There was a time when Birmingham was one of the most improved towns in the world…

Notes from 19th Century Birmingham

For part of my thesis I’ve been finding out about some of Birmingham’s early 19th century administrators, the Street Commissioners. Last year I spent a wonderful summer in the Wolfson Centre at the Library of Birmingham, reading through fifty years of the commissioners’ minute books. This year I’ve spent a lot of time analysing the information from the notes and this has formed the basis of a chapter. One of the things I wanted to get across was that the body of commissioners were representatives of the local community and not some shadowy elites confined to the county seat over in Warwick. So, using my notes, I carried out a survey of commissioners’ occupations over the period 1812-1832. This proved quite time consuming work and I also discovered I’m not very good at counting! I ended up with a list of 255 street commissioners, who had held office during the…

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