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Points of Interest: Wolverhampton
Situated in the West Midlands, Wolverhampton is a city made famous by its hosting of The Great Exhibition in the mid-19th century. It demonstrated a host of new technologies and intrigues, such as mechanic locks and papier-mâché products. However, the city’s most famous exhibition was the Arts & Industrial Exhibition at the turn of the 20th century.
The city began as a market town specialising in the woollen trade, but during the Industrial Revolution Wolverhampton became a major centre for coal, iron, steel and motor vehicles. As such, its economy was dominated by engineering and manufacturing industries right up until the financial crisis in 2008.
Since then, the service sector has been the main employer in the city with almost three-quarters of people working within this industry. The largest single employer is Wolverhampton City Council which has more than 12,000 employees.
The Arts also plays a significant role in the city, stemming from its association with japanned ware and steel jewellery. It is the birthplace of Joseph Barney, Edward Bird, and George Wallis, who were all japanned ware painters.
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, established in 1884, takes you through the city’s history, with exhibitions showcasing paintings from 18th century artists right through to contemporary pieces. The gallery is one of four venues comprising WAVE; the other three are Bilston Craft Gallery, Bantock House Museum and Wolverhampton City Archives.
Some of the most recognisable landmarks in the city include St. Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wightwick Manor and Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Wolverhampton is also a major retail centre in the West Midlands and with an annual turnover of £384 million it is expected to become the second-largest within the region in the near future.
This success as one of the UK’s top shopping destinations is down to a number of improvement and regeneration schemes, including a £25 million investment from the City Council.
The Wulfrun Shopping Centre is home to a number of well-known high street stores, while the Mander Centre has a mix of both high street and high-end brands.