History of A. B. Row at Birmingham in the county of Warwickshire


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Some history of A. B. Row

This short thoroughfare once formed the boundary between the borough of Aston Manor and Birmingham prior to the Greater Birmingham Act of 1911. Aston was recorded in the Domesday Survey where it appeared as Estone and was five times the size and rated at five times the value of Birmingham. Aston was a large Warwickshire parish covering some 10,000 acres and embraced the now-separate districts of Duddeston, Nechells, Castle Bromwich, Deritend and Bordesley. By 1550 the parish had become known as Aston-juxta-Birmingham. During the 19th century the borough of Birmingham took chunks away from Aston which remained outside the city's jurisdiction. During this period it was governed by the Aston Manor Local Board. However, it had become an Urban District by 1903 and was finally absorbed into Birmingham in 1911.

Former Red Lion at A.B. Row in Birmingham [1938]

Taken in February 1938, this image shows some of the properties that once stood on the south side of A. B. Row. In capturing this image that looks down Prince's Street, the photographer was stood on the corner of Duke Street on the opposite side of the road to the Turk's Head public house where Leonard Hodges was mine host.

A date stone can be seen on the corner of A. B. Row and indicates the construction year of 1764. At the time of this photograph the building was occupied by London Metal Warehouses Ltd., a company that were stockists of stainless steel. The van parked outside belonged Gabriel & Co., another firm involved in the stainless steel trade in the 1930's but this represented diversification from the company's core business of brass-founding.

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In the late Victorian period Gabriel's shared the premises with the glass bottle makers Jukes Brothers. In the early 1880's the corner property was occupied by the Swiss-born upholsterer Alfred Renaud. Next door at No.2 was the baker and corn dealer Henry Pratt. Both buildings were used for a diverse range of business activities during their two centuries. In the early 1860's the corner building was a short-lived beer house run by locally-born John and Mary Fox. This was probably the Red Lion, a homebrew retail tavern that was advertised for sale in the Birmingham Daily Post in November 1866.

Former Red Lion at A.B. Row in Birmingham

Newspaper Articles

"Early on Saturday morning a tragic occurrence took place at 11, A.B. Row. The house is occupied by Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher, who let a furnished room to Philip Bass, a clerk, employed by Mr. Nossiter, New Canal Street, and his wife, Ann Bass. Bass and his wife had recently lived together on anything but good terms. On Friday afternoon they quarrelled, and Mrs. Bass went out of the house. According to the landlady's account Bass retired to bed at nine o'clock in the evening. His wife came home about ten o'clock the same evening, the worse for liquor. Shortly after four o'clock on Saturday morning Mrs. Bass went to the house of James Woodward, No.6 Woodcock Street, and telling him that her husband had committed suicide, asked him to come to the house. On their way back they met Police Constable Parry, and requested him to accompany them. On arriving at the house they found the deceased lying upon the floor with a terrific gash across his throat. A blood-stained razor was upon the table, and a bucket nearly half full of blood was standing near his head. Parry sent for Dr. Hadley of Prospect Row, who promptly attended. The deceased, however, was quite dead. Mrs. Bass stated that when she came home on the previous night she found her husband asleep in bed. She herself lay down to sleep upon a sofa in the same room. She awoke about four o'clock in the morning, and found her husband lying upon the floor with his throat cut, as previously described. A consultation took place between Dr. Hadley, Police Constable Parry, and Police Constable Marsh in consequence of which Mrs. Bass was removed in custody to Duke Street Station. When informed by the constable that she would be charged on suspicion of causing the death of her husband, she said, after being duly cautioned, "I am innocent." She was searched by Detective Bachirt, who also examined the room where the deceased was found. There were marks of blood on the floor of the room as if the blood had been trodden about, but there were no stains of blood upon the feet of the deceased, who was barefooted, being only attired, in a pair of trousers and shirt. There were no traces of blood upon the prisoner's boots, nor upon any of her clothes. The detective searched the house and water closet for any blood stained articles of clothing, but without success. The deceased was 51 years of age, the prisoner 50, and they had been married about fifteen years. They had no children. Information of the occurrence has been forwarded to the Coroner, who will perhaps hold an inquest today. At the Police Court, on Saturday, before Messrs. T. Avery, J. Jaffray, and W. Holliday, Mary Ann Bass [50], a married woman, 11, A.B. Row, able to read and write imperfectly, was charged on suspicion of causing the death of her husband, Philip Bass, by cutting his throat with a razor, on the morning of the 23rd inst. Police Constable Marsh asked for a remand till after the Coroner's inquest. When the deceased was found he was cold and stiff. The prisoner had been sleeping in the room all night. The prisoner was cautioned, and asked whether she had any reason to give why she should not be remanded. She appeared very much excited, and stated that about a week ago she had words with her husband, and she believed he had fallen out with his employer. He said he should do something to himself, but she thought it was merely a jest. Her husband went out to Aston, and returned about half-past seven in the evening, when he said, "See, I have brought the razor back," She said to him, "You don't mean to say you took that with you?" to which he replied, "I intended to kill myself at Aston Park." She was remanded till Monday, when the officer in charge of the case was informed that he must bring medical evidence to show that the wound upon the deceased's throat could not have been inflicted by himself."
"Suspected Murder in A.B. Row"
Birmingham Daily Post : July 25th 1870.

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Plan showing the former Red Lion at A.B. Row in Birmingham [1889]

This plan dated 1889 shows A. B. Row with the short-lived Red Lion marked in red on the corner of Prince's Street. Note the Turk's Head on the other side of the road. The New Market Hall, in Prospect Row, was erected in 1837, by Messrs. E. and C. Robins, at their own expense, the great increase of population in the immediate neighbourhood creating the need for such an establishment. The market hall was divided into compartments, and a house was attached, in which the superintendent resided. The hall was used for the sale of butter, eggs, poultry, fruit, vegetables, etc., The market closed during the 1850's and the hall was put to industrial use. The firm of Woolley, Nightingale and Pinnock were recorded at the Market Hall as iron dealers and merchants up until November 1882 when Samuel Woolley left the business. The other two men, William Halfon Nightingale and Thomas Pinnock, remained and traded as Nightingale, Pinnock and Co.

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Related Newspaper Articles

"Yesterday, Dr. Birt Davies held an inquest upon the body of Philip Bass, aged 51, a clerk in the employ of Messrs. Nossiter and Co., of New Canal Street. On Saturday morning the deceased was found dead from a wound in the throat, and his wife was apprehended on suspicion of having murdered him. The following evidence was adduced : Elizabeth Fisher stated that the deceased and his wife had lodged at her house between seven and eight months. They occupied a room upstairs. She last saw the deceased at about six o'clock on Friday afternoon, the 22nd inst., when he passed from the yard into his own room. His wife came in afterwards, at about quarter-past seven o'clock and went to her husband. They quarrelled and she [witness] heard scuffling going on for about three-quarters of an hour. Soon after eight his wife went out, and she heard her say, as she was leaving the house, "I'll go and fetch a policeman," She returned at about half-past nine o'clock, and went upstairs without speaking to her [witness]. She was not sober when she left the house, and was much worse when she came back. In fact, she was quite intoxicated and staggered. She heard no disturbance during the night. She [witness] retired to bed at about a quarter to eleven o'clock. At about a quarter to four o'clock on the following morning she heard a rap at the door, and at once went downstairs and opened it. It had been locked from the outside. Ann Bass having a key; but the drop-latch was down. Upon opening the door, she saw Ann Bass, Mr. and Mrs. Woodward, with whom she [Ann Bass] formerly lodged in Woodcock Street, and two policemen, She was rather put about, and exclaimed "whatever is the matter?" to which Ann Bass replied, "Don't be alarmed, Mrs. Fisher; Bass has cut his throat," She then let them into the house, and they went upstairs. Since Easter deceased and his wife had not lived upon comfortable terms. They were frequently drinking; both of them were in the habit of getting drunk, Mrs. Bass especially. The deceased always conducted himself in a gentlemanly manner, even when drunk. She had known him beat her, and she [deceased's wife] was very aggravating at times, often called him bad names, and the result was that they often fought. The deceased was a tall, powerful man, and his wife would not have much chance with him in a "fair fight." She did not know whether he had a razor in the house. There was a water bucket generally in the room, but she did not know where it usually stood. The dress Mrs. Bass was then wearing was the one she had on on Friday and Saturday. The Coroner to Mrs. Bass [who had a few minutes previously been brought into the room in the custody of a policeman]: "I understand you are in custody, is that so?" The prisoner: "Yes." The Coroner: "There must be some reason for that, but as you are here, I shall give you an opportunity of asking the witnesses any questions you may think fit, and of making any statement you, may desire; but before doing so I shall give you the usual caution.; The prisoner said: "There are several questions I should like to ask. The witness is wrong in her statement about the time." In reply to the Coroner, the witness stated that she was quite sure it was between seven and eight o'clock when the prisoner left the house, and said she would fetch a policeman. The prisoner: "It was at about six o'clock when I went out." The witness: "It was later." The prlsoner: "Then about the door - it was a policeman who opened it." Witness adhered to her former statement. Witness, upon being recalled, said she was quite sure that the deceased was a right-handed man. Sarah Woodward deposed that the deceased and his wife had lived with her for about six months. They were frequently quarrelling and were in the habit of getting intoxicated. Ann Bass called at her house on Friday morning. She was not intoxicated. She left, but called again about 8.30 in the evening. She then told her that her husband had been beating her. She advised her to go home and retire to bed without saying anything to him, and she soon after left. At about twenty minutes past four o'clock on Saturday morning she heard somebody rapping at the door, and upon looking out of the bedroom window she saw that it was the deceased's wife, who asked her to come down, as Mr. Bass had cut his throat. She then went down the stairs, and, having let her in, asked her what was the matter? and upon being told that Bass had cut his throat she said she couldn't believe it, to which the prisoner replied, "Oh, he has, he is quite dead and cold." At her request, she then gave her a glass of water. Acting upon her [witness's] husband's advice, she went, accompanied by Mrs. Bass, to fetch a policeman and a doctor. On their way they met two policemen, and told them what had occurred. Sombody else sent for Dr. Hadley who, with his son and his assistant, were soon after at the house. Upon going into the room with the policemen she found the deceased lying by the side of the dressing table - between the table and the right-hand side of the bed. He lay at full length, with his face downward. The distance between the dressing table and the bed would be about one yard. There was a quantity of blood near where he lay, and some in a bucket which was in the corner of the room, opposite the left-hand corner of the bed, and about two yards away from it. There were about two quarts of blood in the bucket. There was no track of blood between the place where he lay and the bucket. There was a smear of blood on the side of the bed. The prisoner, whilst they were in the room, took two life assurance tickets from a drawer, which she handed to her [witness], requesting her to take care of them. The Coroner: "Produce the tickets." The witness: "I can't. I haven't got them. They were taken from me, and I think Mr. Hadley has them." The Coroner: "Mr. Hadley has them?" Mr. Hadley: "Yes, sir, here they are." The Coroner: "You ought not to have them, I cannot suffer you to have them." Mr. Hadley: "I got them from the detective officer just before I came in." The tickets were then produced, and the witness said they were the same as she handed to her to take care of. They were tickets showing contributions paid on behalf of the deceased and his wife to the Royal Liver Society. The prisoner: "I should like to ask the witness if she ever heard the deceased say that he would destroy himself?" The Witness: :I never heard him say that he would destroy himself but I have heard him say that he would finish her when they have been quarrelling. I have heard him say that she would drive him mad." The Coroner, to the prisoner: "She says that she never heard him say that he would destroy himself." The Prisoner: "That's a mistake; she has heard him say so several times. [turning to witness]: Have you ever seen Mr. Bass with a razor?" Witness: "No, but I have seen him with a carving knife, which he has thrown at you. Police Constable Parry then produced the razor, which was covered with blood but the witness said she was unable to identify it. Sophia Woodward, daughter of the last-named witness said she remembered Mrs. Bass coming to their house on the Friday evening. She asked where her mother was, but upon being told that she was in the kitchen, said it did not matter about fetching her. Witness asked her how she was, to which she replied, "You can see how I am, look at my face, I have been obliged to rub it with some raw beef to keep me from having a black eye." She [witness] had remonstrated with Mrs. Bass about the continual quarrelling which was going on, and had often asked how it was they could not try and live peaceably together. Mrs. Bass in reply that she thought she should have to leave. Mrs Bass was drunk when she came to their house that night. She did not expect to hear that he was dead. She did not notice any blood upon her clothes at that time. The Prisoner [to witness] : "Did I not say that he was lying on the side of the bed on my side of the room near the washing stand?' Witness: "You might have said." The Prisoner: "Well, now, about the dying. When he asked me to fetch him some beer, because he said he was dying, I said, "Well, you'll have to die, for I've got no money," The Coroner: "Well you had better say that in making your general explanation." Police Constable Charles Parry said: He was called at 4.40 on Saturday morning, when in Duke Street to go with her to her house. Mr. Woodward and his wife and another constable were there at the time. Upon going upstairs, he found the deceased lying upon the floor and quite dead, cold, and stiff. There was a quantity of blood underneath him. He saw a bucket containing a quantity of blood in another corner of the room, which was from ten to twelve feet from the dead man's head. The bucket was about two yards from the foot of the bed. The razor [produced], was about three-parts shut, by the dressing table, and on the left side of the deceased as he lay. Between the bucket and the place where he lay there a were no droplets of blood whatever. "There were a few spots of blood on the inside of the bucket. The Coroner to Parry: "Did you take away the bucket?" Witness: Yes, sir, it's in a cell in Duke Street station." The Coroner: "What did you take it away for?" Witness: "I was told to do so by Police Constable, Marsh, who apprehended the prisoner, and who acted according to the directions of Superintendent Sullivan." The Coroner: "Do you not know that things on such occasions must be left in exactly the same position as they are found. Policemen put in possession are to take care, as they value their lives, not to allow anything to be removed, because it may prove the guilt or innocence of some persons, however slight the trace, which you cannot possibly judge of at the time. No human being is to be permitted to touch anything till he has communicated with the gentleman appointed by the Town Council, who represents me. We may have an innocent man hanged some day if people are to touch things when a death takes place. I am not blaming you particularly, for you seem to have acted under orders. I am merely reading a great public lesson. The Coroner then directed the officer to go and fetch the bucket in question, which he shortly afterwards returned with, and showed round to the Jury. The prisoner said she was not desirous of asking this witness any questions. Mr. Hadley said he was called to see the deceased at a few minutes past five o'clock on Saturday morning last. He found him quite dead and cold. He had since carefully inspected the body externally. There was a very extensive cut, extending from one side of the neck to the other. It was deepest on the left side of the neck, and appeared to end in two cuts. It passed through the jugular veins and the oesophagus severing the great blood vessels, but did not cut through the carotid arteries. The Coroner: "Can you say on which side the cut had been begun and ended?" Mr. Hadley: "No, I cannot." The Coroner: "Can you say whether there were any cuts on the deceased's hands?" Mr. Hadley: "I examined them carefully and there were not." The Coroner: "Is there anything on the person of the deceased to show that the wounds were inflicted by any other person than himself?" Mr. Hadley: "Certainly not." The Coroner: "Do you conceive any difficulty in supposing that he might have cut his throat over the bucket, and then got away to where he was found?" Mr. Harley: "I don't attach much importance to the position of the bucket." The Coroner: "Somebody seems to have thought a good deal about the bucket, or they would not have taken a woman into custody?" Mr. Hadley: "There are instances... " The Coroner: "Oh, stop. We are not going to have medical evidence of that kind. Would it be difficult for a man to cut his throat over a bucket, and then to get away to a place similar to that in which he was found?" Mr. Hadley: "I don't think it impossible. There are many such instances. The wounds in the neck were sufficient to cause death." Ann Bass was then called, and having been duly cautioned, she expressed a wish to make a statement, which she did as follows: "I wish to state that for the last fortnight the deceased has sworn to destroy his life, and on Saturday week he went out in the morning at ten o'clock, saying he was going to business. He returned at half-past seven in the evening and said "I've returned once more, and I've brought my razor back." I said, "Why did you take the razor?" He said: "When I went out this morning, I went with the intention of going to Aston Park, and there cut my throat, but I saw an article in the newspaper that made me alter my mind." I said, "I'm very glad. I hadn't missed your razor, or I should not have been able to do any work today." He said, "It will come to that, for my head is so very bad." On Wednesday he was very ill. He said he had the "blues" very bad. He was so ill I had to hold him down in bed all day from the drink. He went out on Thursday, and when he returned he took off his coat, hung it up, and said "I shall never put it on again." But, however, on Friday, he went out again. He returned at five o'clock in the evening, when he dined. We had a few words, and he struck me, but only once. We had no scuffling at all. I said "Philip, I will go to Duke Street Station, this time and fetch a policeman to you." When I got to the corner of Duke Street, Mrs. Wilson, who keeps the Turk's Head, I think, stood at the door. She said, "What's the matter with your face?" So I pulled my handkerchief away and showed her my face, which was bleeding badly. I said I told him [meaning my husband] that I would go to the police station and fetch a policeman; but I've altered my mind. I then went in at the invitation of Mrs. Jewkes. After I had waited some time, I said, "Well, he'll think I'm gone this time." I afterwards got up and went home. I found him lying on the sofa reading the newspaper. He said, "Mrs, will you fetch me a drop of beer, for I'm dying" That was the term he always used, when he wanted beer. I said, "You'll have to die, for I have no beer money." I made him a cup of tea afterwards, which he drank, and told me not to bother any more. I went out again for a short time. When I returned he was on his own side of the bed. His boots were off but not his socks. I looked at him to see if he was all right, and then I went and lay on the sofa, which is in the same room, all night, as customary when we had a quarrel. When I awoke in the morning it was twenty-minutes past four o'clock, and I saw his foot protruding from under the curtain of the bed. I said, "Philip, I wouldn't lie there; surely, the bed's large enough for you." There was no reply. His head was by the wash stand, and what appeared to be a lot of water by his mouth. I went a little nearer and saw that it was blood instead of water. I then went to Woodward's, and after that to the police station. That is all I wish to say." The Coroner then briefly summed up, and after carefully reviewing the evidence, and pointing out the arguments pros and cons, he remarked that to him there appeared to be nothing in the case to take it out of the ordinary category of suicides. With regard. to the statement of the prisoner, they would doubtless be inclined to look at it with some suspicion, It was a very rash step on her part to make a statement, in as much as, had she committed a single faux pas, she might have convicted herself of doing perhaps what she had not really done. There was not one feature in the evidence to show that she had interfered with the life of the deceased. There were several points in the case to which he might have averted - one of which was that she herself acquainted the policeman of the occurrence - and putting all things together, they made a very strong case substantiatory of her non-interference with the life of the deceased. Having distinctly pointed out what the Jury had to consider, he requested the public to retire. They were re-admitted in the course of fifteen or twenty minutes, when the Jury gave in a verdict to the effect that the deceased committed suicide whilst in a state of insanity. The prisoner appeared deeply concerned during the whole of the inquiry, and wept very much during the Coroner's summing up. The inquest lasted from half past four until five o'clock, and the approach to the inn where it was held was crowded with persons who manifested great anxiety to see the prisoner and to hear the verdict."
"The Suspected Murder in A.B. Row"
Birmingham Daily Post : July 26th 1870

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