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.


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