Needle and Fish-hook Makers 1818


Barnett Thomas                 (needle) Great Charles Street

Bartleet T. jun. & Co.             St. Paul's Square

Crook John                   (needle & bodkin)     Barford Street

Deakin & Dyer                 (& knitting-pin)     Suffolk Street

Scambler J. W.                  Exeter-row

Toulmin J. B.                   Smallbrook Street  

Tye James      (and fancy needle case)    Barford Street  



by James Pigot (1818)

Birmingham lies in the centre of the kingdom, in the north-west-extremity of Warwickshire, in a kind of peninsula, the northern part of which is bounded by Handsworth, in the county of Stafford, and the southern by King's Norton, in the county of Worcester. It is in the diocese of Lichfield, in the deanery of Arden, and in the hundred of Hemlingford. The great antiquity of this town renders an accurate account of its name almost impossible; it has been written in a greater variety of ways than perhaps any other town in the kingdom. Bromidgham, as it is so commonly called, is but a corruption of Birmingham. One of the great Roman roads comes within a mile of this town. It rises near Southampton, enters Birmingham parish by the Observatory in Lady Wood Lane, and terminates itself upon the banks of the Tyne, in Northumberland. Part of this road is yet to be seen, in a state of perfection, about four miles from Birmingham. In the Square, some remains are yet visible of the foundations of a Priory, which was erected about 1280. From the large quantities of human bones, dug up in the Minories, it was, evidently, the burial place of the Priory. Birmingham has for many centuries been famous as a manufacturing town. Hardwares of almost every description are manufactured here; toys, jewellery, arms, and army accoutrements and latterly the flint glass trade has made a great and rapid progress.

The population of Birmingham and its connected hamlets and environs, cannot at present be estimated at less than 100.000 souls, and is rapidly increasing. The air of Birmingham cannot, perhaps, be excelled in this climate the moderate elevation and dry soil evinces this truth. The baneful influence of spirituous liquors, which has made such dreadful havock on the population of many other manufacturing districts, is almost unknown here.

We now proceed to the public buildings of Birmingham : those which are dedicated to divine worship claim our first attention. St. Martin's, or the Old Church, was erected prior to the year 1300 and was originally built of stone, but in 1690 it was thought necessary to case the whole with brick, except the spire, which is elegant and very high. The steeple contains a set of very musical chimes, and a peal of 12 bells. St. Philip's, or the New Church, is a curious piece of architecture. The steeple is erected from the model of St. Paul's, London, and has a peal of 10 bells. The church-yard is one of the first in the kingdom; it occupies four acres, ornamented with walks. Christ Church, or the Free Church, was begun in the year 1806, and the steeple in the year 1816. His majesty king George the third gave £1.000. towards the erection of this elegant building. St. John's Chapel, Deritend, was founded in the reign of Richard the second, 1382. It is a chapel of ease belonging to Aston, two miles distant. The present building was erected 1735, and the steeple 1762. St. Bartholomew's Chapel was built in 1749. It will accommodate 800 hearers, and is neat and elegant. St. Mary's Chapel was erected in 1774, in the octagon form. His neatly built, and the situation is airy. St. Paul's Chapel was erected in 1779. The building is plain, beautiful, and strong. Im 1791, a beautiful painted window, representing the Conversion of St. Paul, executed by that celebrated artist Francis Eginton, for 400 guineas, was placed over the Communion Table. St. James's Chapel, Ashted, formerly the residence of Dr. Ashe, is a neat structure, and is a chapel of ease to Aston. The various classes of dissenters, who are very numerous, opulent, and intelligent, have many places of worship in this town. Their ministers are generally distinguished for their piety and literary acquirements. The Quakers, or Friends, have a meeting-house, in Bull Street. The Methodists have many meeting-houses. The Roman Catholics have two chapels. The Jews have two synagogues. In the year 1774, a very elegant Theatre was erected in New Street : it cost £5.660. In the month of August in the same year, it was wilfully set fire to, and burnt, together with the scenery, dresses, &c. &c. The incendiaries were never discovered. Four years afterwards, another Theatre was erected on the scite of the former, at the expence of more   than £14,000. It will contain an audience of 2.000 persons. The Statue of Nelson, erected a few years ago in the Bull-ring, is justly ranked among one of the first specimens of art in the kingdom. Birmingham can also boast of a Public Office for the accommodation of magistrates and the administration of justice, convenient in every respect; a prison is attached to it where the prisoners experience every comfort that their unfortunate situation will admit of. Education is not neglected in this town. In addition to King Edward's Free School, the Blue-coat School, and the numerous Dissenting Schools, there is an excellent foundation in Severn Street, where the children are gratuitously educated on the Royal Lancasterian Plan of Education; as also the Madras School, situate at the bottom of Pinfold Street. Among the foremost of its charitable endowments must be ranked the General Hospital. This is a large and convenient edifice, erected on the edge of the town, at upwards of £1.600. expence, in which are accommodated weekly, upon an average, above seventy patients, and a still greater number are relieved externally. In the early period of the late revolutionary war (which threatened the subjugation of Europe, and, assisted by unfavourable harvest, the horror of famine to England) the inhabitants justly considering that the very necessary article of bread ought to be rendered to the tradesman and mechanic, as free as possible from the exorbitant charges of mercenary speculators, formed an “Union Mill Society.” It consisted of many thousand individuals, and any person paying in £1 became a shareholder in the concern. The object of the Society was to raise a fund from these subscriptions, to go to the best mar markets and purchase grain for cash; grind the corn by their steam mill, and let the subscribers, and ultimately the public, have their flour or bread, of genuine quality, at nearly the prime cost. The effect of this wise measure was grand and instantaneous. The quality of bread was improved, the price lowered, and, upon an average, during the last 20 years, the quartern loaf has been sold in Birmingham at least 2d. per loaf under the price asked in the neighbouring towns, and the quality of the bread far superior. But as one mill was found insufficient to supply the wants of so large a town, and such an increasing population, another has been erected on the same plan, and has dispensed advantages to the town and neighbourhood, which claim the gratitude of the public and in conjunction with the “Old Union Mill,” will remain monuments of the public spirit, liberality, and true regard of economy, which has for ages distinguished this flourishing town. In the environs of Birmingham, and, indeed, now attached to it, by a continuation of houses, is the Soho Manufactory. A manufactory known, not only by England, but throughout the civilized world. The scite of the Soho was formerly a desert waste, but under the auspices of the late Matthew Boulton and his able colleagues, has become a flourishing colony. It took the name of the Soho from a petty pot-house, which might probably be the rendezvous of sportsmen after the fatigues of a field day. The Soho Manufactory, now the property of Matthew Robinson Boulton, son of the far-famed Matthew Boulton, is considered, and justly, the chef d’oevre of English progress in arts and manufacture. Independently of the various branches carried on in it, and which comprise much of the useful, and a great proportion of what is ornamental, including most branches of the hardware, silver, and silver-plate trades, we must mention, to the honour of this place, that in it originated, and was carried into effect, a perfect model of a copper coinage of this nation. When the trophies of war shall fade when animosities between contending parties shall cease when the arts of peace shall be patronized and flourish, Soho shall be regarded as a signal monument of the power of the arts, and the extent of genius, fostered and patronized by an enlightened nation. The streets of Birmingham are broad and spacious, the atmosphere is healthy and clear, and every means for the preservation of health has been adopted, particularly bathing ; one of the most complete set of baths in the kingdom being erected at Lady-well: a piece of water, 36 yards by 18, situated in the centre of a garden, accommodated with twenty four recesses for undressing, and surrounded by a high wall; besides these, seven marble baths are at all times ready for hot or cold bathing, and all other suitable conveniences for medical purposes. The inhabitants are enlightened and independent. Genius has been cultivated, and genius has rewarded her votaries by a dissemination of wealth, received as though it were the reward of merit; and expended in benevolent acts, and convivial rites, as though it were the gift of Fortune. The town derives very considerable advantage from its navigable communication to most parts of the kingdom. In 1767 an act was obtained to make a navigable canal between Birmingham and the collieries at Wednesbury, at an expence of £70,000. In 1772 this canal was extended to Autherley, whence there is a communication to the Severn, and thereby to Shrewsbury, Gloucester, Bristol, and with the Trent to Gainsborough, Hull, and Bristol. From this canal there is likewise a junction with the Grand Line, running along the Potteries in Staffordshire, and thence extending to Manchester and Liverpool; thus conveying the manufactures of Birmingham and its vicinity, entirely by water carriage, to the principal ports of the British Ocean, the Irish Sea, and St. George's Channel. A communication from the Birmingham canal is also opened by Fazely to Tamworth, Polesworth, Atherstone, Nuneaton, and Coventry; and from the lower part of the town, a canal is cut to Warwick, which communicates with the Stratford canal, and so on to Banbury and Oxford: thence by canal, or the Thames, to London.

The Fairs are held on Thursday in Whitsun-week and that commonly called Onion Fair, on the first Thursday in October. There are two others for horses and horned cattle held every week.