Imatges de pÓgina


HOTELS.Hen and Chickens, Francis Smith. Dee's Royal,

Fred. Dee— Bed 2s.6d., breakfast 1ş. 6d. to 2s. 6d., dinner 2s. to 5s., tea 1s. 6d. to 2s., attendance optional, private room 5s. Stork, E. and M. George-Bed 1s. to 2s., breakfast 18. 9d. to 2s., dinner 2s. to 5s., tea 1s. 9d. to 2s., attendance 1s. 6d. Clarendon Family and Commercial — Bed 1s. 6d., private room, 2s. King's Head Railway and Commercial, Sarah Mayo—Bed 1s. 6d. to 2s., breakfast 1s. 6d. to 2s., dinner 2s., tea 1s. to 2s., attendance 1s. 3d., private room 2s. 6d. Queen's, Railway Company-Bed 2 s., breakfast 2s., dinner 2s. to 3s.,

attendance 1s. 6d. Population in 1851, 232,841 ; Inhabited houses, 45,844. Sends two Members to Parliament.

Birmingham from London, 1127 miles; from Manchester, 85;

from Coventry, 18}; from Warwick, 20.

This great manufacturing town, unsurpassed in England, or in the world, for the variety, quantity, and quality of its products, is situated in the north-western extremity of Warwickshire, its suburbs extending into the neighbouring counties of Stafford and Worcester. It is built on a series of elevations of the new red sandstone formation-a site favourable both for beauty and salubrity: The origin of the name has been the occasion of much discussion, Some writers suppose it to have been the Bremenium mentioned in the Itinerary of Richard of Cirencester, and, consequently, ascribe it to the Romans; while others are of opinion that the name is Saxon. It has been conclusively shown that the former opinion is groundless. The name has been found in upwards of a hundred different shapes in ancient documents. During the last four centuries, eight different ways of spelling it have been used: Brumwychcham, Bermyngeham, Bromwycham, Burmyngham, Bermyngham, Brymyngham, Bromicham, and Birmingham. Dugdale regards the name as of Saxon origin. He adopts the spelling Bromwycbam, and supposes the first part of it to be the name of a Saxon owner, the syllable ham denoting a dwelling. Hutton, the historian of Birmingham,

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says that brom signifies broom, and wych a dwelling. Whatever the time of the crigin of the name, there seems thus to be no reason to doubt that it is of Saxon etymology. Birmingham was a place of some consequence before the Conquest, as is shown by the fact that, in 1309, William de Birmingham, then lord of the manor, proved that his ancestors had held a market here, and levied tolls under the Saxons. The De Birmingham family bad a castle here, erected about 1154, and on several occasions took an active part in public affairs, particularly in the wars of the barons. Edward, the last of this ancient family, was, in the reign of Henry VI., tricked out of the lordship by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland, upon whose execution for treason it reverted to the crown. During the war between Charles I. and his Parliament, Birmingham sided with the Parliament, supplying its troops with about 15,000 sword blades, and seizing the royal plate and furniture, which the King had left behind him at Aston Hall on his way southward. A few months after, Prince Rupert inflicted signal vengeance on the town, by burning and plundering it to the extent of £30,000. In 1665, Birmingham was almost depopulated by the plague. The Restoration gave an impetus to its trade from the many gilded trifles that were used by the ladies and cavaliers of the time for their personal adornment. William III., it is said, founded the gun trade. He was lamenting the necessity of depending upon Holland for this species of arms, when Sir R. Newdegate, a member of Parliament for Warwickshire, directed his attention to Birmingham as able satisfactorily to execute his orders. From that time the gun trade of Birmingham continued to grow in importance. The next point in the history of Birmingham is the riots of 1791. These riots resulted from the indignation of the mob at a dinner held by about eighty persons to commemorate the French revolution, For three days the populace were in possession of the town, and indulged in wanton and brutal

The damage done was estimated at £60,000. Among those who suffered most severely was the celebrated Dr. Priestley, whose philosophical apparatus, library, and valuable manuscripts, were destroyed along with his house. The year 1831 witnessed the establishment of the Political Union, with Thomas Attwood as its chief. The effect of the Union in securing the passing of the Reform Bill is well known. With the exception of the Chartist riots in 1839, and several royal visits, there is nothing further in the history of Birmingham calling for mention.


Within the last fifty years the progress of Birmingham in wealth and population has been great and rapid. The annual increase of the population is about 9000, and the number of houses built every year about 2500. The annual rateable value is about £700,000. The population in 1801 amounted to 73,670; in 1831, 142,251 ; in 1841, 182,922 ; in 1851, 232,841. It is calculated that the present population cannot be under 280,000. With the increase of population the town experiences a corresponding growth. Along with the material growth of the town there is a growing regard for architectural beauty, both in public and private buildings; and each year sees something done to improve Birmingham in this respect. Birmingham forms a centre of railway communication with every part of the kingdom. It has been named by Burke “the toy shop of Europe.” Many of its

toys” are used in the most serious of all games. Among its manufactures are, guns and pistols, swords, steam-engines, plate and plated wares, jewellery, glass, buckles and buttons, cast-iron articles, japannery, steel-pens, papier maché, ornamental articles in brass and bronze, locks, toys, etc.

Many names of note are connected with Birmingham, the most of them by residence. Richard Smallbroke, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, was born here in the beginning of last century, and distinguished himself by his works in refutation of Woolston. James Watt, the inventor of the steam-engine, having in 1775 entered into partnership with Mr. Boulton of Soho, here developed the wondrous powers of the agent which was so soon to revolutionize the world. He died in 1819. About this time Birmingham had not a few eminent men among its residents, as may be seen from the following extract from M. Arago :-“Birmingham, when Watt went to settle at Soho, could reckon among the inhabitants of its neighbourhood-Priestley, whose name says everything; Darwin, the author of the · Zoonomia,' and of a well-known poem on the 'Loves of the Plants;' Withering, an eminent physician and botanist; Keir, a chemist, distinguished by his notes on his translation of Macquer, and by an interesting paper on the crystallization of glass; Galton, to whom we owe an elementary treatise on ornithology; Edgeworth, the author of various works, justly esteemed, and the father of Miss Maria, well known to fame.' John Baskerville, the eminent type-founder and printer, though not a native, lived and died here. He spent £600 before he produced a single letter to please himself. Dibdin says of his typography :-" It is eminently beautiful; his letters are generally of a very

slender and delicate form, calculated for an octavo, or even a quarto, but not sufficiently bold to fill the space of an imperial folio, as is evident from a view of the great Bible.

In the italic letters, whether capital or small, he stands unrivalled, such elegance, freedom, and perfect symmetry, being in vain to be looked for among the specimens of Aldus and Colonæüs.” After Baskerville's death, which occurred in 1775, bis types were purchased by a literary association in Paris for £3700, and were employed in printing a magnificent edition of the works of Voltaire. Thomas Attwood, Esq., the chief originator of the Political Union, and one of the first representatives of the newly enfranchised borough, has been already alluded to in our brief sketch of the history of the town. We may also remark here that the clergy of Birmingham, both established and dissenting, have, both in former and recent times, occupied a worthy place in connection with the literature of the country.

THE TOWN HALL is the principal architectural ornament of Birmingham. It is a magnificent specimen of Grecian architecture, and is universally admired for its thoroughly classic style. It occupies a fine site at the top of New Street. This noble building was commenced in 1832, but was not perfectly completed till 1850. It is constructed of Anglesea marble, and is the work of Messrs. Hansom and Welch. We quote its principal dimensions :Height of the basement

23 feet. Height of the columns

36 feet. Diameter of the columns

3 feet 6 inches. Height of the capitals

4 feet. Weight of each column

26 tons. The principal room in this splendid building is magnificent, both in size and decorations. It is open for inspection (without charge) every day except Sunday, and the tourist will do well to pay it a visit. Its dimensions are-length, 145 feet; breadth, 65 feet; height, 65 feet. It can afford comfortable sitting room for upwards of 4000 persons; and it is stated that more than once, on the occasion of great political gatherings, at least 10,000 people have stood beneath its roof. The decorations are of the most elegant and tasteful description. The lower part of the walls is painted grey, toned with red and yellow; the upper part being enamelled in imitation of Sienna marble. The pilasters are richly gilt, strict attention being paid to classical models in their various details. The gallery fronts are in bronze and gold, and are lined with crimson cloth. The covered sides of the roof are divided into recessed panels, and are adorned with the egg and tooth moulding, and richly gilt and painted. The ceiling is divided into three compartments, each inclosing a large circle, and divided into deeply recessed radiating panels, diminishing in size towards the centre of the circle. The gilding and painting of the ceiling are very gorgeous. In the centre of each circular compartment is a magnificent sunlight gas-burner. At the back of the orchestra is a splendid organ, said to be unsurpassed by any in Europe. It was built by Hill of London, and cost between £3000 and £4000. This organ, which is the property of the Governors of the General Hospital, was erected for the Triennial Musical Festivals, which are held here for the benefit of that institution. Its weight is about 45 tons; and its trackers, if laid out in a straight line, would extend' above five miles. The orchestra is further adorned with a colossal bust of Mendelssohn.

On the ground-floor there is a room similar in size to the one already described. The building contains numerous other apartments. Both of the large rooms are let for public meetings and entertainments.

In the immediate neighbourhood of the Town Hall is a

STATUE OF SIR ROBERT PEEL, finely executed in bronze by Mr. Peter Hollins of Birmingham. It was publicly inaugurated, as the inscription on its base states, August 27, 1855. The only other monument at present erected, that calls for special mention, occupies a site near the entrance of Moor Street in the area above St. Martin's Church. This is

NELSON'S STATUE, in bronze, by Westmacott, a work worthy of that well-known sculptor. It was inaugurated 25th October 1809.

THE MARKET HALL, which extends from High Street to Worcester Street, is a vast building in the Grecian style. An Act of Parliament was procured for its erection in 1828, but it was not begun till 1833. It cost about £67,261. It has twelve entrances, the principal one being that towards High Street. The entire length of this building is 365 feet; the width 108; the height 60. Its area (4380 square yards) affords accommodation for 600 stalls. The commodities offered for sale here are, it need scarcely be said, of the most miscel

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