Mind that ice!

'Elements of Skateing. Making the most of a passing friend, in a case of emergency!', 1805. Artist: James Gillray

The following salient warning comes from Birmingham Daily Gazette, January 30th, 1865

Street Accidents – If our readers had an opportunity of inspecting the books at the hospitals, it would teach them caution in walking through the streets during the continuance of the present frosty weather. On the out-patient books there are long lists of what are comparatively minor casualties, but which every one would be anxious to avoid. Broken arms are numerous, and there are some more serious cases too. On Saturday, a man named Hemming, a brassfounder of Cottage Lane, was admitted to the General Hospital with a compound fracture of the leg. A child of eight years of age named Chace, living in Rickard Street was admitted with a fractured leg.  An old woman of 65 years of age named Jane Hyde of Old Cross Street was admitted with an external fracture of the “external malleolus”. At about ten o’clock, a man named Cottrill, of Railway Terrace, Soho Wharf Gib Heath was carried in by his comrades, he having fallen on a “slide” and broken his knee. He was told what was amiss, and must remain in hospital, but he flatly refused to do so. The surgeon remonstrated and told him that the consequence of his obstinacy might be serious, but he persisted in his resolution. His comrades refused to take him away, as the surgeons wished him to remain, but this made no difference to him. He declared he would go home, even if he had to crawl on his hands and knees. The firmness of his purpose was that the poor fellow had a wife at home, and he would not alarm her by staying away, nor allow anyone but himself to tell her what had happened to him. At the Queen’s Hospital also, a great number of fractures and other casualties were attended to. 

There was a further story, in the same edition of the Gazette, of another icy-tumble:

Accident by the frost – In Friday’s Gazette we mentioned the fact that Mr. David Kendrick, ironmaster of Wolverhampton, while passing through the St. Philip’s Church-yard, fell down and fractured his right leg.  A gentleman who saw the occurrence lifted him in his arms and, while carrying him to a cab, also stumbled on a slide and fell, the result being that Mr. Kendrick’s leg was fractured a second time. He was instantly removed to the General Hospital, where his injuries received every attention. 

The danger of ice was a well recognised issue in nineteenth-century Birmingham. The making of ‘slides’, by young people skidding about on the ice, was considered a particular nuisance. Bye-laws issued in 1841 expressly forbade  ‘deliberate’ sliding upon ice or snow in any street or thoroughfare ‘to the common danger of passengers’. The throwing of snowballs in the street was also legislated against, and all could incur a fine of up to £5

The full list of bye-laws issued by Birmingham Town Council in 1841 can be found in the original minute books, ref. BCC 1/AA/1/1/1 at Library of Birmingham, Archives, Heritage and Photograpy. Local newspapers from the nineteenth century are also available there, free of charge to view an by subscription via British Newspaper Archives


Children at work: Birmingham’s Climbing Boys

child labour

In September, 1826, Aris’s reported the awful story of a child stuck in a chimney for more than five hours. The boy, a chimney sweep only seven years of age, was freed through the dismantling of part of the chimney stack. The child was found in a position in which he was totally incapable of moving more than his legs. The report expressed much regret that this practise, which condemns so many children to a degrading and destructive employment, should not have excited more successfully the benevolent attention and sympathy of our fellow townsmen.

Sympathy for the ‘climbing boys’ was generally slow in coming and, despite the invention of chimney sweeping machinery, legislation when it was introduced was resisted. The first regulatory act appeared on the statute books in 1834. This outlawed the apprenticeship of child sweeps under the age of 10, but no child under 14 was permitted to be engaged in the actual cleaning of chimneys. In 1840, the act was further revised, raising apprenticeship age to 16. This did not stop the use of climbing boys and local newspaper reports carry many reports of prosecutions.

Aside from the immediate dangers and horrendous working conditions of the climbing boys, the nature of their work placed them at a further disadvantage, compared with other apprenticeships. In a meeting held at Birmingham Town Hall in July, 1856, Mayor Hodgson raised the issue of what happened to the boys when they were too big to climb the chimneys. He stated that they were sent adrift to be taught some other business, without education and often with indolent habits. Hodgson added that whilst it by no means followed that because a trade was dangerous, it should therefore be prohibited; but the community had a right to step in when it was found that persons unable to defend themselves were forced into dangerous positions by unkind, harsh or drunken masters. There were also a number of local chimney sweeps in attendance at this meeting who stated that they had not used climbing boys for many years, because machinery was far more efficient for the job.

Prosecutions continued to appear for several more years in the press, most of the cases brought by the Society for the Protection of Climbing Boys. Most major towns had similar societies, Birmingham was by no means the first, and they played an important role in bringing about legislative change as well as offering immediate assistance to children who had been injured or traumatised by sweeping accidents.

 On May 20th, 1858 at the Erdington petty sessions, a sweep was fined £10 for a violation of the law passed to prevent ‘cruelty to climbing boys’. The following report of the boy’s statement is taken from the Birmingham Journal, May 21st, 1858

The boy, Salisbury, a poor, sickly, diminutive lad, said that on the morning in question he went with Daintree to Mrs. Griffiths’s house, and the chimney being small he had to strip naked to get into it; the mortar projected out from the wall, and he stuck fast, and could neither get up nor down. Daintree got up to the roof with a ladder and threatened to poke him down with a prop, and also threatened to light a wisp of straw under him. The poor little fellow at length wriggled himself out and descended. He had been with Daintree about three weeks and had been frequently struck and ill-treated by him; and on the following Saturday he had turned him out, nearly naked, and he had to lie in the Breeze yard, covered with sores and half famished.

The news of young Salisbury’s plight reached the Society, who took the youth into their care. It was they who brought the case against both Daintree, the employer and also Mrs. Griffiths, who had ‘knowingly permitted’ her chimney to be swept by an under age employee. She denied this charge, claiming she had been duped by Daintree, and the prosecution against her was withdrawn. However, another woman whose chimney had been swept by Salisbury was not so lucky, and was given a £5 fine, the sum of which was paid into the funds of the Society.

It was not until 1875 that further legislation finally began to have an impact, with the introduction of licensing for chimney sweeps.

Copies of Birmingham’s historical local newspapers are free to view on microfilm in the Local Studies centre at Library of Birmingham. Please support our local libraries and archives. 

Children at work: the Factory Act in Birmingham

Portrait of a child laborer standing between a spinning loom and

The issue of children working in factories is one often associated with the big northern mills. However, there were factories in Birmingham too, and children were employed in those as well as in smaller workshops. The Factory Act of 1833 was introduced in an attempt to bring better working conditions for children, although it was something of a compromise as many were opposed to any interference in working practices at that time. The main clauses of the Factory Act were:

  • No child workers under 9 years old
  • Children 9-13 could work no more than 9 hours per day
  • Children 13-18 could work no more than 12 hours per day
  • Children not permitted to work at night
  • Two hours of schooling per day for each child

Factory owners were required to hold age certificates for any children in their employment and inspectors were appointed and fines could be levied if the laws found to be broken. However, they were never properly enforced and working conditions for many children continued to be dire. It was not until 1901 that the minimum working age was raised to 12.

children Victorian fsctory

The following is an extract from the Birmingham Daily Gazette, January 23, 1865, which had in turn been taken from The Daily Telegraph.  The article quotes from the report of a recent inspection of local factories. As the article makes clear, many local businessmen and politicians, including MP John Bright, did not feel that the Factory Act could be applied to Birmingham’s small workshop economy. It should also be remembered that these were hard times for working men and women in Birmingham, before the welfare state, the income of a child could make the difference between life at home and life in the workhouse.

The Employment of Children in
Birmingham Manufactories

Mr. Bright is singularly opposed both to the teachings of experience and to the spirit of the age. He admits that the Factory Act, of which he disapproved when it was first introduced, has done good in the Lancashire district, both to masters and men; and yet he will not assent to its introduction into the trades that cluster in and around Birmingham. “The circumstances of trade and employment  in Birmingham are different.” No doubt. But is the difference any excuse for allowing in the Midland Counties inhumanities that we do not tolerate in the North? We call it inhumanity, for however unintentional it may be, however inspired by mere love of gain, and not by deliberate heartlessness, it is contrary to natural interests to keep young children eight, ten and twelve hours a day at hard, unwholesome work. In Birmingham itself, there are in employment two thousand children under ten years old; of these, seven or eight hundred are under eight, scores not over six or seven and some as young as five. Fancy an infant of five in a factory instead of being at play, or at its mother’s knee! The assistant commissioner who recently inspected the trade of the district, heard all that the manufacturers of the neighbourhood had to say against legislative interference. Of course they “did not oppose the Factory Acts for other trades”; they only pleaded that theirs was an exceptional case. But they brought forward no new argument, and “there is nothing” we learn ” in the details of the children’s work to cause difficulties of a special kind”.  That some application of the Factory Act is imperatively needed is plain from the results of the inquiry. The Commissioner found “defective work places”, “severe overwork”, and “young children in a wretchedly squalid and forlorn condition”, although employed by persons of liberal and kindly feelings”; and as we cannot presume that all manufacturers in Birmingham, or any other large town, deserve such eulogy, what must we think of the average, when the best are so bad?  It is cruel enough to employ young children for eight or ten hours a day; but it is worse when, as in many of the factories in Birmingham, they are exposed to deleterious conditions that kill off men at forty or fifty years of age. Of the workshops, some are “oppressive and stifling”; some so crowded that the children have to creep into their benches under the legs of the adult workers; while in others the windows cannot be opened because, in a room crowded to excess, a portion of the children are obliged to sit with their backs close to the panes of glass, shutting out light and precluding ventilation.

Bull baiting in Rowley Regis, 1835

From Aris’s Gazette, Monday October 26th, 1835. The ‘wake’ mentioned was most likely the annual St. Giles fair held at the beginning of September. This is a graphic account of cruelty to animals.

To the editor of Aris’s Gazette,
by inserting the following letter you will much oblige A FRIEND OF HUMANITY



Sept. 13th was the wake. Tidy and T. Lodder (nicknames)  agreed to buy a bull. Saturday the 12th, after Tidy had got his week’s earnings, the money was raised and the bull bought of a publican at Black Heath. Between ten and eleven o’clock that night the bull was fastened to the stocks in the town, and baited by dogs by candle light until he broke loose. On the Wake Monday, this victim of wanton cruelty was again baited in the town till he was mangled in the most shocking manner.  Some dozens of bull dogs were brought to worry the manacled beast. His nose, lips and head were torn and swollen till they presented a frightful spectacle. His legs shared a similar fate and his neck was grievously galled by the rope. He was now so exhausted that he could be no more brought to the stake, and it was apprehended that he would soon die. He continued however in great agony till Thursday, when he was hauled into the brewhouse of Lodder’s father and killed.

In different parts of the parish four or five other bulls were baited during the wake, and some of them with very aggravated cruelty. Indeed, at one another of the beer shops this wanton sport is going on very often. One bull-baiting publican (a woman) is reported to have boasted of having taken upwards of £73 during the wake.

On these occasions the whole neighbourhood is annoyed, and often alarmed to a very high degree. The rabble returning from these inhuman scenes insult nearly everyone they meet, and frequently commit depredations where they pass. It is hoped the new law on this subject will, in every possible case, be enforced, until England is no more stained by such wanton cruelties.
Rowley Regis, Oct 12th, 1835

The Public Office: extension and refurbishments

Following on from yesterday’s post on the development of plans to improve the town’s Public Office, after a complaint from the county magistrates, an outline of the extensions and refurbishments is given below. These are taken from the original minutes of the Commissioners of the Birmingham Street Act, reference MS 2818/1/5  Library of Birmingham, Archives, Heritage and Photography.



At a meeting of the Street Commissioners held on October 30th, 1830, almost three years after the original complaint of the magistrates, the Public Office committee reported the following refurbishments underway:

On the ground floor – two committee rooms; an office for Mr. Dester (Dester was responsible for the local scavengers), which will occasionally be available for other purposes and furnished with writing desk, chairs and table from the Commissioners present room; a closet for hats and umbrellas; one committee room which may occasionally serve as a waiting room for persons attending meetings instead of, as at present, waiting in the gateway of the Public Office at the risk of their health and sufficient to furnish with table and part of the seats in the Commissioners current room; a further committee room furnished with table and ten chairs to match the furniture in the Commissioners room that may supply an additional and appropriate supply of seats upon any extraordinary attendance of the Commissioners.

On the upper floor – The room for the Commissioners general meetings. To furnish this room appropriately and worthy of the architecture the Committee has sought a person who combines good taste with the best workmanship and reasonable charges – the committee announced that ‘such a person has been found’ and the minutes report that they presented detailed drawings and specifications to the assembly before continuing with their ‘mature deliberations’

Any other mode of fitting other than that of placing the seats on the floor around the room would be utterly destructive of its beauty…your committee finds itself confirmed in this opinion by the judgement of men of acknowledged taste and experience in matters of this kind and therefore recommend this room be furnished settees and chairs placed alternately around the room, the settees to correspond in length with the recesses between the pilasters, that is to say eight settees, each about 7 feet 6 inches long, two settees about 4 feet 8 inches each. There was also to be a chair and a plinth for the president, a table and fourteen chairs all made agreeably to the drawings. The seating would, it was projected, accommodate 60 persons, a number much greater than generally attends at one time

The great flourish with which the refurbished meeting room was presented was followed with the undergoing work to the ground floor:

Ground floor – A front room for the use of the adjoining parishes on Mondays and Thursdays and for the use of Commissioners at all other times. The parishes would be charged for use of the rooms and it was recommended that they be furnished with a table and ten chairs for their use; a public staircase adjoining a room for parish business connected to the Overseers and a private staircase for the magistrates.

Upper floor – A room at the front of the building for magistrates to hear complaints, grant warrants and summonses &c. …adjoining to which is a reception room and passage leading to the Commissioners room; two other rooms, one for witnesses waiting to give evidence, the other for persons wanting summons, so that no one will be permitted to wait on the stairs and landing to obstruct the free ingress and egress of the inhabitants and to prevent the inconvenient crowding of these offices as heretofore, to the annoyance of all concerned. 

Basement storey – this included eight ‘vaults’ one to be a prisoners day room, one for a stable for the magistrates’ horses, one for a kitchen for Mrs. Redfern’s house, one for Mrs. Dester, two to be occupied by warm air apparatus and two of the largest as yet unappropriated. 

The whole of the building was to be finished by the end of December. The Commissioners demanded only one alteration to the plans presented, that was that the settees and chairs in their meeting room should be covered with roan leather, in preference to the proposed mohair. There was also some uncertainty as to the furnishing of the magistrates rooms and it was decided to hold another meeting with them before confirming their agreement.  By February 7th, 1831, the Commissioners were finally settling in to their new and grand meeting room. Though at that meeting, they requested the Public Office committee have drapery put up at the windows of the meeting room.

The Public Office: planned improvements

The following information is taken from original minute books of the Commissioners of the Birmingham Street Act. They can be viewed by appointment at the Library of Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography, ref. numbers MS 2818/1/5 ‘Minutes of the Birmingham Street Commissioners’ vol. 5


Birmingham Public Office Moor St. c. 1831


At a meeting of the Birmingham Street Commissioners held on November 5th, 1827, a complaint was presented from the Warwickshire magistrates there is a lack of sufficient accommodation at the Public Office during the transactions of business brought before them. The letter of complaint was signed by A. Clarke, Theodore Price, J. Spooner, J.T. Fenwick, Richard Spooner, Thomas Lee, Charles Cope, William Hamper and G. Peake. In their usual diplomatic manner, it was decided the Commissioners would organise a deputation to meet with the magistrates to discuss how far disposed they may be to concur on resolving the issue.

The Public Office, situated on Moor Street, served a number of purposes. There was a meeting room used by the Street Commissioners, a court room for the local petty sessions and the prison. This was a holding prison for felons waiting to either attend a hearing or to be dispatched to Warwick gaol to serve their sentences. Birmingham did not have its own house of correction until the opening of the prison at Winson Green in 1852.

Following the meeting with the magistrates, a major refurbishment and extension of the Public Office  (situated on Moor Street) was agreed. At a meeting held on January 21st, 1828, the projected costs of the improvement were put at a rather precise £7690.This was to include the purchase of lands at the back of the current building. In July 1829, the Commissioners were still haggling over prices for some of this land, so it was decided to purchase those that had already been agreed on, forget the rest and place an advert for proposals from contractors in the local papers.

On August 17th, 1829, a special meeting of the Commissioners met to consider five architectural plans for the Public Office improvements. These came from Mr. Tutin Esq., Messrs. Rickman & Hutchinson, Mr. Coley, Mr. Fallows and Mr. Edge. The plans were left at the offices of the Commissioners solicitors, Arnold & Haines, so that the Commissioners would all have opportunity to view them. On September 7th, the Commissioners voted on the plans with, only three receiving their votes:

Rickman & Hutchinson   – 12
Mr. Fallows                        – 13
Mr. Edge                             – 17

And Mr. Edge was duly engaged as architect for the Public Office. At a meeting held on December 27th, 1829, it was reported that from the tenders received for undertaking the works, Messrs. Hartle & Sons had been appointed with the lowest tender of £4230 12 shillings.

Roll up, roll up…a visit from the Great United States Circus

Life in Victorian Birmingham could be a hard slog but scanning the notices in local newspapers of the day reveals a great variety of entertainment was available to suit all tastes. Some events, such as the great concerts at the Town Hall, were highbrow and clearly targeted an audience from the wealthier suburbs. But there was fun to be had too, railway excursions and theatre matinees could be enjoyed by many and would doubtless offer a welcome escape from mundane daily rituals.  The arrival of the circus, in particular, must have represented a great community event. Performances were offered at different times of the day and seat prices available to suit most pockets. In the advert below there is also an offer of free entry for children from charity schools.

On Friday January 8th, 1858, the Birmingham Daily Post carried an advertisement for Howes and Cushing’s Great United States Circus – from the 1840s onwards, a number of American circuses toured Britain, often offering equestrian displays.

Howes and Cushing's Circus, England, 1858


IS NOW OPEN, in the new circular and commodious Brick building, Moor Street for a short time only.


at two o’clock p.m.; evenings at half-past Seven. Doors open
one hour previous

This day and evening the whole of the Company will be introduced, together with

Mr. J. Robinson
The Premier Equestrian of the age
Musical Director
Mr. Chas. Ehrmann
For particulars, see Programmes

Admission (prices reduced for Winter season) Boxes, ONE SHILLING; Gallery SIXPENCE; Reserved seats TWO SHILLINGS. Children half- price to Day performances in Box and Reserved seats only. Half price to the Reserved seats at Nine o’clock.

Mr. BRUNELL RUNNELLS, the Great American Four and Six Horse Rider, and MR. ARTHUR BARNES, the Champion Vaulter of the World, will appear on MONDAY EVENING NEXT.
The Committees of Charitable Schools of the Town are respectfully informed that the children under their care will be admitted Free to the Day performances by giving one day’s notice.

Twelfth Night: confectionery and customs


Mary Clitheroe’s Twelfth Night party by “Phiz”

In recent times Twelfth Night has become the traditional time for taking down the Christmas tree, although there is now some dispute over whether the occasion should fall on the 5th or the 6th of January. A celebration dating back to the Middle Ages, during the nineteenth century it was one of the most popular of the Christmas holiday celebrations.

A detailed explanation of the origins and customs of the occasion was presented in a two column article in Birmingham’s Daily Post, January 6th, 1871, opening with a vivid description of an expected street scene:

This evening, if it happens to be tolerably fine, there will be a crowd at every confectioner’s window, admiring those indigestible dainties – the Twelfth Cakes; resplendent in all the colours of the rainbow, adorned with a multiplicity of grotesque ornaments and figures reposing amidst flowers, fruits and bonbons, illuminated by the most brilliant gas-light and artfully reflected in the most polished of mirrors. Yet of the crowd who linger and admire, not one in a thousand has any idea the origin of this Pantomime of Confectionery

The article goes on to explain how the feast day originated from the Roman celebration of Saturnalia when it was customary to make special merriment and feasting and to draw lots to see which of the company should be King for the night…the Saturnalia ceased but the Festival remained, beginning with the Nativity, or Christmas day and ending with the Epiphany, or Twelfth Day. 

In the Christian tradition, Epiphany represents the arrival of the three wise kings to the Nativity scene, and celebrations of the event can be traced back to Medieval times:

In the ‘Middle-Ages’, Twelfth Night was celebrated with special Church observances. There was a sort of Miracle Play performed in honour of the Three Kings. These personages, properly habited, used to make their appearance in church, preceded by a star…on being received by the clergy, the Three Kings were taken to the altar and there deposited gifts in commemoration of the gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts were divided among the priests. The gifts over, the Three Kings went to sleep, then came a boy, clothed in an alb (representing an angel) who made this announcement “All things which the prophets said are fulfilled”. Then there was chanting and everyone went away to feast and make merry and choose King and Queen out of the Twelfth Cake. 

There is further description of secular celebrations: The Mummers continued their antics on Twelfth Night, and Saint George, the Dragon and Old Father Christmas, the Grand Turk and Beelzebub played their pranks in old manor houses and country towns…in all private houses, Twelfth Night was celebrated with special feasting, drinking from the wassail bowl, games of all kinds, fiddling and dancing. 

The tradition of the Twelfth Cake is also included made of flour, honey, ginger and pepper…the maker thrusts in at random a small coin as she is kneading it. When it is baked it is divided into as many portions as there are persons present in the family. It is distributed and each has his share. Portions are also assigned to Christ, the Virgin and the three magi, which are given away in alms. Whoever finds the piece of coin is sainted by all as King, and being placed on a seat or a throne is thrice lifted aloft with joyful acclamations. The paper notes that this custom was played out on the continent, as well as in England, but that while continental celebrations chose only a king, in England it was customary ‘always’ to choose a king and a queen a bean and a pea were put into the cake and whoever found the bean in his slice was King and whoever found the pea was Queen…generally it was contrived that the master and mistress of the house became King and Queen, but occasionally mirth was provoked by an accidental change of parts. 


Three local customs from the Midlands, apparently peculiar to their community, are listed:

Pagot’s Bromley (Bagot’s Bromley) a man came along the village with a mock horse fastened to him with which he danced, at the same time making a snapping noise with a bow and arrow. He was attended by half a dozen villagers wearing mock deer’s heads and displaying the arms of the chief landlords of the place. The party danced “The Hays” and other country dances, and were rewarded with a pot of ale and a general contribution from the village.

The following tradition is still carried on in Herefordshire:

In Herefordshire the apple trees used to be solemnly wassailed on Twelfth Night eve – that is sprinkled with ale from the wassail bowl to make them bear well in the next season. The same custom existed (perhaps in some places still does) in all the cider counties.

And finally another custom from Herefordshire, as described in this same item from the Post:

At the approach of evening on the vigil of Twelfth Day the farmers and their friends and servants meet together and at about six o’clock walk out to a field where wheat is growing. In the highest part of the ground, twelve small fires and one large one are lighted up. The attendants, headed by the master of the family, pledge the company in old cyder, which circulates freely on these occasions.  A circle is formed round the large fire, when a general shout and halloing takes place, which you hear answered from all the adjunct villages and fields. Sometimes fifty or sixty of these fires may be seen at once. This being finished, the company return home where the good housewife and her maids are preparing a good supper. A large cake is always provided, with a hole in the middle. After supper, the company all attend the bailiff (or head of the oxen) where the following particulars are observed. The master, at the head of his friends, fills the cup, generally of strong ale, and stands opposite the first or finest of the oxen. He then pledges him in a toast. The company follows his example with all the other oxen, addressing each by name. This being finished, the large cake is produced and with much ceremony put on the horns of the first ox, through the hole above mentioned. The ox is then tickled to make him shake his head. If he throws the cake behind, then it is the mistresses perquisite, if it is thrown before in what is called the ‘bocay’ then it is the bailiff himself claims the prize. The company then return to the house, the doors of which they find locked, nor will they be opened till some joyous songs are sung. On their admittance a scene of jollity ensues and which lasts the greatest part of the night.

New Year football, match reports

Birmingham has a long and strong football history, with team alliances often spanning generations.  The three best recognised local teams – Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, were established in the second half of the nineteenth century. Below are match reports for each of the teams from New Year’s matches. For the record – I am a Bluenose (Birmingham City fan) – but I couldn’t find a better result for a New Year’s match. Which may come as no surprise to many!

Football teams were quite often founded by churches, particularly non-conformist chapels, or by workplaces and also unions. Aston Villa were formed by the members of the Aston Villa Methodist Chapel in 1874 and went on to become one of the founding members of the Football League. Club chairman William McGregor was the man behind the establishment of the world’s first football league in 1888. (Many thanks to John Lerwill for this information).  The match report below is of a game which took place on New Year’s day, 1885:


Aston Villa, c. 1899

Aston Villa vs. Queen’s Park – the champion club of the Midlands visited Glasgow yesterday and played the premier club of Scotland. A very large crowd attended at Hampden Park to witness the match, which throughout was very well contested. In the first half the Queen’s Park scored 3 goals and Aston Villa 1. In the second half, Aston Villa played against the wind, and in fifteen minutes scored the second goal. Shortly afterwards, the right wing, in a brilliant run, registered a third goal, amid great cheering. Encouraged by this success, they played up splendidly and nearly scored several times, but the slippiness of the ground spoiled their accuracy, and the match ended in favour of Queen’s Park, by 4 goals to 3. The teams were entertained to dinner, and the Aston Villa team’s health was enthusiastically drunk. 

While the first teams were playing at Hampden Park, each team also had second teams playing at Perry Barr; Villa Park not yet having been built. It was reported that around 2,000 spectators attended the Perry Barr match and that a capital game was witnessed. Queen’s Park won 3-0.

These next reports are both from the same day, January 2nd, 1886, as reported in the  Birmingham Daily Post of January 4th


Small Heath Alliance, Division Two champions 1893

Birmingham City F.C. was originally founded as Small Heath Alliance in 1875, taking their current name in 1943. They were one of the first 15 founding clubs of the F.A. second division and were its first champions in the 1892-1893 season.

Bolton Wanderers vs. Small Heath Alliance – played at Burton. A large number of spectators were present. The visitors started downhill, and for a short while the ball travelled from end to end, but the cross wind spoilt effective play, no score being registered by half-time. The latter half was very exciting. The Alliance scored first, but the Wanderers, a few minutes before time, won 2 goals to 1.


West Bromwich Albion F.A. Cup winners 1888

West Bromwich Albion was founded as a works team in 1878, by George Salter’s Spring Works. Originally called the ‘Strollers’, they were the first football team to adopt the ‘Albion’ suffix. Although based in Staffordshire, the club registered to play in the Birmingham and District Football League and took part in the Birmingham Cup.  Along with Villa, West Brom were one of the founder members of the Football League. The following report is from the 4th round of the English Cup, with a controversial goal allowed at the end. The referee is named as Mr. Cofield of the Birmingham and District Association.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – an unusual amount of interest was manifested in this match in the fourth round for this cup, and the weather being fine upwards of 8,000 persons visited the Albion ground, at Stoney Lane, West Bromwich, to witness the match. The Albion won the toss, and elected to play down-hill. They at once commenced aggressive tactics, but were met by a stout resistance by Mason and Lowder, who each played a splendid back game and several times forced Roberts to use his hands. With the assistance of H. Bell and H. Green, the Albion kept their antagonists from making much headway, and towards half-time enabled the home forwards to change the venue of the game. Before half-time the Albion scored a couple of points, Loach and G. Bell sending the ball through. With the hill and wind in their favour in the second half, the Wolverhampton contingent worked strenuously to obtain a point, H. Aston, Brazier and Brodie each putting in some good work. The defence of Albion was, however, too much for them and, seeing an opening, T. Green rushed up the field with the ball. A bad miss by Mason proved disastrous, for Green finished up his run by scoring third point. Playing up with renewed vigour, the Wanderers severely pressed the Albion back division, and it was said that an attempt by H. Aston sent the ball through, although it seemed to the majority of the spectators that the ball went over the bar. The point was allowed, however, and the Albion ultimately won by 3 goals to 1.