Willenhall History Society

The Rushbrooke Farthing


In 1844 in Willenhall the miller John Austin issued tokens worth one farthing (a quarter of an old penny; there were 960 farthings in a pound so each was worth about one tenth of a present day penny.) These farthings were used to give change in the shop or to pay employees so that they could spend the money in the Austin shop or, apparently, elsewhere. There was a shortage of coinage at the time and the issue of tokens was fairly commonplace.

One side had "Austin's Family Tea and Grocery Establishment" and the other had the resounding slogan "Let Willenhall Flourish" with a lock, a bolt and a currycomb - Willenhall's main products.

When Joshua Rushbrooke took over the Austin establishment a new coin was minted, using the same design for the "Let Willenhall Flourish" side. From the farthings I have it looks as though a new die was used as there are slight differences. The Rushbrooke farthing below is not in such good condition.

In 1862 these tokens were declared illegal and new bronze coinage was issued. The Rushbrooke Farthings were redeemed by Rushbrooke's at considerable cost and sold for their scrap value. Fortunately a few have survived including the two pictured here which I bought on Ebay!

A pub named "The Rushbrooke Farthing" is in St Ann's Road. It has a plaque with an explanation of the name on the wall, though at present (2008) the pub is empty.