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Bilston market hall was Dickensian but magical

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: July 16, 2014

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I READ with interest your recent article in The Bugle about the old market hall in Bilston.

The photographs took me back to my childhood in the 1950's and 1960's, when the old market was very much alive and kicking.

I frequently listened to the Salvation Army band who played in all weathers outside the front of the impressive building.

Alongside them an occasional 'beggar' could be seen propped up against the wall with his cap or dish at his feet appealing for coppers.

I remember with fondness, entering through the huge wooden doors, firmly holding on to my mother's hand to witness the almost Dickensian cacophony within. Yet it was magical.

We would wander through the noise and bustle which seemed to echo around the large building, surrounded by a certain 'market smell.' It appeared that every requirement known to man was available on the other side of the large doors.

It was incredibly rowdy as the traders shouted extolling their merchandise as I went about my usual pursuit to track down a colouring book and crayons or similar 'necessity.' The divisions between the bays always reminded me of cattle stalls and there was good-hearted banter between the traders and the public.

I also seem to remember a large sign near the entrance warning shoppers to "Beware of Pick-pockets" - proving that not everything changes!

My grandfather, Theophillus Morrell, born in 1864, helped build the market hall. He and his brother William owned Morrell Brothers builders and their yard was adjacent in Vine Street.

My grandfather's firm also worked on the original old Bilston baths and many of the houses along the Wellington Road.

The Morrell family were quite prominent in Bilston. My great grandfather, another Theophillus, an auctioneer and pawnbroker, had premises in the High Street during the 1800's. I still have his rosewood gavel. He lived in a large house called 'The Hirst' on Wellington Road.

Another of his sons, Cornelius Morrell, helped build the Bratch pumping station in Wombourne which supplied fresh water to Bilston. His grave can be seen in Bilston Cemetery.

I would like to thank The Bugle for all the wonderful and interesting items you print.

Incidentally, I have discovered that my great grandmother, Mary Morrell (née Onions), was second cousin to the V.C. winner George Onions whom you have written about a lot recently.

Finally, I edited a bookLetters from the Trenches by Pte Cyril Morrell.

I still have a few copies left if any readers would care to get in touch with me.

Kathleen M. Carter,

154 Mount Road, Penn, Wolverhampton.

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