|On Tuesday 5th January 1999, I went over to Albrighton to visit Peter
Lisle and to have a look at the Star with the view to purchasing it. I
took it for a 3 mile drive. The car generally seemed be in very good
order but it did require a certain amount of cosmetic work to the body.
I made an offer to David Lisle, Peter's son, who was acting on his
father's behalf. In principle the offer was accepted but, as the car was
owned by a partnership there were hurdles to be cleared before it could
be finally accepted.
Whilst in the Wolverhampton area I decided to try to find some of the
houses mentioned in the various documents. Listed below are the results
of the search.
The Oaklands, Edward Lisle's home at Tettenhall. This is opposite the
Pond on the Green at the top of Rock Hill and is now used as the Public
Kate (Benjamin Davis's daughter) and John Hinches' house at 16
Crowther Road. This was a modern detached property of about 1920.
The last home of Sarah Ann Lisle, 67 Tettenhall Road. This was a
house in a row of Georgian properties within walking distance of the
I took photographs of all the houses. This is the Oaklands, Edward Lisle's home in Tettenhall.
|I then went to Frederick Street, to see the Star Factory, and viewed
the plaque on the wall, commemorating Wolverhampton's oldest motor
manufacturer. The factory was still working at what seemed to be a metal
Next door the development of an industrial site
had taken place in recent times. On the outside wall was a large bronze
plate commemorating the Star Motor Company.
The history so far has covered the children of Joseph Rollings and
his descendants up to the time of my Grandfather Henry. It would seem
that we have found most of the information we are likely to find for
this period with two exceptions.
The first is details of my great
grandfather's business life. And the other is the exact location of
John's home, the Pines in Penn Road.
|I noticed that one of the companies of which Edward Lisle was a
director did not relate to his engineering activities. This company was
called the Days Sanitary Pipe Company Ltd. It will be interesting to see
if this company may shed any light on Benjamin. I have written to the
developer and the ex-owner of the Goldthorn Hotel to ask if they have
any knowledge of John's house.
I now move back to Joseph Rollings, the chartermaster, and Jane
Davis. My great great grandfather, Joseph, was born in Deep Dale, North
Staffordshire, 7.5 miles south east of Lee, in the Parish of Grindon, in
about 1812. His father was John, a miner, who was born in 1785. John's
place of birth is unknown. Jane was born at Pant (which is now in
Shropshire but was at that time in Montgomeryshire) in about 1820. Her
father was David Davis. I have written to Grindon Church asking for any
information on the Rollings family. I think it is unlikely that they
will have any record but I thought it was worth trying.
|In the week commencing 10th January 1999, I received supplies to my
letters from Reg Goulding and David Bromley, the developers of the
Goldthorn Hotel. They confirmed the following facts.
The house in the picture that came from my Uncle Jack (John Percy)
was not part of the hotel complex before development.
The reception part of the hotel was The Pines Hotel. This establishes
without doubt that it was the home of great uncle John Rollings from
1897 up to the time of his death in 1909. David Bromley kindly sent me a
copy of a photograph showing The Pines as it was in the 1920s.
David Bromley's photo of the Pines in the 1920s.
Compare this with the photo below.
||The Pines is now (Summer 2000) a Quality Hotel.
The hotel has been extended on all sides but the front and you
can still easily pick out the original frontage of the house.
Compared with David Bromley's photo the only change to this part
is the removal of some timber work on the gable and the
insertion of a window there.
|On the Saturday morning I decided that the only way that I could
locate the house in the picture from Uncle Jack was by looking for it in
the Tettenhall area.
|I therefore started working my way down all the side roads off
Tettenhall Road, from St. Jude's Road going down towards Tettenhall.
After about one and a half hour's searching I was about to give up and
decided to turn the car around at the next side road and return home.
turning into Sandy Lane, proceeding about 300 yards along the lane, I
saw the house on the left hand side of the lane.
It was now St. Joseph's
Convent and Preparatory School.
This photo, which came down to me from my Uncle
Jack, shows Benjamin Davis Rollings outside his house in
Tettenhall. This was all I had from which to trace the house.
|I went up the drive and knocked on the front door. Sister Denise came
to the door. I explained who I was and showed her the old photograph of
the house. She invited me to have a look around the downstairs and the
outbuildings. I also spoke to Sister Bernadette who had lived at the
house since 1947. Both of the nuns were most interested to see the
picture. Sister Denise told me that there was a man in the lane who she
thought new the history of their house. However she could not remember
his name but would try to find it for me. It was an inconvenient time
for me to call, due to a pupil being given some extra tuition and Sister
Denise being in the middle of preparing the lunch. I therefore left. I
have since written a letter, sending to them a copy of the house
photograph, and asking if they can provide any further details, in
particular the age of the house and what its name was before becoming
The establishment of the location of these two houses has taken us a
great step forward. It now means that the principal missing detail is
that of Benjamin Davis Rolling's building company.
On Saturday 23rd January 1999 I heard that the partnership which
owned Star Motor Car LG6527 did not find my offer acceptable. I thought
that the offer I had made was more than fair and would not increase it.
So I told them that my offer was still on the table if they wished to
pursue it. I always feel, in these situations, that if it was meant to
be, it will be; it is best to just sit back and wait. I now learn that
the car may be put up for auction.
On Saturday 30th January I received a letter from Sister Bernadette
of St. Joseph's Convent. In the letter she says that the name of their
house is Alameda, No. 24 Sandy Lane, Tettenhall. Sister Denise has
visited a Mr. Hill, who lived not far away, and had mentioned to him my
interest in the house. Mr. Hill had suggested I should contact him. I
duly wrote to him and received a reply on Saturday 6th February. In the
letter he advised that he could not go back any further than 1915, the
time when Mrs. Griffiths lived in the house. It would now seem that my
only hope of finding more details will be by making a visit to the
Public Record Office.
Having been advised that the Star Comet was not longer for sale, I
started looking for another Star car. I located a 1922, 11.9 hp, Star
Tourer, registration number XL 543. This is for sale at Collectors'
Cars, Kenilworth. Its owner is Mr. John Barlow. I have looked at the
car, which is quite nice, but I would prefer the 18/50, so I will wait
for the time being.
||On Wednesday 24th March 1999, I visited the chapel at the Royal
Wolverhampton School, the purpose being to take photographs of the
memorials to John Rollings.
The plaque to commemorate the donation of the bells was the first
item I photographed. This is shown on an earlier page.
I then found the window in the south transept.
It is a four light stained glass window and it depicts Christ
among the Doctors in the Temple. It was dedicated by the Bishop
of Lichfield, Dr. Legge, on the 9th June 1912. This window,
together with all the other windows in the Chapel, was erected
by C. E. Kempe & Company, of London.
In the bottom right hand corner of the window is a panel with
"Giving thanks to God for the dear memory of John Rollings of
Wolverhampton, a former Vice-President and Governor of this
Orphanage, his widow dedicates this window. A.D. mcmxi"
|In February 1913 John Rollings was further remembered by the
presentation of a beautiful reredos. It is a handsomely carved piece of
work, of which the centre panel in white Staffordshire alabaster
represents Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.
This was presented by Lucy Rollings and a few friends. It was constructed by Robert Bridgeman &
Sons of Lichfield, and dedicated on the 20th April 1913 by the Bishop
of Lichfield, Dr. E. A. Were.
I found this brass plate on the reredos,
commemorating the gift of the reredos in memory of John
Rollings. It is dated February 1913.
|We are now at the 23rd May 1999. I have spent very little time on the
story due to my being involved in the rebuilding of a Riley 2.5 litre
motor car, and also due to my having taken a short holiday. On our
return from holiday a copy of Joseph Rollings' will arrived. It made
quite interesting reading.
As told earlier in the story he was a Chartermaster, running part of the mine in the coalfield at Monmore
Green, Wolverhampton. It stated on one of the previous census forms that
his wife Jane was an annuitant. The will discloses that he died on 12th
July 1865 and that probate was granted on 12th February 1866. The estate
was valued at less than £100 and comprised of a number of Freehold
Properties which are described as follows:
4 Freehold Dwellings near to The Blue Pig Public House
5 Freehold Dwellings opposite The Red Lion Public House.
The properties were mortgaged. It would seem that Joseph was quite a
businessman in his own small way. He had obviously worked very hard in
the coal mine and achieved a quite high status in his occupation;
furthermore he had been wise enough to invest his hard earned money to
provide an income for his wife Jane and the younger children. The
annuity amounted to the sum of fifteen shillings per week, payable on
The final point I noted in the will was that he had another daughter,
Ruth Cartwright. Her date of birth is not known but we do know that she
was alive on 2nd November 1864.
Having spent almost twelve months on the Georgian, Victorian and
Edwardian times of the Rollings family I feel it is now time to move on
to the early times in Birmingham. It is disappointing that I have not
been able to find more information about the business life of my great
grandfather. I feel sure that there is a lot more to find out about him
- when the next Census Papers are released more information may be
found. In the meantime I shall keep trying to follow up any leads that I
|We are now at the 23rd August 1999. Having been involved in other
matters for the past few months my researches have been put on to the
back burner. Last week I decided to start again. I made contact with
Peter Lisle about the Star Comet car. I was disappointed to learn that
the people with an interest in the car had now sold the whole interest
in it to one of them and it was no longer on the market. Peter though it
might be put up for sale again at some time but I do not think my hopes
of acquiring the car will proceed any further.
This morning I made a telephone call to the Wolverhampton Archives
Department, to enquire about the building plans for my great
grandfather's house, Alameda in Sandy Lane, Tettenhall. They were most
helpful and suggested I should make a visit in order to find further
details. However I was advised that the plans for Tettenhall had been
lost in the changeover from the County Council to the Town Council, but
some information may be found in trade directories. Hopefully I shall
make the visit during this week.
I visited the Wolverhampton Records Office within a few days of
making the enquiry. I spent a good deal of time looking at the trade
directories. Unfortunately for the years 1902 to 1909 none were
available and it is in this period of time that I feel information would
be found on the house in Sandy Lane. However I did establish that my
great grandfather traded as Benjamin Rollings, builder, from an address
in Powlett Street.
It would now seem that this concludes the story of the Wolverhampton
times of the family. The only remaining hope for more information about
Sandy Lane will be when the 1901 census forms are released for public
viewing in 2002.
|I made enquiries to Mr. David Evans, who runs The Star Car Register,
a few weeks ago. A reply has now been received. It would appear that the
History of the Star Motor Co produced by the Express & Star is not
regarded as being particularly correct in many of the facts stated. Many
of the people who met Edward Lisle describe him as being a brilliant
craftsman but having no real technical knowledge. He employed several of
his sons in the business and could see no wrong in their actions. He did
however have the good sense to employ a professional office manager and
My Great Aunt Sarah Ann was said to have ruled the house at
Tettenhall with a rod of iron. This information is confirmed by what my
uncle Jack said about his grandfather's sister being "a bit of a
bugger". Other interesting points were that the company manufactured
vacuum cleaners, electric fires, incandescent goods and wheels for horse
drawn vehicles. One interesting product was an electric milk float,
steered by reins and braked by pushing back on the seat in the same way
that you would stop a horse and cart. Cars and commercial vehicles were
sold under the brand names Star, Briton, Stuart and Starling.
||If this looks like an old broom cupboard, it is
meant to. It is part of the display at the heritage museum on
I noticed that there is a Star vacuum cleaner in
there - it is the thing with the (new looking) white handle. You
had to pump the concertina like cylinder up and down to create
I am not sure how efficient it was but it does
illustrate Edward Lisle's willingness to try anything.
|Amendment June 2006: Frank Sharman, of the
Wolverhampton History and Heritage Society, found an
advertisement in The Cabinet Maker and Complete Home Furnisher
for 1920, which showed that the Star Vacuum cleaner was
patented and manufactured by C. H. Roth, 2 Hulme Street,
|The mystery of the Days Sanitary Pipe Co is resolved: one of Edward
Lisle's daughters married into this family. The fact that Edward Lisle
worked in his father's tin smith's business cannot be proved. It is
reputed he worked on the railway in Stafford Road with his brother. The
tablet and gift of bells made to St Luke's Church in 1894 by Edward
Lisle were in return for a special dispensation for him to marry his
deceased wife's sister, Sarah Ann Rollings.
||This brass tablet, in the shape of a shield, is high up a
wall and hard to photograph.
The inscription says:
"This tablet is placed here to the glory of God and to
commemorate the gift of a clock fixed in the tower of this
church in the year 1894 also a peal of bells in the year 1897
being the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria both of which
were by the generosity of Edward Lisle Esquire a former resident
in this parish and a scholar in the church schools"
|The letter from David Evans contained information about several Star
Cars, which were up for sale. It now seems that the Star that once
belonged to Peter Lisle is no longer on the market. I decided to go and
have a look at a 1930 Star Jason Coupe, which was for sale in Leicester.
The car had been completely rebuilt between 1989 and 1993, and had
only covered 1,800 miles since the rebuild. Its owner was Mr. Roland
Victor Johnson. I purchased the car on Wednesday 3rd October, 1999. It
came with a full photographic record of the work carried out during its
refurbishment. I am now the proud owner of a Star Car.
The first photo of the restored Star Jason Coupe. It
is the 4 door model and thought to be the only one its
kind left in existence.
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