Reynolds’ Restaurant, a well
remembered and respected eating house
Many people have happy memories of
their visits to Reynolds’ Restaurant, the popular eating
house and meeting place in Queen Square. Before it closed it
must have been one of the oldest catering establishments in
The business was founded in 1723 by
Thomas Turnpenny who purchased the shop and turned it into a
bakery. In 1751 the tenant, Edward Penn, a baker, purchased
the shop and business for £460.
After his purchase, Edward ran the
business for just over eleven years, until his death in
His only daughter Elizabeth was just
nineteen years old at the time. She quickly married Thomas
Whittingham, and they secured the bakery in trust for their
They had one son, John, who
unsuccessfully ran the business, and was declared bankrupt
in 1808. In 1809 he moved to Liverpool, where he became a
The Whittingham family must have been
in financial difficulties for some time, because in 1793,
Richard Wilkes, who lived at Bescot, had a £300 mortgage on
the property for 1,000 years at a minimal rent.
An advert from the early 1880s.
The restaurant in about 1900.
|When John Whittingham left for Liverpool, Richard Wilkes
took control of the property.
He died before the year was out, and bequeathed the
property to his son Martin, who in turn bequeathed it to his
nephews, Paul and Martin.
They successfully ran the business as P & M Wilkes,
|An advert from 1902.
The most important civic function in
the area during 1866 took place almost outside the front
door of the shop. On 30th November Queen Victoria arrived at
the Low Level Station and processed through the town to
Queen Square, were she unveiled the statue of Prince Albert.
When the ceremony ended, the royal
party returned to the station where lunch was provided in
three dining rooms that were built for the occasion by
Lovatt, the local builder. The food was provided by P & M
Martin Wilkes outlived his brother, and
in 1875 sold the business to William Benjamin Reynolds for
Reynolds, who opened the restaurant
above the shop, was an innovator. In 1881 he opened a
ladies’ toilet for his customers, the first of its kind in
Sadly one of his inventions cost him
his life. He died in 1899 of a seizure while working on an
ice cream making machine at the rear of the premises.
An advert from 1948.
A view from just before the First
He left the business to his son, Harry
Cleveland Reynolds, who sadly died in 1902.
It then passed-on to his son, Harry
Cleveland Reynolds junior, who was an engineer.
He decided to continue with his chosen
profession and founded an engineering company, H. C.
The restaurant in the 1920s.
An advert from 1964.
Reynolds’ business in Queen Square
continued to be successful.
For many years the head chef was Mr.
Chapman. When he left in March 1911 his role was taken over
by Mr. Wall who had been an apprentice there. He remained as
head chef until the business closed.
It was clearly a happy place, because
several other members of staff worked there for many years.
One of the dining rooms became known as ‘Miss Barratt’s’
after long-serving Florence Ada Barratt, who joined the
staff in 1907.
Another long serving member of staff
was Harry Small the delivery boy, who started in 1905
delivering confectionary on a hand cart. Sadly he died in
In 1927 George Luce, a well known
baker, and Reynolds shareholder, took charge, and the
business went from strength to strength.
He greatly improved the interior of the
premises, while maintaining the original exterior.
|Under his management the restaurant gained a high
reputation as one of the best places to eat.
Its beautiful interior and caring staff made it all the
more attractive to the general public.
George Luce ran the business until his death in 1963 when
it was taken over by his daughter and her husband, Mr. and
Mrs. F. Tonks.
Mrs Tonks was extremely familiar with the business,
having worked there since 1932.
The shop in the early 1970s. Courtesy
of David Clare.
|Their daughter Lysbeth had already been working at the
restaurant for some time, and their son Peter began to train
in catering management before joining the business.
it came to an end all too soon. The restaurant closed in
1966, and in August of that year a ‘To Let’ sign appeared in
Within a short while the shop was taken over by the
Bedding Discount Centre, and later the Wolverhampton Tourist
|Queen Square in 2001
when the building was occupied by Wolverhampton
Tourist Information Centre.