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Faces & Places

'Faces & Places' was originally a 19th century publication that identified the ‘great’ and the ‘good’ in Birmingham.Through the generous contributions of people connected with the Birmingham Stories project, we have started to recreate this book in a series of online exhibitions listed below. Here you'll find 'faces', people whose lives made an important contribution to the diverse history of the city, and 'places' that have made an impact on the history of Birmingham’s landscape.

Click on the images to find out more...

Rhoda Anstey
Rhoda Anstey

Rhoda Anstey (1865-1936), founder and first Principal of Anstey Physical Training College in 1897 was born at Jurihayes Farm near Tiverton, Devon in 1865, the seventh of nine children and second daughter of John Walters Anstey and his wife (Suzannah Elizabeth, née Manley) (Rhoda Anstey’s Birth Certificate). Her father was a yeoman farmer and Rhoda was a natural country woman with a great love of the county of her birth. By the time of the 1891 Census Rhoda was managing the dairy on the farm that was headed by brother William. A feminist and keen theosophist and astrologist, Rhoda found great value in meditation and was always deeply interested in matters of health...

Birmingham Children's Homes
Birmingham Children's Homes

In 2009, a small team, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Birmingham City Council, set about trying to create a history and archive of Birmingham's many Council-run children's homes between the years of 1949 and 1990. It was not known how many children's homes there were, where they were or who was in them. Through trawling through Guardians of the Poor, Children's Committee, and Social Services minutes, the Birmingham's Children's Homes Project has put together this exhibition of children's homes in Birmingham. Added to this formal information, we have some memories from oral history interviews with people who used to live or work in the children's homes...
James Bissett
James Bissett

James Bisset (1762?-1832), was born in the city of Perth, Scotland, around the year 1762. Not a great deal is known about his early life and family background. He grew up in relatively humble circumstances, although his parents managed to find the money to send James and his sister to a small private school for a penny a week. He became fascinated with the arts at an early age, and purchased numerous second-hand copies of journals and printed books with the little money he had. From the age of nine James took the Gentleman’s Magazine regularly, using pocket money granted by an uncle...


Stuart Blofield
Stuart Blofield

This article was kindly sent to the Birmingham Stories project by Mr Stuart Blofield, who grew up in the Birmingham Edgbaston area and now lives in Bath. The newspaper story describes Stuart's experience of being a prisoner of war (WWII) and finding love with an Austrian women called Hilde Szabo, who took part in a daring resistance.
Elizabeth Cadbury
Elizabeth Cadbury

Elizabeth Cadbury (1858-1951), was the wife of George Cadbury, of Cadbury’s Chocolate, Bournville. She was brought up in a period of British history when labour markets were expanding, trades were reskilling and a wider understanding of social awareness and peoples’ welfare was coming into being. Elizabeth was an avid Philanthropist– donating time and services to socially beneficial causes. Joseph Chamberlain’s radical improvement left Birmingham particularly suited to the ideals and nature of Elizabeth Cadbury... Her main interests in Birmingham lay in the welfare of children, healthcare...
Castle Vale Learning Guide
Castle Vale

This Cultural Champions Project learning guide focuses on events and issues leading up to the emergence of the Castle Vale estate, using images from heritage collections from Birmingham Archives & Heritage and Castle Vale Library, with each themed page containing references to archive sources.Maps can contain important social information. They show how the landscape on which Castle Vale now stands (once known as ‘Berwood’) went through many changes...

Please note that this PDF may take up to a minute to download.

Causeway Green Hostel
Causeway Green Hostel

One important reason as to why the black community in London, developed around Brixton, is because many of the arrivants who migrated aboard the Empire Windrush were initially accommodated by the Ministry of Labour, in an air-raid shelter underneath Clapham Common Tube station. The underground station can be found on Acre Lane, and if one continues to travel down Acre Lane, one soon arrives on Brixton High Road. In his study, A Land of Dreams, A Study of Jewish and Afro-Caribbean Migrant Communities in England, Simon Taylor writes...

Rookery House, Erdington
Erdington: Rookery House

During 2010-11, the Cultural Champions Project worked in partnership with the Rookery House group to connect the rich archival sources in Birmingham Archives & Heritage with the historic Erdington property. Led by an expert from Birmingham Archives & Heritage, monthly research sessions located documents that unlock some of the many unknown stories that lie behind the doors of the Rookery. This resource guide showcases key pieces of evidence spanning centuries of social history...

Please note that this PDF may take up to a minute to download.
The Cube In The Square, Erdington
Erdington: The Cube In The Square

During 2010-11, Birmingham Archives & Heritage collaborated on a creative project involving the Erdington-based community arts organization, ‘The Cube In The Square’. The Cube’s group of artists were given personal access to the rich range of archive materials reflecting upon different themes connected with Erdington and the city. They chose either a specific document or an idea generated by their own experience in the archive as a starting point for creating an artistic response...

Please note that this PDF may take up to a minute to download.


Henry Gunter
Henry Gunter

Henry Gunter (1920-2007), was born in Portland, Jamaica. He studied accountancy at Commercial College there and worked in Panama and the U.S.A. He became involved in politics and trades union activities and established a newspaper, the Jamaican worker, which he used to protest about working conditions and against racism. He came to Birmingham from the U.S.A. in 1949. He joined the Afro-Caribbean Organisation; of which he became Chairman; c.1954. He was also a member of the A.E.U. and a delegate from his Union branch to Birmingham Trades Council. In Birmingham he continued his campaign against racism by writing and action...

Horace Halliburton
Horace Halliburton

In 1949, the Birmingham Gazette ran a series of articles highlighting an episode of social unrest that took place in the Causeway Green hostel. The disturbances apparently involved Jamaican and Polish residents at the hostel. In a large newspaper article, it was Horace Halliburton who spoke out against the institutional prejudice and racism that had given rise to the conflict. The paper gives the following details of his life...
Mahmood Hashmi
Mahmood Hashmi

Mahmood Hashmi is a long established name in Urdu literature with a wide range of publications. He graduated from Punjab University and went on to gain a M.A and LL.B from University of Aligarh in 1943. Before Indian independence in 1947 his short stories , literary criticism and radio dramas appeared in leading journals such as Saqi Adabi Dunya and were performed on All India Radio...

He arrived in Britain in 1953. He gained a postgraduate certificate in education from Leeds University, becoming the first black teacher in Birmingham 1956...
Jacob Jacobs
Jacob Jacobs

From a sign on a wall, it is sometimes possible to uncover a whole history. Buildings that we walk past every day can often hold surprising and vital clues to understanding our past. Although Birmingham changes shape with each new generation, if we look closely at what surrounds us we can see how its industrial and cultural history remain marked on its landscape. By investigating the feature shown above on a building in the Jewellery Quarter, this 'city story' offers some clues as to how we can recover a sense of our history from the clues which we see on the street...

Hettie Johnson
Esther Ann Johnson

‘A Life on Stage’: The Amazing Story of Esther Ann Johnson concerns a Birmingham-born actress whose incredible history has now been forgotten in the town where she was raised. It is a tale of migration, working class experiences, black history, nineteenth century theatre, and one woman’s courageous pursuit of a ‘life on stage’. Born in Birmingham in 1871, Esther Ann Johnson, or ‘Hettie’, as she came to be known, would first appear in performances of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in England in 1892. Passing away as recently as June 19th 1973 in Saint Christopher’s Hospital, Fareham, Hettie would live to be 102 years old!...
Malcolm X
Malcolm X

Malcolm and Marshall Street (1965)

Malcolm X was known around the world as ‘the angriest Black man in America’ and an inspirational speaker on the injustices of America’s treatment of Black people. On a cold Friday in February 1965 he paid a brief visit to Marshall Street, Smethwick. The day turned out to be one of the last of his life, but his visit more than forty years ago still serves to highlight the long-running battle for equality fought by people coming to the town...

William McCardie
William McCardie

William Joseph McCardie: Birmingham's Pioneering Anaesthetist is taken from a Birmingham Stories oral history interview with Harry McCardie, who grew up in a family home in Edgbaston. Harry wanted to tell the story of his father's important achievement in the field of medical science. Harry told us: "[My father] specialised in anaesthesia. And if you went to the museum in London you's see he made patents for masks to put over the face, you know, and he developed pourers, to pour the liquid, or whatever it was.... Chloroform was the thing then... Before that they hit you over the head with a mallet and gave you a bottle of whiskey! But, he invented a thing called ethel chloride...
The Middlemore Archive
Middlemore Archive Collection

The Middlemore Homes were founded in 1872 by John Throgmorton Middlemore as the‘Children’s Emigration Homes’. The first home, for boys, opened on Beatrice Crescent, St. Luke’s Road in September 1872. In December 1872, a similar home for girls opened at 36 Spring Street, Birmingham.

In 19th Century Birmingham, John Middlemore saw poor children living in overcrowded slums, in unhealthy conditions. Some children were suffering from neglect and at risk of falling into crime through a need to survive. His original mission...
Middlemore Homes
Middlemore Homes

The Middlemore Homes Scheme: 'Hard times for the Edwards family'

On the 3rd October 1904, Mary Emma’s son, Arthur Edwards was placed in the Middlemore Home in Birmingham. Arthur’s son Ralph Edwards, who lives in Winnipeg, Canada told me about his father’s story: “From the Middlemore records that I have been able to view, it appears that William and Emma and their children had fallen on "hard times" and were having trouble providing for their children and themselves. When my father went into the Middlemore Home on 3rd/4th October 1904, this is what was on the application...
Thomas Ewart Mitton
Thomas Ewart Mitton

Thomas Ewart Mitton, called Ewart (his family name) in this article, born in April 1897, died young. Like most of his generation he enjoyed life and had great hopes for the future. But, as his older brother Eric wrote, there was a ‘bolt from the blue… War was declared in August 1914.’ Eric himself was an officer in the first Territorial signals section to be sent to France at the start of World War I. He was promoted to Captain in October 1915, and had risen to the rank of Major by the end of the war. Ewart followed his brother, and after leaving school enlisted as a signals officer with the Royal Engineers in February 1916. He went to France in March 1917. His company then moved to Belgium...
Helen Newill
Helen Newill

The photograph above, labelled ‘Miss Helen Newill, Chairman 1906-1914’, survives amongst the historical records of a Birmingham charity, the Birmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, which are now preserved at Birmingham Archives & Heritage. Miss Newill was first chair of the charity from its foundation in 1906. However, the surviving records of the charity reveal little else about Miss Newill. What was her family background? What motivated her in her work to provide help to unmarried mothers in the city? What was the significance of her style of dress in the photograph? Through research using local and national records, I have attempted to build up a picture...
New Meeting House
New Meeting House

This report book was compiled by the Missionary appointed by the Church of the Messiah Sunday Schools and Home Mission. The reports are essentially itineraries of the Missionary's visits of various houses in the neighbourhood of the church. Although the names of the families are not mentioned, they nonetheless provide a powerful account of slum life in central Birmingham during the 1880s and the feelings of those who worked with some of Birmingham's poorest families, some of which were former pupils at the school. He describes families who were starving and destitute, widows bringing up families of children without a steady income and orphaned children...

Arthur O'Neill
Arthur O'Neill

Arthur O'Neill (1819-1896), lived in Birmingham from 1840 until his death in 1896. He made his mark as a Chartist, a peace lecturer and a Baptist minister. O'Neill was of Irish descent & in adult life was a champion of Irish causes, notably Home Rule. He arrived in Birmingham as pastor of the Chartist Church in Newhall Street - the only Chartist Church which survived in England for any length of time.

After serving a prison sentence for addressing crowds of striking miners in the Black Country in 1842, he became a Baptist minister...
Oak Tree Lane
156 Oak Tree Lane

What link did 156 Oak Tree Lane in Bournville once have with Poland in the 1960s?
View the entry to find out more....
John Pockett
John Charles Pockett

"We Should Remember Them": John Charles Pockett (1884-1916)

John Charles Pockett was my wife's grandfather. He was born on the 7th June 1884 at 23 Manchester Street, Cheltenham, the second child of Elizabeth Sophia Pockett. He was one of three children in the Pockett family, including elder brother Frederick James and younger sister Alice Louisa Maud. At the time of the 1891 census, the family were still living at the same address where John was born...
Alfred Richards
Alfred Thomas Richards

We Should Remember Them": Alfred Thomas Richards (1883-1916)

On the 17th April 1883 Alfred Thomas Richards was born at Harrold Place, Bell Barn Road, Edgbaston Birmingham, an area more popularly known today as Lee Bank. On July 1st 1916 aged 33 he would lose his life in the first hours of the Somme offensive. Alfred died at the onset of one of WW1’s most infamous and bloody campaigns, in which many Birmingham men were killed...


Sarwan Singh
Sarwan Singh and the Indian Workers Association

My name is Sarwan Singh. I came to this country in 1960. I have lived all my life in Handsworth and worked in Birmingham. I am a member and office bearer of Indian Workers Association from long time. Indian Workers Association head office is at 346 Soho Road, Handsworth, Birmingham.

I came to this country in December 1960 during the Xmas holidays. I arrived from Jersey to Southampton by ship and came to Birmingham by train. It was early in the morning. I went to Ballsall Heath Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham by taxi at about 4am...
Revd Peter Stanford
Revd Peter Stanford

'American Slavery to English Ministry': The Revd. Peter Thomas Stanford

In 1995 I was investigating the history of Highgate Baptist Church, when a friend brought me details of an article he’d noticed in, Birmingham Faces and Places: An Illustrated Local Magazine, April 1894. I went to Birmingham Central Library and found the magazine. My first reaction was amazement, followed by disbelief! The article, entitled ‘The Revd. Peter Thomas Stanford, “Birmingham’s Coloured Preacher”, said that Stanford, an African American ex-slave, was the minister of Hope Street Baptist church...
Jane Suffield
Jane Suffield

In the early nineteenth century education was a privilege. The parents of upper and middle class children would pay for their education. In Birmingham King Edward’s School founded in 1552 was a free grammar school - but for boys only, girls were expected to marry, raise a family and run the house. For that, people thought, education was not particularly necessary. Gradually through the century the situation improved. By 1870 Foster’s Education Act ensured that all children, boys and girls, would receive an elementary education up to the age of twelve. This was done by local councils through the School Board. Only the privileged would have education after that age...
John Suffield
John Suffield

John Suffield of Birmingham lived to the grand age of ninety-seven. He was born in Old Lamb House, Bull Street in 1833 and died in Moseley just after his birthday in September 1930. The Suffield family had a drapery business in Old Lamb House, a half-timbered building on the corner of Bull Street and High Street. When he was born they lived above the shop...
Dick Turpin - Boxer
Dick Turpin

It is often observed amongst archivists that we frequently come across some of our most intersting findings when we are searching for something quite different. This was certainly the case with the way in which the Birmingham Stories team stumbled across the story of Dick Turpin. When searching through the local newspaper collections for articles about the landing of the Empire Windrush in June, 1948, we came across a series of stories about a now, little-known man by the name of Dick Turpin. At the time of the landing of the Empire Windrush, Dick Turpin held the Middleweight Championship of the British Empire...
Martha Webb
Martha Beatrice Webb

Martha Beatrice Webb (1863-1951), teacher, physician and pioneer of social medicine in Birmingham was born in Furness Vale, Cheshire in 1863. Daughter of Philip H and Frances Webb and elder sister to James H P Webb. She was educated privately at Broom Bank, Stockport and, after a period of poor health in her late teens, attended Newnham College Cambridge where she took the natural science tripos in 1890. Webb was appointed assistant mistress at Edgbaston High School for Girls in 1890 and taught here for the next ten years. Relatively late in life, Webb became a medical student at the newly formed Medical School in Birmingham, 1902-07, and graduated MB, ChB at Edinburgh in 1907...
Ida Wells
Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells (1861-1930), well-known in the USA, where a great deal has been written about her contribution to civil rights, is not well known in Britain despite her visits to Britain in 1893 & 1894. An African-American woman of great courage and conviction, she worked to bring to the crime of lynching to the attention of people in America and Britain through her journalism and public speaking. Known also as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, after she married African-American rights advocate Ferdinand Barnett, the couple published the Chicago Conservator newspaper and were considered pillars of the black community of Chicago where they were well known as leaders of the anti-lynching crusade...
Wheeleys Road
34 Wheeley's Road

What link does Wheeley's Road, Edgbaston, have with international activism and refugee histories?

View the entry to find out more...
Windrush
Windrush and Birmingham

The 22nd of June, 1948, was a deeply important date in British history. This date marked the docking of the Empire Windrush, in Tilbury, Essex. The landing of the Windrush is still a relatively little-known event in the British past, yet even less is known about the lives of the people who arrived aboard the Ship. This Faces and Places entry aims to use the newspaper collections to begin to explore the very early experiences of the Jamaicans who travelled to Britain aboard the Empire Windrush, before journeying to the city of Birmingham...
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