Tag Archives: New Additions

New accession: Shades of Black Community Family Project

In September 2017 we were delighted to receive over 40 boxes of material in to the Library’s collections from the Shades of Black Community Project led by Mrs Eunice McGhie-Belgrave. This was to add to a smaller body of material already in the archive from Shades of Black.

Shades of Black began in February 1989 as a response to the Handsworth Riots when five local women met together to discuss what could be done to rebuild the community and take positive action. From this initial meeting to the present day, Shades of Black has carried out a range of successful projects at the grassroots level with the aim of bringing people together and helping community members develop new skills which in turn increases their self-esteem. The newly acquired material is a record of almost 30 years of dedicated community work.

One example of this is the H.E.L.P. Allotments project. Based in Handsworth and established in 1999. It enabled school pupils to get involved in gardening, donating some of their produce to the elderly to celebrate Harvest. The project gained coverage from BBC Gardener’s World and local radio stations as well as immersing many children in the pleasures of growing their own fruit and vegetables.

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

ms-4856-2

Christmas design from the Tony Fisher collection. © Fisher Estate. [MS 4856 Acc 2016/053]

It’s been another busy year for the Iron Room blog. In 2016 we published 66 articles (this being number 67) and we have already begun planning for 2017! We would like to say thank you so much for your support and contributions – we really couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) do it without you.

Archives and Collections at the Library of Birmingham has also been busy and amongst the new accessions taken in this year, the highlight, at least for me, has been the Tony Fisher archive (MS 4856).

Educated at the Moseley School of Arts & Crafts, Tony went on to become a print designer, a lecturer at the Bournville School of Art & Design and eventually Senior Graphic Designer at the BBC, Birmingham.

 

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Emma Heppingstall

Purple Unearthed

MS 244/1/5/2/1/10a Note of theft of books by Emma Heppingstall

MS 244/1/5/2/1/10a Note of theft of books by Emma Heppingstall

On 16th November 1855, Emma Heppingstall, aged 13, was sentenced to 3 weeks of hard labour in the House of Correction in Warwick for stealing fifty seven books worth 3d each from William Simmonds of Wheeler Street, Birmingham.

After her punishment, at the suggestion of Lord Calthorpe, Emma was sent to the Girls’ Reformatory School in Birmingham at 45 Camden Street, for a period of three years. The ‘Application for admission’ informs us that she was the daughter of Edward Heppingstall of Mary Street, Bordesley, brass founder, and that she was a servant at Mrs Hill’s, Great King Street. She had attended St. Thomas’s School and could read and write a little, but she left when she was six years old. She had been at Mrs Hill’s two years and seven months. She also attended the Sunday School belonging to the People’s Chapel, Great King Street.

MS 244/1/5/2/1/10h Application for admission for Emma Heppingstall

MS 244/1/5/2/1/10h Application for admission for Emma Heppingstall

There is a list of the clothing she had when she was at Warwick gaol: ‘1 Shift; 1 Black frock; 1 White Skirt; 1 Cloak; 1 Bonnett; 1 pair strong Boots; 1 pair of Stockings; 1 apron; 1 new Flannel petticoat’. The Application form for the Girls’ Reformatory School states that every girl was required to bring with her two complete suits of strong and good underclothing and also of shoes and stockings. The weekly payment required for each girl was 5 shillings.

The surviving papers give no further information about Emma’s time at the Reformatory School.

We know the details above from some papers recently purchased by Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography which appear to have been gathered by one William Morgan as a result of his position at the Reformatory and as Agent of the Secretary of State to take proceedings against the parents or step parents of juvenile offenders in order to obtain financial contributions for their children in the Reformatory schools. They cover 1851 – 1866.

MS 244/1/5/2/1/10c Letter from Harry Adkins

MS 244/1/5/2/1/10c Letter from Harry Adkins

William Morgan (1815 – 1899) was a solicitor practising in Birmingham. From an early age he was active in liberal and philanthropic causes. He was also Co-founder of the Birmingham Baptist Union and Secretary of the Birmingham Anti-Slavery society in the 1830s. From 1852 – 1854 he was Town Clerk of Birmingham. He was an Honorary Secretary of the Warwickshire and Birmingham Reformatory Institution from the first annual general meeting in 1854 until his death in 1899. He was also Treasurer for most of that period.

Warwickshire was pioneering in the development of reformatories to provide care for juvenile offenders. The first outside London was at Stretton under Dunsmore, the creation of John Eardley Wilmot in 1818. Boys there would learn a trade and girls would learn domestic skills.

A Reformatory School was started in Birmingham in 1852 by Joseph Sturge in a house at Ryland Road and the Birmingham Reformatory School Society was founded to manage the school. In 1853, Charles Adderley, M.P. (later Lord Norton) provided premises on his land at Saltley for a school. He was largely responsible for getting the Young Offenders Act passed in Parliament in 1854 and was a keen proponent of the ‘humanist’ approach to reforming young offenders. He remained associated with the School throughout his life.

The papers purchased by Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography  (Accession 2014/048) have been catalogued as MS 244/1/5/1-2 and include papers of William Morgan drafted for Acts of Parliament, Government returns for Reformatories, and papers about young offenders, male and female. The latter includes correspondence, applications for a place in the Reformatory, commitment forms, conviction papers etc.

Apart from a set of Rules for the Girls’ Reformatory School (11254 L43.94) Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography appears to have no other records specifically about the Girls’ Reformatory, so this new accession is a welcome addition to the other records of the Reformatory we hold [MS 244].

I just want to know what the 57 books Emma Heppingstall stole were!

Fiona Tait, Archivist

A Voice From the Past

Green Detected

A paperback book was brought into the AHP service counter by a couple who had bought the book from a charity shop in Castle Bromwich (from my memory). On inspecting the book, they found a couple of handwritten notes from a soldier and it seemed as though they were written to his children during the First World War. The soldier was identified as Sergeant Richard Greenfield, and the letters were addressed to Ellen and mentioned her siblings, Richard and William.

MS 4674/1 Letter from Richard Greenfield

MS 4674/1 Letter from Richard Greenfield

Prompted by the possibility that they might relate to a Birmingham family, I pursued a number of lines of enquiry, mainly on Ancestry.com.

First of all I searched military records for a Richard Greenfield and quickly found some records for a Birmingham born man who apparently joined the army twice. Firstly the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on 18 August 1899, aged 21, regimental number 6967. From these records he appeared to have served in Malta, South Africa and India between February 1901 and October 1907. He was promoted to corporal in December 1905. A second regimental number 373999 seems to relate to a further period of service with the Warwickshire’s and there is information relating to a re-engagement of service in August 1911. Richard Greenfield was then mobilised on the 5 August 1914 and promoted to sergeant on 18 January 1915. A military history sheet appears to confirm that he was sent to serve in France from March 1915, and after a brief period in the UK he was part of an expeditionary force bound for France in May 1916. The military records also confirm that he was discharged in June/July 1919. One of the military history sheets gives some details of Richard’s father, wife and children and thus I have been able to follow up other elements of his life via the census, parish records, trade directories and ultimately his death certificate.

The census of 1891 finds the Greenfield family, father and son, plus mother and a further eight children living at 104 Charles Arthur Street (parents – Painter and Button worker respectively). Richard (son) is 14. The census of 1901 and the family is now living at 17 Arley Street. Richard (father) is now described as a House Painter and Anne (mother) now not in employment but with nine children still at home. Richard (son) joined the army in 1899 and hence is missing from this entry.

Marriage entry from St. Gabriel, Deritend [EP 2/2/3/7]

Marriage entry from St. Gabriel, Deritend [EP 2/2/3/7]

The next formal record is of the banns of marriage of Richard Greenfield and Amy A Whitehead at St. Gabriel – they are married on 13 November 1910 [EP 2/2/3/7]. Richard is described as a porter and there is a suggestion that he returned to work as such at New St. Station after his discharge from the army – I haven’t been able to prove this although the 1911 census supports this theory. Richard was born in early 1878 and hence is 32 when he and Amy married.  The parish record describes Amy as a minor at this point in time. Like many others, the first child of Richard and Amy was born illegitimately on 21 October 1910 and this is Ellen, the child to whom the letters are addressed. A brother, Richard, was born on 14 October 1912 and he is also mentioned in the letters. The third child of Richard and Amy is William, born in early 1914 – the letter suggests he has been ill and indeed he died in January 1916. A further son is born in October 1916, named William also, and sadly dies in July 1918 before his second birthday.

The 1911 census finds Richard, Amy and Ellen living at 1 back, 13 Poole Street, Aston, with Richard’s occupation described as a Railway Porter. Richard Greenfield (the elder) and family remain at 17 Arley Street.

I did locate a death certificate for Richard Greenfield dated 13 June 1953, signed by a doctor from Dudley Road Hospital and registered by Amy A Greenfield. The couple had been living at 126 Norton Crescent, Birmingham 9. Although it is unlikely that Richard and Amy’s children are still alive, could there have been grandchildren? More detective work required……

Alison Smith

Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee – MS 4261

View of the Hall of Memory from Broad Street, Birmingham

View of the Hall of Memory from Broad Street, Birmingham. 1931. [MS 2724/2/B/4611]

Most people would associate the sale of red poppies in Birmingham with the Royal British Legion.  However, the Legion was not the only organisation involved in this charitable work.  In 1921 at the behest of Birmingham’s Lord Mayor, William Adlington Cadbury, a new organisation was formed to promote, coordinate and administer the sale of red poppies in Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.

The Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee worked in collaboration with the Legion to organise the Poppy Appeal as well as to distribute grants to other ex-services organisations including the Lord Kitchener Memorial Home, the Regular Forces Employment Association, the South African War Veterans Association, the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen Families Association (SSAFA) and the Royal British Legion.

For over eighty years The Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee played a major role in the Birmingham Poppy Appeal until 2004/2005 when its functions were absorbed by the Legion.  The Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee was formally deregistered by the Charity Commission on 09 August 2011 bringing an end to its valuable, and often overlooked, contribution to charity in Birmingham.

The records of the Birmingham Ex-Services Appeals Committee were kindly deposited with Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography in 2012.  They can now be viewed in the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research at the Library of Birmingham.

 Kevin Roberts, Archivist

Knitting for Victory!

A letter from serviceman Ron Hedger

(Ref: MS 4068/1/10/1)

During the Second World War, Mrs. Powell and a group of her friends started a knitting group for the Red Cross in Handsworth, Birmingham. Mrs Powell remembers that anyone mentioning the Blitz at the meeting had to pay 6/d towards the Red Cross. Their knitwear was sent to troops all over the world, and often the servicemen would write letters of thanks back. MS 4068 is a collection of such letters, and are a great insight into serving and training during the war.

Some letters have a lighter side to them. One serviceman, not knowing the name of Mrs Powell’s daughter, wrote a letter of thanks instead to “My dearest Cinderella”, asking for a photograph of her and signing off as “a lucky Sailor” (letter above).  It took several letters before Betty finally revealed her real name, although persistent requests for a photograph seem to have been ignored. Continue reading

Yet further additions

An image of the shelves.

A number of new acquisitions made to the Birmingham Collection and the Genealogy bookstock. Why not have a look below:

1. Birmingham City Council.
Housing Department, Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Action Plan.
(2002).
LP 21.85 BIR Continue reading