audiece participation and soon everyone was doing it. Kurt Cobain formed Nirvana after seeing the band and Noel Gallagher said that Oasis would not have existed without Slade. When glam rock ended, Slade continued to tour and record and stole the 1980 Reading Festival to become the darlings of the music press. Noddy left in 1991 after 25 years, wearied by constant touring and effectively managing the day to day running of the band, and Jimmy Lea effectively retired from live work. Don and Dave formed Slade II with three other musicians and they continue to perform as Slade.
Nigel Slater – Food writer, journalist and broadcaster Nigel Slater was born in 1958 in Wolverhampton, where his father co-owned the Universal Engineering factory. Nigel grew up in a large mock tudor house in Sandringham Road and attended Woodfield Avenue School in Penn. Best known for the uncomplicated, comfort food recipes found in his early books such as The 30-Minute Cook and Real Cooking, he also writes for The Observer and Marie Claire. His moving, award-winning autobiography, Toast: The Story of A Boy’s Hunger, focused on his love of food, childhood, family relationships and his burgeoning sexuality. Nigel called this ‘the most intimate memoir that any food person has ever written’ and the bestseller was filmed starring Ken Stott as his father and Helena Bonham-Carter as his stepmother, complete with dodgy local accent. The film opens in the summer of 1967, with Nigel and his mother admiring the pork pies in Percy W Salt’s grocery shop in Penn Road. ‘Wolverhampton – the culinary capital of the Midlands.’ Nigel’s television programmes have included Channel 4’s Real Food Show and a six part series, Simple Suppers, for the BBC. His many other books include Eating for England, Real Food, Appetite, The Kitchen Diaries, and Tender. Nigel was Glenfiddich Trophy and Cookery Writer of the Year in 1999 and has been a guest castaway on the Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, when his favourite track was Teddy Bears Picnic by Henry Hall.
Kenneth Hutchinson Smith – Eccentric army major-turned-architect Kenneth Hutchinson Smith arrived in the UK with the Canadian armed forces in 1915, married an English girl and remained here. According to a book by Ron Davies, ‘One Man’s Dream: the Architectural Art of Major Kenneth Hutchinson Smith’, spending time with the Royal Engineers was Major Smith’s only qualification for setting up as a designer and builder of houses. Believing they should be built the old fashioned way, he worked with bricklayers who used reclaimed bricks and lime mortar, wood carvers, and carpenters who worked without modern tools. Using these methods he created many homes in traditional style throughout the West Midlands during the 1920s and 1930s. His enthusiasm for Tudor and Jacobean buildings has left Wolverhampton, and the rest of the country, with a taste for building Mock Tudor or Tudorbethan style, which he is sometimes said to have invented. Ron Davies writes of one of the houses he built in Castlecroft Gardens, Finchfield, ‘Like so many of the properties built by K. H. Smith there are very few definite records of what timbers are what, either their source or their eventual situation, though is known that he acquired timbers from such local places as Wolverhampton’s former Deanery and Henwood Road, Tong Castle near Albrighton; even timbers and other ancient materials from Bilston’s W. Cole, a merchant who in his early years demolished many local old houses and cottages.’ For two Castlecroft Gardens homes, he undertook the wholesale removal of complete buildings: The Buttermarket from Shifnal and a seventeenth century Pattingham cottage. Unfortunately his meticulous methods made the houses so expensive that they sold badly Kenneth had to compromise his ancient principles to design more modern properties and the outbreak of the Second World War made things worse. By the time he died aged 50 in 1945, four days before the war ended, the ambitious enterprise was over except for a couple of buildings completed by his foreman. Castlecroft Gardens (now a conservation area) is Kenneth’s most impressive legacy and he left Wolverhampton with several other remarkable building, including The King’s Barn, Grove Lane, Wightwick (built from a cruck open hall building at Willenhall), Dippons Cottage in Tettenhall Wood, and The Ridgeway, Springhill, Lower Penn (with a staircase believed to have come from Powis Castle, and the city’s most expensive house when put up for sale at £2.5 million in 2015).
Steven Smith – At just two years old, Steve Smith would be taken to his dad Keith’s Bilston market stall at 6am on freezing mornings. He remembers helping his mum colour in the pattern on the family’s threadbare carpets with oil paints when he was a child at home in a tiny flat in Willenhall. His dad was a draughtsman at a factory before launching an enterprise selling boxes of pens to provide for his family. This developed into a very successful wholesale business and Steve followed his father’s example. He came up with the idea for Poundland after selling items that had lost their packaging for 10p in his first discount shop, which he opened in West Bromwich at the age of 16. By the time he sold his share in the company for £50 million, Poundland had a million customers a week and employed 6,000 people. In this real-life rags-to-riches story, Steve now lives in a luxury 13-bedroom, 15000 sq ft mansion at Romsley in Shropshire, complete with helipad, swimming pool, snooker room, giant chandeliers and a mock pub, with pet llamas and giant bronze statues on the 50-acre estate. The original house was designed by Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, of Portmeirion fame, and was owned by a cousin of former prime minister Neville Chamberlain. Steve drives a bright yellow Lamborghini convertible and has holiday homes in Florida and Majorca. Steve has also launched a number of new businesses, including one which offers investment loans to other entrepreneurs waiting for a lucky break, an online house-selling service and an online version of Poundland called poundshop.com which he runs with his son Ashley.
Snape – The handsome Edwardian Baroque Style Royal London Friendly Society Building in Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton, was the home of Snape the Tailors. Their most famous client was world-famous comedian Norman Wisdom whose trademark ill-fitting suits that were made there. They always said that it was just as hard to make a suit that did not fit as to make one that fitted perfectly. Norman continued to have his ‘Gump’ suits, at least two sizes too tight, made at Snapes throughout his career. Norman often appeared at the Grand Theatre and on one occasion had to be treated at Molineux after injuring himself on stage.
Vikram Solanki – Born in India in 1976, Vikram Solanki moved to Wolverhampton with his family at the age of eight and attended Regis School in Tettenhall. He played junior and senior cricket for Wolverhampton cricket club where he was a childhood prodigy under coach Arthur Pickering, often starring as a wicket-keeper, bowler and batsman. He made his first-class debut for Worcestershire in 1995 and the following year was awarded the NBC Denis Compton Award. Possessed with the priceless gift of timing and placement, Vik proved to be a player of supreme elegance and grace. In 2007 he passed 10,000 career runs for Worcestershire, where he was captain from 2005 until he resigned in 2010. He has also played 51 One-day internationals and 3 Twenty20 internationals for England as a batsman and occasional off-spinner and wicket-keeper. By the time he retired in 2015, Vik had scored over 18,000 first-class runs and added 11,000 in List A cricket.
Shane Spall – Born into a large working-class family in the Midlands, Shane’s mother called her Number Five and her father named her after a character played by Alan Ladd in his famous Western. She left home at 17 to live in Wales as a hippy then hitch-hiked to London in her early twenties and ended up living in a squat. The father of her first child, Pascale, was an Australian who went back home when she was eight and a half months pregnant. She first met Timothy Spall when he was renting a room from an old boyfriend of hers near the theatre where he was working. He caught a train from Birmingham, where he was doing a Play For Today at the Pebble Mill Studios, to where she then lived in Wolverhampton and called to ask her out for dinner. They stayed up all night talking and dancing to her Billie Holiday records and, this being Wolverhampton, fell in love. Shane and Tim were married in 1981 and raised their family (including actor Rafe and his sisters Pascale and Mercedes, known as Sadie), while he established himself as one of Britain’s most popular and successful actors. He memorably played endearing Wolves-supporting electrician Barry in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, a comedy drama produced by Midlands franchisee Central. After he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia and given only days to live the couple’s strong relationship helped him get better. It also resulted in their purchase of the Princess Matilda, an ocean going Dutch barge named after their first grandchild. The devoted couple’s trip around the British Coast was captured in three endearing BBC television series and two books written by Shane, The Voyages of the Princess Matilda and The Princess Matilda Comes Home. Michael Buerk also met his wife Christine in Wolverhampton when they were cub reporters on a journalism training course in 1967 and married within 18 months.
Mark Speight – Born in Seisdon in 1965, Mark Speight grew up in Tettenhall, attending Tettenhall College and Regis School before leaving aged 16 to become a cartoonist. He took a degree in commercial and graphic art at Bilston Art School and successfully auditioned to be the presenter for a new children’s art programme, SMart, working on the show for 14 years. He also presented many other programmes, including History Busters, This Morning, The Big Breakfast, and See It Saw It, where he met his future fiancée Natasha Collins. He took part in his own road shows and live events such as Rolf on Art, and became president of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Young Pavement Artists Competition. In 2008, he found the body of Natasha in the bath of their London flat and was arrested on suspicion of her murder, but not charged with any offence. A few months later, Mark was reported missing and committed suicide by hanging near Paddington Station. Two notes were discovered a few days later, describing how he could no longer live without Natasha. His funeral was held at St Michael and All Angels Church in Tettenhall, where hundreds paid their respects and the service included a performance by the choir from Tettenhall College. After Mark’s death, his father Oliver, who lives in Tettenhall, sold his house and set up a charity Speight of the Art – The Mark Speight Foundation, which has brought the experience of visual and performing arts to more than 15,000 children. In 2015, Oliver was included in the Independent on Sunday’s Happy List fof 100 people who have made Britain a better place.
Emma Lloyd Sproson – One of the key players in the suffragette and women’s rights movement in Wolverhampton was Emma Lloyd Sproson, also known as Red Emma. Born in West Bromwich in 1867, she was one of seven children of a canal boat builder and the family moved to Daisy Bank, Bilston in 1875. Emma went out to work as a home help at the age of nine and later was a Sunday school teacher in Lancashire. Emma developed an interest in socialism and feminism, and in 1895 she returned to Wolverhampton and joined the Independent Labour Party, marrying the local party secretary, Frank Sproson. When Frank invited Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst to speak in Wolverhampton they stayed with the Sprosons in Hordern Road. Emma took part in a march to London’s Parliament Square in 1907 when more than 700 suffragettes attempted to force entry into the Houses of Parliament. Mounted police were called out to deal with the riot and Emma was arrested, serving fourteen days in Holloway Prison. Emma and another Wolverhampton suffragette, Elizabeth Price, were arrested again in a further protest at the House of Commons soon after her release. As Wolverhampton’s first female councillor, Emma became involved with many committees dealing with child welfare, maternity rights and care of the distressed.
Roger Squires – Born in 1932 in Tettenhall, Roger Frank Squires was educated at Wolverhampton, Grammar School. With more than two million clues to his name, this master of the cryptic clue holds the world record for the most crosswords compiled (over 70,000), using pseudonyms such as Rufus in The Guardian and Dante in The Financial Times. His two millionth clue (‘Two girls, one on each knee‘) was published in the Daily Telegraph on 14 May 2007. On his 80th birthday, Rogers achievement was marked by the publication of three of his crosswords – in the Guardian, the FT, and the Telegraph, with all the clues set around his life and times. The Guardian and FT arranged a party at the Guardian London offices, with almost a hundred people attending. The Telegraph organised a large party in Birmingham and bloggers from all over the country gave him a surprise party in Ironbridge, Shropshire, where he now lives with his second wife. John Graham, the great setter Araucaria, wrote a sonnet for Roger and his work. Apart from being a legend in the crossword world, Roger is qualified for membership of Mensa and The Magic Circle. Roger’s father Frank Squires was born in 1888, before the advent of the modern crossword. He loved playing with words and Roger remembers him entering wordplay competitions in the magazine John Bull. Roger joined the Royal Navy at the age 15 and trained at the notorious HMS Ganges, where the lash was still in use. He won the award for the best all-round boy of the year, coming first in the seamanship, gunnery and school examinations and representing the ship at football and cricket. At 20, as the youngest ever Seaman Petty Officer, he became a Lieutenant in the Fleet Air Arm and flew for 10 years from various carriers, visiting over 50 countries. His first published puzzle appeared in 1963 in the Wolverhampton Express & Star and he became a regular compiler with the Birmingham Post. His first civilian job after leaving the navy in 1963 was as entertainments manager at Butlin’s busiest holiday camp at Bognor Regis, which he left to earn his living from crosswords, acting, writing and magic. He made over 250 appearances on TV as a comedy magician and as an actor in Crossroads, Doctor Who, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Spy Trap and War and Peace. Films included The Beauty Jungle. He was a contestant on Countdown, Crosswits and Catchword, and captained the Wolverhampton teams in both the IQ programme Pencil & Paper and Crossword on Two. Roger holds the record for the longest word ever used in a published crossword – the 58-letter Welsh town Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch clued as an anagram. He holds the Guinness Record for the longest published crossword – at 8 feet long, because Onsworld Ltd were unable to publish the whole 24 ft puzzle. He has also produced a unique 3D crossword that fits on a Rubik’s Cube.
Tom Stade – Acclaimed Canadian comedian Tom Stade came to England and lived with his English wife and children in Wolverhampton for three years in a huge house on Wellington Road in Bilston, which he affectionately nicknames ‘the ghetto’. ‘I know I make jokes about it but I love going to Wolverhampton. It was the funniest three years of my life, we met so many colourful people. If you want to live life, you’ve got to go to Wolverhampton! I enjoy the people there. They are just fun and carefree. The crowds are awesome.’ Tom continues to put the city on the comedy map by referring to it in his act, including the famous Bilston meat market routine, first performed at the Edinburgh Festival and seen in this Video Tom has been on several foreign tours of Afghanistan and Iraq to entertain the British troops. ‘Every time I mention Wolverhampton over there, there are always a bunch of Midland guys who can’t believe I’m actually talking about Bilston meat market. It’s funny that a Canadian can bring a slice of home to these guys.’
Percy Stallard – Born at his father’s bicycle shop in Broad Street, Percy Thornley Stallard (1909-2001) became a member of the Wolverhampton Wheelers Cycling Club and competed for Great Britain in international races during the 1930s, including three consecutive world championships (1933–1935). He reintroduced massed-start road racing on British roads for the first time since the 19th century when he organised a race from Llangollen to Wolverhampton, in 1942. More than a thousand people in West Park watched the finish when Albert Price won from Cecil Anslow, both of Wolverhampton Racing Club. In 1952 a 10th anniversary race was run from Wolverhampton to Llangollen, won by Ian Steel of Viking Cycles. Percy also organised a race from London to Holyhead in 1951, an event that continued until the 1960s, and rode his last race when he was 56 in 1965. That year he also rode alone over the Theodul Pass between Switzerland and Italy, probably the first time it had been done. The pass is 10,976 feet high and he made it in less than 15 hours, sometimes through deep snow. Percy was remarkable man with a great vision for his sport but his abrasive nature meant that he often clashed with racing authorities. He continued cycling into his eighties and The League of Veteran Racing Cyclists holds a regular competition named in his memory. The bicycle shop was taken over by his late son Michael, who also had a successful racing career.
Józef Stawinoga – A homeless Polish man, Józef Stawinoga, lived in a tent on Wolverhampton’s Ring Road for nearly 40 years. The reclusive Józef is thought to have been involved in the Soviet invasion of Poland before emigrating in the 1940s, when he was de-mobilized in Wrottesley Park Barracks. After the war he lived in Wolverhampton and married a woman called Hermine Weiss, thought to be Austrian. He worked at the Stewarts & Lloyds steelworks in Bilston for a time but one day failed to turn up for work and opted out of society for no known reason. By the 1970s he had become homeless and moved into a tent on the central reservation of the Ring Road, refusing all offers of alternative accommodation. A series of replacement tents was erected by the authorities over his original plastic sheeting and the council tolerated his presence, as he was claustrophobic. Józef soon became a local character, sometimes called Fred, Trampee or Shakespeare, and a group devoted to him on Facebook had over 6,000 members. He was considered a holy man by the Hindu and Sikh communities as he had shunned all worldly possessions and lived a truly enlightened life. Józef died from pneumonia in 2007, aged 86, and the following year £34,000 worth of untouched pension money was discovered and claimed by his heirs in Vienna. Fans set up a fund to raise money for a statue or plaque to be erected in his memory.
Richard Stearman – Born in Wolverhampton in 1987, Richard Stearman was raised in Leicestershire and joined Leicester City’s youth football academy. Equally adept at right-back or centre-back, he signed his first professional contract in 2004 and became a first team regular, winning both Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year awards. After Leicester were relegated in 2008 he signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers and was named in the PFA 2009 Championship team of the year alongside fellow Wolves players Michael Kightly and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. He had an extended run in the starting eleven early in their Premier League return in 2009–10, during which he scored his first and only top flight goal, and started 27 games. He made another 28 starts during the 2011–12 season despite suffering a broken wrist, but the team were ultimately relegated to the Championship. He moved on loan to Ipswich Town before returning to Wolves’ first team for the 2013–14 season, now in League One and under the management of Kenny Jackett. He was a regular in the side that won the League One title and remained a regular at the heart of Wolves’ defence during the 2014–15 season, earning him both Fans’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year Awards. The following season, Wolves accepted an offer from Fulham and Richard bafflingly left Molineux for a reported £2 million, having made a total of 234 appearances (scoring six times) in three different divisions. In 2016, less than a year after departing, he rejoined Wolves on a season-long loan and scored a crucial first goal in the club’s memorable FA Cup win over Liverpool at Anfield. Richard Stearman represented England at Under-17 level and joined the under-21 squad for the 2009 European Championship qualifiers. The Football Association of Ireland subsequently confirmed that they had contacted him to play for the Republic of Ireland and Richard is said now to have an Irish passport (as well as great hair).
Dave Swift – Born in Wolverhampton in 1964, Dave Swift started singing in the local school choir and later at church. He learned to play trombone before taking up bass guitar and acoustic bass and turned professional aged 18, becoming a session bassist and travelling the world playing on cruise ships while building up his jazz repertoire. In 1991 he joined Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and has played with them at prestigious events such as the Montreux Jazz Festival and the Millennium Night celebration at the Dome. He also performs on the long-running TV show ‘Later…with Jools Holland’ and constantly tours around the UK and internationally. Dave continues to be an in demand session musician and has has played double bass for Rick Astley, Gary U.S. Bonds and Ray Davis. His many albums with Jools include the double platinum selling Small World Big Band, Tom Jones & Jools Holland, and The Best Of Friends.
Roy Swinbourne – Born in Yorkshire in 1929, Royston Harry Swinbourne began his football career at Wath Wanderers, the Yorkshire-based nursery club of Wolverhampton Wanderers. He moved south to join Wolves in 1944 and signed as a professional the following year. He made his first team debut in 1949 and came to the fore during the 1950–51 season, finishing as top goalscorer with 22 goals. His tally of 24 in the 1953–54 season was a career best and helped Wolves capture their first ever league championship. It was Roy himself who scored twice in the final game, a 2–0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur that confirmed the title. He also provided the catalyst for the famous floodlit victory over Honved of Hungary in 1954, He made 230 appearances for the club in all, scoring 114 goals between 1945 and 1957, when he retired following a knee injury. After retirement, Roy worked as a rep for Wolverhampton tyre giant Goodyear before starting his own successful Midlands-based tyre business. In 2011, he rightfully took his place in the Wolves Hall of Fame, and despite his career being cruelly cut short by injury, he was never bitter and looked back on his career with great pride. Roy moved from his home in Kinver to a nursing home in Kidderminster as he fought dementia and died in 2015, aged 86. His wife of 62 years, Betty Swinbourne, said: ‘He was the most kind man you could ever think of. He had a smile that made everybody love him back and he was such a warm soul.’
Meera Syal – Born Feroza Syal in Wolverhampton at New Cross Hospital in 1961, of Punjabi parents, Meera biefly lived in Willenhall then grew up in Essington before moving to Bloxwich. The award-winning comedian, actress, writer, producer and singer became a major success following her roles in the comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me and is married to Sanjeev Bhaskar, who plays her grandson in The Kumars at No 42. She wrote the screenplay for the film Bhaji on the Beach, achieved a number one record with Gareth Gates and her co-stars from The Kumars, and starred in the BBC2 sitcom Beautiful People as well as Holby City and two episodes of Doctor Who. She won the Betty Trask Award for her first book, Anita and Me, a poignant semi-autobiographical novel that has found its way on to school and university English syllabuses. It tells the story of Meena, an English Punjabi girl, and her relationship with the white Anita as they grow up in the fictional Midlands village of Tollington. Meera also wrote the screenplay for the film of the book in which she plays Meena’s Aunt alongside the brilliant Chandeep Uppal. A highly successful stage version of Anita and Me premiered at Birmingham Rep in 2015. This production of Anita and Me (starring Shobna Gulati as ‘Daljit’) opened at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in February 2017 before touring the UK. Meera Syal was voted Media Personality of the Year award at the Commission for Racial Equality’s awards in 2000, received an MBE in 1997, appeared on Desert Island Discs, wrote the book for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Bombay Dreams, and was listed as one of The Observer’s fifty funniest acts in British comedy. She was awarded a CBE in the 2015 Queen’s New Year’s Honours for her services to drama and literature.