willenhall memorial clock Willenhall History Society

Wood Street Cemetery


The cemetery in Wood Street was opened in 1849 as a Methodist Cemetery. Prior to that date a cemetery around the Methodist Chapel in Union Street was used.

The land at Wood Street was owned by G.B. Thorneycroft, who sold it to the Methodist Church in 1851. (burials started in 1849)

On September 28 th 1857 this burial ground was conveyed to the newly formed Burial Board of Willenhall for the sum of £25 and from that time became a municipal cemetery, although by Order in Council dated August 21 st 1856, no further internments were permitted except in existing graves (this may possibly apply to the original Union St cemetery as there are many graves dated after 1856).

All above information from A History of Willenhall by Norman W. Tildesley.

At the time of the Cholera Epidemic in 1849 there was a shortage of space for burials due to the large number of deaths and the Cholera Burial Ground in Doctor’s Piece was opened.

view of centre circle 1987

Viloletta Tildesley, a victim of the Cholera Epidemic, was the first person to be buried in the cemetery on September 6 th 1849

in what was then a Wesleyan Burial Ground.

About 17,800 burials have taken place. The last burial was Councillor Lillian Reid MBE who died in 1986 aged 102.

Within the grounds are several imposing memorials to well known Willenhall families.

Dr Tonks gravestone



Doctor Tonks was buried in 1891 and his wife Clara who died in 1940 and son Herbert Joe who died 1947 are also buried in this grave.


Several Willenhall families, who have played a prominent part in the life of the town over the years, are also buried in this cemetery and many have family plots with several generations buried.

Many of these are in the row of graves shown on the right.





Amongst these is the Tildesley family, one of whose graves is seen here

tildesley grave

The cemetery and its surroundings

The cemetery and its surroundings have changed a lot over the years. The plan below shows the cemetery largely as it was in 1885.

The only major change within the cemetery since then is the removal of the chapel, which was demolished in the 1960s.

The main changes have been in the surroundings. To the north New Hall Street still remains but the many small houses on the plan have long since disappeared. The railway line has also been removed and made into a footpath. Since 1885 the Cemetery Road bridge has also been replaced with a much wider structure.

To the west there are a lot of houses in cemetery Road. these were there until recently but had been used for industrial purposes for the last few years.

The biggest changes are to the south, where the plan shows many small houses and workshops in Wood Street. These were replaced over the years by the large Yale premises, which in their turn have now disappeared with only the offices, a listed building, remaining in late 2008.

plan 1885

Boer War Memorial Gates

The gates to cemetery road were installed in 1904 as a Memorial to Willenhall men who dies in the Boer War, though now only the posts remain. All the gates and iron fencing which originally surrounded the cemetery were removed during the Second World War as part of the war effort and not replaced.

boer war memorial gates

boer war tablets



The tablets listing the names of those who died in the Boer War were removed from Wood Street Cemetery in 1964 and are now part of the main War Memorial in Pinson Road






There are still a lot of gravestones standing in Wood Street Cemetery, though some of them have fallen into disrepair. The grave inscriptions were listed in 1990 by the Walsall Family History Society and some of the more interesting inscriptions are listed here.

Prominent local people

Dr. Joseph Froysell d. July 14 th 1869 aged 63 years

Played a prominent role in the fight against the cholera epidemic in 1849. (East Square 9)


Hodson family – owned the shop in New Road which later became the Lock Museum and Locksmith’s House.

Richard Hodson d. June 28 th 1866 aged 55 years

Ann his wife d. March 4 th 1865 aged 60 years

Also Martin Richard, son of Richard and Ann Hodson d. Feb 1 st 1873 aged 32 years

John son of Richard and Ann Hodson d. January 13 th 1875 aged 43? Years

Sarah releict of the late John Hodson died June 20 th 1875 aged 41 years


William Latimer Ward M.A. curate of St Giles from 1875 to 1880 then vicar of St Annes 1880 to 1908 d. July 25 th 1908 aged 65 years interred Cubley Churchyard Derbyshire.

Also Eliza Caroline Ward died December 26 th 1918 aged 80 years

Also Hugh Latimer Ward, beloved son Died April 19 th 1880 aged 6 ¾ years.

Also Edward William Oakden Ward died March 21 st 1924 aged 49 years (East Square 20)


Thomas Vaughan J.P. Sarah Jane for 54 years the beloved wife of Thomas Vaughan born April 24 th 1834 died Oct 11 th 1918.

Thomas Vaughan died July 1 st 1926 aged 85 years

Louisa dearly beloved daughter of Thomas and Sarah Jane Vaughan died January 8 th 1880 aged 9 years.

David Albert Tildesley son in law of Thomas and Sarah Jane Vaughan born April 27 th 1861 died June 8 th 1927. (East Square 19)


Henry Vaughan J.P. Hannah wife of Henry Vaughan died Aug 17 th 1886 aged 48 years.

Also the above named Henry Vaughan J.P. died 17 th April 1919 aged 81 years.

Also Clara wife of Walter R. Tildesley eldest daughter of Henry Vaughan J.P. died Oct 29 th 1925 aged 60 years.

Also Elizabeth wife of Henry Vaughan J.P. died Jan 11 th 1920 aged 77 years. (East Square 27)


Henry and Thomas Vaughan together founded H & T Vaughan Ltd. Standard Works, which was sold by the family to The Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co Ltd in 1927. This was one of the largest lock businesses in Willenhall for well over a century.


Dr Joseph Tonks Surgeon born May 5 th 1855 died April 2nd 1891.

Clara wife of the above born Jan 4 th 1864 died Feb 27 th 1946

Herbert Joe son of the above born April 13 th 1886 died March 11 th 1947(North Square 24)


Dr Tonks was a well known and popular doctor in the town who played a big part in its social life as well as providing medical care to the poor of Willenhall. The Memorial Clock in the Market Place was erected in his honour in 1892.


Matthew Tildesley born September 11 th 1811 died Jan 20 th 1879.

And Mary Ann his wife born January 2 nd 1818 died February 10 th 1908

14 descendants who died between 1853 and 1977 are named on the stone (South Square 15)


Matthew Tildesley was founder with his cousin John Harper of the firm of John Harper and Co, Albion Works. This firm rose to be one of the largest in Willenhall and introduced malleable iron founding to the town.


Isaac Pedley In affectionate memory of Sarah the faithful and beloved wife of Isaac Pedley who died May 5 th 1865 aged 43 years.

Also the above Isaac Pedley born November 11 th 1819 died October 2 nd 1910, for upwards of 60 years a Wesleyan local preacher.


No more a servant but a son

Father in thy gracious keeping leave me now thy servants sleeping. (South Square 59)


Isaac Pedley was also Chairman of the Willenhall Local Board 1892 – 1893

Stone broken into pieces 1990.


Unusual insciptions

John son of Joseph and Sarah Davis killed at Ashmore Park Colliery Sept 29 th age 23 years. (New Hall St Edge 21)


Mrs Rutter who died in St Giles Church whither she had gone to afternoon service on Sunday Nov 15 th 1857 aged 52 years.

Faithful and tender as a wife and mother it was at once her pleasure and her praise wisely to guide the house. (New Hall St Edge 6)


Caroline Waltho wife of William died 30 th October 1854 aged 34 years

Also six of their children:-

Arthur died 16 th Nov 1850 aged 3 years

Charles died Dec 2 nd 1850 aged 1 year 10 months

Mary Jane died 30 th Dec 1851 age 1 year

Jesse died April 27 th aged 13 years

David died May 26 th 1855 aged 8 months

Caroline died Nov 2 nd 1858 aged 13 years

Also the above William Waltho died Feb 21 st 1873 aged 54 years.(New Hall St edge inscription 20)


Alfred Henry son of William and Jane Parton who was drowned while bathing at Rhyl July 29 th 1873 on the 17 th anniversary of his birthday. (South Square 10)


Fortnam George died Dec 23 rd 1911 age 62

Fortnam Eliza wife of above died Jan 2 nd 1927 age 74

Fortnam son of above Alfred George died in infancy April 1877

Fortnam Frederick son accidentally killed at sea on ship ‘Imberhorne’ Sept 4 th 1905 age 19

Fortnam William Henry killed on active service Great War July 31 st 1916 age 22 (North Square 76)


James Robert Reid freeman of the City of Coventry husband of Lillian. Died 31 st January 1957 aged 70 years

Also Lillian Reid M.B.E. wife of the above died July 2 nd 1986 aged 102 Years

(The last burial in this cemetery East Square C)

There are currently plans by Walsall Council to renovate and improve Wood Street Cemetery as part of the regeneration of Willenhall. AFriends of Wood Street Cemetery group has been formed. Wood Street Cemetery will continue to be part of the historical heritage of Willenhall and a valuable green space in the midst of the new developments which are planned.

Willenhall History Society Website 28.9.08