Willenhall History Society

Street Names - J



James Street. Named after Joseph Henry James a member of the firm of J.H. James and Sons Ltd. The street was named on June 5th 1905 and the road was made up the same year at a cost of œ284.8s. Mr James was a founder member of Willenhall Urban District Council in 1894 and before that had served on the Local Board of Health. He served as Chairman on two occasions, the first being 1898-9 and the other and more lengthy occasion from 1904 to 1907, following which he retired. He was one of the pioneers at the establishment of the Willenhall Fire Brigade and acted as Captain for a number of years following his appointment in August 1889. He also served as a member of the Willenhall School Board until control was taken over by Staffordshire County Council. Mr James was also a prominent member of the Liberal Party and served as President of the Wolverhampton Liberal Association. He also found time to be a Justice of the Peace.

John Street. This street which originally connected Leve Lane with Hall Street appeared on the first Population Census of 1841 and is obviously old. Of the original buildings, only the Ring O Bells Inn now remains. The street was ultimately extended to form a junction with Cheapside, Cross Street and Upper Lichfield Street in more recent times. Nothing is known of how the street got its name, but the name of the Inn is derived from the fact that the bells of the nearby parish church of St. Giles could be heard from there.

John Harper Street. John Harper was born on May 24th 1821 and served his apprenticeship with his father from the age of 15. After the completion of his indenture he left his father's employ and in 1840 he became a clerk with Messrs Tildesley of Willenhall, Ironmasters, being left to run the business on his own. In 1844 he was first installed as manager and before long was taken into partnership with the Tildesley's. It was not long before, as a result of financial difficulties, the business was transferred to John Harper thus linking the works title to the family name for the first time. In 1888 when the firm was formed into a Limited Liability Company for the first time, John became the company's first chairman with his son Frederick William Harper and Mr James Slater of Bescot Hall as his co- directors. His other son Charles Holland would join him later. John, who lived at Bruerton House Bilston which stood on the site of the present Bilston Museum and Art Gallery. was an Alderman, Justice of the Peace and County Councillor and throughout his life he was a total abstainer. In spite of his very busy life he took a keen interest in all organisations related to religious, political or temperance matters and continued leading an active life until he died at the age of 81.

John Riley Street. Named after Councillor John Riley, member of Willenhall Urban District Council for some years until it became part of Walsall in 1966.

Johnson Road. Named after Councillor W Johnson who was a member of the Short Heath Urban District Council from 1913 until its amalgamation with Willenhall in 1934,and was its last chairman before the Staffordshire Review Order of 1933 amalgamated Short Heath with Willenhall. He served in that capacity from 1920 to 1923 and again from 1929 until 1934. Mr Johnson led Short Heath's determined fight to remain independent, claiming that the two towns had little or nothing in common and an alternative suggestion was put forward that an amalgamation between Willenhall, Short Heath, Wednesfield together with a portion of Essington and also a portion of Bentley to form a new County Borough would make more sense but this suggestion found no favour at all as Wednesfield had no interest in the idea. Following the amalgamation,Willenhall adopted the Ward system for the first time with Short Heath Ward electing five members to the newly formed Willenhall Urban District Council, one of whom was Mr Johnson. Mr Johnson served at chairman of the Willenhall Urban District Council from 1936 to 1938. On September 24th 1938 Mr Johnson, who was then the chairman of the Public Baths Committee, had the honour to perform the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for the new Willenhall Baths which came into operation in the following year. In private life Mr Johnson was a butcher and owned a number of shops in the Short Heath and Bloxwich area. He retired from public life at the end of the Second World War, and died in 1960.

Jones Road. Named after Councillor Ray Jones who served as a local councillor from 1958 until 1966, with the Willenhall UDC and after 1966 as a member of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council. Mr Jones was also proprietor of the family business of New Invention Motor Services which he founded. He was a member of the British Legion and also the Willenhall Round Table and served for some years on the now defunct Short Heath Old People's Welfare Committee. Mr Jones died on February 4th 1995 at the age of 68.

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