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Willenhall

"Willenhall is a populous village and township, with a railway station and a canal wharf, on the turnpike midway between Walsall and Wolverhampton, being three miles from each of these towns. It is in the south division of Offlow Hundred and is an ancient chapelry in the parish and parliamentary borough of Wolverhampton, but it has lately been divided into three district parishes. It is in the manor of Stow Heath, of which the Duke of Sutherland and TW Gifford, Esq, are joint lords, but the land (about 1980 acres) belongs to a number of freeholders. It is an improving place, and since 1801, its population has increased from 3143 to upwards of 10,000 souls. Its inhabitants are mostly employed in the manufacture of locks, keys, bolts, latches, chafing dishes, gridirons, currycombs, etc. It is said that more locks, of all kinds, are made here than in any other town of the same size in England or Europe.
In Domesday Book, this place is called Winehala, from the Saxon word for victory, and it was probably so designated in commemoration of the great battle fought in its vicinity in 910.
Little London, a large village half a mile N, and New Invention, three miles N of Willenhall, are both in this township, except a small part of the latter, which is in Wednesfield.
Portobello, a large and improving village, half a mile W of Willenhall, and Lane Head, about a mile N of the village, near the canal, are in this township, which also contains other populous hamlets. A branch canal was cut here in 1841."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Parishes

INFORMATION RELATED TO ALL OF WILLENHALL

Bibliography

'History of Willenhall'
by Norman W Tildesley
Published 1951, by Willenhall Urban District Council.

'The Annals of Willenhall'
by Frederick W Hackwood
Published 1908, by Whitehead Bros, Wolverhampton.
Reprinted 1990, by Walsall Local History Centre. ISBN 0-94665-219-8.

'Our Town, Willenhall'
by Sam & Mary Clayton
Published 1990, by Uralia Press, Wolverhampton. ISBN 0-9511223-9-8.

'Street Names of Willenhall'
by Horace Davis & Willenhall History Society
Published 1995, by Walsall Local History Centre. ISBN 0-946652-39-2.

'Willenhall Urban District Council, 1894-1966'
by Willenhall History Society
Published 1994, by Willenhall History Society. ISBN 0-9523137-3-1.

'Willenhall on old Picture Postcards'
by Eric Woolley
Published 1991, by Reflections of a Bygone Age, Nottingham. ISBN 0-946245-40-0.

'The Second World War in Willenhall'
by Willenhall History Society
Published 1995, by Willenhall History Society. ISBN 0-9523137-4-X.

'The Picks, the Story of Willenhall Pickwicks Football Club'
by Horace & Peter Davis
Published 1994, by Willenhall History Society. ISBN 0-9523137-0-7.

'Doctor Tonks and the Memorial Clock'
by Horace Davis
Published by Willenhall History Society, No Date.

'Cholera in Willenhall'
by Horace Davis
Published by Willenhall History Society, No Date.

'Images of England - Willenhall to Horseley Fields'
by Alex Brew.
Published 1998, by Tempus Publishing, Dursley. ISBN 0-7524-1510-7.

'An Outline History of Willenhall'
by Brenda Fraser & Members of the Local History Group of Community Interaction
Published 1984, by Willenhall Community Interaction.

'The Willennium. A Book of Bits about Willenhall to Celebrate the Millennium'
edited by John Shercliff
Published by Willenhall History Society, 1999.

'Willenhall's Pubs Past and Present'
by Irene M Bowen & Robert W Williams
Published by Willenhall History Society, 2000.

'The Hodson Family. A History of one Willenhall Lock Manufacturer from 1792-1970'
by Brenda Jephcott
Published by The Lock Museum, New Road, Willenhall, 1999.

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Cemeteries

A transcript of the Monumental Inscriptions of Wood Street Cemetery, Willenhall, has been published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

Walsall Local History Centre holds microfiche copies of the cemetery registers of Wood Street, Willenhall, 1857-1986, and Bentley Cemetery, 1900-1971.

Wood Street Cemetery register 1857-1986 has been filmed by the LDS Church (Film number 1702175).

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Census

The population of Willenhall was as follows:
1801 -- 3,143
1811 -- 3,523
1821 -- 3,965
1831 -- 5,834
1841 -- 8,695
1851 -- 11,931
1861 -- 17,256
1871 -- 18,146
1881 -- 18,461
1891 -- 16,852
1901 -- 18,515

A surname index only of the 1851 census for Willenhall is included in the 1851 Staffordshire Census Surname Index, Vol 13, Wolverhampton, Part 3, Townships of Wednesfield, Willenhall and Bilston published by the Birmingham and Midland SGH.

A surname index only of the 1891 census for Willenhall is included in the 1891 Census Surname & Folio Index for Dudley, Sedgley & Wolverhampton & District published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

Film numbers for Willenhall census returns and their corresponding LDS Church film numbers are as follows:
Year PRO Film Numbers LDS Film Numbers
1841 HO107/985 474618
1851 HO107/2020 87424
1861 RG9/1995 to RG9/2006 542900 to 542901
1871 RG10/2941 to RG10/2948 836419 to 836421
1881 RG11/2806 to RG11/2813 1341672 to 1341673
1891 RG12/2237 to RG12/2239 6097347 to 6097349

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Church History

Church of England History
For Anglican church history see individual Parishes

Nonconformist Church History
"In the village is a large Wesleyan Chapel, which has a thousand sittings, and was built in 1836. The Wesleyans also have a large chapel at Portobello, erected in 1849, and the Baptists have chapels at Willenhall and Little London, the latter built in 1850."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

The Catholic church of St Mary, Willenhall, was originally a chapel of ease in Hall Street built in 1860. The present church, in Leveson Street, was built in the Early English style in 1906.

'Trinity Methodist Church. A Brief History from the Formation of Union Street Chapel in 1805 until 1996'
by Horace Davis
Published by Willenhall History Society, 1997.

'Little London Baptist Church, Willenhall, 1792-1994'
by Leslie E Burrows
Published by Willenhall History Society, 1997.

Photograph of Providence Baptist Chapel (1) May 2003

Photograph of Providence Baptist Chapel (2) May 2003

Photograph of Trinity Methodist Church, Union Street Chapel (1) December 2003

Photograph of Trinity Methodist Church, Union Street Chapel (2) December 2003

Photograph of Little London Baptist Church, December 2003

Photograph of Upper Lichfield Street Baptist Chapel, December 2003

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Church Records

Church of England Registers
For Anglican church records see individual Parishes

Nonconformist Church Registers
The original registers are deposited at Walsall Local History Centre as indicated below:
Froysell Street, Willenhall, United Methodist, Baptisms 1887-1950
Monmore Lane, Willenhall, Wesleyan Methodist, Baptisms 1873-1935
Portobello, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1850-1891
Portobello, Wesleyan Methodist, Baptisms 1842-1957
Russell Street, Willenhall, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1850-1934, (Marriages 1901-1964 at Staffordshire Record Office)
Short Heath, Wesleyan Methodist, Baptisms 1838-1959, Marriages 1901-1982
Spring Bank, Willenhall, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1870-1972
Union Street, Willenhall, Wesleyan Methodist, Baptisms 1838-1957, Burials 1853-1857
Walsall Road, Willenhall, Wesleyan Methodist, Baptisms 1871-1964

The registers of the Catholic church of St Mary, Willenhall, Baptisms 1864-date, Marriages 1864-date & Confirmations 1860-date remain with the incumbent. Earlier entries for Willenhall Catholics may be found in the Most Holy Trinity, Bilston registers.

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Directories

'Directory of Wolverhampton, also Bilston, Willenhall & Wednesfield' was published by Joseph Smart, High Street, Wolverhampton, in 1827. Smart was the proprietor and publisher of the Wolverhampton Chronicle.

'The Trades Directory of Wolverhampton, Wednesfield, Bilston, Willenhall, Sedgley, Tipton, Wednesbury, Darlaston & Moxley' was published by Jones & Co, London, in 1862.

'Hulley's Directory of the Parliamentary Borough of Wolverhampton, which includes Bilston, Sedgley, Wednesfield & Willenhall' was published by J Hulley, Birmingham, in 1874.

'Directory of Wolverhampton and Six Miles Round' was published by G Stevens, London, in 1879.

'The Willenhall Red Book' was published by A Cartwright & Sons, Willenhall, in 1914, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1934 & 1935.

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Genealogy

Mike Harbach's Willenhall pages which include a brief history of the town, a bibliography and several indexes including - Hearth Tax 1666, Directories of 1770, 1818, 1835 and 1864/5, Publicans 1835 and Lockmakers 1835.

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Newspapers

Walsall Local History Centre holds copies of the following local newspaper covering Willenhall:
Willenhall Reporter 1885-1887

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Occupations

'A Short History of Lockmaking in Willenhall'
by G Varndell
Published 1978, by Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council Library & Museum Services.

'The Story of the Old Works. An Epic of Industry.
Being an Account of Some Happenings at the Walsall Road Works
of John Harper & Co Ltd, at Willenhall, between the years 1790-1949'

Published 1950, Willenhall.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

Willenhall became part of Wolverhampton Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.

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Schools

Walsall Local History Centre holds log books and records of the following Willenhall schools:
Albion Road Junior Mixed & Infants 1878-1989
Portobello Primary 1878-1976 (LDS Church film numbers 1472731 & 1472732)
Short Heath Junior Mixed & Infants 1880-1963
Willenhall Central Boys Secondary 1883-1929 (LDS Church film number 1472731)

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Voting Registers

Electoral registers for the parliamentary constituency of which Willenhall formed part are shown below together with dates and locations of the registers which are held at Staffordshire Record Office (SRO), Wolverhampton Archives (WA) or Walsall Local History Centre (WLHC)

South Staffs 1845-1867 (SRO)
West Staffs 1868-1884 (SRO)
Kingswinford Division 1885-1888, 1892-1908 (SRO)
Wolverhampton St Peter 1870, 1872, 1875, 1910, 1926 (WA)
Wednesbury 1951-1968, 1970 (WLHC)
Walsall North 1971- date (WLHC)

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[Last updated: 4th September 2009, Mike Harbach.  © 1999 - 2009]