Tag Archives: Local History

World Bee Day 2019

Guide to the 1980 City of Birmingham Bees and Honey Show [L25.46]

As 20th May marks this year’s World Bee Day, it seemed a perfectly good excuse to comb through the collections for some bee themed material.

We have a selection of guides, starting in the 1950s, running to 1982, for the yearly City of Birmingham Bees and Honey Show. The guides provide information on the regulations for exhibitors and also the classes of honey judged, from light to dark. Each year exhibitors could also enter combs of honey, mead, a hive for observation, and also enter the ‘honey cake’ class – the annual recipe for which is provided in the guides.

Warwickshire Bee-Keepers Association, annual report 1940 [L25.46]

Another bee related series of material we hold are the minutes of the Warwickshire Bee-Keepers Association, instituted 1879, our set starting from the 13th Annual Report, in 1909 to, 75th in 1956, plus newsletters from May 1946-1956. The annual reports while providing information about activities also record lists of the branch heads, members, branch rules, plus information on the association accounts. The newsletters provided members with further details on meetings and also apiary advice. Continue reading


What’s new in the Archives?!

We had a very varied year in terms of additions to the Archives & Collections holdings here at the Library of Birmingham during 2018, so we thought we’d showcase a few highlights for you!

As you probably know, Archives & Collections is the archives repository for the City of Birmingham and as such we are committed to making your unique and precious collections – written and digital, images, maps, film and other media – accessible and relevant to everyone, and we continue to collect documents, in all forms, that will tell the story of today for people in the future.

To make this possible, we ensure that significant records, whether in traditional or digital format are actively collected and described, are preserved for future generations, are accessible and set in a context that helps us understand them, and, all records received are held for the benefit of the public.

So… in 2018 we took in about 78 cubic metres of new records for permanent preservation here in the Archives!

The first material that came in 2018 were the records of the National Adult School Organisation (NASO), and the last material that came in during 2018 was additional material relating to one of our Photography collections – and included images documenting the development of the city centre during the late 20th cent (MS 2820 Additional).

Over the year we supported a number of community heritage projects, and took  in the material they generated including:

MS 4948 (2018/067): Records of amateur boxing history in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

The project ‘ Fighting for our Heritage’ was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and aimed to draw together the history of the boxing club and amateur boxing in Birmingham. It ran for about 2 years in 2016 – 2018 during which time the project team researched the history and curated an exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery entitled ‘Fighting for our Heritage’.

Photograph of Billy Biddles c. 1940s

You can find out more about this project in this blog post which we posted earlier in the year.

MS 4949 (2018/068): The History of Asian Youth Culture Project

The project collected the oral histories and photographs. ‘Asian Youth have played a huge role in shaping the social, cultural and political life of Birmingham and wider Britain. ‘Asian Youth Culture explores the heritage and history of lives and contributions of young  Asian people in three distinct periods: 1950s-1960s, 1970s-1990s, 2000s-2018.

You can find out more about the project here:

Other collections we have added to this year include:

  • Central England Area Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (SF)
  • Birmingham Civic Society (MS 4751)
  • Lench’s Trust (MS 904)
  • Yardley Wood School (S 221)
  • Birmingham Coroners’ Court (CO)
  • Birmingham Magistrate’s Court (PS B)
  • John Hardman & Co. (MS 175)
  • Dudley Road Hospital (HC DR)

… and many more!

Every year we produce a return of what we have taken in and send it to the National Archives (TNA), and they publish it along with those from other Archive services on an annual basis. Returns for 2018 will be made available here in due course for you to have  a look at (as well as the return of other Archives services across the country)!

Corinna Rayner, Archives & Collections Manager



Forgotten Stories: a Birmingham burial register

The book I’ve chosen to write about this week is titled “SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793”, and is located with the parish registers in the Heritage Research Area. It is a facsimile copy of the original register. The original register (Ref: EP 41/2/1/2/5) is held in our stores; however, due to its condition, it cannot be served. Contained within this register is an insight into Birmingham life in the 18th century. This register is special because, uniquely, the cause of death is recorded. This addition allows researchers an insight into the difficulties of 18th century life for the people of Birmingham.

Surrogates of parish registers in the Heritage Research Area, floor 4, Library of Birmingham

Parishes would record information on burials in various ways. By the 1780s, however, there was an attempt to try and make recording more standardised with the production of the ‘Proposed Form of Register for Burials’ which was printed in the year 1781.

Proposed Form of Register for Burials in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

The format is a proposed one which seems to have been one of many trial formats. Despite this standardisation attempt, it seems that other parishes in Birmingham did not use this new system during this period, for instance St. Mary’s, Whittall Street. SS Peter and Paul began using the proposed format by about 1784, as seen in the registers.

The proposed format recorded date of burial, name of the deceased, names of parents, age of deceased, supposed cause of death and where buried. This burial register covers the first three years of the 1790s and during that time 550 burials took place within the parish of SS Peter and Paul. Of those 550, 329 were children, equating to 59 – 60% of the register. Of these 329 children (aged between 1 day and 17 years), 49% (163) were under the age of 12 months.

Burial entries of children in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

We can clearly see that the infant mortality rate was extremely high during this period, which must have had a significant effect on families.  The causes of death for children ranged from measles to Chincough (whooping cough), and from small pox to consumption. Probably the most unusual cause of death among this group is that of ‘teeth’ or ‘cutting teeth’; it seems unusual to us in the modern world as one would never think of teeth being a cause of death. However it seems that during the 18th century, ‘teeth’ was used as a term for ailments that were seemingly unknown, and which came at a time when new teeth were growing, but also could have been related to the processes by which pain was relieved. It should be noted all 10 entries of ‘teeth’ as cause of death are children between the ages of 7 and 18 months.

There are other types of entry which invite more questions than answers. For example, an entry dated 15th June 1790 for a Mary Bishop.

Burial entry for Mary Bishop, 17 June 1790 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

Her parents’ names are not entered and her cause of death is recorded as ‘Evil’. When I saw this my first thought was why evil? What had she done? I did some further research and discovered information on a disease called Scrofula, a type of tuberculosis affecting the glands. Scrofula was known as the King’s Evil and it was given this name because people believed it could be cured by the King’s touch. A case could be made for Mary Bishop having had Scrofula, and the death was simply recorded as Evil.

Another interesting case is that of Jacob, son of John and Mary Field who died at the age of 5 years and 3 months and was buried on January 4th 1791. His cause of death reads ‘Burned’.

Burial entry for Jacob aged 5, 4 January 1791 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

This is curious. What happened to him? How was he burned? Was there a fire? Was it an accident? Given that no other family members were interred around the same time, does it suggest that there wasn’t a fire or that the rest of his family managed to survive.

There are many others I could mention, for instance on 19 July 1791, Samuel Jones was ‘Killed at Doctor Priestly’s’, aged 24 years old!

Burial entry for Samuel Jones, 19 July 1791 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

It is possible that this gentleman was a victim of the Priestley Riots which took place in Birmingham between the 14th and 17th July 1791. The riots, it seems began as a protest to a dinner that was taking place at the Royal Hotel, to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille. Prominent dissenters, (protestants who did not conform to the Church of England) were targeted due to their support of the French Revolution and were seen as a direct threat. Violent acts of looting and burning of dissenter property were seen all over the city. There is a record of one man being killed during the looting of Baskerville House, however it may not be Samuel Jones. More research would be needed to connect this entry definitively to the Priestly Riots, although it would be interesting to do so. Also there is an entry for an unknown man who was found in a cowshed near Vauxhall and died whilst being conveyed to his lodgings. What happened to this man? Who was he?

Burial entry for a travelling man, 23 August 1791 in ‘SS. Peter and Paul, Aston: Burials 1790 – 1793’

To still have access to these stories almost 230 years on is incredible. From records like this we are able to catch a glimpse of what life was like for the people of Birmingham in the 18th century. If you would like to come and view for yourself these stories, and more about the forgotten people of Birmingham, please come to Level 4 of the Library of Birmingham and speak to a member of staff.

Helen Glenn, Senior Archives & Collections Assistant

The Kingsway Cinema, Kings Heath

Detail from the building plan of ‘The Kingsway’, showing the front of the building [Ref. BBP 36328]

The Kingsway façade as it stands today [Author’s own photograph, March 2019]

The Kingsway Cinema, described as Super-Cinema of its time, stood as landmark on the High Street of Kings Heath village.  The initial planning of the Kingsway was scheduled in 1913, but due to the intervening World War 1, the completion could not take place till 10 years later.  Premiering with Down to the Sea in Ships, on Monday 2nd March 1925, the Kingsway was publicized as a state of the art cinema of the time, providing ‘high-class amusement tastefully presented’, for the rapidly growing district of Kings Heath, described as ‘one of the finest suburbs of England’s second city’.

Opening night listing, The Kings Heath Observer, Monday 2nd March 1925 [Microfilm 18/7]

‘Grand Opening Night’ programme, Monday 2nd March 1925 [Ref. Birmingham Scrapbook Vol.10]

Residents were assured of ‘a cinema of excellence of design, with the architectural design by Horace G. Bradley, who was also credited for many respected Birmingham cinemas, including the Broadway, Coronet and Lozells. Continue reading

Fighting For Our Heritage

In December 2018, we received a deposit of material from the Fighting for our Heritage project, which was run from the Pat Benson Boxing Academy (MS 4948, Acc 2018/067). The project was funded by the National Lottery to document the history of amateur boxing in Birmingham and the collection includes some wonderful photographs of boxers in the 1940s and 1950s, along with promotional material and programmes.

Photograph of Billy Biddles c.1940s (MS 4948, Acc 2018/067)

The Pat Benson Boxing Academy has had many changes of name and locations over the years. Its origins date back to 1931 when it was founded by Stephen Hayden from Kilkenny as the Irish Foresters and operated from The Hen and Chickens, Custard House and Sydenham pubs. Stephen built the foundation of a community club that would retain its Irish roots and identity and over the decades, the club has grown and ‘nurtured talent from the black and minority ethnic communities, mirroring and celebrating Birmingham’s ever more diverse cultural make up’.

On the death of Stephen, his son, Steve, took over the club and moved it to the Hobsmoor pub. When Steve died suddenly in the 1960s, Pat Benson took over as coach, ensuring the future success of the club. In 1967, Pat moved the club to the Harp in Moseley Street and it was around this time that they joined with the Kyrle Hall Boxing Club, becoming the Small Heath Golden Gloves.

For a while, the club was run out of Small Heath Leisure Centre, changing its name to the Small Heath Boxing Club. The club temporarily returned to Small Heath Leisure Centre in 1983 after a fire at their Fazeley Street premises. By this time, the club had many successful boxers and Pat was forced to move them out to other clubs so they could continue to compete. It was also around this time that the Chelmsley Wood Boxing Club and St. Francis Boxing Club were established, with ‘a helping hand and sound advice from Pat’.

Continue reading

A review – ‘The Useful Knowledge of William Hutton: Culture and Industry in Eighteenth-Century Birmingham’ by Susan E. Whyman

‘The Useful Knowledge of William Hutton’ by Susan Whyman (2018), Birmingham Collection, L 78.1 HUT

For those of an inquisitive or mildly curious disposition regards the history of Birmingham, the name of William Hutton is often synonymous with the publication of the first recorded history of a town which some seventy or so years after its initial publication in 1781 carried the titles of the workshop of the world and the town of a thousand trades.

In Susan Whyman’s biography of Hutton – The Useful Knowledge of William Hutton, the author provides a profile of a man who according to his own accounts was born into abject poverty in 1723, but who through a combination of entrepreneurial zeal, an autodidactic drive and sheer hutzpah managed to achieve wealth, purchase property and obtain literary fame by the time of his death in 1815. Hutton was the author of fifteen books, many now unknown apart from his history of Birmingham. Titles are diverse and include topics such as the battle of Bosworth Field, a history of Blackpool and an account of his infamous trek across Hadrian’s Wall whilst in his ninth decade.

In his early days in Derby, with assistance from his sister, Catherine Perkins, the young Hutton taught himself the noble art of bookbinding and then with financial support from a retiring minister moved to Birmingham in 1750. With a mind pre – set for business, Hutton established an early circulating library and subsequently sold cheap grades of paper. But I hear you cry : ‘Why choose Birmingham?’, when the assumption would have been more attractive and well established literary and print trade networks already existed in places such as London. Whyman suggests Hutton’s success was intermeshed, somehow symbiotic with the development of Birmingham’s economic and cultural prowess. Birmingham in the latter half of the eighteenth century was at the forefront of two significant forces of economic and societal change – the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment which together created an unprecedented level of opportunity and mobility for those such as Hutton who were in a position to take a risk, make a gamble.

Continue reading

New Year, New Additions

Nicola Gauld. Words and Deeds : Birmingham Suffragists and Suffragettes, 1832 – 1918. (2018) 22.7 GAU Birmingham Collection

It’s that time again when we give you an update on the new additions we’ve made to our local studies collections in the previous 12 months. As usual, in 2018 we continued to accept donations and to make purchases of printed books which have been added to the Birmingham Collection, the Black History Collection and Military History. We have also added to the selection of books available to researchers in the Wolfson Centre. Feel free to browse through the list below:


Barnsley, David & Thompson, Shirley.
Against All Odds – The Carlson House Legacy. (2018)
41.34 CAR Birmingham Collection and L 41.34 CAR.

Barton, Gerry & Babb, John.
Who Does Want To Kill Anyone? The story of conscientious objectors in Mid – Staffordshire and the Black Country during the First World War. (2018)
75.7 BAR Birmingham Collection and L 75.7 BAR.

Brown, Joe.
Birmingham & West Midlands Railway Atlas. (2016)
47.39 Birmingham Collection & LF 47.39.

Chey, Katy.
Multi – Unit Housing in Urban Cities From 1800 to Present Day. (2018)
L 41.8 CHE.

Clifford, Naomi.
The Murder of Mary Ashford. The Crime That Changed English Legal History. (2018)
42.021 Birmingham Collection and L 42.021.

Cooper, Nancy.
Down to Earth : Memories of a young woman joining the Women’s Land Army in 1943. (2017)
75.8 COO Birmingham Collection and L 75.8 COO.

Crosskey, Sheila.
John Henry Chamberlain, the Birmingham architect and two of his grandsons.
LP 78.1 CHA. Level 5.

Crosskey, KSM.
The Story of Thomas Henry Moon, 1866 – 1944.
LP 78.1 MOO.

(ed.) Dick, Malcom & Mitchell, Elaine.
Gardens and Green Spaces in the West Midlands since 1700. (2018)
58.8 Birmingham Collection; L 58.8, Level 5 and 712.6 Wolfson Centre

Fisher, Michael.
Guarding the Pugin Flame : John Hardman Powell, 1827 – 1895. (2017)
78.1 POW Birmingham Collection and LF 78.1 POW.

Gauld, Nicola.
Words and Deeds : Birmingham Suffragists and Suffragettes, 1832 – 1918. (2018)
22.7 GAU Birmingham Collection; L 22. GAU, Level 5 and 324.623094 GAU, Wolfson Centre.

(ed.) Geater, Jacqueline. (ed).
Birmingham Wills and Inventories, 1512 – 1603.
Dugdale Society Vol. 49. (2016). B 942.48.

Gunn, Simon.
The public culture of the Victorian middle class – ritual and authority in the English industrial city, 1840 – 1914. (2007)
L 50 GUN.

Hall, Michael.
Bourne College, Quinton, The Story of a School. (2011)
L 18.31.

Hunt, Karen.
Staffordshire’s War. (2017).
942.46083 Midland Topography & L 96.

Johnson, Neil.
The Labour Church, The Movement and Its Message. (2017)
L 41.23 JOH.

(ed.) Lerwill, John & Haylor, Pete.
Billesley and Surrounds. (2018)
LF 92.7 BIL.

Llewellyn, Sheila.
Walking Wounded. (2018)
L 51.3 LLE.

Loach. P.L.
Marriages in the West Bromwich Registration District, 1837 – 1932 : GRO Page Range Table. (2017 Edition)
Quick Reference Shelves and LF 40.2.

Morley, Christopher.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Inspiring Musicians since 1886. (2017)
55.1 Birmingham Collection & LF 55.1.

National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.
Record of Church Furnishings – The Parish Church of St. Mary, Moseley, Birmingham. (2015)
LF 14.54 NAT.

Dr. Newson, John.
Solar Pioneers of Bournville. (2017)
LP 92.3.

(ed.) Noakes, Amanda.
What A Life! Peter Hollingworth. (2018)
78.1 HOL Birmingham Collection & L 78.1 HOL.

Phillips, Julie.
Birmingham at War, 1939 – 1945. (2018)
75.8 PHI Birmingham Collection and L 75.8..

(Sir) Price, Frank.
Being There. (2002)
L 78.1 PRI.

Reekes, Andrew.
The Birmingham Political Machine : Winning Elections for Joseph Chamberlain. (2018)
76 Birmingham Collection and L 76.

Roberts – Pichette, Patricia.
Great Canadian Expectations : The Middlemore Experience. (2016)
41.31 Birmingham Collection; LF 41.31 Level 5 and 362.732 Wolfson Centre.

Roberts, Stephen.
James Whateley and the survival of Chartism. (2018)
L 78.1 WHA.

Roberts, Stephen.
Recollections of Victorian Birmingham. (2018)
L 73.2.

Russell, Ben.
James Watt – Making the World Anew. (2014)
L 78.1 WAT, Level 5 and 621.1092, Wolfson Centre

Ryeland, Kenneth C.
Time Well Spent – Memories of a former apprentice motor fitter working for the railways in Birmingham, 1957 – 1963. (2016)
L 78.1 RYE.

Thorne, Stephen.
Birmingham English – A Sociolinguistic Study. (2003)
LF 51.9 THO.

Stephen Bourne. War to Windrush : Black Women in Britain 1939 to 1948. (2018). 305.48896 and A 305.48896.


(ed.) Adair, Christy & Burt, Ramsey.
British Dance : Black Routes (2017)
793.308996 & A 793.308996.

Andrews, Kehinde.
Back to Black – Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century. (2018).
305.896041 & A 305.896041.

Baucom, Ian.
Out of Place – Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity. (1999).
305.896041 and A 305.896041.

Bhimji, Fazila.
British Asian Muslim Women, Multiple Spatialities and Cosmopolitanism. (2012).
A 305.48697 Black History Collection.

Birmingham, David.
Trade and Empire in the Atlantic, 1400 – 1600. (2000).
325.34 Black History Collection and A 325.34.

Bourne, Stephen.
War to Windrush : Black Women in Britain 1939 to 1948. (2018).
305.48896 and A 305.48896.

Bourne, Stephen.
Mother Country : Britain’s Black Community on the Home Front, 1939 – 1945. (2015).
940.530899 & A 940.530899.

Bourne, Stephen.
Evelyn Dove : Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen. (2016).
782.42164 & A 782.42164.

(ed.) Donington, Katie, Hanley, Ryan & Moody, Jessica. (2016).
Britain’s History and Memory of Transatlantic Slavery. (2016).
306.362094 and A 306.362094.

Falkenhayner, Nicole.
Making the British Muslim – Representations of the Rushdie Affair and Figures of the War-On-Terror Decade. (2014).
305.697041 & A 305.697041.

(ed.) Hall, Catherine, Draper, Nicholas, McClelland, Keith, Donnington, Katie & Lang, Rachel.
Legacies of British Slave-ownership. (2014).
306.362094 and A 306.362094.

Hussain, Khalad.
Against The Grain. (2012).
305.891412 and A 305.891412.

Malik, Zaiba.
We Are A Muslim, Please. (2011).
297.092 and A 297.092.

Moody –Turner, Shirley.
Black Folklore and the Politics of Racial Representation. (2010).
398.208886 and A 398.208886.

Satia, Priya.
Empire of Guns : The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution. (2018).


Childs, David.
Growing Remembrance, The Story of the National Memorial Arboretum. (2011).
355.160941 Military Genealogy and A 355.160941.

Delve, Ken.
The Military Airfields of Britain – Wales and the West Midlands. (2007).
358.417094 Military Genealogy and A 358.417094.

Laura A. Millar, Archives – Principles and Practices. (2017) 027 Wolfson Centre.


Aston, Jennifer.
Female Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth – Century England. (2016).
A 330 Wolfson Centre, stack items.

Central England Quakers.
Meeting Houses of Central England Quakers. (2017).
289.642 Wolfson Centre and LF 18.6.

Cressy, David.
Coming Over : Migration and Communication between England and New England in the Seventeenth Century. (2007).
304.874042 Wolfson Centre.

Cressy, David.
Gypsies and English History. (2018).
942.004914 Wolfson Centre.

Millar, Laura, A.
Archives – Principles and Practices. (2017)
027 Wolfson Centre.