Another busy week in the Archives, this time looking at old photographs to illustrate the Oral History project.
My partner – who is working on the photographic side of the project – decided that his input would be the comparison of photographs of an area taken some years ago with contemporary views. This has been divided into three parts:
1. Areas where nothing (or very little) has changed over the years;
2. Areas where, although there have been refurbishments and rebuildings, the area is still recognisable;
3. Areas which are unrecognisable: in the case of Wolverhampton, due to redevelopment or the construction of the ring road in the 1960s.
It’s the third section which causes most problems, and which has been the most fun. Armed with copies of the photos, we’ve been identifying the location on maps of the same period, and then finding the location on modern maps (often with the help of trade directories). Sometimes we’ve had to look at maps which fall between the two dates in order to identify other buildings which enable us to get an exact fix.
The ‘Goad’ maps (sometimes referred to as Goad plans or the Goad Atlas) have been most useful here: if you haven’t come across these before, they are large scale town centre maps produced originally for fire insurance purposes, which show not only the individual shops and businesses, but also give the name of the business at the time the map was produced.
The earliest Goad maps held at Wolverhampton Archive date from 1967 and are drawn on the scale of 88 feet: 1 inch. They are, I’d say, essential for anyone researching the history of the town centre as this was a critical time in its development, when many old buildings, including the two Arcades, were demolished to make way for the new shopping centre.
Here’s a couple of photographs of the Queen’s Arcade. You wouldn’t recognise it now…
If you didn’t know about Goad maps before, ask your local Archive. You may be pleasantly surprised at what the maps can tell you.