Lichfield Street Opticians in Wolverhampton

Caring for Wolverhampton’s eyes since 1863

01902 420348

Looking After Wolverhampton’s Eyes for 150 Years

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The Old Frontage of Lichfield Street Opticians in Tony Blackham's Day. Photo courtesy of The College of Optometrists.

First established in 1863 as H. Blackham and Son, we are the oldest and longest serving independent optician in Wolverhampton’s historic city centre. We have inherited the strong traditional values of eye care excellence that four generations of the Blackham family delivered in a friendly and caring environment. Today we continue to foster that strong reputation within our local community for quality service and care.

The Old Reception at H Blackham and Son, now Lichfield Street Opticians. Photo courtesy The College of Optometrists.

The dispensing area of H Blackham and Son, at 44 Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton. Much of the wood panelling and framing seen towards the upper right of the image survives to this day at Lichfield Street Opticians. Image courtesy the College of Optometrists.

Ad, the Midland Counties Evening Express, Monday 2nd November 1874

Newspaper advert as seen in The Midland Counties Evening Express on Monday, 2nd November 1874. Image courtesy Mrs Sandra Yate.

Henry Blackham, a young man at the age of 21, originally founded his optometry practice along Snow Hill in Wolverhampton’s bustling town centre in 1863, At that time, and for the next half-century, Wolverhampton stood as the nation’s leading centre in the field of optics and optometry; the prescribing of, crafting and glazing of spectacles. His practice not only specialised in eye care and spectacle making, but created other associated products that included telescopes, magnifiers, binoculars and barometers.

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Trade poster dated to 1906, listing services and products offered by H. Blackham and Son Opticians. Image courtesy Billy Howe of the Lost Wolverhampton blog.

Blackham's Barometer on Shop Frontage Today

The barometer, built by H Blackham and Son Ltd and dating back to around 1911, still has pride of place as the centrepiece of the 1931 art-deco beading of the customer entrance  to Lichfield Street Opticians.

The 1880s and 1890s saw a lot of regeneration take place in and around Wolverhampton. The Snow Hill area was mostly cleared to make way for new buildings - including Wolverhampton Central Library (which is still in operation to this day).

Henry Blackham uprooted and moved his practice to new premises on Lichfield Street, whose redevelopment had just been completed, with the street itself having been significantly widened and the older buildings replaced with newer, larger and more sturdy structures - including Wolverhampton’s celebrated Art Gallery, various banks and the Gardens outside St. Peters Church.

The new address at 44 Lichfield Street would remain in the Blackham family as an opticians, for more than a century.

Staffordshire, Wolverhampton, Lichfield Street and the Art Gallery circa 1911
Trade Ad, unknown publication, circa November 1931

An advertisement taken from an unknown trade magazine, dated November 1931. Image courtesy Mrs Sandra Yate.

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The patient waiting area, as it appeared in the early 20th century. Image courtest of Billy Howe of the Lost Wolverhampton blog.

in 1895, a short time after his move across the town, a 53 year old Mr. Blackham joined with another 12 leading optometrists to found the British Optical College Association (which has since been renamed the College of Optometrists - see right). His Lichfield Street practice would then go on to pass through the next three generations of Blackhams - Henry’s son Albert, his grandson Arthur and then finally to his great-grandson Tony.

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For more information about the College of Optometrists, check out their website - including more details of their history.

After Tony Blackham’s retirement in 1997, the practice undertook new management but remained open for its long-time and loyal patient base. Although management has changed hands a few more times since Mr. Blackham’s retirement, the same core traditions and values - along with the commitment to the very best and latest in cutting-edge technologies - remain firmly intact to this day and will continue to do so into the future.

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For more about the history of Wolverhampton - including a irst person accounts of times long since passed and a wealth of images, check out Billy Howe’s excellent blog here.

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The workshop in the back of H Blackham and Son’s practice. This area is still in use for on-site glazing and lens cutting even today. IBilly Howe, Lost Wolverhampton)

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Another shot of the workshop with staff  crafting the high quality spectacles that made Blackhams such a long-lasting success in Wolverhampton. (Billy Howe, Lost Wolverhampton)