Willenhall History Society

Street Names - B



Balmoral Drive. Named after Balmoral Castle, the Queens Scottish home.

Banks Street. Named after the Banks family who moved to Little London from Great Wyrley in the late eighteenth century and began making Door Bolts. By 1790 they had established their own business in Clothier Street where it was to continue for over 200 years. Jonah Banks was the grandson of the founder and it was from him that the business got its name of Jonah Banks & Sons Ltd. Jonah was born in 1836 and married Eliza Thompson with whom he had 7 children before she died in 1873. Jonah then married again, this time to Mary Jane Hardman with whom he had a further 6 children. Jonah died in 1903. In addition to being leading industrialists the Banks family together with the Thompson's, who were also manufacturers in Little London, played a prominent part in the founding of the Little London Baptist Chapel which commenced in 1792 although the first building was not erected until 1810. Both the Banks and Thompson families had vaults beneath the old chapel in Wood Street Cemetery. Jonah Bank's daughter married Doctor Joseph Tonks, a local surgeon who was much loved by the people of Willenhall and after his death the Memorial Clock which has stood in the Market Place for more than 100 years was erected by public subscription in his memory. Sadly the works is no more. On January 5th 1993 it was announced that the Receivers had been called in and shortly after, the factory was closed down and has since been demolished.

Barmouth Close. Named after the popular Welsh seaside resort.

Barnett Road. Named after Mrs Maria Barnett who owned a general store and a considerable amount of property in the Portobello district. Barnett's Brook and also Barnetts buildings take their name from this lady whose name is still well know in the Portobello area today.

Barcroft. The 1841 Tithe map for Willenhall shows this area as a meadow known as Barr Croft, a croft in effect being a small field. The name Barr could have been the name of the owner once upon a time or it could have indicated a Summit or high ground as the dictionary defines the word. In the middle of the last century a colliery known as the Barcroft Colliery stood on the site.

Bassett Close. Named after Councillor James Bassett, a member of Willenhall Urban District Council in the post war years. Councillor Bassett had the distinction of being the last chairman of the council, before it was taken over by Walsall. He served in that capacity for the year 1965-6, and was then elected to the Walsall MBC where he continued to serve the people of the Town. In private life Councillor Bassett ran the family dairy in Somerford Place, and the building, which is situated next to Thomas Ely & Sons, still stands today but is now used as a Sikh Temple.

Bath Street. A short service road leading to Willenhall Baths, now the Leisure Centre and also to the old Council yard. The road only dates from the 1930's when the new Council House and Public baths were built. The Baths, which were intended to serve the dual purpose of a public baths in the summer months and an Assembly Hall in the winter, was opened by the Chairman of the council, Councillor J.A. Parkes on April 16th 1939.

Baynton Close. Named after Councillor A.P. Baynton former member of Willenhall Urban District Council from 1964 to 1966, after which Willenhall became part of Walsall.

Beaton Close. Named after Sir Cecil Beaton, Photographer, Stage designer and Diarist 1904 -1980. Born in 1904 and educated at Harrow and Cambridge, he first made his mark as a fashionable society photographer and an arbiter of style in the 1920's. Conde Nast employed him on Vogue and this led to Beaton working in New York and Hollywood, where he founded his international reputation. In the 1930's he established his life long connection with the Royal Family. Beaton achieved a distinguished record as a war photographer in Britain, North Africa, the Middle East, China and India. His most celebrated success after the war were the designs for the stage and film versions of "My Fair Lady" and "Gigi", for which he won three Oscars. He published numerous books, including six volumes of edited extracts from his diary. Beaton was knighted in 1972 and died in 1980.His private archive of royal photographs is now housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Beccles Drive. Named after the Suffolk town of Beccles.

Beech Road. All the roads on this 1930's development situated near the Memorial Park were given the names of trees.

Bell Alley. A narrow alley which connects Upper Lichfield Street with the Market Place and is named after the Bell Inn which stands nearby. The Bell Inn is believed to be the oldest building in Willenhall and is said to date from 1660. It is probable that an earlier building stood on the site and that this was destroyed in the great fire which destroyed most of Willenhall's town centre in 1659. The building was rebuilt in 1660 following the fire and it this building which stands today although it has probably been altered somewhat from its original state. A careful examination of the building however reveals that much of the original building still remains. The Bell Alley once contained houses but these were demolished in the 1930's following a serious fire.

Beacon Road. Takes its name from the Beacon Colliery which once stood on the site of the Beacon Estate. The Colliery, which was owned by Mr J. Brewer of New Invention was linked to the Wyrley and Essington Canal by a tramway which was built by the Birmingham Canal Navigation in 1864 and was later used by the nearby Short Heath Colliery. It was 3ft 9 ins gauge and the bed was later used to lay a standard gauge track from Holly Bank Colliery to the Coltham Wharf. When the estate was developed after the second world war, by the Willenhall Urban District Council it was at first known as The Beacon Colliery Estate but this was later shortened to The Beacon Estate.

Belinda Close. A recent development connecting Park Road with Banks Street on the Manor. The Close is named after the builder who built it.

Bembridge Close. Takes its name from the town of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.

Bennett Street. This street, which no longer exists, stood on the North side of the Portobello High Street and led to the railway embankment. It was demolished shortly after the second world war as part of Willenhall's slum clearance scheme to make way for modern flats. It is not known how the name originated.

Bentley Lane. A lane leading from Lane Head to Bentley.

Benton Close. Named after Councillor Albert Benton who served on Willenhall Urban District Council between 1952 and 1966.

Bewley Road. Takes its name from Bewley Castle in Cumberland.

Bilston Lane, Bilston Road and Bilston Street. All roads which lead from Willenhall to Bilston. Bilston Lane was the last of the three to be named on December 5th 1910.

Binbrook Road. Named after a small town in Lincolnshire.

Birch Coppice Gardens. Probably named after the Birch Coppice Colliery which once formed part of the Cannock Chase coalfield.

Birches Rise. Takes its name from a row of tall Birch trees which stood nearby.

Birchfield Road. Birchfield is a district of Birmingham, famous as the home of the well known Athletics Club, Birchfield Harriers.

Birchtree Hollow. This street which is situated on the Furzebank Estate is named after the Birch Tree, a tree with small leaves, white bark and a fragrant odour.

Birmingham Street. Once marked the beginning of the old coaching route between Willenhall and Birmingham before the present road was constructed. It travelled via Darlaston, Wednesbury and West Bromwich.

Blenheim Road. Named after Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Home of the Dukes of Marlborough.

Bloomfield Drive. Takes its name from Bloomfield, a district of nearby Tipton.

Bloxwich Road North and Bloxwich Road South. Roads leading from Willenhall to Bloxwich. Bloxwich Road North has in the past been known by other names including Davis's Lane and Back Lane.

Borrow Street. See George Street.

Bow Street. The name probably is an indication of the shape of the road, but of more interest is the story of the Willenhall policeman who was murdered many years ago within its precincts. Around midnight on Friday December 8th 1865 a group of drunken Irishmen had been causing a disturbance at the Royal George Inn Walsall Street. With the assistance of P.C. William Butler who happened to be nearby they were persuaded to leave and went on their way towards nearby Bow Street. P.C. Butler proceeded on his way towards Bilston Street but as he was passing Bow Street he was attacked by the Irishmen and a fierce fight ensued. Meanwhile the Landlord of the Royal George, fearful for the safety of P.C. Butler, alerted P.C. Enoch Augustus Hooper who was passing nearby and he hurried to the assistance of his friend P.C. Butler. Further Irishmen came from nearby cottages in Bow Street and joined in and although the two policemen gave a good account of themselves P.C. Hooper received a stab wound in the chest from a knife and died almost immediately, despite the desperate attempts of Surgeon Pitt who lived nearby to save him. After several adjournments, Patrick and Mary Cane, husband and wife, were charged with Wilful Murder and sent to Stafford for trial at the March Assizes, but they were found not guilty and discharged. Of all the people who were arrested only one, John McCue suffered any punishment at all. He appeared in court in a weak, badly beaten state and was fined œ10 for his assault on P.C. Butler. Two men, Patsy Rowan and Edward Cane got completely away and despite an intensive manhunt by the police were never found. The story goes that many years later, when the cottages in Bow Street were being demolished, a bloodstained knife was found hidden in a chimney where it had lain undiscovered all those years.

Bradgate Close. Once part of the Hilton Main and Holly Bank Collieries land sale wharf. See Delamere Road. Bradgate is a town in Yorkshire, near to Rotherham.

Braemar Close. Named after the Scottish town of Braemar near Ballater in Aberdeenshire and famous for the Braemar gathering held annually.

Bramble Close. Named after the Bramble, a prickly shrub of the Rose family.

Bray Street. Local legend has it that this street owes its name to the fact that it once stood on land which was known locally as Donkey Common.

Brereton Road. The streets on this estate have names associated with coal mining in the Cannock Chase area, in this case Brereton Colliery near Rugeley which was in production from 1864 until 1960.

Breydon Grove. Named after Breydon Water on the Norfolk Broads.

Brickkiln Street. (now demolished) In the eighteenth century Portobello was a centre for the brick making industry in Willenhall, no doubt due to the abundance of suitable clay in the area which could easily be got. The area was once known as Brickkiln Piece indicating that it was a piece of land owned by or near to the brick-works. The area was cleared shortly after the war as part of the council's redevelopment programme.

Bridge Street. This street, which no longer exists, led from Portobello Bridge to Dilloways Lane and was demolished to make way for the Keyway. The street was built during the 1830's when the Grand Junction Railway constructed its line through Willenhall and was named after Portobello Bridge.

Bridgnorth Grove. Takes its name from the town of Bridgnorth situated on the banks of the River Severn in Shropshire.

Broad Lane North and Broad Lane South. Forms the boundary between the old towns of Willenhall and Wednesfield. The boundary runs down the middle of the road with houses on the west side being in Wednesfield and those on the east in Willenhall.

Broadmeadows Close and Broadmeadows Road. Broadmeadows was the name given to fields which lay on the north side of the Walsall Road and stretched over towards Stringes Lane before the area was taken over for development in the middle of the last century. They are clearly shown on a map of the Hamlet or Township of Willenhall dated 1800 which was drawn to show the estates of Henry and I.M. Crockett.

Brockridge Close. Leads from the Essington Road on to the Allens Rough Estate which stands on the site of the former Allens Rough Colliery. The name is probably a fictitious one.

Brook Road. The River Tame, known locally as the brook, crosses the road on its way down from Bilston before it meanders along the line of the main Walsall Road, crossing it on four occasions before going on its journey to link up with the River Trent.

Brookhill Close and Brookhill Way. Two streets on the Allens Rough Estate which was developed during the 1970's. The origins of the name have not so far been discovered but the estate stands on the site of the former Allens Rough Colliery.

Brookthorpe Drive. Named after the village of Brookthorpe near Haresfield in Gloucestershire.

Brunslow Close. Named after a small village of the same name near to Broome in Shropshire.

Brunswick Close. Named after Brunswick a district of Liverpool on Merseyside.

Buckingham Drive. Named after the Queen's London home, Buckingham Palace.

Burleigh Close. Burleigh is a small village in Gloucestershire. William Cecil Burleigh, later Lord Burleigh was also secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth the First.He and the council wanted the Queen to order a death warrant for Mary Queen of Scots, but the Queen refused to sign it, but Burleigh and the council got their way in the end.

Bute Close. Named after the Island of Bute which is situated near to the entrance to the Firth of Clyde in Scotland.

Buttermere Grove. Named after the village of Buttermere near Cockermouth in Cumberland.

Byron Road. Named after Lord George Gordon Byron 1788-1824. Poet and writer. He was born in London, the son of Captain John Byron and his wife Catherine. He inherited the title at the age of 10. His poetry was popular but much criticised on moral grounds. He was famous for his attacks on Cant, Political, Religious and Moral.

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