Brummagems: Birmingham's MPs

Brummagems: Birmingham History Buff Keith Bracey' s fantastic historical facts about Brum

William Attwood MP laid the groundwork for the First Reform Act of 1832 and was responsible for the setting up of the first Trade Unions at the time of The Tolpuddle Martyrs who were transported for Trade Union activity with his '#Birmingham Political Union. Attwood held a political meeting of the Birmingham Union on Newhall Hill overlooking Birmingham in 1832 which was attended by over 30000 people. The Government of the day feared that 'Revolution was in the air' and decided to allow limited reform and the abolition of 'Rotton Boroughs' thanks to the words and political action of Birmingham MP William Attwood whose statue once reclined next to the Chamberlain Memorial in Chamberlain Square.

John Bright MP who was instrumental in both the Abolition of Slavery and the 1867 Reform Act which gave the working man the vote......his statue is at the top of the stairs on the first floor of #Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Bright's bust was once on display in The White House of President Bill Clinton as Hillary Clinton found a dusty old statue in a store cupboard. Bright had written to his friend and fellow Abolitionist President Abraham Lincoln when Lincoln was wavering about continuing the American Civil War against slavery. This letter was found in the pocket of Lincoln when he was assassinated in 1865 it had meant that much to him to have the support of his friend. The Clinton's researched the bust and found its great importance to a previous President. Imagine a Birmingham MP in The White House.

Joseph Chamberlain: The 'Modern Municipal Father of Birmingham' The first of the Chamberlain family to become an MP. Former Colonial Secretary and the man behind the University of Birmingham when Mason College was transformed to create the first of the 'Redbrick' Universities. The Clock Tower, the tallest free-standing campanile in the world at 350 metres is named after Chamberlain and called 'Old Joe'. At his funeral in 1913 over 30000 Brummies lined the streets to pay tribute to 'The Father of Birmingham'.

Sir Austen Chamberlain MP Birmingham's first Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for his work on the 1920's Locarno Pact and Joseph Chamberlain's son and Neville's brother. He held the post of Foreign Secretary. His brother Neville Chamberlain MP held the post of Chancellor of The Exchequer and helped set up the Birmingham Municipal Bank, whose headquarters stands at 301 Broad Street. He is probably better remembered for returning from Berlin with his ' little piece of paper' after meeting Herr Hitler and proclaiming 'Peace in our time'. The result was the Second World War.

Denis Howell MP, the 'Minister for Drought' in 1976 & the first proper Sports Minister as a former FA Cup Final referee. Howell was MP for Small Heath and a Minister in Harold Wilson's 1974 government. In the summer of 1976 there was a long drought after one of the best summers of the twentieth century. Denis Howell was brought into the Cabinet as 'Minister for Drought' and advocated the sharing of baths to save water.....soon after he was appointed the summer broke and it started to rain.......and Denis was credited with the change in the weather by the Wilson government. Who says 'spin' is new...? Denis Howell's real impact was as the first proper Sports Minister as befits a former FA Cup Final referee. He also led Birmingham's Olympic bid for the 1988 Olympics which were eventually held in Barcelona.

Part of Brummagems…..Birmingham History Buff Keith Bracey’s fantastic historical facts about Brum……

Find out more on his blog or tweet on @1truclaretnblu

Bringing History to Life!

By Deborah Broomfield

The Ladypool Road Trail uniquely takes participants back in time and tells the story of this area through role play bringing history live!

The historical guided tour is performed by The Birmingham History Theatre Company and The Balsall Heath Historical Society.

I was fortunate to be on this tour as a Still Walking volunteer and I’m amused and enthralled by the commitment and knowledge of those acting, especially as this was a particularly warm day!

Travelling through time from the 1800s through to 2005, I met Anthony Pratt, the inventor of Cluedo and Mrs Charley whose husband William Charley built the Brighton hotel in c1900. Motorcycle champion, Howard Davies was born on the Ladypool Road in 1925 and I was entertained with his exploits too! We also were brought back to the First World War and introduced to the landlord of the Clifton Pub in 1914. Coming up to date, the current significance of the Ladypool Road as the Balti Triangle is also recognised.

Anyone interested in local history would love to be on this tour with a difference.  There is a rumour that they may be taking this to the stage. I can’t wait!

More info about The Balsall Heath Historical Society can be found here or on Facebook.

Photos and words by Deborah Broomfield who can be contact via Twitter