Joseph Walker

Men who were once prominent, perhaps even household names, gave their names to streets and then appeared to disappear from history. I have been trying to find out something about Joseph Walker who gave his name to the short-lived Walker Street in Wolverton. In 1846 he stumped up £178,500 for the LNWR so he was clearly a man of some substance. He was an early director of the London and Birmingham Railway and also of the Birmingham and Derby Railway. Other than that there are few clues to his existence. He did not appear to have the public profile of Joseph Ledsam who I wrote about yesterday.
There is one tantalizing reference to a Mr Walker in the diary of Cecile Mendelssohn:
Saturday September 16
To another local worthy, Mr Walker, for dinner. Rehearsal in the evening, the hall illuminated and splendid.
The footnote suggests that this may be Joseph Walker, proprietor of Joseph Walker and Co., Factors in St Paul’s Square.
This is in part corroborated by an 1841 Census entry which records a 60 year old Joseph Walker and his wife living on the Crescent with a household of four servants, which would suggest some affluence.
This Joseph Walker, born around 1780, is certainly of an age which would have given him enough financial clout to become a director of an early railway company, but he died in late 1846 which may cast a slight question mark about his investment of £178,500 earlier in the year.
I could make a case for this man being the Joseph Walker who gave his name to Walker Street but the evidence is sketchy.

The Lost Streets of Wolverton

I’ve just put together a plan of the original settlement of Wolverton north of the Stratford Road. Garnet Street, Cooke Street, Walker Street and parts of Bury Street surived for just about a decade when they were demolished to make way for workshop expansion.

Gas Stret and parts of Bury Street survived until the 1890s.
This information has been compiled from a close study of the 1851 census. The 1841 census has not been much help in this regard as no addresses were recorded. This data has been checked against the 1861 and 1871 censuses.