Francis White.

Birmingham. History and general directory of the borough of Birmingham, with the remainder of the parish of Aston ... being part of a general history and directory of the county of Warwick .. online

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dispersed. Fired with resentment at the treatnient to which they were so little accus-
tomed, the people rallied, stood at bay against them ; and after some time the police
gave way, and were pursued by the people as far as the Public Office ; the gates of
which being closed, the military soon after arriving, the police were liberated, and the
riot act read ; and the aproaches to the Bull-ring occupied by the soldiers ; and under
their protection the police acted with effect ; and though a good deal of excitement
continued for some hom-s, yet as the night advanced, the crowd kept dispersing. How-
ever, a cry for Holloway Head was raised, and, by evidence produced, it appears about
2,000 persons were there assembled ; after some discussion, it was agreed to retimi to
the centre of the town ; and a party, on reaching St. Thomas's church, commenced
tearing up the iron rails which fenced the burial ground ; but on the arrival of a party
of riflemen, sent by the magistrates, they immediately dispersed. From this time to
July 15, the London police appears to have acted as though martial law was in force,
and all civil right at an end. Monday, the 15th of July, opened without any indica-
tion of those lamentable scenes which followed ; nor does it appear that the magis-
trates were warned of the impending outbreak. A bellman, in the morning, gave


liotice of a meeting to be held at Holloway Head, at one o'clock, at which Mr. Attwood
would preside, for the purpose of making a report as to the reception given by parlia-
ment to the National Petition. Mr. Attwood did not attend, and the bellman a^ain
went round to call meetings, at three o'clock, and at six o'clock in the evening. The
mayor continued at the Public Office until five o'clock, and all seemed quiet ; and on
his leaving, charged Mr. George Redfern, should there be any indication of disorder,
to send for Dr. Booth and himself. About six o'clock, pursuant to the last notice given,
people began to assemble in considerable numbers at Holloway Head; more than a
thousand were quickly assembled ; all were unarmed ; there were no flags, no instru-
ments of music ; nothing to excite the public mind. The police had received orders to
keep as much as possible out of sight ; but it would appear did not act accordingly.
Mr. Redfern soon recommended the superintendent to call in his men ; however, various
altercations took place between them and the people. At a little more than half-past
eight, and quite light, the crowd entered the Bull-ring, probably about five hundred per-
sons. The inhabitants began to be much alarmed, and to close in their shops ; loud shouts
were uttered, and the mob made a show of their weapons as they advanced ; at the corner
of Moor-street many threw down their arms and slunk away; the rest went straight to
the Public Office. The police had retreated into the office, and the gates were closed ;
the mob called them to come forth, and proceeded to break the windows of the Public
Office ; after which shojis were broken open, and in mere wantonness much property de-
stroyed ; others, bent on pillage, hurried away mth their share of the spoil ; meanwhile
part of the crowd had made a bonfire in the open space near Nelson's Montunent ; and
from this were carried brands, by which two houses were burned to the ground ; Mr.
Walker, one of the borough magistrates, ordered the Bull-ring to be cleared, which was
easily effected by the police, who were soon joined by the military. The Riot Act was
read, and the mob, as if glutted with revenge, were quickly dispersed in every direction.
The town remained in an excited state for some days, and the number of special con-
stables increased ; yet the necessity of any extraordinary precaution soon ceased.

Barracks. — Cavalry Barracks, Great Brook Street, Ashted. In consequence of
the riots in 1791, Government determined to form in Birmingham a military station for
the security of the town, and these barracks were erected in 1793. The barrack yard is
extensive, and on each side of it are ranges of stabling ; above which are the rooms of the
soldiers and non-commissioned officers. A handsome house is appropriated to the use of
the officers. The head quarters of a regiment of cavalry, Avith three or four troops, are
generally stationed here. Captain Frederick J ames Ranie, Barrack master.

In fantry Barracks, occupy a spacious building formerly being a part of Beardsworth's
horse and carriage repository. Since the riots of 1838, a regiment of Infantry have been
stationed here in this temporary barrack.

William Hutton, the historian of Birmingham, was born September 30th, 17-9, in
Full Street, Derby, and was sent before five years of age to a poor day school of that
town, but when he attained his seventh year, he was placed at the silk mill ; after losing
his mother and l)eing cruelly treated by his master, he formed the resolution of seeking
his fortune; passing, not without some distress, through Burton, Lichfield, Walsall,
Birmingham, Coventry, Nuneaton, and Hinckley, in search of work, but in vain. He
returned to Derby, and to his accustomed employment. He had now acfiuired an
inclination for reading, and ha\'ing become possessed of three volumes of the Gentleman's
Magazine, he contrived to bind them together, a business he afterwards followed with
some success. He afterwards opened a shop in Si)uthwell, at the reutof 20s. per year,
with about 20s. worth of books; and conuuencod business in Birmingham in 17i>0, in
half a sho]) for which he paid one shilling a-wcek rent ; he soon after piu-chased the
refuse of a Dissenting Minister's library, and at the end of the year had saved .£20. He
took a house of .£8. a-year rent and extended his business and secured many friendships.
In 1756, he married Sarah Cock, the niece of a neighbour, (Mr. Grace) and had several


children, and after cairying on business 40 years, realized a considerable fortune ; and
in 17i)3, reined his house to his son. Mr. Iluttou became a publisher late in life; his
first publication was ''a History of Birmingham to the end of the year 1780;" 8vo. pub-
lished in 1782, and again, with additions, in 1783; and a third edition, with new engravings
of the public buildings, in 179.>; and a fourth was published in 1819. Mr. Hutton, in his
86th year, published a trip to Coatham, a watering place in the north extremity of
Yorkshire; and observes, in taking leave of his readers, that he drove the quill thirty
years, in which time he wrote and pxiblished thirteen books. He died September 20th,
1814, at the advanced age of 92, and was buried in Aston Church.

LoxGEViTV. — Mr. Hutton obser\-es, " it is easy to give instances of people who have
breathed the smoky air of Birmingham for three score years, and yet have scarcely
quitted the precincts of youth ;" and, in his history, enumerates many of his acquaintance
who were from 80, 85, 90, and Joseph Scott, 94 years of age. In 1780, he notices Hugh
Vincent, who died at the age of 94 ; John Pitt, at the age of 100 ; George Bridgens, at
that of 103 ; Mrs Moore, 104 ; and one man, who kept the market for about 80 years,
who died at the age of 107.

PcBLic Roads. — During the last forty years the pu1)lic roads had every where in
England received the greatest attention. An immensity of capital expended in pro-
curing turnpike acts and making the roads, to facilitate commerce and improve agricul-
ture. In 1795, Mr. Hutton says, " twelve roads issue from Birmingham, as from a grand
centre, that point to as many towns ;" some of these, within memory, have scarcely
been passable. He adds, " all are mended, and though much is done, more is wanted ;
and the stranger would be sm*prised to hear that throxigh most of these twelve roads, he
cannot travel in a flood with safety, for want of causeways and bridges." Since this
period the roads have been brought into the most excellent state. But not satisfied
with gallopping ten or twelve miles in the hour, we must now travel forty, fifty, or
sixty. Expedition has no bounds.

Caxals. — An act was obtained, in 1767, to make a canal between Birmingham and
the collieries, about Wednesbury. Coal, before this act, was brought by land, at about
13s. per ton, but afterwards at 8s. 4d. This canal is extended, in the whole, to about
twenty-two miles in length, until it unites with the Staffordshu-e canal, which, crossing
the island, communicates with Hull, Bristol, and Liverpool. The expense was about
.^^70,000. divided into shares of .i^l40. each, no person to hold more than ten ; and
which, in 1782, sold for about ^370. ; and in 1792, for ^•1,170. The proprietors took a
perpetual lease of six acres of land, of Sir Thomas Gooch, at ^£^47- per annmn, which
is converted into a wharf, upon the front of which, a handsome otfice was erected.
This canal passes over a hill, having six locks to reach the summit, and the same num-
ber to descend again ; the level of both ends being nearly the same. These locks now,
ha\-ing the competition of railroads, are found very disadvantageous.

BiLSTOx Canal. — The profits of the canal company, above noticed, had increased
the shares from ,^140. in 1768, to 400 guineas, in 1782. These emoluments being
thought enormous, a rival company sprung up, which, in 1783, petitioned parliament
for an act, for a parallel line to proceed along the lower level, and tenninate in Dig-
beth. The new company urged the necessity of another canal, and among other al-
legations, said — " That the goods from the Trent would come to their wharf by a ru:?
of eighteen miles nearer than to the other." The old company alleged — '^ that they
ventured their property in an uncertain pursuit, which, had it not succeeded, would
have ruined many individuals ; therefore the present gains were only a recompense for
former hazard, «fec." The new company promised much, for, besides the cut from
Wednesbm-y to Digbeth, they would open another to join the Stafford and Coventry
canals, in which a large tract of country was interested. As the old company were
the first adventurers, the house gave them the option to perforin this herculean labour,
which they accepted. Thus the new, by losing, (Hutton says) save ^^50,000. and the
old, by winning, become sufferers. Q


Since the above, acts have been obtained to open canals from the town to Wor-
cester, Fazeley, Warwick, and Stratford. The Birmingham and Fazeley canal opens
a water conveyance by Taraworth, Atherstone, Nuneaton, and Coventry, to Oxford ;
and hence by the Thames, to London. Thus Birmingham enjoys a most complete canal
conveyance to all parts of England.

Railways. — The London and Birmingham Railway was first sun^eyed in 1830,
and ultimately constructed at an expense little short of 4^5,500,000. nearly double the
original estimate ; it connects the metropolis with this great manufacturing town, and
affords increased capabilities to commerce. The bill, for its formation, was first intro-
duced to the Commons in February, 1832 ; but in June was lost in the Lords. In the
following session, the application was renewed ; and, at last, the act was obtained, at
a cost of ^72,869. In June, 1834, the works were commenced; and on the 2oth July,
1837, about twenty-five miles of the line were opened from London to Boxmoor; on
October, 16th, 1837, it was opened to Tring, 31| miles; on April 9th, 1838, to Den-
bigh Hall, 48 miles ; and from Birmingham to Rugby, 29 miles ; and finally, the re-
maining portion between Denbigh Hall and Rugby, 35^ miles, September, 17th, 1838 ;
making the total length 112^ miles. Originally it was to have eleven, but has now
only eight tunnels — ^viz., the Primrose Hill, l,164i yards; Kensal Green, 322^ yards;
Watford, 1,79 1 J yards ; North Church. 345i yards; Linslade, 272 yards; Stowe Hill,
418 yards; Kilsby, 2,398 yards ; and Beechwood, about 600 yards. The London ter-
minus is at Euston Grove, on the New Road. The line passes near the towns of
Coventry, Rugby, Weedon, Wolverton, Leighton, Tring, Biikhamstead, Boxmoor,
Watford, and Harrow.

The Birmingham Station, Curzon-street, of which the entrance forms the Queen's
Hotel, (from London 112^ miles) consists of an establishment occupying several acres
of ground. The Repository for Heavy Goods, is an extensive area, excavated out
of the new red sand rock, to the left of Curzon-street. On the right is the splendid
Faqade, adorned with four magnificent Ionic columns. The buildings, of which this is
the front, contains the board-room of the directors ; the secretary's offices ; the offices of
the financial and correspondence departments, a refreshment saloon,

Online LibraryFrancis WhiteBirmingham. History and general directory of the borough of Birmingham, with the remainder of the parish of Aston ... being part of a general history and directory of the county of Warwick .. → online text (page 10 of 82)