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


Charges and regulations for use of the Town Hall, January 1851

As 1851 drew to a close, Birmingham’s administrative bodies were amalgamated into the single body of the town council, as enacted by the 1851 Birmingham Improvement Act. As part of the act, public assets which had previously come under the authority of the Birmingham Street Commissioners were passed to the new administration. These included the town’s large, capital investments – the markets and the Town Hall. The hand over had been organised over several months and for the most part, the status quo was continued, though managed by newly formed committees. Regulations and bye-laws were formally presented at meetings held early in 1852 with new regulations gradually introduced (see for example, my earlier post on regulations for slaughter houses http://bit.ly/1lZ5c5c). Regulations and charges for the Town Hall, previously  under the authority of the Town Hall Committee of the Street Commissioners, had been transferred to the new Estates and Buildings Committee of the Borough Council. The democratic aspirations of this new body can be seen in the insurance form that those hiring the hall were required to sign. Any expenses for damages are not now due to the Street Commissioners, but to the ‘Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses’ of the borough – a confirmation of corporation ownership. These regulations can be found in the minute books of the Birmingham Town Council held at The Library of Birmingham, Archives, Heritage and Photograph BCC1/AA/1/1/2

Regulations and charges for the use of the Town Hall, presented by the Estate and Building Committee at a quarterly meeting of the Town Council held on January 2nd, 1852

For the Hall

No. 1.,   That all borough meetings called by or held under the sanction of the Mayor be held gratuitously

No. 2.,   All other meetings, except as  hereafter mentioned   –   £5

No. 3.,   All meetings, concerts or balls called or held in support of religious charitable or benevolent institutions or in support of any of the Scientific Institutions of the Borough – £2,,10s

No. 4.,   All concerts, balls and other entertainments of that nature and all lectures and other assemblies of inhabitants if for personal benefit or advantage –  £10
If for personal personal or individual profit when not inhabitants –  £20

Besides the above charges, the lighting of the Hall with gas and cleaning of the Hall to be paid for.  The expense of the removal of the benches is included in the charge for the Hall. When the use of the Hall is granted gratuitously, it is to be subject to the charge for removing the benches and cleaning the Hall as well as lighting with gas.

For the Lower Room

No. 1.,   That all Borough meetings called by or under the sanction of the Mayor be held gratuitously

No. 2.,   All other public meetings (except as hereinafter mentioned)  – £1

No. 3.,   All meetings, concerts or balls called  held in support of religious, charitable or benevolent institutions or in support of any of the Scientific Institutions of the Borough – £1

No. 4.,   All concerts, balls and other entertainments of that nature and all lectures and other assemblies of Inhabitants if for personal benefit or advantage – £2,,10s

If for personal or individual profit when not inhabitants – £5

Subject to the same charges as above

For the Committee Room

No. 1.,   That all Borough meetings called by or under the sanction of the Mayor be held gratuitously

   and in every other case, 10s, subject to the same charges as above

For the Kitchen

To be charged per day, including coal for a dinner party, the sum of – £2

To be charged per day, including coal for a tea party, the sum of  – £1

Subject to the same extra charges as above, all charges to be paid in advance

The following guarantee to be given in all cases, against damage to the Hall or furniture:

Borough of Birmingham

In consideration of permission having been granted at request to use the Town Hall of the said borough on the _____ day of  _____, 18__, hereby undertake and agree on demand of the Town Clerk to pay the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses the amount of any damage or injury which may be occasioned, done or committed to the building, furniture or fittings in consequence of such permission being granted.

‘Comfort, amusement and healthy occupation’: report on Birmingham asylum, 1850

The following report presents the findings of a visit from two ‘lunatic commissioners’ and was presented to the town council at the quarterly meeting on August 6th, 1850. The report can be found in the archives held by the Library of Birmingham, BCC1/AA/1/1/2

Birmingham Borough Asylum, July 8th 1850

We have this day officially visited this asylum, have gone through its different wards, galleries and sleeping rooms and have seen all the patients and have particularly examined and conversed with many of them. There are at present 137 in all, viz. 72 males and 65 females all of them except one being paupers belonging to the Borough of Birmingham, with the exception of one also who came from the Northampton Asylum, all the patients have been recently brought from the asylums at Birmingham, Haydock, Duddeston and from the Borough Workhouse.

At the time of our visit the patients with scarcely an exception were tranquil and comfortable. No one was under mechanical restraint or in seclusion such restraint has not hitherto been used in a single instance, and seclusion is only used occasionally and for short periods.

Considering that the house was opened for the reception of patients so recently as the 3rd of June last, we think that its present condition reflects great credit on the care, activity and good sense of those to whom the conduct of the establishment is more immediately entrusted and justifies a well grounded expectation that this asylum will soon take a high rank among similar institutions. The arrangements appear to us to have been made on a very liberal scale; and much has been done and more is proposed, and is in progress with a view to contribute to the comfort, amusement and healthy occupation of the inmates.

We have made the various enquiries which the statute directs with respect to the management of the institution and its inmates and the information which we have received on these points has been very satisfactory.

We found different apartments and galleries perfectly clean and thoroughly ventilated. The dress and persons of the patients were clean and neat, their bedding also was very clean and comfortable and in all respects of excellent quality.

A very large proportion of the patients were employed in different ways; and a still larger proportion of the patients will be usefully and profitably employed as soon as the necessary tools and utensils can be procured for them.

The dietary appears to be very liberal and on all sides we found the patients strongly express their sense of satisfaction at the change they had experienced in their removal from private asylums and from the workhouse to their present residence.

W. Mylne       J. R. Hume

‘An asylum for pauper lunatics’

The town council began to consider corporate building programmes almost as soon as the charter was confirmed in 1842. These included two major projects on Birmingham Heath, the house of correction and the lunatic asylum. Both of these institutions became important features of the town, but while the prison was subjected to scandal soon after opening, the asylum would go on to become a model institution for the care of paupers with mental health issues. Indeed, it became so popular that after only a short while private patients were also admitted. The asylum, which later became known as All Saints, was a large and impressive structure, set in beautiful grounds, which I visited in the late 1980s. I can remember it had the appearance of a grand, stately home.  Although it was the care given to patients which attracted interest, the buildings also gave testimony to the aspirations of Birmingham’s early municipal men.

Notes presented below are taken from BCC1/AA/1/1/2  (Library of Birmingham Archives, Heritage and Photography)


On February 4th, 1846, the town council appointed a committee to superintend the construction and provisions  ‘of an asylum for pauper lunatics’. This first committee comprised of aldermen Samuel Beale, James James and Thomas Phillips, along with councillors Samuel Briggs, William Lucy, Robert Martineau, Robert Potter and  Thomas Wright.  The committee appointed architect D. R. Hill and advertised for contractors to undertake the construction work. The foundation stone was laid by the mayor, Robert Martineau, on September 29th, 1847. There was something of a ceremonial religious service, ‘suitable for the occasion’, conducted by the Reverend J. C. Miller, rector of St. Martin’s in the Bull Ring.

Some early difficulties with the building contractor led to delays and the asylum was not ready for patients  for a further three years after the laying of the foundation stone. At a meeting held on January 1st, 1850, the Asylum Committee reported that the buildings were now ready for the fixtures and fittings and that adverts had been placed in the local and London newspapers for key positions in the asylum:

Medical Superintendent: 38 applications were received and the post was given to Mr Thomas Green, surgeon of Newhall Street in Birmingham

Matron: 27 applications received, Charlotte W. Houghton, sub-matron of Hanwell lunatic asylum was duly appointed

Clerk-steward: 43 applications received, William Frederick Knight, resident house steward of Northampton asylum appointed

All were to commence their posts on March 1st, with the asylum expected to receive its first patients on March 25th. The committee recommended further appointments to be made:

9 male attendants at a salaries of between £20 – £30 p.a.
9 female attendants at salaries of between £15 – £20 p.a.
1 cook at a salary of £20 p.a.
1 baker at a salary of £20 p.a.
1 laundress, at a salary of £20 p.a.
1 house porter at a salary of £26 p.a.
non-specified number of domestic servants, salary of £8 – £15 p.a.

These staff to be resident and, in addition, non-resident staff, comprising

Engineer (30 shillings per week without board)
Lodge-keeper and head gardener ‘being a married man’ also 30 shillings per week

In fact, the first patients were not received until June 3rd, 1850. The committee reported to the town council’s quarterly meeting in August that 142 patients had, at that point, been received, 74 men and 68 women. They asylum had been completely fitted out and was able to accommodate 250 patients. At the advice of the medical officer, newspapers, books and gardening tools were being provided ‘as a means of occupation and amusement’ for both staff and patients and there were further plans for building a farm. The architect had, at this point, already been instructed to draw up plans for ‘the requisite outbuildings for pigs, cattle &c.’

A royal visit: November 1843

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children boarding the ro


An ‘Extraordinary Special Meeting’ of the Town Council was called on November 27th 1843 where an imminent visit from Prince Albert was announced. Two letters from Secretary of State Sir James Graham were presented; these were dated November 24th, giving notice of the intended visit on the 29th. The following correspondence was transcribed into the minute books and reveal that this was to be a whistle-stop tour of local businesses and King Edward’s grammar school. The minute books can be found at the Library of Birmingham, Archives, Heritage and Photography, BCC1/AA/1/1/1 


Whitehall, 24th November, 1843


   His Royal Highness Prince Albert has notified to me his intention of paying a visit to Birmingham on the Morning of Wednesday next, the 29th November.

   His Royal Highness will arrive at the Rail Road Station from Drayton manor about half past ten o’clock and is anxious to visit the Manufactories, of which I enclose a list, in the order set forth in the encloseed paper.

   Royal carriages will be in attendance at the Rail Road station to convey His Royal Highness to the Places which proposes to visit, and as the time which the Prince can devote to this excursion is limited it is desirable that the Municipal Authorities should receive His Royal Highness at the Station on his first arrival in the Borough.

   I hasten to give to you the earliest information of the intended visit that in concert with the Corporation and the principal inhabitants you may prepare for the reception of His Royal Highness and may make arrangements which will secure his easy progress from place to place.

   I shall be obliged if you will communicate to the owners of the establishments which His Royal Highness proposes to visit, his gracious intention that they may be ready to receive him, and to show those branches of their Manufactories which are most worthy of observation


  1. Bacchus & Sons – Glass Makers – Ashted
  2. Philip Muntz – Rolling Mill, Boring of gun barrels etc by steam – Livery Street
  3. Jennens & Betteridge – Papier mache manufactory – Constitution Hill
  4. Elkington Electro Type gilding etc. – Newhall Street
  5. Sargant – Sword maker – Charlotte St
  6. Armfield – Button maker – Newhall Street
  7. King Edward’s School    
  8. Town Hall                      
  9. Proof House

return to the Rail Road station


This list is interesting in that it represents some of key industries for which Birmingham was becoming so well known: guns of course, but also buttons, glass and other metal wares. Many of these manufacturers were not only local captains of industry, but were at the cutting edge of technological advances.

The second communication from the Secretary of State, bearing the same date, related to security arrangements, appearing almost as an afterthought:


   With reference to my letter addressed to you this day on the subject of the intended visit of His Royal Highness Prince Albert to Birmingham on Wednesday next, it has occurred to me, that you may require some assistance in addition to the Police to preserve order and to be placed at your disposal

   A Guard of Honor will be in attendance to meet His Royal Highness on his first arrival in Birmingham and the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Warwick, and the Officer commanding Her Majesty’s troops in Birmingham have received orders to afford any assistance which you may require in aid of the Civil Power to keep clear the carriage way and to prevent any obstructions

   I have the honor to be, Sir, your faithful servant

A royal visit was an important endorsement for a town which in recent years had struggled to maintain public order during a period of sometimes violent national unrest. Less than year previously there had been an assassination attempt had been made upon Queen Victoria. No doubt the extra military assistance was welcomed by the town council, who agreed upon the following warm response, to be presented to the Prince by the Mayor:

To His Royal Highness Field Marshall Prince Albert of Saxe Cobourg and Gotha


May it please your Royal Highness,


   We, the Mayor, aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Birmingham approach your Royal Highness’s presence with feelings of exaltation and gratitude for the distinguished honor conferred upon us by your Royal Highness’s gracious visit to our Borough – We hail it as a mark of the confidence of your Royal Highness in the loyalty and affection of our Hearts towards our beloved Queen and of your Royal Highness’s appreciation of the high respect and esteem that we entertain for Her Majesty’s illustrious Consort.

   The personal virtues which so eminently distinguish your Royal Highness as a Man, a Husband and a Father, it is our happiness to know and our pride to acknowledge.

   We welcome your Royal Highness to this Seat of Industry and the Arts and we fervently pray the Supreme Ruler of the Universe to vouchsafe to our Most Gracious Sovereign the Queen to your Royal Highness, and to your Royal Offspring a continuance of this special favour and protections, and that you may ever possess and enjoy the affection and esteem of a loyal, a prosperous and a happy people

The unanimously agreed response of Birmingham’s municipal men reveals a great deal about their values, including an emphasis on masculinity and family values.  There is an evident pride in the town’s industry, but also in its arts both are capitalised in the transcription and the council men boldly proclaimed the town as a ‘Seat’ of industry and the arts. Here is an insight into how the town perceived itself and how it wished outsiders to view it. There is also an important reassurance that the people of Birmingham held a loyalty to the Crown and a respect for the current monarchy.