W. B. Tatlow & Sons, builders' merchants, were once well known throughout the area thanks to their excellent hardware shops that were to be found in Pipers Row and Cleveland Road. The firm sold a vast array of hardware and household equipment including oil-fired central heating equipment, all types of solid fuel heating appliances, enamel baths, bathroom accessories, sanitary ware, fire surrounds, washing machines, refrigerators, electric fires, radiators, paint, glass, windows, all kinds of glazing materials, and much, much more.

Mark Tatlow.

The Tatlow family moved to Wolverhampton in 1857, and Mark Tatlow began to run his painting and decorating business from his premises at 12 Snow Hill.

His business is listed in Harrison, Harrod & Company's Directory & Gazetteer of 1861.

He is listed as a painter, house decorator, and paper hanger.

William Burrit Tatlow.

Twelve years later, his second son William Burrit Tatlow opened a shop next door to his father's premises on Snow Hill. He sold lead, glass, oil paints, and colours. The business was a great success, and larger premises were soon required, so in 1885 he purchased a piece of land alongside Cleveland Road, on the corner of what was to become Raby Street. His new premises on the site consisted of a three storey building with a yard, and access for horses and carts in Raby Street. In 1896 he acquired some adjacent land and extended the premises.

The Cleveland Road premises.

Eric Mark Tatlow.

By this time the business had diversified, and specialised in the supply of plumbing accessories, particularly sanitary fittings, and cast iron guttering and downpipes etc.

In 1919 William was joined in the business by another family member, his second son Eric Mark Tatlow, who had recently finished his military service.

The business continued to prosper, partly due to the large-scale housing developments in the 1920s.

William, who lived at 15 Oaks Crescent, retired from the business in 1928, at the age of 78. His son Eric Mark Tatlow took over from him.

The business continued to prosper until the night of 31st July, 1942 when the German air force, the Luftwaffe, dropped several incendiary bombs on the Cleveland Road area, almost completely destroying Tatlow's premises and ruining all of the stock. The bombs also destroyed the premises of Sievwright, the coach builder, and several small shops.

Luckily Tatlows managed to struggle through. Other premises were rented, and temporary roofs were put over some of the walls that were still standing. Rebuilding work didn't begin until the end of 1945 when the war had ended.

In 1947 Tatlows became a private limited company with Eric Mark Tatlow as chairman and managing director. In 1951 Eric Mark Tatlow's son David Mark Tatlow joined the company, and became a director in 1955.

The business continued to expand, and larger premises became a necessity. In 1957 the company purchased a building on the corner of Pipers Row and Tower Street, which became home to Tatlow's Glass Division in December of that year.

An advert from 1962.

David Mark Tatlow.

A retail shop opened there in 1958, and in 1959 Eric H. Thompson became a company director and was put in charge of the new Glass Division.

Also in that year, a new associated company, Mark Tatlow Limited was formed to handle  the building materials part of the business including plasterboard, cement, wall tiles, and lime etc., and a new retail shop opened in Tower Street to sell the products.

The head office remained at the Cleveland Road premises, the registered office being at number 1 Raby Street.


The shop in Pipers Row.

The shop in Tower Street.

The company's fleet of vehicles in May 1959.

A corner of the central heating showroom.

A corner of the kitchen equipment showroom.

Part of the sanitary showroom.

Both the Pipers Row and Tower Street premises, and the Cleveland Road premises have long gone. The Cleveland Road premises disappeared when the Ring Road was built, and the site of the Pipers Row premises is now occupied by the NCP car park in Pipers Row. During their lifetime, the premises offered a first rate service to local people, which will long be remembered.

More Disappearences
Large numbers of shops have come and gone in Dudley Street throughout the years, and continue to do so. It would be very difficult to list all of the shops that have been there. If it were possible, the list would be vast indeed. I have included a few photos below of recent closures.

Dudley Street  in the 1970s, before pedestrianisation.

The back of Woolworths' store, as seen in 2001 when closure seemed unimaginable.

The back of Woolworths, at the beginning of January 2009, a few days before closure.

Inside Woolworths in its last days.

The front entrance of the TJ Hughes store in the Mander Centre, which closed in August 2011.

A view of the top floor of TJ Hughes. A wonderful shop that sold a wide range of products.

The outside entrances to TJ Hughes from the Mander Centre car park.

Another sad loss, the closure of Comet in December 2012. This photograph of the St. Johns Retail Park store was taken a few days before closure. The shop is now occupied by Maplin who have moved out of the city centre.

Another unfortunate closure, Jessops last Wolverhampton shop in Dudley Street, which closed on 11th January, 2013. It had only been open for one month after moving from the Mander Centre.

A view inside Jessops' shop on its last day.

Yet another closure, which happened in January 2016, would have been unimaginable only a few years earlier. W H Smith, Wolverhampton's premier newsagents, stationers and booksellers had been in the town since 1908. They are listed in the 1908 Wolverhampton Red Book, but not in the 1903 edition. At that time they had premises in Lichfield Street, and Pipers Row. They remained at number 53 Lichfield Street until the opening of the Mander Centre.

Another view of the shop.

Another once-important local shop, the BHS store in June, 2016, just before closure.


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