Willenhall History Society

Street Names - S



St Annes Road Ann Street and St Annes Terrace. Named after St. Ann's church which was originally built as a Mission Church and opened in 1855. The church was built by Mr Henry Jevons in memory of his first wife who had been Miss Ann Page, a sister of Mrs G.B. Thornycroft wife of Wolverhampton's first Mayor. The church was later enlarged and created a parish, being consecrated on St Georges day April 23rd 1861 by Bishop Lonsdale.The first vicar of the parish was the Reverend C.B. Twiss who stayed until 1867 before moving to nearby St. Lukes church Bilston. At a meeting of the Willenhall Local Board of Health on June 19th 1871 approval was given for work to commence in making up the street at St. Annes Road as soon as Mr. Fisher had gathered in his hay crop.

St. Giles Road. Named after the church of St. Giles, in whose parish it stands. St Giles is the oldest church in the town by far and it is believed that a church has stood on the same site for something like 700 years although the exact age is not known. In its early days St Giles was a chapel of ease and was part of the huge parish of Wolverhampton. The earliest record yet found of a priest in Willenhall is to be found in the Calendar of Patent Rolls under date 1297 which makes mention of Thomas De Trollesbury parson of the church of Willenhale. In 1328 a Chantry Chapel was set up by the Gerveyse brothers for the saying of mass daily for the departed souls of their ancestors. The first record of the Chantry is to be found in the Patent Rolls of Edward the third under date 14th February 1328 and records:- "Licence for the alienation in mortmain by Richard Gerveyse, of Wolverhampton, of a messuage of land, and a moiety of a mill in Willenhale co. Stafford, to a chaplain to celebrate Divine Service daily in the chapel of Willenhale for the souls of the said Richard and Felicia his wife, the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, and ancestors and others". A fine of 40 shillings was paid to the king (at Stafford) for this licence to devote landed estate to the said purposes of church endowment. The original building was a half timbered construction which may have been either rebuilt or partially so, at some time in its existence, but by 1748 it was in such poor condition with sills and pillars so dilapidated that the inhabitants were said to be in great danger when they entered the building. The building was completely demolished after the last services on April 10th 1748 and the town was without a church until the new one was opened nearly two years later on January 20th 1750. The new church was constructed of brick, very cheap and rather ugly in design, with stepped parapetted gables and square iron window frames. It lasted little more than a century before it began to give rise for concern once more. At first plans were in hand for an extensive programme of renovation, but this was soon abandoned and it was decided to demolish the church and completely rebuild it. By 1863 the architect was instructed to prepare plans for a new church and on November 4th 1865 a faculty was granted for the demolition of the old church. The parishioners were again without a church of their own but on March 20th 1866 the foundation stone was laid by Mr R.D. Gough whose tireless work had done a great deal to bring about the new church which was finally consecrated on July 18th 1867, by the Lord Bishop of Lichfield The Right Reverend John Lonsdale, but the tower was not added until afterwards. It is this building, at least the third to have stood on the site, which still stands today.

St Stephens Avenue and St Stephens Court. At a meeting of the Willenhall Vestry and ratepayers held on December 4th 1845 approval was given to a scheme by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to create two new Ecclesiastical Districts, one to be known as St Stephens and the other Holy Trinity. This took effect on March 17th 1846 when it was officially gazetted and with the proviso that they would become parishes when the churches were built. The first incumbent was appointed to St Stephens in June 1848, he was the Reverend Thomas Woodcock Fletcher M.A. a a Lancashire man hailing from Wigan and he set about the task of building a church, but meanwhile he obtained the use of premises in Portobello which were licensed for Divine Worship. The premises were not ideally situated in relation to the parish but nevertheless by 1851 the Rev Fletcher had built up a sizeable congregation. A census taken in that year shows that the average attendance at the morning service was 70 and at the evening one 120. Attendances at Sunday schools were also good with 140 attending in the mornings and 160 in the afternoons. A search was carried out to find a suitable site on which to build a permanent church and a piece of land triangular in shape in Somerford, situated between the railway line and the main road was considered ideal and Mr W,H, Sparrow, a local ironmaster was requested to entreat with the owners with a view to purchase. The transaction was successfully carried out but Mr Sparrow then refused to relinquish the land and an alternative site had to be found. Eventually a site in Wolverhampton Street was purchased and plans for the new church got under way. The money came partly from grants and partly from donations. The church, which took 18 months to build, was consecrated on October 31st 1854. Mr Fletcher remained in Willenhall for the rest of his life and together with his colleague the Rev G.H. Fisher of St Giles he endeared himself to the town with his tireless work during the Cholera epidemic of 1849 when he worked ceaselessly among the poor of the town to help alleviate their suffering. Mr Fletcher died on March 2nd 1890 having served the church for nearly 42 years. By 1978 the church structure was in a very poor condition and it was demolished and replaced by a modern building nearby. The site of the old church and vicarage is now occupied by modern flats known as St Stephens Court.

Sandbeds Road. As its name implies the name is derived from the fact that the area contained plenty of good rich red sand just below the surface and easy to get. In 1899 Mr E. Woolley, a Corn Factor, purchased the Sand Beds Farm with the intention of setting up in business as The Sand Beds Brick, Tile and Pipe Works. A better spot could not have been found anywhere because everything was so compact and self contained. The seams of clay necessary for the manufacture of common and best bricks, tiles, red and buff terra cotta, earthenware, drain pipes, fire bricks etc. lay in abundance. Each seam is distinct and separate. There is no mixture, and it would seem that this spot was laid out to suit the special purposes of Mr Woolley. In addition to the seams of red marl, fire and common clay, and rich red sand there are two thick seams of coal. In one part of the estate the coal had already been got but there still remained some 15 or 16 acres in a virgin state. In addition to all this there was also the fact that there was plenty of water easily available.

Sandalwood Close. Named after Sandalwood, the fragrant wood of some East Indian trees.

Sandland Road. Named after Councillor R.E. (Bob) Sandland who was proprietor of Sandlands Garage which stood on the site now occupied by the Willenhall Motor Services, at the junction of New Road and Wolverhampton Street. Mr Sandland was elected a member of the Willenhall Urban District Council in 1946, and served as Chairman of that body for the years 1947-1949. He continued as a member until June 1st 1952 when both he and his wife lost their lives tragically whilst on a boating holiday in Poole Harbour in Dorset, when their boat capsized and they were both drowned, leaving three children orphaned. It is believed that Mr & Mrs Sandland had been to a party on the yacht of Billy Cotton the famous band leader, and were returning when the accident happened.

Sandwell Place. Named after the nearby district of Sandwell.

Sandy Lane. Sandy Lane used to be a narrow unmade up road leading from Sandbeds Road to the Lodge Farm on top of Bentley Common. It now forms part of Stroud Avenue. It took its name from the sandbeds which once abounded in the area. See Sandbeds Road.

Sandringham Avenue. Named after the Queen's Norfolk home.

School Close. A new development on the site of the former St Mary's Roman Catholic Church day school.

School Street. Before Portobello School was built the street was known as Occupation Road. It led to the old Klondyke works which had lain derelict for some years and was demolished to make way for housing on the Park Estate after the First World War.

Seaforth Grove. Named after a district of Liverpool.

Sennen Close. Named after a well known beauty spot in Cornwall known as Sennen Cove.

Sharesacre Street. An ancient field name. Sharesacres probably indicates that the land was common or shared land on which anyone had the right to graze their cattle.

Shelley Road. Named after Percy Byshe Shelley, poet and writer 1792- 1822. Shelley was born at Field Place Sussex and educated at Eton and Oxford. In 1811 he married Harriet Westbrook who later drowned herself in the Serpentine. He then married Mary Goodwin in 1814. His ashes are buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.

Shepherds Drive. Named after Councillor Joseph Shepherd a member of the Willenhall Urban District Council from his election in 1937 until 1955.

Shepwell Green. Although the name is one of considerable antiquity yet it is not of any special significance as far as is known, and is one which can be found in common use elsewhere. Old documents refer to it as Common or waste land situated on the road from Willenhall to Darlaston. Probably an indication that the commoners once enjoyed grazing rights there. See also Fletchers Lane.

Sherlock Close. Named after E.J. Sherlock who although not a member of the council played a prominent part in the public life of the town for many years. He played a leading part in organising a number of Willenhall's carnivals before the war and was also greatly involved with the Patients Aid scheme. Mr Sherlock died in 1965.

Sherringham Drive. Takes its name from the town of that name in Norfolk.

Shoreham Close. There are towns of this name in both Kent and Sussex. No doubt the close is named after one or both of these.

Short Street. As its name implies, a short street leading from High Road in Lane Head to Haley Street. The street used to be known as Cross Street but was probably changed to avoid confusion with a street of the same name in Willenhall.

Slater Street. This street which was named on November 13th 1928 is named after the Slater family. Mr James Slater J.P. of Bescot Hall was one of the original directors of John Harper and Co Ltd. when it was formed into a Limited Company in 1888. His son Maurice Slater followed his father into the business later. Maurice like his father was also a Justice of the Peace sitting on the Willenhall Bench for many years. Maurice was also a non council member of the first Parks Committee when it was formed on April 17th 1923.

Snowdon Way. Named after the Snowdon Mountain Range in Wales.

Somerford Place. Sometimes known as Summerford Place. There is doubt as to how the name originated in the first place. Some think the name infers that the river Tame,which crosses the road at that point was fordable only in the summer months, in the days when it was an open brook, and there is evidence that the road was subject to heavy flooding during the winter months before the river was culverted.At the same time it is also suggested that the name is derived from a place called Somerford which is situated just off the Wolverhampton to Stafford road between Penkridge and Brewood. The 1841 tithe map for Willenhall describes the area as Somerford Meadow and Little Somerford Meadow.

Somerset Road. Named after the county of Somerset.

South Street. A street which once stood on the west side of Brickkiln Street and parallel with North Street. Probably so called because it lay south of North Street. The street was demolished shortly after the Second World War to make way for modern development as part of Willenhall's slum clearance programme. Although the street was built in the early part of the last century it was not until December 6th 1909 that the Council passed a resolution that the road be made up and named South Street.

Southey Close. Named after Robert Southey poet and writer who was born at Bristol in August 1774 and educated at Westminster School and Balliol College Oxford. He was Poet Laureate from 18l3 until his death in 1843. In 1807 he was granted a pension of œ100 by the Government and this was increased to œ300 in 1835 together with the offer of a barony which he declined. His last years were clouded by a mental breakdown and long before his death in 1843 he was in a state of hopeless dementia.

Sowers Close and Sowers Gardens. All the streets on the Manor Farm Estate have names with a farming theme indicating that they stand on the site once occupied by the Manor Farm

Spring Lane. Is so named because a spring once lay nearby until obliterated by modern development.

Springhill Close. There are towns of this name in both Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Possibly named after one or both of these.

Spring Vale Street. Takes its name from the number of clear water underground springs which surfaced in the area before they were obliterated by modern development.

Stadium Close. This street stands on the site of the former Spring Bank Stadium home of both the Willenhall Swifts and Willenhall FC at various times and latterly home of greyhound racing until its demise. The stadium opened on Monday September 4th 1905, when to mark the occasion Birmingham (now Birmingham City) brought their team to Spring Bank to play the Swifts and a large crowd saw them win a good game by 3 goals to 1. The following Saturday the Swifts played their first league game on the ground when Bloxwich Strollers were the visitors and went home having inflicted a 5-2 defeat on the home side. The stadium continued as the headquarters of the Swifts until the First World War intervened, appropriately enough their last game on the ground took place on October 30th 1915 when local rivals Willenhall Pickwick were the visitors, and Swifts lost by the only goal of the game in a wartime league called the Walsall and District Combination which functioned for one season only. When hostilities ceased, talks took place with a view to the amalgamation of the Pickwick and Swifts clubs and at a meeting held at the Wesleyan Schools on Thursday March 20th 1919 a resolution proposed by Mr T.G. Bryan, Willenhall's famous Football League referee, was accepted by the meeting and Willenhall Football Club Limited came into being, adopting neutral colours of Green Shirts and White Shorts and using the Spring Bank Stadium as their headquarters. The ground was in the ownership of the Lashfords Brewery which stood at the junction of Temple Road and St Annes Road. The club played its first game in the new colours on April 26th 1919 when they visited Walsall and 800 spectators saw them win by 1-0. The following week Walsall returned the complement by coming to Willenhall and winning 4-3. The club took the Swifts place in the Birmingham and District League where for 11 seasons they competed fairly successfully, winning the championship in 1922 and attracting good crowds to the ground at first but these began to decline as the decade wore on and by 1930 the club were struggling financially. On Thursday July 31st 1930 the directors took the decision by 13 votes to 5 to resign from the league and put the club into voluntary liquidation. The club's liabilities amounted to approximately œ100, an amount which would be considered insignificant by todays standards. The record crowd for the ground was 5,551. who paid œ245.10s. on Monday September 6th 1920 to see Swifts defeat a strong Wolves Reserves side by 2 goals to one. Shortly after, the ground was purchased and adapted for Greyhound racing and continued to serve that purpose until 1980 when again, dwindling crowds forced the owners, Messrs Labrookes, to close down. The ground was put up for sale and for a time Walsall Council toyed with the idea of buying it as a much needed Municipal Stadium, but were unable to come up with the cash and the stadium was sold for development to Messrs Barretts who demolished it and announced their intention to build nearly 100 houses on the site.

Stafford Street. This street once marked the beginning of the road from Willenhall to Stafford. It is said that in the old days prisoners, after sentence by the magistrates, were allowed to pause at the old Plough Inn for refreshment before setting out on the long walk to Stafford Gaol.

Stirling Crescent. Named after the town of Stirling in Scotland.

Stokes Avenue. Takes its name from a pumping engine which stood nearby many years ago. The Godson's Map of Willenhall dated 1800 describes the engine as Crocket and Stokes Engine and shows it as standing near the junction of Moseley Road and Bilston Road and at the rear of where the present Rose & Crown Inn now stands. The engine would be steam driven and would be used to pump water from the many mines in the area. It was probably one of the earliest engines of its time. The map was drawn specifically to show the estates of Messrs Henry and I.M. Crocket.

Stone Street. (now demolished) Although the street had been in existence since the early part of the last century it was not until December 6th 1909 that the council decided that it should be made up. It is said that the street was bordered on one side by a row of large stones, and it is believed that it derived its name from this. Some said the stones were of ancient origin but of this there is no firm evidence. They were removed when the area was cleared after the Second World War.

Stonehouse Avenue. John Stonehouse began his political career as member of Parliament for Wednesbury in the early 1950's when he replaced the charismatic Stanley N Evans who had resigned following the uproar over his "Featherbed Farmers" speech. A subsequent boundaries revision saw him representing Walsall North, where he made a name for himself as an able politician who rose to the rank of Postmaster General in the Wilson Government, where he was instrumental in introducing the two tier postal system we have today. Mr Stonehouse got into financial difficulties when he began taking money from companies he had set up for his own purposes, and he was eventually made bankrupt with debts of œ816,000. In 1974 he attempted to fake his death by drowning when his clothes were found on a beach in Florida after he was supposed to have gone for a swim. He later turned up in Australia where he had been living under a false identity. In 1976 he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for his crimes but served less than half before being released. In 1978 he married Miss Sheila Buckley his former secretary who had been given a suspended sentence for her part in the affair. Mr Stonehouse died in 1988 at the age of 62 having been ill for some years.

Stourmore Close. Situated off Straight Road in Short Heath, Stour is obviously a reference to the River Stour from which the town of Stourbridge gets its name.

Straight Road. A short straight road which was constructed to link Lane Head Bridge to Coltham Road after the original route from Willenhall to Bloxwich via Haley Street and Ezekiel Lane had been stopped up by the cutting of the Wyrley and Essington Canal in 1794. Was originally known as The Straight Lane.

Strawberry Lane. The origins of this name are not known, but until recent years it was nothing more than a rough track which led from near the "Twenty Trees" in Neachells Lane across fields until it emerged opposite the gates of New Cross Hospital. Today it is the site of a thriving Industrial Estate and nothing is left of the fields which once lay on either side. Neachells Hall once stood nearby.

Stretton Road. Named after Councillor W. Stretton a member of Willenhall Urban District Council from 1934, when he was elected as one of the first representatives of the newly formed Short Heath Ward, following the amalgamation of Short Heath with Willenhall. He had previously served on the old Short Heath Urban District Council until its demise. Mr Stretton remained a Councillor until his death on July 26th 1955.

Stringes Lane. Takes its name from the Stringes Meadow which surrounded the area before it was developed. The origins of the name Stringes are completely unknown although the name is certainly of great age. It was not until December 6th 1920 that the Willenhall Urban District Council adopted Stringes Lane together with Lower Lichfield Street and agreed to widen the lane to enable a bus service to commence between Willenhall and Short Heath and Bloxwich. On some old documents the area is sometimes described as Stringers Lane or Stringers Meadow and this may give an indication as to the origins of the name.

Stringes Close. See also Stringes Lane. This site, now developed as an industrial estate was the site of the Willenhall New Colliery during the last century. The colliery was owned by Messrs Fletcher, Solly and Urwick Ltd. proprietors of the Willenhall Furnaces Ltd which stood in the Sandbeds until 1881 and the coal was used to fuel its furnaces. The site was later used by Messrs C & L Hill Ltd. for their Brass foundry.

Stroud Avenue. Named after Bernard H Stroud who was Willenhall's treasurer from October 24th 1944 until the town was absorbed by Walsall in 1966.

Stroud Close. See Stroud Avenue above.

Stubbington Close. Named after the town of Stubbington in the county of Hampshire.

Summer Street. A street leading to or from Somerford or Summerford Place.

Sweetbriar Lane. Named after the Sweetbriar a shrubby plant grown for its smell.

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