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Six newspapers are published in Birmingham — Aris's Gazette, established 1741, weekly; the Birmingham Journal, 1825, twice a week; Midland Counties Herald, 1836, weekly; Mercury, 1848, daily and weekly; and the Press, daily.
THE MANUFACTORIES of Birmingham form its great attraction. These are so numerous and extensive that it would require an entire handbook to do them justice. Our space will not allow of more than a brief reference to some of the most important of them. The manufactures of Birming. ham date from a very early period : for we find Leland, who wrote in the reign of Henry VIII., saying, “There be many smithes in the towne, that use to make knives and all manner of cuttinge tooles, and many lorimers that make bittes, and a great many naylours; so that a great part of the town is maintained by smithes, who have their iron and sea coal out of Staffordshire." Hutton is even of opinion that the Britons were supplied with their implements of war and husbandry from the black artists of the Birmingham forge, long before the landing of Cæsar;” but this, though not improbable, is necessarily only a matter of conjecture. Swords were manufactured in great numbers in the reign of Charles I. We have already stated that the manufacture of gilded ornaments originated at the Restoration, and that of guns in the reign of William III. From that period the manufactures of Birmingham increased in number and extent; and at the present moment its manufactures, whether for variety, or value, or quantity, are unequalled in the world. The excellence of the manufactures of Birmingham was sufficiently shown at the local Exposition of 1849, and again at the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was the Birmingham Exposition of 1849 which suggested to Prince Albert the idea of an exhibition of the products of the industry of all nations. The Crystal Palace, in which the latter exhibition was held, and many of its most prominent ornaments and articles of usefulness and elegance, were the production of Birmingham.
We believe there is on the part of most of the manufacturers a readiness to oblige tourists by affording them liberty to inspect their establishments.
BUTTON MAKING is one of the earliest manufactures ; at least it is that which in earlier times contributed most to the prosperity of the town. Immense fortunes have been made in the button trade, one eminent manufacturer having acknowledged that by a single improvement he realized £40,000. Buttons are made of brass, copper, steel, pewter,
cloth, glass, pearl, horn, shell, bone, wood, and porcelain. The gilt button has gone almost entirely out of use. Formerly it employed thousands of persons; and it is stated that John Taylor, who was the first to embark largely in its manufacture, and died in 1775, acquired a fortune of £200,000. This trade is still carried on at the manufactory of Hammond, Turner, and Co., Snow Hill
, where other varieties of buttons, of great beauty, are produced. Allen and Moore, Great Hampton Row, produce metal buttons of beautiful designs in great quantities. Their medals, too, of which they produce considerable numbers, are finely executed. The extensive manufactory of Elliott and Sons, Regent Street, sends forth millions of the Florentine or cloth button annually. There also are produced linen buttons, military and sporting buttons, etc. Among other establishments, the following deserve to be noticed : William Kirby, Whitby Place, Summer Lane (hooks, eyes, and buttons) ; Banks and Hammond, Summer Row (pearl and bone buttons); and Mr. Brisband, Howard Street (pearl and bone buttons).
SWORD AND GUN MAKING. This is an important branch of the trade of Birmingham. Swords were made here from a very early period--as early as the time of the Britons Hutton thinks. It has been already mentioned that Birmingham supplied Cromwell's soldiers with 15,000 swords. In the various wars in which the country has been engaged, Birmingham has always had to supply swords and bayonets in immense numbers to carry on the work of death. The sword manufacture of Birmingham is, we believe, carried on in its greatest excellence and extent in the manufactory of Charles Reeves and Co., Toledo Works, Charlotte Street. Other important manufactories of this kind are those of Harvey, Albert Works, Glover Street; Male, Broad Street; and Sargent, Edmund Street.
Guns and pistols are made in great quantities; and there are numerous establishments engaged in their manufacture. Every description of guns and pistols seems to be made at the establishment of J. Townsend, Sand Street. Other extensive producers of fire-arms are Cooper and Co., Woodcock Street; Bentley and Playfair, Summer Lane ; Swinburn and Son, Russell Street; and Holles and Sheath, St. Mary's Square. The sporting guns of Westley, Richards, and Co., High Street, are universally known and appreciated. It is stated that Birmingham produces 3000 Minie rifles weekly.
In connection with the gun trade, the Gun Barrel Proof House, in Banbury Street, Digbeth, deserves to be noticed. All fire-arms fabricated in Birmingham are required to be proved here. They are fired with a double charge of powder and ball, and are not examined for twenty-four hours after firing. The good barrels are stamped, and the bad ones broken to pieces in a vice.
THE GOLD, SILVER PLATE AND JEWELLERY trade does not appear to have been carried on to any great extent till a recent period. At present a considerable portion of the jewellery disposed of in this country is produced in Birmingham. It is said that, for chains alone, at least 1000 ounces of fine gold are consumed weekly. Nearly 30,000 wedding rings annually pass through the assay office here. At least 70 ounces of gold leaf are used every week. It is estimated that more of the precious metals are used in the manufactures of Birmingham than even in the metropolis itself. Of silver* more than 40,000 ounces are assayed annually. The principal houses in the jewellery trade are the following :-Goode, St. Paul's Square, of great extent, employing 500 persons, principally females, where the manufacture of gold chains, and the fitting up of gems, etc., may be seen to advantage; Balleny, St. Paul's Square; Aston and Son, Regent Place ; Betts, Fairfax, and Co., Richard Street; Williams, Vyse Street; Harris, Great Hampton Street; and Pritchard and Martin, Regent Place.
ELECTRO-PLATING is an art of much importance; and it is one which holds a very prominent place among the manufactures of Birmingham. In the extensive and interesting establishment of Elkington, Mason, and Co., the different processes are carried to great perfection. Their show-room is one of the largest and most elegant in the world; and the tourist cannot fail to be delighted by a visit to it. We have no space to describe the process by which a coating, of gold, silver, or other metal is deposited on the plated articles. The effect is extremely beautiful. Specimens of the different processes are exhibited in the show-room. This firm also produces admirable groups and figures in bronze. The statue of Sir Robert Peel, in New Street, was cast by them from a model by Peter Hollins, Esq. The works of Prime and Son, Northwood Street; J. and C. Ratcliffe and Co., Suffolk Street ; G.R. Collis and Co., Church Street, also exhibit the perfection of the process in its numerous applications. The last mentioned works were formerly · the establishment of Sir Edward Thomason and Co. The show-room, besides a splendid assortment of silver and plated goods, contains a copy in bronze of the famous Warwick Vase, the construction of which occupied seven years, and a statue, also in bronze, of George IV. in his coronation robes. There are other noted establishments of this
* The total quantity of silver used in Birmingham for different manu. factures exceeds 150,000 ounces annually. A single mapufacturer bas used 34,000 ounces in a year for his own consumption.
kind which our space will not allow us to name.
In the manufacture of Brass and BRONZE a large trade is done in Birmingham. In one establishment, R. W. Winfield and Son, Cambridge Street Works, 700 workmen are constantly employed. Messrs. Winfield received a council medal at the Great Exhibition for the superiority of the articles they displayed. Ironmongery of all kinds, plain and ornamental, is manufactured in these works. A manufactory of a similar kind is that of Peyton and Harlow, High Street, Bordesley. The manufactures of Hardman and Co., Great Charles Street, are extremely interesting, presenting faithful and tasteful imitations of the mediæval style. Messenger and Sons, Broad Street, also successfully imitate the antique in their metal work. Their productions are celebrated all over the kingdom. We may mention that, among other equally wellknown productions, the magnificent chandeliers of St. George's Hall, Liverpool, the staircase of Northumberland House, London, and the fine fountain in the Birmingham Market Hall, were produced here.
The most important IRON MANUFACTORY is that of the well-known firm of Fox, Henderson, and Co., at some distance from the town, and near Smithwick. The tourist who can obtain an introduction to this establishment will find it well worthy of a visit. It was here that the framework of the Crystal Palace was constructed. Very large rail. way and other contracts are executed by this firm. Among the articles which they manufacture are iron houses, conservatories, light-houses, etc. The steam-engine manufactory of Toy and Sons, Soho (within the boundary of Staffordshire), will be viewed with especial interest, as it was here that James Watt brought the steam-engine to perfection. In company with Mr. Boulton he established here the first manufactory of steam-engines.
GLASS MANUFACTURES hold an important place among the industrial products of Birmingham. The establishment of F. and C. Ösler, Broad Street, enjoys a reputation perhaps second to that of no other in the kingdom. In this establishment were manufactured the beautiful and magnificent crystal glass candelabra for the tomb of the Prophet, and for the palace of Ibraham Pasha at Cairo. The much
admired crystal fountain of the Great Exhibition was constructed in this manufactory. Other very important works, where the various branches of the manufacture are carried on, are those of Chance and Co., Spon Lane; Harris and Son, Broad Street; Bacchus and Son, Dartmouth Street; Lloyd and Summerfield, Spring Hill; Walsh, Birmingham Heath, etc.
PAPIER Mache is an interesting and beautiful manufacture. The tourist may see it in its various parts in the manufactory of Jennens and Bettridge, Constitution Hill. This establishment, which has been repeatedly visited by royal personages, is obligingly opened for the inspection of visitors.
There are many other manufactures which cannot be particularly referred to. Of Steel Pens, 1,000,000,000 are produced annually. The names of Gillott, Mitchell, and other manufacturers, are well known. Wire Drawing is an important trade; one establishment, that of Horsfall
, Hay Mills and Oxford Street, being said to produce weekly eight tons of musical wire alone.
THE ROYAL Mint, Heaton and Sons, Batb Streệt, cannot fail to interest those who obtain the privilege of inspecting it. Copper coin is made here in immense quantities—82,000 pieces being struck every day.*
VICINITY OF BIRMINGHAM.
The suburbs of Birmingham afford a sufficient evidence of the prosperity of the town. Numerous handsome villas, with their pleasant gardens, evince the taste and wealth of those who have retired from the bustle and noise of this great seat of industry. Edgbaston appears to be the aristocratic quarter. The number of villas here is yearly increasing at a considerable rate.
HANDSWORTH, though geographically in Staffordshire, is so near Birmingham as to deserve being mentioned. Its old church is beautifully situated. Besides some ancient monuments, which ought to have been better cared for, it contains a fine statue of James Watt (who is buried here),
* Should the tourist wish fuller information regarding Birmingham, he will find “ Cornish's Guide” a very correct and useful manual. The author of this work is indebted to it for some of the facts in the above account.