I hadn’t planned on spending a rainy Saturday in Wolverhampton.
I hadn’t actually planned on visiting Wolverhampton at all.
I probably would have got there at some point as part of my unofficial mission to visit all the random cities of the UK that no-one really goes to, but it hadn’t been my intention to go there this weekend.
Where I really wanted to go was Ironbridge. World Heritage Site and home of the world’s oldest iron bridge (yeah, someone in the naming department either liked things to be straightforward or had a severe lack of imagination). But the accommodation in Ironbridge was too expensive and anyway I wanted to stay in a Premier Inn.
Another unofficial mission of mine is one I share with a friend and together we are working our way through all the Premier Inns of the UK.
So, after a bit of googling, we decided on Wolverhampton as it’s only 20 miles away and would mean we also got to visit another city that neither of us had been to before.
We arrived on Friday night, checked in and spent the evening in the restaurant next door drinking our way through the cocktail menu.
The first we really saw of Wolverhampton therefore was the following morning when we cut through the train station at the back of the hotel and found ourselves in the centre of town.
It was a gloomy start to the day and didn’t look as though the rain would hold off for long.
Which meant I didn’t take many photos around town. I don’t think I missed too much though.
So what was there to do on a rainy Saturday in Wolverhampton?
The Shopping Area
This had pretty much all of the chain stores that you can find anywhere. Great if you’re looking for a particular shop, not so great if you’re more interested in independent one-off shops. There was also a market, but it wasn’t anything special.
St Peter’s Collegiate Church could pass as a small cathedral. It’s definitely worth a look if you ever find yourself in Wolverhampton.
The Church stands on the highest ground in the town and is the oldest structure in Wolverhampton. It possibly dates back to the 9th century when supposedly there was an Mercian monastery on the site, though there is no evidence for this.
We do know that it was definitely there in the 12th century though and had a dean and royal connections. In 1846 it became the parish church that it is today.
The 15th century pulpit is unusual in that it is made from stone rather than wood and has stone steps that remain in remarkably good condition. So good that they drew criticism from the Puritans who claimed their lack of wear was due to a lack of preaching.
The Art Gallery
The art gallery is just down the road from the church and we hurried through the rain to get there. It’s pretty good and kept us occupied for quite a while. We also had some quite nice cake in the little cafe.
There was quite a variety of exhibits including some rather impressive paintings of Wolverhampton at night, biker pictures, and serene sculptures.
There was a special exhibition of work by artist Robert Perry. The Wolverhampton landscape by night painting that I struggled to photograph (above) was specially commissioned for this exhibition. He’s been painting for over sixty years and yet I’d never heard of him before. His night-time paintings are something he is known for as are his pictures of bikes.
Here’s some of the blurb:
He [Robert Perry] draws and paints entirely on site with the aid of his unique mobile studio – a converted van [gotta love a converted van!] that allows him to travel throughout the UK and Europe in search of new subjects. He has developed his own techniques that allow him to work quickly, capturing the fleeting effects of light and weather – airbrush, stencilling, spattering and wiping, even using found materials like leaves and grasses to achieve the effects he wants.
He has a website with dates of his future exhibitions and a picture of his van which is white, but rather bigger than mine. Seriously – if you are near someplace he is exhibiting then go and see his work.
Ah, now the brewery … this was one of the things I heard of before arriving and it was on my list of things to do. I’d tried to look up opening hours and times of tours in the hotel after breakfast, but couldn’t find what I was looking for (I blamed the quality of their website and the Premier’s Inn’s wifi, but grudgingly acknowledged my search skills may also have been affected by the previous evening’s cocktail consumption).
A brewery tour sounded best to do in the afternoon. Too much beer tasting in the morning and we knew we wouldn’t achieve much else with the day. People we spoke to in shops all said it was supposed to be a good tour (though I don’t think any had actually done it themselves), so by the time we arrived in the early afternoon we were really looking forward to it.
A girl in the outlet shop informed us the one tour of the day had already been and gone and the brewery was now closed for the weekend.
So instead, we retired to the pub across the road which sold the same beer and spent the rest of the day avoiding the rain in there.
We actually had quite a nice afternoon, though it would have been much nicer to have toured the brewery first.
And by the time we left the pub to walk back to the Premier Inn it had stopped raining.
So what are my thoughts overall on Wolverhampton? Well, I suppose it’s alright; the church and art gallery are nice and I’m glad I’ve been, but it’s not somewhere I’d rush back too. Though I may have to go back to do that brewery tour!
Have you been to Wolverhampton? Or do you live in Wolverhampton? What did I miss? What suggestions do you have for a rainy Saturday in Wolverhampton? Share in the comments below.