Willenhall History Society

Street Names - U



Ullswater Road. Named after Ullswater in the Lake District.

Union Street. This street takes its name from the Wolverhampton Union which was set up under the Poor Law (Amendment) Act 1834 to make better provision for the poor. Up to this time the Willenhall Vestry was responsible for the well being of its own poor and had its own workhouse which was situated nearby at the junction of Upper Lichfield Street and Little Wood Street. Under the terms of the new act parishes were grouped together to form unions and Willenhall found itself part of the Wolverhampton Union. By 1839 the old Willenhall workhouse had ceased to be used and had been sold off. In the early 1840's John Austin set up in business as a miller,baker and grocer at his Union Mill which stood at the corner of Union Street and Stafford Street. It was he who first introduced tokens known first as Austin Farthings but later changed to Rushbrooke farthings after his retirement. In 1853 Austin left Willenhall to live at Allscott near Wellington and the business was taken over by Joshua Rushbrooke who had learned the rudiments of the business whilst working at the Birchills Mill Walsall. Mr Rushbrooke married the eldest daughter of Mr Richard Tildesley at The Union Street Wesleyan Church in 1849, their marriage being the first one to be solemnised at the church,and they were blessed with eleven children . Rushbrooke continued to produce the famous tokens now known as "Rushbrooke Farthings" and he sold them to the traders in the town at the rate of 5 shillings worth of coins for 4 shillings and ninepence in cash. When the new national bronze coinage was introduced large quantities of the tokens were returned to Mr Rushbrooke who promptly melted them down without sustaining the slightest loss. In 1863 Mr Rushbrooke was succeeded in the business by his son Joshua and he himself retired to live in Sutton Coldfield where he celebrated his 100th birthday on June 5th 1918. The business continued in the family name until after the Second World War when it was demolished to make way for the new town centre development scheme. Throughout his long life Joshua Rushbrooke had been a tireless worker for the Methodist cause.

Upper Lichfield Street. This street was formerly known as Workhouse Lane due to the fact that Willenhall's old workhouse once stood near the junction of what was Workhouse Lane and Little Wood Street. The workhouse site was purchased on April 8th 1741, the trustees being Doctor Richard Wilkes, John Wilkes, Surgeon. Joseph Molineux Maltster, Thomas Marston, Maltster, Joseph Hincks, Yeoman, Isaac Turner, Maltster, Joshua Dodd Chapman, and Samual Hawksford, Chapman. acting for the residents of Willenhall. The workhouse served the poor of Willenhall for close on 100 years until it was made redundant by the passing of the Poor Law amendment Act of 1834 which grouped parishes together for the better provision of the poor. Willenhall found itself grouped with Wolverhampton and its poor law provision was administered from that town. This made the workhouse surplus to requirements and in 1839 it closed. At the Willenhall Vestry meeting on March 14th 1839 a proposal that the building be put up for sale was carried unanimously, but what happened to the building after is not known as no further mention was recorded in the minutes.

Willenhall History Society Website 30/1/00