[Transcriber's note: There are small sections where the print is missing from the original. Missing words have been marked [**]. Minor obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Fractions: example four and a half = 4-1/2. Bold text is denoted by ~]
Dictionary of Birmingham.
A HISTORY AND GUIDE,
Containing Thousands of Dates and References to Matters of Interest connected with the Past and Present History of the Town—its Public Buildings, Chapels, Churches and Clubs—its Friendly Societies and Benevolent Associations, Philanthropic and Philosophical Institutions—its Colleges and Schools, Parks, Gardens, Theatres, and Places of Amusement—its Men of Worth and Noteworthy Men, Manufactures and Trades, Population, Rates, Statistics of progress, &c., &c.
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Compiled by THOS. T. HARMAN, Author of "The Local Book of Dates," "Notes and Records," &c.,
FOR THE PROPRIETORS— WALTER SHOWELL & SONS, CROSS WELLS BREWERY, OLDBURY,
Head Offices: 157, ST. CHARLES STREET, BIRMINGHAM.
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Printed by J.G. Hammond & Co., 136-38 Edmund Street; and Published by CORNISH BROTHERS, NEW STREET.
Dictionary of Birmingham.
NOTES OF BIRMINGHAM IN THE PAST.
Birmingham to the Seventh Century.—We have no record or traces whatever of there being inhabitants in this neighbourhood, though there can be little doubt that in the time of the invasion of the Romans some British strongholds were within a few miles of the place, sundry remains having been found to show that many battles had been fought near here. If residents there were prior to King Edward the Confessor's reign, they would probably be of Gurth's tribe, and their huts even Hutton, antiquarian and historian as he was, failed to find traces of. How the name of this our dwelling-place came about, nobody knows. Not less than twelve dozen ways have been found to spell it; a score of different derivations "discovered" for it; and guesses innumerable given as to its origin, but we still wait for the information required.
Birmingham in the Conqueror's Days.—The Manor was held, in 1066, by Alwyne, son of Wigod the Dane, who married the sister of the Saxon Leofric, Earl of Mercia. According to "Domesday Book," in 1086, it was tenanted by Richard, who, held, under William Fitz-Ansculf, and included four hides of land and half-a-mile of wood, worth 20s.; there were 150 acres in cultivation, with but nine residents, five villeins, and four bordarers. In 1181 there were 18 freeholders (libere tenentes) in Birmingham cultivating 667 acres, and 35 tenants in demesne, holding 158 acres, the whole value being L13 8s. 2d.
Birmingham in the Feudal Period.—The number of armed men furnished by this town for Edward III.'s wars were four, as compared with six from Warwick, and forty from Coventry.
Birmingham in the Time of the Edwards and Harrys.—The Manor passed from the Bermingham family in 1537, through the knavish trickery of Lord L'Isle, to whom it was granted in 1545. The fraud, however, was not of much service to the noble rascal, as he was beheaded for treason in 1553. In 1555 the Manor was given by Queen Mary to Thomas Marrow, of Berkswell.
Birmingham in 1538.—Leland, who visited here about this date, says in his "Itinerary"—"There be many smithies in the towne that use to make knives and all manner of cutlery tooles, and many lorimers that make bittes, and a great many naylors, so that a great part of the towne is maintained by smithes, who have their iron and seacole out of Staffordshire." He describes the town as consisting of one street, about a quarter of a mile long, "a pretty street or ever I enterd," and "this street, as I remember, is called Dirtey."
Birmingham in 1586.—Camden in his "Britannica," published this year, speaks of "Bremicham, swarming with inhabitants, and echoing with the noise of anvils, for the most part of them are smiths."
Birmingham in 1627.—In a book issued at Oxford this year mention is made of "Bremincham inhabited with blacksmiths, and forging sundry kinds of iron utensils."
Birmingham in 1635.—As showing the status the town held at this date we find that it was assessed for "ship money" by Charles I. at L100, the same as Warwick, while Sutton Coldfield had to find L80 and Coventry L266.
Birmingham in 1656.—Dugdale speaks of it as "being a place very eminent for most commodities made of iron."
Birmingham in 1680-90.—Macaulay says: The population of Birmingham was only 4,000, and at that day nobody had heard of Birmingham guns. He also says there was not a single regular shop where a Bible or almanack could be bought; on market days a bookseller named Michael Johnson (father of the great Samuel Johnson) came over from Lichfield and opened a stall for a few hours, and this supply was equal to the demand. The gun trade, however, was introduced here very soon after, for there is still in existence a warrant from the Office of Ordnance to "pay to John Smart for Thomas Hadley and the rest of the Gunmakers of Birmingham, one debenture of ffour-score and sixteen poundes and eighteen shillings, dated ye 14th of July, 1690."—Alexander Missen, visiting this town in his travels, said that "swords, heads of canes, snuff-boxes, and other fine works of steel," could be had, "cheaper and better here than even in famed Milan."
Birmingham in 1691.—The author of "The New State of England," published this year, says: "Bromichan drives a good trade in iron and steel wares, saddles and bridles, which find good vent at London, Ireland, and other parts." By another writer, "Bromicham" is described as "a large and well-built town, very populous, much resorted to, and particularly noted a few years ago for the counterfeit groats made here, and dispersed all oven the kingdom."
Birmingham in 1731.—An old "Road-book" of this date, says that "Birmingham, Bromicham, or Bremicham, is a large town, well built and populous. The inhabitants, being mostly smiths, are very ingenious in their way, and vend vast quantities of all sorts of iron wares." The first map of the town (Westley's) was published in this year. It showed the Manorhouse on an oval island, about 126 yards long by 70 yards extreme width, surrounded by a moat about twelve yards broad. Paradise Street was then but a road through the fields; Easy Hill (now Easy Row), Summer Hill, Newhall Hill, Ludgate Hill, Constitution Hill, and Snow Hill pleasant pastures.
Birmingham in 1750.—Bradford's plan of the town, published in 1751, showed a walk by Rea side, where lovers could take a pleasant stroll from Heath Mill Lane. The country residences at Mount Pleasant (now Ann Street) were surrounded with gardens, and it was a common practice to dry clothes on the hedges in Snow Hill. In "England's Gazetteer," published about this date, Birmingham or Bromichan is said to be "a large, well-built, and populous town, noted for the most ingenious artificers in boxes, buckles, buttons, and other iron and steel wares; wherein such multitudes of people are employed that they are sent all over Europe; and here is a continual noise of hammers, anvils, and files."
Birmingham in 1765.—Lord and Lady Shelburne visited here in 1765. Her ladyship kept a diary, and in it she describes Mr. Baskerville's house (Easy Row) as "a pretty place out of the town." She also mentions visiting a Quaker's to see "the making of guns."
Birmingham in 1766.—In "A New Tour through England," by George Beaumont, Esq., and Capt. Henry Disney, Birmingham is described as "a very large populous town, the upper part of which stands dry on the side of a hill, but the lower is watry, and inhabited by the meaner sort of people. They are employed here in the Iron Works, in which they are such ingenious artificers, that their performances in the smallwares of iron and steel are admired both at home and abroad. 'Tis much improved of late years, both in public and private buildings."
Birmingham in 1781.—Hutton published his "History of Birmingham" this year. He estimated that there were then living ninety-four townsmen who were each worth over L5,000; eighty worth over L10,000; seventeen worth over L20,000; eight worth over L30,000; seven worth over L50,000; and three at least worth over L100,000 each.
Birmingham in 1812.—The appearance of the town then would be strange indeed to those who know but the Birmingham of to-day. Many half-timbered houses remained in the Bull Ring and cows grazed near where the Town Hall now stands, there being a farmhouse at the back of the site of Christ Church, then being built. Recruiting parties paraded the streets with fife and drum almost daily, and when the London mail came in with news of some victory in Spain it was no uncommon thing for the workmen to take the horses out and drag the coach up the Bull Ring amid the cheers of the crowd. At night the streets were patrolled by watchmen, with rattles and lanterns, who called the hours and the weather.
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AB House, so called from the initials inscribed thereon to show the division of the parishes of Aston and Birmingham near to Deritend Bridge. Early in 1883 part of the foundations were uncovered, showing that the old building was raised on wooden piles, when the neighbourhood was little better than a swamp.
ABC Time Table was first issued in July, 1853. A rival, called the "XYZ Time Table," on a system that was to make all the puzzles of Bradshaw as plain as pikestaves, was brought out in August, 1877, but it required such extra wise heads to understand its simplicity that before one could be found the whole thing was lost, the old Alpha being preferred to the new Omega.
Accidents and Accidental Deaths are of constant occurrence. Those here noted are but a few which, from their peculiar nature, have been placed on record for reference.
A woman fell in Pudding Brook, June 3, 1794, and was drowned in the puddle.
In 1789, a Mr. Wright, a patten-maker, of Digbeth, attempted to cross the old bridge over the Rea, fell in and was "smothered in the mud."
The Bridge in Wheeley's Road was burst up by flood waters, November 26, 1853.
Five men were killed by the fall of a scaffold in New Street Station, Oct. 11, 1862.
A lady was accidently shot in Cheapside, Nov. 5, 1866.
Pratt, a marker at Bournebrook Rifle Range, was shot April 12, 1873.
The body of a man named Thomas Bishop who had fallen in a midden in Oxford Street, was found Oct. 3, 1873.
Charles Henry Porter, surgeon, Aug. 10, 1876, died from an overdose of prussic acid taken as a remedy.
Richard Riley was killed by the bursting of a sodawater bottle, June 19, 1877.
Alfred Mills drowned in a vinegar vat at the Brewery in Glover Street, March 7, 1878.
Two gentlemen (Messrs. W. Arnold and G. Barker), while on a visit of inspection at Sandwell Park Colliery, Nov. 6, 1878, were killed by falling from the cage. Two miners, father and son, were killed by a fall of coal in the following week.
A water main, 30 inches diameter, burst in Wheeler Street, June 17, 1879.
On the night of Sep. 5, 1880, Mrs. Kingham, landlady of the "Hen and Chickens," fell through a doorway on the third storey landing into the yard, dying a few hours after. The doorway was originally intended to lead to a gallery of the Aquarium then proposed to be built at the back of the hotel.
January 12th, 1881.—A helper in the menagerie at Sanger's Exhibition, then at Bingley Hall, was attacked and seriously injured by a lion, whose den he was cleaning out. The animal was beaten off by the keeper, the said keeper, Alicamoosa (?) himself being attacked and injured a few days after by the same animal.
A child of 17 months fell on to a sewer grating in River Street, May 28th, 1881, and died from the effects of hot steam arising therefrom, neighbouring manufacturers pouring their waste boiler water into the sewers.
Accidental Deaths by Drowning.—Five persons were drowned at Soho Pool, on Christmas Day, 1822, through the ice breaking under them.
In 1872, John Jerromes lost his life while trying to save a boy who had fallen into Fazeley Street Canal. L200 subscriptions were raised for his wife and family.
A boat upset at the Reservoir, April 11, 1873, when one life was lost.
Boat upset at Kirby's Pools, whereby one Lawrence Joyce was drowned, May 17, 1875. Two men were also drowned here July 23, 1876.
Three boys, and a young man named Hodgetts, who attempted to save them, were drowned, Jan 16, 1876, at Green's Hole Pool, Garrison Lane, through breaking of the ice.
Arthur, 3rd son of Sir C.B. Adderley, was drowned near Blair Athol, July 1, 1877, aged 21.
Four boys were drowned at the Reservoir, July 26, 1877.
Two children were drowned in the Rea at Jakeman's Fields, May 30, 1878.
Rev. S. Fiddian, a Wesleyan Minister, of this town, aged nearly 80, was drowned while bathing at Barmouth, Aug. 4, 1880.
A Mrs. Satchwell was drowned at Earlswood, Feb. 3, 1883, though a carrier's cart falling over the embankment into the Reservoir in the dusk of the evening. The horse shared the fate of the lady, but the driver escaped.
Accidental Death from Electricity.—Jan. 20, 1880, a musician, named Augustus Biedermann, took hold of two joints of the wires supplying the electric lights of the Holte Theatre, and receiving nearly the full force of the 40-horse power battery, was killed on the spot.
Accidents from Fallen Buildings.—A house in Snow Hill fell Sept. 1, 1801, when four persons were killed.
During the raising of the roof of Town Hall, John Heap was killed by the fall of a principal (Jan. 26, 1833), and Win. Badger, injured same time, died a few weeks after. Memorial stone in St. Philip's Churchyard.
Welch's pieshop, Temple Street, fell in, March 5, 1874.
Two houses fell in Great Lister Street, Aug. 18, 1874, and one in Lower Windsor Street, Jan. 13, 1875.
Three houses collapsed in New Summer Street, April 4, 1875, when one person was killed, and nine others injured.
Four houses fell in Tanter Street, Jan. 1, 1877, when a boy was lamed.
Two men were killed, and several injured, by chimney blown down at Deykin & Sons, Jennens Row, Jan. 30, 1877, and one man was killed by wall blown down in Harborne Road, Feb. 20, same year.
Some children playing about a row of condemned cottages, Court 2, Gem Street, Jan. 11, 1885, contrived to pull part on to their heads, killing one, and injuring others.
Accidents from Fire.—February, 1875, was an unfortunate month for the females, an old woman being burnt to death on the 5th, a middle-aged one on the 7th, and a young one on the 12th.
Accidents through Lightning.—A boy was struck dead at Bordesley Green, July 30, 1871. Two men, William Harvey and James Steadman, were similarly killed at Chester Street Wharf, May 14, 1879. Harvey was followed to the grave by a procession of white-smocked navvies.
Accidents at Places of Amusement.—A sudden panic and alarm of [**] caused several deaths and many injuries at the Spread Eagle Concert Hall, Bull Ring, May 5, 1855.
The "Female Blondin" was killed by falling from the high rope, at Aston Park, July 20, 1863.
A trapeze gymnast, "Fritz," was killed at Day's Concert Hall, Nov. 12, 1870.
A boy was killed by falling from the Gallery at the Theatre Royal, Feb. 16, 1873.
At Holder's Concert Hall, April 1, 1879, Alfred Bishop (12) had his leg broken while doing the "Shooting Star" trick.
Accidents in the Streets.—On New Year's Day, 1745, a man was killed by a wagon going over him, owing to the "steepness" of Carr's Lane.
The Shrewsbury coach was upset at Hockley, May 24, 1780, when several passengers were injured.
The Chester mail coach was upset, April 15, 1787, while rounding the Welsh Cross, and several persons much injured.
Feb. 28, 1875, must be noted as the "slippery day," no less than forty persons (twelve with broken limbs), being taken to the Hospitals through falling in the icy streets.
Captain Thornton was killed by being thrown from his carriage, May 22, 1876.
The Coroner's van was upset in Livery Street, Jan. 24, 1881, and several jurymen injured.
Accidents on the Rails.—An accident occurred to the Birmingham express train at Shipton, on Christmas Eve, 1874, whereby 26 persons were killed, and 180 injured. In the excitement at Snow Hill Station, a young woman was pushed under a train and lost both her legs, though her life was saved, and she now has artificial lower limbs.
Police-officer Kimberley was killed in the crush at Olton Station on the Race Day, Feb. 11th, 1875.
While getting out of carriages, while the train was in motion, a man was killed at New Street Station, May 15, 1875, and on the 18th, another at Snow Hill, and though such accidents occur almost weekly, on some line or other, people keep on doing it.
Three men were killed on the line near King's Norton, Sept. 28, 1876.
Mr. Pipkins, Stationmaster at Winson Green, was killed Jan. 2. 1877.
Inspector Bellamy, for 30 years at New Street Station, fell while crossing a carriage, and was killed, April 15, 1879.
Acock's Green, a few years back only a little village, is fast becoming a thriving suburban town. The old estate, of about 150 acres, was lotted out for building in 1839, the sale being then conducted by Messrs. E. and C. Robbins, August 19. The Public Hall, which cost about L3,000, was opened December 20, 1878; its principal room being 74 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 30 feet high.
Adderley.—Sir Charles B. Adderley was gazetted a peer April 16, 1878, his title being Baron Norton, of Norton-on-the-Moors, Staffordshire.
Adderley Park was opened Aug. 30, 1856. Its area is 10a. Or. 22p., and the Corporation hold it as tenants under a 999 years' lease, at 5s. rental. A Reading Room and Branch Library was opened on Jan. 11, 1864.
Advertisements.—The duty on advertisements in newspapers was abolished Aug. 4,1853. One of the most attractive styles of advertising was that adopted by Messrs. Walter Showell and Son, August 30, 1881, when The Birmingham Daily Post gave up a whole page for the firm's use. 10,000 copies were sent to their customers by early post on day of publication.
Afghan War.—A stormy "town's meeting" on this subject was held in the Town Hall, Dec. 3, 1878, memorable for the interference of the police by order of the Mayor, and the proceedings consequent thereon.
Agricultural Labourers.—Jos. Arch, their champion, addressed a meeting in their behalf at Town Hall, Dec. 18, 1873, and other meetings were held April 15 and July 3 following. A collection made for some of the labourers on strike amounted to L137 9s. 2-1/2d.
Agricultural Shows.—The Warwickshire Agricultural Show (with the Birmingham Horse Show, and the Rose Show) began at Aston, June 17, 1873. The first exhibition here of the Royal Agricultural Society took place July 19-24, 1876, in Aston Park, specially granted by the Corporation.— See Cattle Shows, &c.
Albion Metal, tin rolled on lead, much used for making "lace," &c., for coffin decoration, was introduced in 1804, being the invention of Thomas Dobbs, a comic actor, then engaged at the Theatre Royal. He was also the designer of a reaping machine, and made one and showed it with real corn for his "Benefit" on the stage of the Theatre Royal in 1815.
Alcester Turnpike road was first used in 1767.
Ales and Alehouses were known in this country nearly 1,200 years ago, but the national beverage was not taxed until 1551, a few years previous to which (1535) hops were first used in place of wormwood, &c. In 1603 it was enacted that not more than 1d. (equal to 9d. value now) should be charged per quart for the best ale or beer, or for two quarts of the "smaller" sort. An additional excise duty was imposed on ale and beer in 1643. See also Breweries.
Almanacks.—The first English-printed Almanack was for the year 1497, and the London Stationers' Company had the monopoly of printing them for nearly 300 years. The first locally printed Almanack was the "Diaria Britannica" (or "British Diary"), by Messrs. Pearson and Rollason, issued in 1787 for 1788, at 9d. per copy, in addition to the 1s. 6d. required for stamp duty. It was barely half the size and not a tenth the value of the "Diary" published by Messrs Walter Showell and Sons, and of which 20,000 copies are given away annually. The stamp duty was removed from Almanacks in 1834. "Showell's Almanack" in past years was highly esteemed before we had been supplied with "Moody's," the "Red Book," &c., and a copy of it for the year 1839 is valuable as a curiosity, it being issued with a partly printed page with blanks left for the insertion of the names of the members of the Corporation, whose first election under the charter of incorporation was about to take place. To prevent any mistake, the "Esqrs." were carefully printed in where the names of the new Aldermen were to go, the blanks for Councillors being only honoured with a "Mr."
Almshouses for Lench's Trust were built in Steelhouse Lane in 1764. In later years other sets of houses have been built in Conybere Street, Hospital Street, Ravenhurst Street, and Ladywood Road, the inmates, all women, numbering 182. Jas. Dowell's Almshouses in Warner Street, consisting of 20 houses and a chapel, known as the "Retreat," were built in 1820. Mrs. Glover's Almshouses in Steelhouse Lane for 36 aged women, were erected in 1832. James Lloyd's twenty-four Almshouses in Belgrave Street were erected in 1869.
Aluminium.—This valuable material for the use of one of our staple trades was first obtained by a German chemist in 1837, but was not produced in sufficient quantity for manufacturing purposes until 1854, at which time its market value was 60s. per oz. It gradually cheapened, until it is now priced at 5s., and a company has lately been formed for its more easy manufacture, who promise to supply it at about as many pence.
Amphitheatres.—Astley's celebrated amphitheatre was brought here in October, 1787. Mr. and Mrs. Astley themselves had performed in Birmingham as early as 1772.—A local amphitheatre was opened in Livery Street in 1787, on the present site of Messrs. Billing's printing works. After the riots of 1791 it was used for a time by the congregations of Old and New Meeting, while their own chapels were being rebuilt. An attempt to bring it back to its old uses failed, and "the properties" were sold Nov. 25, 1795. Several sects occupied it in after years, the last being the Latter-Day Saints. It was taken down in 1848.—Another amphitheatre was opened at Bingley Hall, December 29, 1853, by the plucky but unlucky John Tonks, a well-known caterer for the public's amusement.
Amusement, Places of—Notes of the Theatres, Concert Halls, Parks, &c., will be found under the several headings. Among the most popular series of concerts of late years have been those of a Saturday evening (at 3d. admission) in the Town Hall, which began on Nov. 8, 1879, and are continued to present date.
Analyst.—Dr. Hill was appointed Borough Analyst in Feb., 1861, his duties being to examine and test any sample of food or drinks that may be brought or sent to him in order to prove their purity or otherwise. The fees are limited to a scale approved by the Town Council.
Ancient History of Birmingham can hardly be said to exist. Its rise and progress is essentially modern, and the few notes that have come to us respecting its early history will be found briefly summarised at the commencement of this book.
Anti-Borough-Rate Meeting.—In 1874 the Town Council asked for power to lay a Borough-rate exceeding 2s. in the L., but after three days' polling (ending March 30) permission was refused by a majority of 2,654 votes. The power was obtained afterwards.
Anti-Church-Rate Meetings were frequent enough at one period of our history. The two most worthy of remembrance were those of Dec. 15, 1834, when the rate was refused by a majority of 4,966 votes, and Oct., 1841, when the polling showed 626 for the rate and 7,281 against.
Anti-Corn-Law Meetings were also numerous. The one to recollect is that held Feb. 18, 1842.
Anti-Papal Demonstration.—A town's meeting took place in the Town Hall, Dec. 11, 1850, to protest against the assumption of ecclesiastical titles by the Catholic hierarchy. About 8,000 persons were present, and the "No Popery" element was strong, but Joseph Sturge moved an amendment for freedom to all parties, which so split the votes that the Mayor said the amendment was not carried and the resolution was lost.
Anti-Slavery.—The first Anti-Slavery meeting held here was that of Nov. 27, 1787. A local petition to Parliament against the slave trade was presented to the House of Commons, Feb. 11, 1788. A local society was formed here in 1826, Joseph Sturge being secretary, and many meetings were held before the Day of Abolition was celebrated. The most noteworthy of these was that at Dee's Assembly Room, April 16, 1833, when G.F. Muntz and the Political Union opposed the agitation; a great meeting, Oct. 14, 1835; another on Feb. 1, 1836, in which Daniel O'Connell and John Angell James took part. This last was the first large town's meeting at which the "total and immediate" abolition of slavery was demanded. Joseph Sturge following it up by going to the West Indies and reporting the hardships inflicted upon the blacks under the "gradual" system then in operation. Aug. 7, 1838, the day when slavery dropped its chains on English ground, was celebrated here by a children's festival in the Town Hall, by laying the foundation-stone of "The Negro Emancipation Schools," Legge Street, and by a public meeting at night, at which Sir Eardley Wilmott, D. O'Connell, Dr. Lushington, Edward Baines, &c., were present.
Anti-one-thing-or-t'other.—True to their motto, Birmingham people are always ready to oppose the wrong and forward the right, but what is right and what wrong is only to be ascertained by public discussion, and a few dates of celebrated "talks" are here given:—
In 1719 the apprenticing of Russian youths to local trades was objected to.
In the Christmas week of 1754 public protest was made against the tax on wheel carriages.
March 12, 1824, a deputation was sent to Parliament to protest against our workmen being allowed to emigrate, for fear they should teach the foreigners.
A proposed New Improvement Bill was vetoed by the burgesses, Dec. 18, 1855. We have improved a little since then!
An Anti-Confessional meeting was held Nov. 8, 1877.
An Anti-Contagious Diseases Act meeting, April 19, 1877.
An Anti-giving-up-Fugitive-Slave meeting, Jan. 1, 1876, when a certain Admiralty Circular was condemned.
An Anti-Irish-Church-Establishment meeting was held June 14, 1869.
An Anti-moving-the-Cattle Market meeting Dec. 14, 1869, Smithfield being preferred to Duddeston Hall.
An Anti-Railway-through-Sutton-Park meeting, April 15, 1872, but the railway is there.
An Anti-Rotten-Ship-and-Sailor-drowning meeting, with Mr. Plimsoll to the fore, May 14 1873. Another July 29, 1875.
An Anti-Ashantee War meeting Sept. 29, 1873.
An Anti-Turkish Atrocity meeting, Sept. 7, 1876; followed by one on Oct. 2nd, properly settling the Eastern question.
An Anti-Six-Million-War-Vote meeting was held on Jan. 28, 1878, when the Liberal majority was immense. A Tory opposition meeting, in support of the vote, was held Feb. 12, when chairs and forms were broken up to use as arguments, the result being a majority of 2 to 1 for both sides.
An Anti-War meeting, May 3, 1878.
Anti-Vivisection meetings. April 24, 1877, and May 6, 1878.
Apollo, Moseley Street.—Opened as a public resort in 1786, the Rea being then a clear running brook. The first tenant did not prosper, for in the first week of March, 1787, the Gazette contained an advertisement that the Apollo Hotel, "pleasantly situate in a new street, called Moseley Street, in the hamlet of Deritend, on the banks of the River Rea," with "a spacious Bowling Green and Gardens," was to be let, with or without four acres of good pasture land. When closed as a licensed house, it was at first divided into two residences, but in 1816 the division walls, &c., were removed, to fit it as a residence for Mr. Hamper, the antiquary. That gentleman wrote that the prospect at the back was delightful, and was bounded only by Bromsgrove Lickey. The building was then called "Deritend House."
Aquariums.—The Aquarium at Aston Lower Grounds was opened July 10, 1879. The principal room has a length of 312 feet, the promenade being 24 feet wide by 20 feet high. The west side of this spacious apartment is fitted with a number of large show tanks, where many rare and choice specimens of marine animals and fishes may be exhibited. On a smaller scale there is an Aquarium at the "Crystal Palace" Garden, at Sutton Coldfield, and a curiosity in the shape of an "Aquarium Bar" may be seen at the establishment of Mr. Bailey, in Moor Street.
Arcades.—The Arcade between Monmouth Street and Temple Row, was commenced April 26, 1875; first illuminated August 19, 1876, and opened for public use on 28th of that month. It is built over that portion of the G.W.R. line running from Monmouth Street to Temple Row, the front facing the Great Western Hotel, occupying the site once filled by the old Quaker's burial ground. It is the property of a company, and cost nearly L100,000, the architect being Mr. W.H. Ward. The shops number 38, and in addition there are 56 offices in the galleries.—The Central Arcade in Corporation Street, near to New Street, and leading into Cannon Street, is from the designs of the same architect and was opened September 26, 1881. Underneath the Arcade proper is the Central Restaurant, and one side of the thoroughfare forms part of the shop of Messrs. Marris and Norton.—The North-Western Arcade, which was opened April 5, 1884, is like a continuation of the first-named, being also built over the G.W.R. tunnel, and runs from Temple Row to Corporation Street. The architect is Mr. W. Jenkins, and the undertakers Messrs. Wilkinson and Riddell, who occupy the principal frontage. Several of the twenty-six shops into which the Arcade is divided have connection with places of business in Bull Street.—The Imperial Arcade, in Dale End, next to St. Peter's Church, is also a private speculation (that of Mr. Thos. Hall), and was opened at Christmas, 1883. It contains, in addition to the frontage, thirty-two shops, with the same number of offices above, while the basement forms a large room suitable for meetings, auctions, &c., it being 135ft. long, 55ft. wide and nearly 15ft. high. Two of the principal features of the Arcade are a magnificent stained window, looking towards St. Peters, and a curious clock, said to be the second of its kind in England, life-size figures of Guy, Earl of Warwick, and his Countess, with their attendants, striking the hours and quarters on a set of musical bells, the largest of which weighs about 5cwt.—Snow Hill Arcade, opposite the railway station, and leading to Slaney Street, is an improvement due to Mr. C. Ede, who has adopted the designs of Mr. J.S. Davis.—The Hen and Chickens Arcade has been designed by Mr. J.A. Cossins, for a company who purpose to build it, and, at the same time, enlarge the well-known New Street hotel of the same name. The portico and vestibule of the hotel will form the entrance in New Street to the Arcade, which will contain two-dozen good-sized shops, a large basement room for restaurant, &c.; the out in Worcester Street being nearly facing the Market Hall.
Area of Borough.—Birmingham covers an area of 8,400 acres, with an estimated population of 400,680 (end of 1881), thus giving an average of 47.7 persons to an acre. As a means of comparison, similar figures are given for a few other large towns:—
Area in Population Persons Acres in 1881 to acres Bradford ... 7,200 203,544 28.2 Bristol ... 4,452 217,185 48.3 Leeds ... 21,572 326,158 15.1 Leicester ... 3,200 134,350 42.0 Liverpool ... 5,210 549,834 105.6 Manchester ... 4,293 364,445 84.9 Nottingham ... 9,960 177,964 77.9 Newcastle ... 5,372 151,822 28.3 Salford ... 5,170 194,077 37.5 Sheffield ... 19,651 312,943 15.9 Wolverhmptn 3,396 76,850 22.6
Arms of the Borough.—The Town Council, on the 6th day of August, 1867, did resolve and declare that the Arms of the Borough should be blazoned as follows: "1st and 4th azure, a bend lozengy or; 2nd and 3rd, parti per pale or and gules."—(See cover).
Art and Artists.—An "Academy of Arts" was organised in 1814, and an exhibition of paintings took place in Union Passage that year, but the experiment was not repeated. A School of Design, or "Society of Arts," was started Feb. 7, 1821; Sir Robert Lawley (the first Lord Wenlock) presenting a valuable collection of casts from Grecian sculpture. The first exhibition was held in 1826, at The Panorama, an erection then standing on the site of the present building in New Street, the opening being inaugurated by a conversazione on September 10. In 1858, the School of Design was removed to the Midland Institute. The "Society of Artists" may be said to have commenced in 1826, when several gentlemen withdrew from the School of Design. Their number greatly increased by 1842, when they took possession of the Athenaeum, in which building their exhibitions were annually held until 1858. In that year they returned to New Street, acquiring the title of "Royal" in 1864. The Art Students' Literary Association was formed in September, 1869.
Art Gallery and School of Art.—In connection with the Central Free Library a small gallery of pictures, works of Art, &c., loaned or presented to the town, was opened to the public August 1, 1867, and from time to time was further enriched. Fortunately they were all removed previous to the disastrous fire of Jan. 11, 1879. A portion of the new Reference Library is at present devoted to the same purpose, pending the completion of the handsome edifice being erected by the Gas Committee at the back of the Municipal Buildings, and of which it will form a part, extending from Congreve Street along Edmund Street to Eden Place. The whole of the upper portion of the building will be devoted to the purposes of a Museum and Art Gallery, and already there has been gathered the nucleus of what promises to be one of the finest collections in the kingdom, more particularly in respect to works of Art relating more or less to some of the principal manufactures of Birmingham. There are a large number of valuable paintings, including many good specimens of David Cox and other local artists; quite a gallery of portraits of gentlemen connected with the town, and other worthies; a choice collection of gems and precious stones of all kinds; a number of rare specimens of Japanese and Chinese cloisonne enamels; nearly a complete set of the celebrated Soho coins and medals, with many additions of a general character; many cases of ancient Roman, Greek, and Byzantine coins; more than an hundred almost priceless examples of old Italian carvings, in marble and stone, with some dozens of ancient articles of decorative furniture; reproductions of delicately-wrought articles of Persian Art work, plate belonging to the old City Companies, the Universities, and from Amsterdam and the Hague; a collection of Wedgwood and other ceramic ware, the gift of Messrs. R. and G. Tangye, with thousands of other rare, costly, and beautiful things. In connection with the Art Gallery is the "Public Picture Gallery Fund," the founder of which was the late Mr. Clarkson Osler, who gave L3,000 towards it. From this fund, which at present amounts to about L450 per year, choice pictures are purchased as occasion offers, many others being presented by friends to the town, notably the works of David Cox, which were given by the late Mr. Joseph Nettlefold.—The School of Art, which is being built in Edmund Street, close to the Art Gallery, is so intimately connected therewith that it may well be noticed with it. The ground, about 1,000 square yards, has been given by Mr. Cregoe Colmore, the cost of election being paid out of L10,000 given by Miss Ryland, and L10,000 contributed by Messrs. Tangye. The latter firm have also given L5,000 towards the Art Gallery; Mr. Joseph Chamberlain has contributed liberally in paintings and in cash; other friends have subscribed about L8,000; Mr. Nettlefold's gift was valued at L14,000, and altogether not less than L40,000 has been presented to the town in connection with the Art Gallery, in addition to the whole cost of the School of Art.
Art Union.—The first Ballot for pictures to be chosen from the Annual Exhibition of Local Artists took place in 1835, the Rev. Hugh Hutton having the honour of originating it. The tickets were 21s. each, subscribers receiving an engraving.
Ash, John, M.D.—Born in 1723, was an eminent physician who practised in Birmingham for some years, but afterwards removed to London. He devoted much attention to the analysis of mineral waters, delivered the Harveian oration in 1790, and was president of a club which numbered among its members some of the most learned and eminent men of the time. Died in 1798.
Ashford, Mary.—Sensational trials for murder have of late years been numerous enough, indeed, though few of them have had much local interest, if we except that of the poisoner Palmer. The death of the unfortunate Mary Ashford, however, with the peculiar circumstance attending the trial of the supposed murderer, and the latter's appeal to the right then existing under an old English law of a criminal's claim to a "Trial of Battel," invested the case with an interest which even at this date can hardly be said to have ceased. Few people can be found to give credence to the possibility of the innocence of Abraham Thornton, yet a careful perusal of a history of the world-known but last "Wager of Battel" case, as written by the late Mr. Toulmin Smith, must lead to the belief that the poor fellow was as much sinned against as sinning, local prejudices and indignant misrepresentations notwithstanding. So far from the appeal to the "Wager of Battel" being the desperate remedy of a convicted felon to escape the doom justly imposed upon him for such heinous offence as the murder of an innocent girl, it was simply the attempt of a clever attorney to remove the stigma attached to an unfortunate and much-maligned client. The dead body of Mary Ashford was found in a pit of water in Sutton Coldfield, on the 27th of May, 1817, she having been seen alive on the morning of the same day. Circumstances instantly, and most naturally, fastened suspicion of foul play upon Abraham Thornton. He was tried at Warwick, at the Autumn Assizes of the same year, and acquitted. The trial was a very remarkable one. Facts were proved with unusual clearness and precision, which put it beyond the bounds of physical possibility that he could have murdered Mary Ashford. Those facts hinged on the time shown by several different clocks, compared with the standard time kept at Birmingham. But the public feeling on the matter was intense. An engraving of the scene of the alleged murder, with a stimulating letter-press description, was published at the time, and the general sense undoubtedly was, that the perpetrator of a very foul murder had escaped his just doom. Hoping to do away with this impression, a well-known local lawyer bethought himself of the long-forgotten "Appeal of Murder," trusting that by a second acquittal Thornton's innocence would be acknowledged by all. Though the condition of all the parties was but humble, friends soon came forward with funds and good advice, so that within the year and a day which the law allowed, proceedings were taken in the name of William Ashford (Mary's brother, who, as next heir, according to the old law, had the sole power of pardon in such a case) for an "Appeal of Murder" against Abraham Thornton. What followed is here given in Mr. Toulmin Smith's own words:—"I have seen it stated, hot indignation colouring imagination, that here was a weak stripling nobly aroused to avenge the death of his sister, by tendering himself to do battle against the tall strong man who was charged with her murder. The facts, as they stand are truly striking enough; but this melodramatic spectacle does not formally true part of them." A writ of "Appeal of Murder" was soon issued. It bears the date of 1st October, 1817. Under that writ Thornton was again arrested by the Sheriff of Warwick. On the first day of Michaelmas Term, in the same year, William Ashford appeared in the Court of King's Bench at Westminster, as appellant, and Abraham Thornton, brought up on writ of habeas corpus, appeared as appellee. The charge of murder was formally made by the appellant; and time to plead to this charge was granted to the appellee until Monday, 16th November.—It must have been a strange and startling scene, on the morning of that Monday, 16th November, 1817, when Abraham Thornton stood at the bar of the Court of King's Bench in Westminster Hall; a scene which that ancient Hall had not witnessed within the memory of any living man, but which must have then roused the attention of even its drowsiest haunter. "The appellee being brought into Court and placed at the bar" (I am quoting the original dry technical record of the transaction), "and the appellant being also in court, the count [charge] was again read over to him, and he [Thornton] was called upon to plead. He pleaded as follows;—'Not Guilty; and I am ready to defend the same by my body.' And thereupon, taking his glove off, he threw it on the floor of the Court." That is to say, Ashford having "appealed" Thornton of the murder, Thornton claimed the right to maintain his own innocence by "Trial of Battel;" and so his answer to the charge was a "Wager of Battel." And now the din of fight seemed near, with the Court of King's Bench at Westminster for the arena, and the grave Judges of that Court for the umpires. But the case was destined to add but another illustration to what Cicero tells us of how, oftentimes, arms yield to argument, and the swordsman's looked-for laurel vanishes before the pleader's tongue. William Ashford, of course, acting under the advice of those who really promoted the appeal, declined to accept Thornton's wager of battel. Instead of accepting it, his counsel disputed the right of Thornton to wage his battel in this case; alleging, in a very long plea, that there were presumptions of guilt so strong as to deprive him of that right. Thornton answered this plea by another, in which all the facts that had been proved on the trial at Warwick were set forth at great length. And then the case was very elaborately argued, for three days, by two eminent and able counsel, one of whom will be well remembered by most readers as the late Chief-Justice Tindal. Tindal was Thornton's counsel. Of course I cannot go here into the argument. The result was, that, on 16th April, 1881, the full Court (Lord Ellenborough, and Justices Bayley, Abbott, and Holroyd) declared themselves unanimously of opinion that the appellee (Thornton) was entitled to, wage his battel, no presumptions of guilt having been shown clear enough or strong enough to deprive him of that right. Upon this, Ashford, not having accepted the wager of battel, the "appeal" was stayed, and Thornton was discharged. Thus no reversal took place of the previous acquittal of Thornton by the Jury at Warwick Assizes. But that acquittal had nothing whatever to do with any "trial by battel;" for I have shown that the "wager of battel" arose out of a proceeding later than and consequent upon that acquittal, and that this "wager of battel" never reached the stage of a "trial by battel."
What became of Thornton is unknown, but he is supposed to have died in America, where he fled to escape the obloquoy showered upon him by an unforgiving public. The adage that "murder will out" has frequently proved correct, but in this case it has not, and the charge against Thornton is reiterated in every account of this celebrated trial that has been published, though his innocence cannot now be doubted.
Ashted, now a populous part of the town, takes its name from Dr. Ash, whose residence was transformed into Ashted Church, the estate being laid out for building in 1788.
Assay Marks.—These consist of the initials of the maker, the Queen's head for the duty (17/-on gold, 1/6 on silver, per oz.), a letter (changed yearly) for date, an anchor for the Birmingham office mark, and the standard or value mark, which is given in figures, thus:—for gold of 22-carat fineness (in oz. of 24) a crown and 22; 18-carat, a crown and 18; 15-carat, 15.625; 12-carat, 12.5; 9-carat, 9.375. The value mark for silver of 11 oz. 10 dwts. (in lb. of 12 oz.) is the figure of Britannia; for 11 oz. 2 dwts. a lion passant. The date letter is changed in July. At present it is k. The lower standards of 15, 12, and 9-carat gold (which are not liable to duty), were authorised by an Order in Council, of December 22, 1854, since which date an immense increase has taken place in the quantity assayed in Birmingham.
Assay Office.—There are seven Assay Offices in the country, the Birmingham one being established by special Act in 1773, for the convenience of silversmiths and plateworkers. A few hours per week was sufficient for the business at that time, and it was conducted at the King's Head in New Street; afterwards, in 1782, in Bull Lane, in 1800 at a house in Little Colmore Street, and from 1816 at the old Baptist Chapel in Little Cannon Street. In 1824 the Act 5, George IV., cap 52, incorporated the assay of gold, the guardians being 36 in number, from whom are chosen the wardens. On July 14, 1877, the foundation stone was laid of the New Assay Office in Newhall Street, and it was opened for business June 24, 1878.
Assizes.—Birmingham was "proclaimed" an assize town January 14, 1859, but the first assizes were held in July, 1884.
Aston.—Eight hundred years ago, Aston filled a small space in the Domesday book of history, wherein it is stated that the estate consisted of eight hides of land, and three miles of wood, worth L5, with 44 residents (one being a priest), and 1,200 acres in cultivation. The present area of Aston Manor is 943 acres, on which are built about 14,000 houses, having a population of some 60,000 persons, and a rateable value of L140,000. In the first ten years of the existence of the Local Board (1869 to 1878) L30,000 was spent on main drainage works, L10,000 in public improvements, and L53,000 in street improvements. Aston has now its Public Buildings, Free Library, &c., as well as an energetic School Board, and, though unsuccessful in its attempt in 1876 to obtain a charter of incorporation, there can be little doubt but that it will ultimately bloom forth in all the glories of a Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses. Aston parish, which extends in several directions into the borough of Birmingham, has an area of 13,786 acres.
Aston Almshouses were built in 1655, according to the provisions made by Sir Thomas Holte previous to his decease.
Aston Church was probably built about the year 1170, the nave and part of chancel being added in 1231, the east end and arch of chancel in 1310, and the tower and spire in 1440. The old building, which contained an interesting collection of monuments in memory of the Holtes, the Ardens, the Erdingtons, and other county families, has been lately enlarged by the extension of the nave and aisles eastward, and widening the chancel so as to accommodate about 1,200 people, instead of 500. The whole of the monuments have been replaced in their relative positions.
Aston Cross Tavern was opened as a licensed house and tea gardens in 1775, the first landlord, Mr. Barron, dying in 1792, his widow keeping it till her death in 1817. Of late years it has been a favourite resort of all classes of athletes, though from being so closely built to it has lost much of the attraction which drew our grandfathers to its shady arbours when on country pleasure bent. The park wall extended to the corner of and along the side of Park Lane, opposite the tavern.
Aston Hall and Park.—This building was commenced by Sir Thomas Holte in April, 1618, and finished in April, 1635, Inigo Jones being accredited with the design. King Charles I., in his days of trouble, paid a short visit to the Hall, his host being punished afterwards by some of Cromwell's soldiers and the malcontents of Birmingham besieging the place in the week after Christmas, 1643. The brick wall round the park, nearly three miles long, but of which there are now few traces left, was put up by Sir Lister Holte about 1750, and tradition says it was paid for by some Staffordshire coal-masters, who, supposing that coal lay underneath, conditioned with Sir Lister that no mines should be sunk within [word missing—presume "its"] boundary. The Hall and Park were held by the various generations of the family till the death of the late Dowager Lady Holte. (For an accurate and interesting description of the edifice see Davidson's "Holtes of Aston.") The Act authorising the sale of the Aston estates received the royal sanction on July 10, 1817, and the sale of the furniture and effects in the Hall was commenced by Messrs. J. and C. Robins on September 22. The sale lasted nine days, there being 1,144 lots, which realised L2,150; the farming stock, &c., being sold afterwards for L1,201. The Hall and Park was put up on April 15, 1818, and was bought by Messrs. Greenway, Greaves, and Whitehead, bankers, of Warwick, the estate of 1,530 acres being let off by them in suitable lots. The herd of deer, reduced to 150 head, was sold December 21. The Hall was rented by Mr. James Watt, son of the James Watt, and for many years it was closed to the public. At his death, in 1848, the changes which had been going on all round for years begin to make themselves seen in the shape of huge gaps in the old wall, houses springing up fast here and there, and a street being cut through the noble avenue of chestnut trees in 1852. By degrees, the park was reduced to 370 acres, which, with the Hall, were offered to the town in 1850 for the sum of L130,000; but the Town Council declined the bargain, though less than one-half of the Park (150 acres) was sold immediately after for more than all the money. In 1857 a "People's Park" Company was started to "Save Aston Hall" and the few acres close round it, an agreement being entered into for L35,000. Many of the 20s. shares were taken up, and Her Majesty the Queen performed the opening ceremony June 15, 1858. The speculation proved a failure, as out of about L18,000 raised one-half went in repairs, alterations, losses, &c., and it would have been lost to the town had not the Corporation bought it in February, 1864. They gave L33,000 (L7,000 being private subscriptions), and it was at last opened as a free park, September 22, 1864. The picture gallery is 136ft. long, by 18ft. wide and 16ft. high. In this and various other rooms, will be found a miscellaneous museum of curiosities, more or less rare, including stuffed birds and animals, ancient tapestry and furniture, &c.
Aston Lower Grounds, the most beautiful pleasure grounds in the Midland counties, cover 31 acres, and were originally nothing more than the kitchen and private gardens and the fish-ponds belonging to Aston Hall, and were purchased at the sale in 1818 by the Warwick bankers, who let them to Mr. H.G. Quilter, at the time an attempt was made to purchase the Hall and Park "by the people." Adding to its attractions year by year, Mr. Quilter remained on the ground until 1878, when a limited liability company was formed to take to the hotel and premises, building an aquarium 320 feet long by 54 feet wide, an assembly-room, 220 feet long, by 91 feet wide, and otherwise catering for the comfort of their visitors, 10,000 of whom can be now entertained and amused under shelter, in case of wet weather. Mr. Quilter's selling price was L45,000, taking L25,000 in shares, and L20,000 cash by instalments. The speculation did not appear to be very successful, and the property is now in private hands. The visitors to the Lower Grounds since 1864 have averaged 280,000 per annum.
Asylum, in Summer Lane, was opened in July 1797, by the Guardians of the Poor as an industrial residence and school for 250 children. It was dismantled and closed in 1846, though the "Beehive" carved over the door was allowed to remain on the ruins some years after.
Athenaeum—For the "diffusion of Literature and Science" was established in March, 1839, but has long been merged in the Midland Institute. In the building called the "Athenaeum", top of Temple Street, some of the early exhibitions of paintings were held.
Athenic Institute, founded in 1841, was an institute of a somewhat similar character to the Athenaeum, though including athletics, and existed no longer.
Athletic Clubs.—The first festival of the Birmingham Athletic Club was held in 1868. On the 1st of March, 1880, an association was organised of many of the bicycle clubs, cricket clubs, football clubs, and similar athletic bodies in the town and neighbourhood, under the name of "The Midland Counties Amateurs' Athletic Union."
Atlantic Cables.—It would have been strange if Birmingham had not had a hand in the making of these. For the cable laid in 1865, 16,000 miles of copper wire, weighing 308 tons, were turned out by Messrs. Bolton and Sons and Messrs. Wilkes and Sons. The cable itself was 2,300 (nautical) miles in length.
Baby Show.—Let Mr. Inshaw, of the "Steam Clock," have the honour of being recorded as the first to introduce the Yankee notion of a "baby show," which took place at his Music Hall, May 15, 1874.
Bachelors.—In 1695, bachelors over 24 had to pay a tax of 1s., if "a common person," the scale running as high as L12 10s. for a duke! Judging from the increase of the population about that time, we doubt if even a "common" bachelor paid here. The married folks had not much to laugh at though, for they had to pay duty on every child that was born. Funny time, those!
Balloons.—A Mr. Harper was the first to scale the clouds in a balloon from this town, January 4, 1785. He rose again on the 31, from the Tennis Court, in Coleshill Street, and is said to have sailed a distance of 57 miles in 80 minutes. Mr. Sadler went up from Vauxhall, October 7th, 1811, and again on October 20th, 1823. Mr. Green rose from Newhall Hill, July 17th, 1827, and several times after.
Balsall Heath.—In some ancient deeds called "Boswell Heath." The land round Mary street, known as the Balsall Heath estate, was sold in building lots (234) in 1839, the last day's sale being August 26, and the auctioneers, Messrs. E. & C. Robins. Edwardes-street takes its name from the last owner of the estate, who, if he could now but glance over the property, would be not a little astonished at the changes which have taken place in the last forty years, for, like unto Aston, it may be said to really form but a portion of the ever-extending town of Birmingham. Balsall Heath, which is in the parish of King's Norton, has now a Local Board (with its offices in Lime Grove, Moseley Road) several Board schools, chapels, and churches, a police court, and that sure mark of advancement, a local newspaper. One thing still wanting, however, is a cemetery. Though an appropriate and convenient spot near Cannon Hill Park was chosen for the last resting-place, the ratepayers, at a meeting held July 21, 1879, decided that they could not yet afford the required outlay of some L17,000 necessary for the purpose, notwithstanding that the annual rateable value of the property in the neighbourhood is something like L70,000, and increasing by three to four thousand a year.
Banks and Bankers.—The Birmingham Branch Bank of England (drawing on the parent Bank of England), is in Bennett's Hill.
The local Branch of the National Provincial Bank of England (Lim.), Bennett's Hill, also draws on its headquarters. It commenced business here on New Year's Day 1827.
The Birmingham Banking Company (Lim.), also in Bennett's Hill, draws on the London and Westminster. It opened its doors Sept. 1, 1829, with a nominal capital of L500,000, in L50 shares, L5 being paid up at starting. An amalgamation took place in the year 1880 with the Stourbridge and Kidderminster Bank (established in 1834) the united company having a paid-up capital of L286,000 and a reserve of L312,000.
The Birmingham and Midland Bank (Limited) opened in Union Street, August 23, 1836, removing to New Street in 1869. London agents, the Union Bank of London. Authorised capital, L2,400,000.
The Birmingham, Dudley, and District Banking Co. (Limited) was commenced in Colmore Row July 1st, 1836, as the Town and District Bank, with a capital of L500,000, in L20 shares. London agents, Barclay and Co., and Williams and Co.
The Birmingham Joint Stock Bank (Limited) opened in Temple Row West, Jan. 1st, 1862, with a capital of L3,000,000, in L100 shares, L10 paid. Agents, London Joint Stock. Has branches in New Street and Great Hampton Street.
Lloyds' Banking Co. (Limited) Colmore Row, dates from June 3rd, 1765. when it was known as Taylor and Lloyds, their first premises being in Dale End [hence the name of Bank Passage]. This old established firm has incorporated during its century of existence a score of other banks, and lately has been amalgamated with Barnetts, Hoares, and Co., of London, the present name being Lloyd, Barnett, Bosanquet, and Co. (Limited). There are sub-offices also in Great Hampton Street, Deritend, Five Ways and Aston. In this and adjoining counties, Lloyds' number about 40 branch establishments.
The Worcester City and County Banking Co. (Limited), drawing on Glynn and Co., removed from Cherry Street to their newly-built edifice in Colmore Row, June 1, 1880.
The Union Bank of Birmingham (Limited), Waterloo Street, commenced business with a nominal capital of L1,000,000, in L20 shares, L5 paid. London agents, the City Bank. It has since been taken over by the Midland Bank.
Banks.—A popular Penny Bank was established in 1851, but came to grief in 1865, closing March 16, with assets L1,608, to pay debts L9,448. Another penny bank was opened in Granville Street, April 13, 1861, and is still carried on at the Immanuel Schools, Tennant Street, with about 5,000 depositors at the present time.
A Local Savings Bank was opened in May, 1827, and legalised in the year after, but ultimately its business was transferred to the Post Office Savings Bank, which opened its doors in Cannon Street, Dec. 1, 1863. By a Government return, it appeared that at the end of 1880 the total amount to the credit of depositors in the Post Office Savings Banks of the Kingdom stood at L30,546,306. After the Metropolitan counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent, Warwickshire comes next with a deposit of L1,564,815, the average for the whole of the English counties being but little over L500,000.
Banks Defunct.—The old-established concern known so long as Attwood and Spooner's closed its doors March 10, 1865, with liabilities amounting to L1,007,296. The Joint Stock Bank took the business, and paid 11s. 3d. in the L.
Bank of Deposit stopped Oct. 26, 1861.
The Borough Bank, a branch of Northern and Central Bank of England, stopped Feb. 24, 1840.
The Commercial (Branch) Bank, closed July 27, 1840.
Coates, Woolley and Gordon, who occupied the premises at corner of Cherry Street and Cannon Street in 1814, was joined to Moilliet's, and by them to Lloyds.
Freer, Rotton, Lloyds and Co., of 1814, changed to Rotton, Onions and Co., then Rotton and Scholefield, next to Rotton and Son, and lastly with its manager transferred to National Provincial.
Galton, Galton and James, of 1814, retired in 1830.
Gibbins, Smith, and Co. failed in 1825, paying nearly 20s. in the L.
Gibbins and Lowell, opened in 1826, but was joined to Birmingham Banking Co. in 1829.
Smith, Gray, Cooper and Co., of 1815, afterwards Gibbins, Smith, and Goode, went in 1825.
Banknotes.—Notes for 5/3 were issued in 1773. 300 counterfeit L1 notes, dated 1814, were found near Heathfield House, January 16, 1858. A noted forger of these shams is said to have resided in the immediate neighbourhood about the period named on the discovered "flimsies." When Boulton and Watt were trying to get the Act passed patenting their copying-press the officials of the Bank of England opposed it for fear it should lead to forgery of their notes, and several Members of Parliament actually tried to copy banknotes as they did their letters.
Bankrupts.—In the year 1882 (according to the Daily Post) there were 297 bankruptcies, compositions, or liquidations in Birmingham, the total amount of debts being a little over L400,000. The dividends ranged from 2d. to 15s. in the L, one-half the whole number, however, realising under 1s. 6d. The estimated aggregate loss to creditors is put at L243,000.
Baptists.—As far back as 1655, we have record of meetings or conferences of the Baptist churches in the Midland district, their representatives assembling at Warwick on the second day of the third month, and at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, on the 26th of the fourth month in that year. Those were the Cromwellian days of religious freedom, and we are somewhat surprised that no Birmingham Baptists should be among those who gathered together at the King's Head, at Moreton, on the last named date, as we find mention made of brethren from Warwick, Tewkesbury, Alcester, Derby, Bourton-on-the-Water, Hook Norton, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, and even of there being a community of the same persuasion at Cirencester. The conference of the Midland Counties' District Association of Baptist Churches met in this town for the first time in 1740.—For Chapels see "Places of Worship."
Barr Beacon.—A trial was made on January 10, 1856, as to how far a light could be seen by the ignition of a beacon on Malvern Hills. It was said to have been seen from Snowdon in Wales (105 miles), and at other parts of the country at lesser distances, though the gazers at Worcester saw it not. The look-out at Dudley Castle (26 miles) could have passed the signal on to Barr Beacon, but it was not needed, as the Malvern light was not only seen there, but still away on at Bardon Hill, Leicester.—Many persons imagine that Barr Beacon is the highest spot in the Midland Counties, but the idea is erroneous, Turners Hill, near Lye Cross, Rowley Regis, which is 893 ft. above mean sea level, being considerably higher, while the Clee Hills reach an altitude of 1,100 ft.
Barber of Birmingham, The.—The knights of the pole (or poll) have always been noted for getting into mischief, and it is not therefore so very surprising to find that in March, 1327, a royal pardon had to be granted to "Roger, the barber of Birmingham," for the part he had taken in the political disturbances of that time. Was he a Con., or a Lib., Tory or Rad.?
Baron of Birmingham.—One of the titles of Lord Ward.
Barracks.—Built in 1793, at a cost of L13,000, as a consequence of the riots of 1791.
Barring Out—On the 26th of Nov. 1667, the scholars of the Grammar School "barred out" the Master, and then left the school for a time. When they returned they found the worthy pedagogue had obtained admission and intended to keep his young rebels outside. Whereupon, says an old chronicler, they, being reinforced by certain of the townsmen "in vizards, and with pistolls and other armes," sought to re-enter by assault, threatening to kill the Master, and showering stones and bricks through the windows. When the fun was over the Governors passed a law that any boy taking part in future "barrings-out" should be expelled from the School, but the amusement seems to have been rather popular, as an entry in the School records some ten years later show that a certain Widow Spooner was paid one shilling "for cleansinge ye Schoole at penninge out."
Baskerville (John).—This celebrated local worthy was a native of Wolverley, near Kidderminster, having been born in the year 1706. He came to this town in early life, as we find that he kept a writing school in 1726. In 1745 he built himself a residence at Easy-hill, and carried on the business of japanner afterwards adding to it that of printer and typefounder. His achievements in this line have made his name famous for ever, though it is said that he spent L600 before he could produce one letter to his own satisfaction, and some thousands before he obtained any profits from his printing trade. He was somewhat eccentric in personal matters of dress and taste, his carriage (drawn by cream-coloured horses) being a wonderful specimen of the art of japanning in the way of pictured panels, etc., while he delighted to adorn his person in the richest style of dress. The terms of his peculiar will, and his apparent renunciation of Christianity, were almost as curious as his choice of a place of sepulture. He was buried in his own grounds under a solid cone of masonry, where his remains lay until 1821, at which time the canal wharf, now at Easy Row, was being made. His body was found in a good state of preservation, and for some short period was almost made a show of, until by the kindness of Mr. Knott the bookseller, it was taken to Us present resting-place in one of the vaults under Christ Church. Mr. Baskerville died January 8, 1775, his widow living till March 21, 1787, to the age of 80 years.
Baths.—Ladywell Baths were said by Hutton to be the most complete in the island, being seven in number, that for swimmers 36 yards long by 18 wide, and cost L2,000. The place is now occupied by a timber yard, the old spring being covered in, though fitted with a pump for public use. For many years a tribe of water carriers procured a living by retailing the water at a halfpenny per can. The red sand from the New Street tunnels was turned to account in tilling up the old baths, much to the advantage of Mr. Turner, the lessee, and of the hauliers who turned the honest penny by turning in so near at hand.
Baths and Wash-houses.—The local movement for the establishment of public Baths first took practical shape at a meeting held Nov. 19,1844, within a week of which date subscriptions amounting to L4,430 were received for the purpose. The Association then formed purchased a plot of land in Kent Street in June, 1846, and presented it to the Town Council in November following, though the Baths erected thereon were not opened to the public until May 12, 1851. It was at that time imagined that the working classes would be glad of the boon provided for them in the convenient wash-houses attached to the Baths proper, and the chance given them to do away with all the sloppy, steamy annoyances of washing-day at home, but the results proved otherwise, and the wash-houses turned out to be not wanted. The Woodcock Street establishment was opened August 27, 1860; Northwood Street, March 5, 1862; Sheepcote Street in 1878, and Ladywood in 1882. Turkish Baths are now connected with the above, and there are also private speculations of the same kind in High Street, Broad Street, and the Crescent. Hardy swimmers, who prefer taking their natatory exercises in the open air, will find provision made for them at the Reservoir, at Cannon Hill Park, and also at Small Heath Park. The swimming-bath in George Street, Balsall Heath, opened in 1846, was filled up in 1878, by order of the Local Board of Health.
Bath Street takes its name from some baths formerly in Blews Street, but which, about 1820, were turned into a malthouse.
Battle Of the Alma.—A disturbance which took place at a steeplechase meeting at Aston, Monday, March 26, 1855, received this grandiloquent title.
Battles and Sieges.—It is more than probable that the British, under their gallant Queen Boadicea, fought the Romans more than once in the near vicinity of this district, and very possibly in those happy days of feudalism, which followed the invasion of the Normans, when every knight and squire surrounded himself with his armed retainers, sundry skirmishes may have taken place hereabouts, but history is silent. Even of the battle of Barnet (April 14, 1471), when the Earl of Warwick and 10,000 men were slain, we have not sufficient note to say, though it can hardly be doubted, that many Birmingham citizens went down. But still we have on record one real "Battle of Birmingham," which took place on the 3rd of April, 1643. On that day our town was attacked by Prince Rupert, with some 2,000 horse and foot; being pretty stoutly opposed, his soldiers slew a number of inhabitants, burnt nearly 80 houses, and did damage (it is said) to the extent of L30,000. It took five days for the news of this exploit to reach London. In the week following Christmas of the same year, a number of townspeople, aided by a party of the Commonwealth soldiers, laid siege to, and captured, Aston Hall.
Bazaars.—When originated none can tell. How much good done by means of them, nobody knows. But that immense amounts have been raised for good and charitable purposes, none can deny—and then, "they are such fun!". "Grand Bazaars" have been held for many an institution, and by many different sects and parties, and to attempt to enumerate them would be an impossibility, but the one on behalf of the Queen's Hospital, held in April, 1880, is noteworthy, for two reasons:—first, because the proceeds amounted to the munificent sum of L5,969, and, secondly, from the novelty of the decorations. The body of the Town Hall was arranged to represent an English street of the olden time, a baronial castle rising tower upon tower at the great gallery end, and an Elizabethan mansion in the orchestra, with a lawn in front, occupied by a military band. The sides of the Hall constituted a double row of shops, the upper storeys (reaching to the galleries) being filled with casements and balconies, from whence the doings in the street could be witnessed.
Bean Club.—The first anniversary we read of was that held July 17, 1752, at which meeting Lord Fielding gave L120 to erect an altarpiece in St. Bartholomew's.
Beardsworth (John).—Founder of the Repository, began life as driver of a hackney coach, in which one night he drove a beautiful young lady to a ball. John went home, dressed, procured admission to the ball, danced with the lady, handed her to the coach, drove her home, and some time after married her. The lady's cash enabled him to acquire an ample fortune, being at one time worth nearly a quarter of a million, most of which, however, was lost on the turf. The Repository was the largest establishment of the kind in the kingdom, and Beardsworth'a house adjoining was furnished in most splendid style, one centre table (made of rich and rare American wood) costing L1,500.
Beelzebub.—Watt's first steam engine was so christened. It was brought from Scotland, put up at Soho, and used for experimenting upon. It was replaced by "Old Bess," the first engine constructed upon the expansive principle. This latter engine is now in the Museum of Patents, South Kensington, though Mr. Smiles says he saw it working in 1857, seventy years after it was made.
Beer.—Brewers of beer were first called upon to pay a license duty in 1784, though the sellers thereof had been taxed more or less for 250 years previously. The effect of the heavy duties then imposed was to reduce the consumption of the national and wholesome beverage, which in 1782 averaged one barrel per head of the then population per annum, down to half-a-barrel per head in 1830, its place being filled by an increased consumption of ardent spirits, which from half-a-gallon per head in 1782, rose by degrees to six-sevenths of a gallon per head by 1830. In this year, the statesmen of the day, who thought more of the well-being of the working part of the population than raising money by the taxation of their necessaries, took off the 10s. per barrel on beer, in the belief that cheap and good malt liquors would be more likely to make healthy strong men than an indulgence in the drinking of spirits. Notwithstanding all the wild statements of the total abstainers to the contrary, the latest Parliamentary statistics show that the consumption of beer per head per annum averages now only seven-eighths of a barrel, though before even this moderate quantity reaches the consumers, the Government takes [see Inland Revenue returns, 1879, before alteration of malt-tax] no less a sum than L19,349 per year from the good people of Birmingham alone. Of this sum the brewers paid L9,518, the maltsters L425, beer dealers L2,245, and beer retailers L7,161.
Bells.—There was a bell foundry at Good Knave's End, in 1760, from whence several neighbouring churches were supplied with bells to summon the good knaves of the day to prayers, or to toll the bad knaves to their end. There was also one at Holloway Head, in 1780, but the business must have been hollow enough, for it did not go ahead, and we find no record of church bells being cast here until just a hundred years back (1732), when Messrs. Blews & Son took up the trade. Birmingham bells have, however, made some little noise in the world, and may still be heard on sea or land, near and far, in the shape of door bells, ship bells, call bells, hand bells, railway bells, sleigh bells, sheep bells, fog bells, mounted on rockbound coasts to warn the weary mariner, or silver bells, bound with coral from other coasts, to soothe the toothless babbler. These, and scores of others, are ordered here every year by thousands; but the strangest of all orders must have been that one received by a local firm some fifteen years ago from a West African prince, who desired them to send him 10,000 house bells (each 3/4 lb. weight), wherewith to adorn his iron "palace." And he had them! Edgar Poe's bells are nowhere, in comparison with
Such a charm, such a chime, Out of tune, out of time. Oh, the jangling and the wrangling Of ten thousand brazen throats.
Ten bells were put in St. Martin's, in 1786, the total weight being 7 tons, 6 cwt. 2 lbs.
The peal of ten bells in St. Philip's were first used August 7, 1751, the weight being 9 tons 10 cwt. 22 lbs., the tenor weighs 30 cwt.
A new peal of eight bells were put up in Aston Church, in May, 1776, the tenor weighing 21 cwt. The St. Martin's Society of Change Ringers "opened" them, July 15, by ringing Holt's celebrated peal of 5040 grandsire triples, the performance occupying 3 hours 4 minutes.
Eight bells and a clock were mounted in the tower of Deritend Chapel, in 1776, the first peal being rung July 29.
The eight bells in Bishop Ryder's Church, which weigh 55 cwt., and cost L600, were cast in 1868, by Blews and Sons, and may be reckoned as the first full peal founded in Birmingham.
There are eight bells in Harborne Parish Church, four of them bearing date 1697, two with only the makers' name on, and two put in February, 1877, on the 24th of which month the whole peal were inaugurated by the ringing of a true peal of Stedman triples, composed by the late Thomas Thurstans, and consisting of 5,040 changes, in 2 hours and 52 minutes. The St. Martin's ringers officiated.
The six bells of Northfield Church were cast by Joseph Smith, of Edgbaston, in 1730.
St. Chad's Cathedral has eight bells, five of which were presented in 1848 as a memorial to Dr. Moore; the other three, from the foundry of W. Blews and Sons, were hung in March, 1877 the peculiar ceremony of "blessing the bells" being performed by Bishop Ullathorne on the 22nd of that month. The three cost L110. The bells at Erdington Catholic Church were first used on February 2, 1878.
Bellows to Mend.—Our townspeople bellowed a little over their losses after Prince Rupert's rueful visit, but there was one among them who knew how to "raise the wind," for we find Onions, the bellows-maker, hard at work in 1650; and his descendants keep at the same old game.
Bennett's Hill.—There was a walled-in garden (with an old brick summer-house) running up from Waterloo-street to Colmore-row as late as 1838-9.
Benefit and Benevolent Societies.—See "Friendly Societies."
Bellbarn Road, or the road to Mr. Bell's barn.
Bermingham.—The Irish family of this name descended from Robert, son of Peter de Bermingham, who left here and settled in Connaught about the year 1169.
Bibles and Testaments.—In 1272 the price of a Bible, well written out, was L30 sterling, and there were few readers of it in Birmingham. The good book can now be bought for 6d., and it is to be hoped there is one in every house. The Rev. Angell James once appealed to his congregation for subscriptions towards sending a million New Testaments to China, and the Carrslaneites responded promptly with L410 8s., enough to pay for 24,624 copies—the publisher's price being 4d. each. They can be bought for a penny now.—A local Auxiliary Bible Society was commenced here May 9, 1806.
Bingley Hall—Takes its name from Bingley House, on the site of which it is built. It was erected in 1850 by Messrs. Branson and Gwyther, at a cost of about L6,000, the proprietary shares being L100 each. In form it is nearly a square, the admeasurements being 224 ft. by 212 ft., giving an area of nearly one acre and a half. There are ten entrance doors, five in King Edward's Place, and five in King Alfred's Place, and the building may be easily divided into five separate compartments. The Hall will hold from 20,000 to 25,000 people, and is principally used for Exhibitions and Cattle Shows; with occasionally "monster meetings," when it is considered necessary for the welfare of the nation to save sinners or convert Conservatives.
Bird's-eye View of the town can be best obtained from the dome of the Council House, to which access may be obtained on application to the Curator. Some good views may be also obtained from some parts of Moseley Road, Cannon Hill Park, and from Bearwood Road.
Birmingham.—A horse of this name won the Doncaster St. Leger in 1830 against 27 competitors. The owner, John Beardsworth, cleared L40,000. He gave Connolly, the jockey, L2,000.
Birmingham Abroad.—Our brethren who have emigrated do not like to forget even the name of their old town, and a glance over the American and Colonial census sheet shows us that there are at least a score of other Birminghams in the world. In New Zealand there are three, and in Australia five townships so christened. Two can be found in Canada, and ten or twelve in the United States, the chief of which is Birmingham in Alabama. In 1870 this district contained only a few inhabitants, but in the following year, with a population of 700, it was incorporated, and at once took rank as a thriving city, now proudly called "The Iron City," from its numerous ironworks, furnaces, and mills. Last year the citizens numbered over 12,000, the annual output of pig-iron being about 60,000 tons, and the coal mines in the neighbourhood turning out 2,000 tons per day. The city is 240 miles from Nashville, 143 miles from Chattanooga, and 96 miles from Montgomery, all thriving places, and is a central junction of six railways. The climate is good, work plentiful, wages fair, provisions cheap, house rent not dear, churches and schools abundant, and if any of our townsmen are thinking of emigrating they may do a deal worse than go from hence to that other Birmingham, which its own "daily" says is a "City of marvellous wonder and magic growth," &c., &c.
Birmingham Begging.—Liberal to others as a rule when in distress, it is on record that once at least the inhabitants of this town were the recipients of like favours at the hands of their fellow-countrymen. In the churchwardens' books of Redenall, Norfolk, under date September 20, 1644, is an entry of 6s. paid "to Richard Herbert, of Birmingham, where was an hundred fifty and five dwelling house burnt by Pr. Rupert."
Birmingham Borough, which is in the hundred of Hemlingford, and wholly in the county of Warwick, includes the parish of Birmingham, part of the parish of Edgbaston, and the hamlets of Deritend-and-Bordesley, and Duddeston-cum-Nechells, in the parish of Aston. The extreme length is six miles one furlong, the average breadth three miles, the circumference twenty-one miles, and the total area 8,420 acres, viz., Birmingham, 2,955; in Edgbaston, 2,512; and in Aston, 2,853. Divided into sixteen wards by an Order in Council, approved by Her Majesty, October 15, 1872. The mean level of Birmingham is reckoned as 443 feet above sea level.
Birmingham Heath.—Once an unenclosed common, and part of it may now be said to be common property, nearly 100 acres of it being covered with public buildings for the use of such as need a common home. There is not, however, anything commonplace in the style of these erections for sheltering our common infirmities, as the Workhouse, Gaol, and Asylum combined have cost "the Commons" something like L350,000. The Volunteers in 1798 made use of part of the Heath as a practice and parade ground.
Birmingham Bishops.—The Rev. John Milner, a Catholic divine and eminent ecclesiastical antiquary, who was educated at Edgbaston, was appointed Bishop Apostolic in the Midland district, with the title of "Bishop of Castaballa." He died in 1826, in his 74th year.—Dr. Ullathorne was enthroned at St. Chad's, August 30th, 1848, as Bishop of the present Catholic diocese.—The Rev. P. Lee, Head Master of Free Grammar School in 1839, was chosen as the first Bishop of Manchester.— The Rev. S. Thornton, St. George's, was consecrated Bishop of Ballarat, May 1, 1875.—The Rev. Edward White Benson, D.D., a native of this town, was nominated first Bishop of Truro, in December, 1876, and is now Archbishop of Canterbury.—The Rev. Thomas Huband Gregg resigned the vicarage of East Harborne in March, 1877, and on June 20 was consecrated at New York a Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church.
Birmingham (Little).—In a record of the early date of 1313 there is mention of a place called Little Birmingham (parvam Birmingham), as being in the hundreds of North and South Erpyngham, Norfolk.
Birmingham in the Future.—It has been proposed that the Borough should be extended so as to include the Local Board districts of Harborne and Handsworth, Balsall Heath, Moseley, King's Heath, part of King's Norton parish, the whole of Yardley and Acock's Green, part of Northfield parish, all Aston Manor, Saltley, Witton, Little Bromwich, and Erdington, covering an area of about 32,000 acres, with a present population of over half a million.
Blind Asylum.—See "Philanthropic Institutions."
Blondin made his first appearance at Aston Park, June 8, 1861; at the Birmingham Concert Hall, December, 1869, and March, 1870; at the Reservoir September, 1873, and September, 1878. Mrs. Powell, who was known as the "Female Blondin," was killed at a fete in Aston Park, July 20, 1868, by falling from the high rope.
Bloomsbury Institute.—Opened in 1860. The memorial stones of the lecture-hall in Bloomsbury Street were laid August 6, 1877, the L750 cost being given by Mr. David Smith. Seats 500.
Blue Coat School.—See "Schools."
Blues.—The United Society of True Blues was founded in 1805 by a number of old Blue Coat boys (formerly known as "The Grateful Society") who joined in raising an annual subscription for the School.
Board Schools.—See "School Board."
Boatmen's Hall, erected on Worcester Wharf, by Miss Ryland, was opened March 17, 1879.
Bonded Warehouses.—Our Chamber of Commerce memoralised the Lords of the Treasury for the extension of the bonded warehouse system to this town, in December, 1858, but it was several years before permission was obtained.
Books.—The oldest known Birmingham book is a "Latin Grammar, composed in the English tongue," printed in London in 1652, for Thomas Underhill, its author having been one of the masters of our Free School.
Book Club (The).—Commenced some few years previous to 1775, at which time its meetings were held in Poet Freeth's, Leicester Arms, Bell-street. As its name implies, the club was formed for the purchase and circulation among the members of new or choice books, which were sold at the annual dinner, hence the poet's hint in one of his invitations to these meetings:—
"Due regard let the hammer be paid, Ply the glass gloomy care to dispel; If mellow our hearts are all made, The books much better may sell."
In these days of cheap literature, free libraries, and halfpenny papers, such a club is not wanted.
Books on Birmingham.—Notes of Birmingham were now and then given before the days of that dear old antiquary Hutton, but his "History" must always take rank as the first. Morfitt's was amusing as far as it went; Bissett's was ditto and pictorial; but it remained till the present period for really reliable sketches to be given. The best are Langford's "Century of Birmingham Life," Harman's "Book of Dates," Dent's "Old and New Birmingham," Bunce's "Municipal History," and the last is "Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham."
Botanical Gardens.—See "Horticultural Societies."
Borough Members.—See "Parliamentary Elections."
Boulton (Mathew).—The son of a hardware manufacturer of the same name, was born here on September 3, 1728 (old style) and received his education principally at the academy of the Rev. Mr. Anstey, Deritend. He is accredited with having at the early age of seventeen invented the inlaying of steel buckles, buttons and trinkets, which for many years were in great request. These articles at first were exported to France in large quantities, being afterwards brought from thence and sold in London as the latest Parisian fashion. In 1762 (his father having left him a considerable property) Mr. Boulton leased a quantity of the land then forming part of Birmingham Heath, where at a cost of over L10,000 he erected the famous Soho Works, and later on (in 1794) he purchased the freehold of that and a considerable tract of the adjoining land. In 1767 steam was first brought into use to supplement the power derived from the water wheels, and in 1769 he became acquainted with James Watt, with whom he afterwards went into partnership to make steam engines of all kinds, sinking L47,000 before he had any return for his money. Mr. Boulton lived to the patriarchal age of fourscore and one, leaving this life on August 7, 1809. He was buried at Handsworth, 600 workmen, besides numberless friends, following his remains; all of whom were presented with hatbands and gloves and a silver medal, and regaled with a dinner, the funeral costing altogether about L2,000.—See "Coinage," &c.
Bourne College, erected by the Primitive Methodists and their friends, at Quinton, at a cost of nearly L10,00, was formally opened on October 240 [Transcriber's note: as original] 1882. When completed there will be accommodation for 120 students.
Bowling Greens.—These seem to have been favourite places of resort with our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. The completion of one at the Union Tavern, Cherry Street, was announced March 26, 1792, but we read of another as attached to the Hen and Chickens, in High Street, as early as 1741. There is a very fine bowling-green at Aston Hall, and lovers of the old-fashioned game can be also accommodated at Cannon Hill Park, and at several suburban hotels.
Boys' Refuge is at corner of Bradford Street and Alcester Street, and the Secretary will be glad of help.
Boyton.—Captain Boyton showed his life-preserving dress, at the Reservoir, April 24, 1875.
Bracebridge.—A very ancient family, long connected with this neighbourhood, for we read of Peter de Bracebrigg who married a grand-daughter of the Earl of Warwick in A.D. 1100, and through her inherited Kingsbury, an ancient residence of the Kings of Mercia. In later days the Bracebridges became more intimately connected with this town by the marriage in 1775 of Abraham Bracebridge, Esq., of Atherstone, with Mary Elizabeth, the only child and heiress of Sir Charles Holte, to whom the Aston estates ultimately reverted. Many articles connected with the Holte family have been presented to Birmingham by the descendants of this marriage.
Bradford Street takes its name from Henry Bradford, who, in 1767, advertised that he would give a freehold site to any man who would build the first house therein.
Breweries.—In the days of old nearly every publican and innkeeper was his own brewer, the fame of his house depending almost solely on the quality of the "stingo" he could pour out to his customers. The first local brewery on a large scale appears to have been that erected in Moseley Street in 1782, which even down to late years retained its cognomen of the Birmingham Old Brewery. In 1817 another company opened a similar extensive establishment at St. Peter's Place, in Broad Street, and since then a number of enterprising individuals have at times started in the same track, but most have come grief, even in the case of those whose capital was not classed under the modern term "limited." The principal local breweries now in existence are those of Messrs. Holder, Mitchell, and Bates, in addition to the well-known Crosswells Brewery of Messrs Walter Showell and Sons, noted in next paragraph. The principal Vinegar Brewery in Birmingham is that of Messrs. Fardon and Co. (Limited), in Glover Street, which was formed in 1860, and is well worthy of the stranger's visit. The annual output is about 850,000 gallons, there being storage for nearly a million gallons, and 36,000 casks to send the vinegar out in.
Brewery at Crosswells.—Though by far the most extensive brewery supplying Birmingham, the Crosswells cannot claim to be more than in the infancy of its establishment at present, as only twelve years ago the many acres of ground now covered by its buildings formed but part of an unenclosed piece of waste land. Nevertheless, the spot was well-known and often visited in ancient times, on account of the wonderful and miraculous cures said to have been effected by the free use of the water gushing up from the depths of the springs to be found there, and which the monks of old had christened "The Wells of the Cross." Be its medicinal qualities what they might in the days before Harry the Eighth was king, the Cross Wells water retained its name and fame for centuries after the monks were banished and the burly king who drove them out had himself turned to dust. It has always been acknowledged as one of the purest waters to be found in the kingdom; but its peculiar and special adaptability to the brewing of "good old English cheer" was left to be discovered by the founder of the firm of Messrs. Walter Showell and Sons, who, as stated before, some twelve years back, erected the nucleus of the present extensive brewery. Starting with the sale of only a few hundred barrels per week, the call for their ales soon forced the proprietors to extend their premises in order that supply should meet demand. At first doubled, then quadrupled, the brewery is now at least ten times its original size; and a slight notion of the business carried on may be gathered from the fact that the firm's stock of barrels tots up to nearly 60,000 and is being continually increased, extensive cooperages, blacksmiths' shops, &c., being attached to the brewery, as well as malthouses, offices, and storehouses of all kinds. The head offices of the firm, which are connected by telephone with the brewery, as well as with the stores at Kingston Buildings, Crescent Wharf, are situated in Great Charles Street, and thus the Crosswells Brewery (though really at Langley Green, some half-dozen miles away as the crow flies) becomes entitled to rank as a Birmingham establishment, and certainly not one of the least, inasmuch as the weekly sale of Crosswells ales for this town alone is more than 80,000 gallons per week.
Brickkiln Lane, now called the Horse Fair, gives its own derivation.
Bright.—The Right Hon. John Bright, though not a Birmingham man, nor connected with the town by any ties of personal interest or business, has for the last quarter-century been the leading member returned to Parliament as representing the borough, and must always rank foremost among our men of note. Mr. Bright is the son of the late Jacob Bright, of Greenbank, near Rochdale, and was born November 16, 1811. He and his brother, Mr. Jacob Bright, M.P. for Manchester, began business as partners in the affiliated firms of John Bright and Brothers, cotton spinners and manufacturers, Rochdale, and Bright and Co., carpet manufacturers, Rochdale and Manchester. At an early age Mr. Bright showed a keen interest in politics, and took part in the Reform agitation of 1831-32. In those days every householder was compelled by law to pay the Church-rates levied in his parish, whatever his religious creed might be, and it is said that Mr. Bright's first flights of oratory were delivered from a tombstone in Rochdale church-yard in indignant denunciation of a tax which to him, as a member of the Society of Friends, appeared especially odious. It was not, however, till 1839, when he joined the Anti-Corn Law League, that Mr. Bright's reputation spread beyond his own immediate neighbourhood; and there can be no doubt but that his fervid addresses, coupled with the calmer and more logical speeches of Mr. Cobden, contributed in an appreciable degree to the success of the movement. In July, 1843, he was returned as M.P. for the city of Durham, which he represented until the general election of 1847, when he was the chosen of Manchester. For ten years he was Manchester's man in everything, but the side he took in regard to the Russian war was so much at variance with the popular opinions of his constituents that they at last turned on him, burnt his effigy in the streets, and threw him out at the general election in March, 1857. At the death of Mr. G.F. Muntz, in July following, Mr. Bright was almost unanimously selected to fill his place as M.P. for this town, and for 25 years he has continued to honour Birmingham by permitting us to call him our member. (See "Parliamentary Elections.") Mr. Bright has been twice married, but is now a widower, and he has twice held office in the Cabinet, first as President of the Board Of Trade, and more lately as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Bristol Road.—Trees were first planted in this road in the spring of 1853.
Britannia Metal.—A mixed metal formed of 90 parts of tin, 2 copper, and 8 antimony, brought into use about 1790, and long a favourite with manufacturers and public alike. The introduction of electroplating did much towards its extended make at first, but latterly it has been in great measure, replaced by German silver and other alloys.
British Association for the Advancement, of Science first met in this town Aug. 26, 1839. They were here again Oct. 12, 1857, and Sep. 6, 1865.
Brittle Street formerly ran from Livery Street to Snow Hill, about the spot where now the entrance gates to the Station are.
Broad Street.—150 years ago part of what is now known as Dale End was called Broad Street, the present thoroughfare of that name then being only a pathway through the fields.
Brunswick Buildings.—Erected in New Street, by Mr. Samuel Haines in 1854. A funny tale has been told about the original lease, which included a covenant that at the expiration of the term of 100 years for which it was granted, the land was to be delivered up to the Grammar School "well cropped with potatoes." In 1760 New Street was a new street indeed, for there were but a few cottages with gardens there then, and the potatoe proviso was no doubt thought a capital provision; but fancy growing that choice edibie there in 1860!
Buck.—Henry Buck, P.G.M., and Sec. of the Birmingham district of the Manchester Order of Oddfellows for twenty-five years, died Jan. 22, 1876, aged 63. A granite obelisk to his memory in St. Philip's churchyard was unveiled Sep. 17, 1877.
Building Societies took early root here, as we find there were several in 1781.—See "Friendly Societies."
Buckles were worn as shoe fasteners in the reign of Charles II.—See "Trades."
Buttons.—Some interesting notes respecting the manufacture of buttons will be found under the head of "Trades."
Bulgarian Atrocities, 1876-7.—A considerable amount of "political capital" was made out of these occurrences, but only L1,400 was subscribed here for the relief of the unfortunates; while merely L540 could be raised towards helping the thousands of poor Bosnian refugees driven from their homes by the Russians in 1878, and of this sum L200 was given by one person.
Bullbaiting was prohibited in 1773 by Order in Council, and an Act was passed in 1835, to put a stop to all baiting of bulls, badgers, and bears. At Chapel Wake, 1798, some law-defying reprobates started a bullbaiting on Snow Hill, but the Loyal Association of Volunteers turned out, and with drums beating and colours flying soon put the rebels to flight, pursuing them as far as Birmingham Heath, where the baiters got a beating, the Loyals returning home in triumph with the bull as a trophy. The last time this "sport" was indulged in in this neighbourhood appears to have been early in October, 1838, at Gib Heath, better known now as Nineveh Road.
Bull Lane was the name once given to that part of the present Colmore Row between Livery Street and Snow Hill, though it has been better known as Monmouth Street.
Bull Street.—Once called Chapel Street, as leading to the chapel of the ancient Priory; afterwards named from the old inn known as the Red Bull (No. 83).
Burial Grounds.—See "Cemeteries."
Burns.—Excisemen, when Robert Burns was one of them, were wont to carry pistols, and those the poet had were given him by one of our gunmakers, Mr. Blair. They were afterwards bought by Allan Cunningham, who gave them back to Burns' widow.—Birmingham lent its rill to the great river of homage to the genius of Burns which flowed through the length and breadth of the civilised world on the occasion of the Burns' centenary in January, 1859. The most interesting of the three or four meetings held here was one of a semi-private nature, which took place at Aston Hall, and which originated, not with Scotchmen, but with Englishmen. Some forty-five or fifty gentlemen, only some half-dozen of whom were Scotch, sat down to an excellent supper in the fine old room in which the Queen lunched the previous year. The chairman was Mr. Samuel Timmins, and the vice-chairman was Mr. Ross.