Coffee Break?

From Birmingham Journal , January 16th, 1836

Mocha Coffee, at 2s. per pound

    The superiority of Mocha Coffee over every other description must be acknowledged by everyone who has tried it. Its flavour so perfectly mild and free from any property which is calculated to offend a weak stomach, particularly recommends it to invalids; and were it not for the high price at which this description has hitherto sold, there can be no doubt that its use would have long since superseded the Coffee imported from the West Indies.
At the present moment good Coffee is much enquired for and difficult to procure, unless at an extraordinary high price; this is owing to the scarcity of West India Coffee, the consumption of this article in Great Britain being greater than the Colonies can provide for.
The Mocha Coffee, and in fact every description not grown in the West Indies, pays an extra duty of three-pence per pound.  This duty has hitherto had the effect of limiting the importations to very small quantities, but the high price to which West India Coffee has now advanced, brings the Mocha and East India into the market on nearly the same footing.
I beg to state that I have made a large purchase in Mocha Coffee; of its quality I will leave the public to judge. The price is Two Shillings per pound. I have only to invite a trial, resting assured that a trial will convince every person of its superiority over every other kind imported into this country,
                                                               No. 14, High-Street, Birmingham
The richness of Coffee depends almost entirely on the manner in which it is made. It ought never to be boiled. Boiling water poured over the Coffee gradually is the proper method. But those who are very choice in this article should use “Parker’s Patent Coffee Pot“; the plan is most admirable, it being more properly the essence of the coffee, extracted by steam made to pass through the “grounds” and then condensing; thus preserving the flavour and strength to a perfection unattainable by any other method. Another recommendation is, that it cannot by carelessness or any other cause be made bad. I have one of these Coffee -pots by me, and shall be happy to show it to any person. I do not sell them, but can procure them of any size to order.



Expenses of the Watch: 1848

At a general meeting of the Town Council held on February 1st, 1848, the Watch Committee presented the following account of their annual expenses from the previous year. At the opening of the report there was also a table showing the current ‘strength of the police force’, according to rank. The numbers presented were:

69 first class officers
69 second class officers
69 third class officers
61 fourth class officers
9 preparatory officers
5 detectives

The committee also confirmed that ‘the station and section houses are in good condition’.

There are lots of interesting expenses on the list, maybe we shouldn’t read too much into the Chief Superintendent’s ‘incidental expenses’ and the greatest expenditure appears to be on clothing and stationery. One woman appears on the list. Although it is not known why Mrs. Ford was left in charge of a female prisoner, but she appears to have been paid quite well for her trouble. Also on the list is a payment to cover damages to a ‘car’. This may have been a cab.

The table has been drawn up from original material taken from the Town Council minute books, which can be viewed at the Library of Birmingham, Archives, Heritage & Photography.  The staff are very helpful & infinitely knowledgeable. And of course the minutes in their original form are available to view free of charge. Because of recent cuts to this important service, visits are by prior appointment only. But do go and look at them, they’re fascinating. Reference number for this volume is BCC1/AA/1/1/2

I hope the format is easy to read. Payments are written in the form £,s,d (pounds, shillings & pence)

Payee Service/goods Payment (pounds, shillings & pence)
John Tonks Printing £20,,14,,0
Hunt & Sons Printing £18,,1,,0
Watts & Williams Surgeons 7s, 6d
J.W. Davies Surgeon 5s,, 0d
J.V. Solomon Surgeon £ 3,,10,,0
Dolans & Co. Clothing £194,,0,, 6
Thomas Evans Boots £153,,10,,0
W. & G. Ashford Stocks 18s,, 0d
Pashby & Plevins Repairs £11,,15,,9
Smith & Hawkes Repairs £1,,14,, 6
B. Burgess Repairs 7s,, 2d
Chief Superintendent ‘Incidental expenses’ £13,,1,,5
Inspector Glossop ‘Incidental expenses’ £1,,17,,3
W. E. Bayldon Apprehending a prisoner £  3,,8,,0
Mrs Ford Taking charge of a female prisoner 13s,,6d
Dawson & Son Printing &c. £19,,10,,0
Mr. Talbut Repairing locks 12s,,7d
Mr. Farmer Repairs 12s,,6d
J.E. Hornblower Preparing plans in support of an indictment £2,,2,,0
Superintendent Roberts Expenses in endeavouring to apprehend a prisoner £1,,15,,0
Allen & Son Stationery &c. £10,,12,,6
J.W. Showell Stationery &c. £4,,9,,9
John Holt Brushes &c. £1,,6,,6
Mr. Parkes Damage done to a car by a prisoner in custody of police £1,,6,,6
D. R. Hill Plans, specifications and estimate of cost of new police station £21,,0,,0

The results are in:Birmingham’s first council election,1838

common seal british library stock

The Birmingham ratepayers elected their first town council on Wednesday, 26th December 1839.  There was a limited electorate because of legislation passed in 1835 which restricted voting to ratepayers of three years standing. Anyone who, for some reason, had not paid their rates during the course of  the previous three years was excluded from taking part in the election. As may be guessed, women were not permitted a vote even if they were long-standing ratepayers.

Shown below are the results of Birmingham’s first council election. The candidates were divided between ‘Radicals’ and ‘Tories’. This might appear odd; when I voted today there was a choice of five candidates from very different political parties. In fact, the choice presented in 1838 as controversial then too. In the run up to the election there were some candidates who were not Tories, but equally did not consider themselves to be Radical. In the list below you’ll see that some candidates are presented as ‘placed upon both lists’.  This was a form of protest. In the end, the Radicals won every seat and on first sight this does appear something of a rout, however the outcome was closer in some districts than others. By my quick calculation, the Radicals took 66% of the total votes.

One interesting name on the list is that of Richard Tapper Cadbury, father of John (who perhaps needs no introduction here).  He was a stalwart of the Street Commissioners, Birmingham’s self-elected administration which held responsibility for managing the town’s infrastructure. In 1851 the council usurped the commissioners, but from the first election until that date there was an uneasy relationship between the two. This is perhaps why Cadbury (and a few other commissioners) made the decision to take part in the election.

The report reveals the returning officer for the elections to be William Scholefield. He was the son of Joshua Scholefield who, along with Thomas Attwood became one of Birmingham’s first MPs. William Scholefield was a known Radical and was elected councillor for St. Peter’s ward, so it might seem a bit off that he was in charge of ensuring fair vote counting. However, at the time of the election, he also held the office of High Bailiff and it was acting in this capacity. He holds the distinction of being Birmingham’s first mayor.

The following is taken from the Birmingham Journal,  December 29th 1838. This newspaper is available to read online, by subscription to the British Newspaper Archive and free of charge (appointment advised) at the Library of Birmingham.

Corporate Elections in Birmingham

Each ward in the town was contested by Tory candidates, every one of whom were defeated. Elections commenced in the different wards precisely at nine o’clock in the morning under the superintendence of deputy returning officers, and the poll was kept open until four o’clock when the boxes were conveyed to the committee room of the Town Hall and their contents examined by W. Scholefield esq., the returning officer, and the following were declared the result of the elections.

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