Some history on Barr Street
Connecting Great Hampton Row to New John Street West, Barr Street runs parallel to Great Hampton Street. One could argue that it was once the arse end of Great Hampton Street for it was where stuff was made rather than sold. Banks and shops line Great Hampton Street but in Barr Street they just got on with making things. Manufacturing dominated the street, though there was once a fair amount of housing served by a handful of pubs. However, as the factories expanded or were enlarged, many courts were swept away in order for the big firms to make things in larger numbers. As you can see from some of these images, Barr Street's factories were substantial by the mid-20th century.
On the left of this photograph is the Hockley Plate and Metal Company based at the Tudor Works where the firm concentrated on sheet metal fabrication with pressings for all trades. The image is however dominated by the large Sterling Works where Wheway Optical turned out spectacles in the thousands. Subdivided into smaller units, the latter premises still stand between Great King Street and New John Street West. Next door is the world-famous whistle factory of Joseph Hudson, better known as manufacturers of the Acme Whistle. The building from where several billion whistles were sent around the globe can be seen to the right in the photograph above.
Another Barr Street company to enjoy a long tradition is Brookes and Adams. The firm moved out to a new site in Kingstanding but, for many years, traded on the corner of Barr Street and New John Street West, the latter being widened in the so-called road improvements of the 1960's. The company is still involved in hot brass stamping and zinc alloy die-casting producing a diverse range of products, including yacht fittings. The company still manufactures carpet bowls under the Banda trademark, a process for which the company gained an enviable reputation - you can see "Bandalasta" emblazoned on the corner of the building. Bandalasta boasted distinctive colouring, lightness and it wasn't fragile. Consequently, it was popular for home ware, picnicking, boating and camping. Some of the old sets produced here in Barr Street are now collectible.
The company was founded around 1853 by Thomas Brookes and Thomas Adams who went into partnership together in order to produce ladies' brooches and pierced metal work for dress ornamentation. Diversifying their business, the firm also produced buckles, medals and badges. When Thomas Adams retired in 1890 the company continued to be run by Thomas Brookes who was assisted by his two sons. In 1920 a limited company was formed bearing the founders names. During the inter-war years Brookes and Adams were at the forefront of a new manufacturing process.
This image shows Hazlewood and Dent's factory from Barr Street, though technically the firm's office address was in Great Hampton Street. This engineering firm were machine-tool makers. The managing director was George Frederick Hazlewood who, in later years, moved to Wootton Wawen. It was at his Warwickshire home that he took an active interest in the social life of the district and was a generous subscriber to many local charities. He was a member of the Stratford Rural Council and of Wootton Wawen Parish Council, and a local school manager. He was also a prominent member of the De Montfort Lodge of Freemasons. He died at the age of 72 in 1939.
This view along Barr Street was captured from the junction with Well Street. The premises on the corner were those of the Engineering Department of the Hockley Chemical Co. Ltd. The first factory along the street, behind the two parked saloon cars, was the premises of the Globe Wheel Company, a firm that manufactured prams. Next door, with a large entry, was a property used by the blacksmith Edward Turner. This image shows a few of the remaining residential properties in Barr Street
List of Pubs
George and Dragon
Aston Brook through Aston Manor
Birmingham City Council
Birmingham History Forum
Birmingham Places and Place Names
Carl Chinn Archive
Ladywood Past and Present
Perry Barr and Beyond
Winson Green to Brookfields
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on Barr Street - perhaps you drank in one of the pubs in the past? Or maybe knew a previous publican running one of the boozers? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I'll post it here.
"People go to church for the same reasons they go to a tavern: to stupefy themselves, to forget their misery, to imagine themselves, for a few minutes anyway, free and happy.."
"On Saturday evening an inquest was held at the Grand Turk Inn, Ludgate Hill, before Dr. Birt Davies, the Borough Coroner, to enquire into the circumstances attending the death of John Wheeler
, a stamper, who lived in Barr Street. Martin Fleming, living in Barr Street, stated that the deceased lodged with him. On Sunday evening, the 24th of June, the deceased, witness, his wife, Patrick Maloney, and a young woman named Bridget Brunnan, were drinking at the Royal House public house, in Barr Street. An altercation occurred between his
[witness's] wife and Patrick Maloney which was renewed at witness's house, where they adjourned shortly afterwards. From words they got to blows, and the deceased then interfered on behalf of Mrs. Fleming. Maloney was pulled out of doors into the court, and they struggled together on the ground. The deceased got up from the ground immediately afterwards, and ran several yards. Knowing that he was subject to fits, witness followed after him, and found that he had fallen in a fit. Two other fits followed, and while these continued he was knocking his head about, so that it was necessary to hold him down. When he recovered witness asked him why he did not get up. He replied,
"Maloney gave me a blow with the poker." Maloney, who was standing near, said, "Why did you say I hit you with the poker? I had no poker in
my hands; I had got nothing at all in my hands." The deceased made no reply to this. If they had not prevented him the deceased would probably have killed himself by knocking his head about so violently. Shortly afterwards he was conveyed in a cab to the General Hospital. He
[witness] did not see anyone use a poker, either inside or outside his house. It was impossible for Maloney to have had a poker in his hand without witness seeing it, because he was watching his movements. He could not tell how the skull of the deceased was fractured, unless it was when he
fell. Mr. Maher [who appeared to watch the case on behalf of Maloney]: The deceased struck his head against the ground more than
once. Bridget Brunnan said she was in the house of the last witness when the altercation was renewed between Fleming's wife and Maloney. With the exception of Fleming and herself the company were intoxicated. After the deceased, Maloney, and Mrs. Fleming had gone into the yard, she saw the deceased fall down in a fit, after walking several yards. She did not notice how he fell. There were round stones on the ground where he fell. Soon after Fleming went to him, and took hold of him as he was knocking himself about. There was a poker in the house, but she did not see any person with it, nor did she hear deceased say Maloney had struck him with a poker, though she was by them. She did not know how his skull was fractured. Nobody struck him while she was there. Sarah Fleming stated that after she had gone into the yard with Maloney and the deceased they tumbled about, after which the latter got up end ran several yards. Maloney followed him, and struck him with his open hand in the face. The deceased then fell, and had a
fit. Mr. Maher: The deceased frequently had fits when he was drunk. Dr. Steele, house surgeon at the General Hospital, said, when the deceased was taken to that institution, he was suffering from a compound fracture of his skull. He became comatose, and expired on the 2nd inst., from the effects of the injury. A blow from. a poker would have been likely to have caused such an injury. It was extremely improbable that such an injury would have been caused by falling on stones like those
mentioned. Mr. Maher: It would not have been likely if he had fallen in a fit, and then knocked his head about. The Coroner, in summing up, said, if the Jury believed the deceased had been killed by a blow from a poker, their verdict would unquestionably be one of manslaughter, but that was not proved by the evidence. Only one person referred to the use of a poker, and that was the deceased himself, and when he said that Maloney had struck him with a poker, the latter denied having had a poker in his hands. The evidence did not show that any person had struck the decease with a poker, and inflicted the wound which caused his death and under the circumstances, they could not return a verdict of manslaughter against any person. The Jury then consulted, and returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased died from compound fracture of the skull, but how or by whom inflicted there was no evidence to show. Maloney, who was taken into custody, and was remanded by the Magistrates on bail, will be brought up again on the charge of manslaughter"
"Alleged Manslaughter In Barr Street"
Birmingham Daily Post : August 6th 1866 Page 5.