Black Country Bugle
‘One of the most attractive streets in England’
OUR thanks to Walsall reader Michael Doyle for sending us this photograph of his home town, back in the days when its market was buzzing with trade.
Michael told us: “This picture of Walsall Market and High Street was probably taken in 1962.
“This was when Walsall Market was renowned for its produce and goods throughout the West Midlands.
“The main approach to the market in the picture was from the bottom of the steep incline, leading to the front of the church of the parish of St Matthews.
“A charter giving the right to hold weekly markets in Walsall was granted in 1220AD. By the fourteenth century we find the community had the right to appoint its own mayor and burgesses, and were exempt from certain feudal duties and charges.
“The town’s ancient High Street, where the market was situated, was described by Sir John Betjeman in 1959 as possibly ‘one of the most attractive steets in England, with charming and modest buildings.’
“Within years of Sir John’s comments, nearly every building had been bulldozed.
“It was indeed a great mistake to take on board the narrow thinking of the 1960s, whereby the ‘new is the best thing’.
“The destruction of ancient buildings, a great heritage of the visible past also affects local people in a negative way.”