Some history of Great Hampton Row
Heading out of Birmingham, Great Hampton Row branched off in a northerly direction from the junction where Livery Street and Constitution Hill met Great Hampton Street. It still does today but the thoroughfare has changed considerably since and has little of the soul and character that it once possessed. Full of industry, Great Hampton Row was also packed with housing where there was a strong community spirit. There were plenty of shops and pubs for the locals. These were all bonded together by a church but this edifice, along with all the shops and pubs, have long gone. Even some of the streets that once connected with Great Hampton Row have vanished. We are supposed to improve our cities as we evolve but here I see no enhancement of the built environment.
Well, I am starting my photographic tour of Great Hampton Row in Tower Street! However, this photograph taken from the corner Great Russell Street, afforded a good view of Saint George's Church and, in particular, the extension of 1884. The church was demolished in 1960 and even Tower Street and Great Russell Street have disappeared from the landscape. A replacement church was eventually built in the locality and this also serves as a community hub within the enlarged gardens where fragments of the old Saint George's can be found. The original church was consecrated in 1822. Saint George's was a Gothic Revival building by Thomas Rickman and a Commissioners' Church erected to help maintain order amongst the poor urban population.
Saint George in the Fields, the original name of the church, provides a clue to the character of the locale when constructed in 1819. Early development of Great Hampton Row had started at the southern end of the thoroughfare. Amazingly, this is where some of the old buildings survived into the 21st century. In the early years of the 19th century the thoroughfare extended a little beyond Barr Street - and that was the extent of the urban expansion at the time. Great Hampton Row was on the edge of town.
This row of buildings would form part of the development of Great Hampton Row extending to the recently-erected Saint George in the Fields. A key change from the original buildings is the Albion Works which had been extended around forty years prior to this photograph. This resulted in the loss of the Vampire Tavern, one of the thoroughfare's more colourful boozers. Here you can see the entire block from Tower Street to Buckingham Street. For those researching their ancestors of Great Hampton Row the street numbering has remained fairly consistent so the task is a little easier. For example, the corner shop at the far end was No.27. At the turn of the 20th century this was occupied by Mrs. Rosina Parker. The two shops seen here behind the saloon car were formerly a newsagent's shop and a greengrocery. Again, at the turn of the 20th century the newsagent was Mrs. Ann Atterton whilst the woman flogging spuds and carrots was Sarah Ashford. The Vampire Tavern was next door to the greengrocer's shop but, as you can see here, was absorbed by the adjacent Albion Works. I will look at the Albion Works and the butcher's shop in more detail below.
This 1960 image shows the Albion Works on Great Hampton Row in more detail. The buildings were occupied by Bodill Parker  Ltd., a brass-founding business specialising in grommets, thimbles and eyelets but producers of other products such as garden hose fittings and metal labels. Established in 1860, the company was formerly known as Joseph Bodill and Co. and based at the Broad Street Metal Works. The business was moved to Great Hampton Row by William Bodill. Through marriage the Parker family joined the company. The firm was particularly busy during the build-up to the First World War and were contractors to the Admiralty and War Office. However, the company had a massive setback in October 1914 when the premises suffered from a disastrous fire. This resulted in 300 employees being temporarily thrown out of work. Hundreds of tons of machinery were reduced to wreckage. Almost all of the damage was contained within the rear manufacturing workshops; the offices fronting Great Hampton Row were spared. The Bodill Park Group is still in operation today but the firm relocated to Tipton in 1967.
In the mid-1840's No.37 Great Hampton Row [seen here on the left] was occupied by a firm headed by Samuel Reading, a gilt and plated button, hook and eye and metallic eyelet hole manufacturer. This was a business not too far removed from the later occupiers of the building. However, in the Edwardian period, these were the premises of Ludgate, Ryder and Co. Ltd., the fishing tackle manufacturers.
Check out the overhead mangle on the washing machine used in the Omo advertisement - I can remember my mother using such a device before she splashed out on a twin-tub! I have zoomed in on the butcher's shop that occupied the corner of Great Hampton Row and Tower Street. The premises had a long tradition of serving meat to the local community for generations. In 1845 John Yates was recorded as a butcher here. Note the entry to the right of the shop premises with the bars on the gate openings. I imagine that livestock was driven through these gates where they awaited their grim end within the slaughterhouse to the rear of the retail premises.
Northamptonshire-born Thomas Bradshaw traded as a butcher here for many years in late 19th century before Benjamin Attwood took over with his wife Mary Ann, both of whom originated from the Cradley Heath area. During their time at the corner shop Henry Knight was operating a rival business next to The Vampire. He would move to the larger premises in the Edwardian period. The shop sign still bore his name in this photograph. I have zoomed in to read the notices in the window and it would seem that the homemade faggots were a speciality, along with 'delicious' meat pies. Special homemade Apple Tarts were also being offered on the signs.
There was another retail shop adjoining this entry to the yard - this can be seen in the photograph of the Albion Works. This shop was later taken over by the Knight family who expanded their business over the years. However, it was formerly a separate retail space that saw a number of different business uses. For example, in the 1840's this was the shop of Isaac Anderton, a boot and shoe maker. Thirty years later the shop was being used by John James who was listed in trade directories as a butcher in the one shop and a hairdresser in the other! It would later be used as a confectioner's shop by William Smith.
In the above image the photographer would have been stood a little further away from Henry Knight's butcher's shop and in the middle of the road close to Saint George's Gardens. The focus of the shot is the row of cottages in a short stub of Tower Street between Great Hampton Row and Harford Street. This plot formed a triangle with Smith Street, the junction of which you can see to the left of the photograph at the end of the advertising hoardings. Featuring a rather ornate door canopy, the rather splendid building on the corner of Smith Street was the Great Hampton Works of Lambourne's. This company was founded by Barrett Lambourne in 1868 and was formerly based in Great Charles Street but moved to these new premises in 1932. At this purpose-built manufactory the firm produced cuff links, collar studs, tie slides, armbands, belts, braces, garters and sock suspenders, all of interest perhaps to Eric Morecambe!
The three cottages that formed part of Tower Street where numbered 48-50, the lower number being the property displaying the Park Drive Cigarettes advertisement on the corner of Harford Street. At the turn of the 20th century No.48 was occupied by an iron dresser from Wednesbury named Thomas Millington and his wife Agnes who hailed from Bloxwich. Behind the cottages there was once a timber yard operated by the Irishman John Manning.
In the distance, the large 'modern' factory on the corner of Harford Street and Smith Street was the premises of Deutsch and Brenner who held vast quantities of aluminium and alloys. The firm also offered a pickling service in coil, sheet, plate, bars and angles. The business is famous for Oscar Deutsch, the man dubbed the Napoleon of the Cinema. He was born in Balsall Heath in 1893 and was a pupil at the King Edward's Grammar School at Five Ways before he entered the family business of Deutsch and Brenner. He inherited the business but by the 1920's he developed a keen interest in the film industry. He successfully exhibited films on his own account but gradually acquired control of a number of cinemas. By 1924 he had leased houses in Birmingham, Coventry and Worcester. He opened the first of his chain of Odeon theatres at Perry Barr in 1930, and added new links to the chain with such rapidity that by 1936 he had sixty under his control. Odeon Theatres Limited was launched in 1937, and expanded at an incredible rate so that, by the outbreak of World War 2, the company operated 300 cinemas. His wife Lily designed the interiors of the theatres so that no two were alike. Oscar Deutsch died of cancer at the age of 48 in December 1941. His funeral was held at Singers Hill Synagogue. Incidentally, the name Odeon is an artistic amalgamation of Oscar Deutsch's initials and the Greek suffix eon, though the former metal merchant once claimed that the name stood for "Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation."
I have zoomed in on the people waiting at the bus queue simply because it is quite nostalgic to look back on the old advertisements that once lined the streets. There's a Johnnie Walker whisky advert close to the bus stop. Two young girls are salivating over the images of Liquorice Allsorts. Next to that and claiming it was the "First Time in Britain," is an advertisement for Prairie Gold, a crustier loaf from Sunblest. I have heard of that bakery but not the brand of bread. Similarly, I am not familiar with Magic Margarine in which "the texture tells you it's magic." Produced at a time when westerns such as Bonanza, Rawhide and Wagon Train were popular on television, the Guinness advertisement uses a language that would be deemed politically incorrect in this day-and-age. Next to the famous Toucan are adverts for Palethorpe's Sausages and Allenbury's Pastilles for sore throats.
This view of shops and housing on Great Hampton Row was captured from the corner of Buckingham Street. So, from the previous photographs, we have moved towards the 'town' end of Great Hampton Row and turned to face up the street looking at the the right-hand side of the thoroughfare. The house on the corner was, for many years, a surgery for a general practitioner. At the time of this photograph, Dr. Seymour was the name on the brass plate by the front door. The notice in the window stated that surgery hours were 9-10am and 5.30-7pm - not the sort of hours that today's demanding patients would tolerate. During the Second World War the doctor practising here was Andrew McCarthy.
Although a surgery operated here for many years, it was not always on this side of Buckingham Street. It used to be on the opposite corner but was moved during the time of Dr. William McCall. He was the local doctor during the Edwardian period. Both he and his wife Janet were born at Irvine in Ayrshire. During World War One he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was awarded the D.S.O. However, he was badly wounded and returned to the Bournbrook Military Hospital where he died from his injuries in June 1918. His body was taken back to his hometown where he was buried.
Before the surgery was moved to this property the building was occupied by George Whitehouse, a Watch Case Maker. Going back further to the 1880's the house was home to a metal spinner named Thomas Warwick.
Here we can see the little newsagent's shop next to the surgery. Plenty of cigarette brands were on offer here - not that G.P.'s of the day were aware of the dangers of smoking. Woodbine, Cobnut, Senior Service and St. Bruno were some of the brands on offer. However, it wasn't just fags and papers on sale in this mini-emporium - there was plenty for the local children to get excited about, as long as they could cadge a few pennies from their parents! A real luxurious treat was on offer in the form of Henley Ice Cream. That was a badge-of-honour for the retailer. The shop where the ice cream was made in Henley is still in operation but the ice creams are made elsewhere these days. For those on a lower budget ices and lollies were available here. Jars of sweets were also a temptation for the local kids, along with the chewing gum available 24-7 from the machines by the door.
This property had been a general shop for generations. Henry Langley was running the place in the early 1880's. He was succeeded by Mrs. Eliza Cooper. At the turn of the 20th century Mrs. Rosina Parker was stocking the fags and papers. There seems to have been a high turnover of people running the shop, suggesting that it was hard-going making a living from sales. In the early Edwardian period Harriet Fletcher tried her hand at retailing here. She was quickly succeeded by Mrs. Lillah Buggins. She had earlier lived with her husband Frank, an edge tool grinder, in a cottage on Chattaway Street. However, she ran this shop as a young widow whilst bringing up her two children. Her sister Violet also lived here whilst working in a local screw factory.
During the First World War Miss Emily Ashwin traded as a confectioner in this shop. This was at a time when the neighbouring property was occupied by Mrs. Gwendoline Cresswell, a furniture dealer. She traded here for many years. This retail outlet can be seen above though it was boarded up by this time.
In this photograph we are back towards the aforementioned Albion Works. These are the two shops at No.31 and 32 Great Hampton Row. Prior to the expansion of the Albion Works the Vampire Tavern stood to the left of these shops at No.33. You have to go back a long, long way to find these two properties not being used as retail shops. By the late 1860's a pattern was established whereby the first shop seen here [No.31] was a newsagent's/tobacconist's and the shop between this and the Vampire Tavern was traditionally a greengrocery. During this period the fags and ciggies were being sold by John and Ann Hands. It was probably Ann who kept the shop as John Hands also worked as an engraver. Next door it was Mrs. Lucy Williams who was trading as a greengrocer. The widow lived here with her son Robert and daughter Mary. She had lived here for some years with her husband George who worked in the button trade. Shopkeepers seemed to come and go with some regularity but one woman to run the newsagent's shop for some length of time was Mrs. Ann Atterton. Born in Whittington, she had previously lived next to the Red Lion at Lichfield when married to the ironfounder James Atterton. Perhaps it was when she was widowed that she moved to Birmingham. She initially kept the shop with her daughter Eva. At the end of the Edwardian period it was Evangeline, another daughter, who helped to run the shop. She was married to a former soldier George Allport. Following the death of her mother, Evangeline Allport continued to run the shop for another generation. She was still stocking newspapers and cigarettes during the Second World War.
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on Great Hampton Row - 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.
Related Newspaper Articles
"Dr. Birt Davies held an inquest on Thursday afternoon at the Grand Turk, Ludgate Hill, touching the death of Henry Smith, a shoemaker, who
lived in St. Mark's Street. On the 25th of November last, the deceased, who had been an inmate of the Borough Lunatic Asylum, was passing along New John Street, when he
entered a broker's shop at the corner of Great Hampton Row, and asked to look at a saw. Several were shown to him, and he ultimately purchased a small one, with which he
inflicted a wound in his throat. He was taken in a cab to the General Hospital, where be died on Sunday last, from the effects of the injuries he inflicted upon himself.
It appeared from the evidence of Caroline Smith, the sister of the deceased, that her brother had been confined in the Borough Lunatic Asylum for about four years. He
however became much better, and was discharged from the asylum. On the 25th of November last, and for some days previous, he had seemed in a state of madness, and upon
that day he expressed his wish to go to his workshop in Icknield Street East. During the day he said he was a "shoemaker in heaven, and must go there," and
although his sister was opposed to it, he left the house. The next time she saw him was in the General Hospital, when he had a severe wound in his throat. He said that
he had gone into a shop in Great Hampton Row, and purchasing a saw, had inflicted a wound in his throat. A man, named Thomas Lovett, who keeps a shop in Great Hampton
Row, stated that on the 25th of November last, the deceased came into his shop and purchased a saw. As soon as he got the saw into his hand he put it to his throat and
began sawing away. He inflicted a severe wound in his throat, and a cab being sent for, he was sent to the General Hospital. Mr. C. J. Bracey, the house surgeon, found
him suffering from a severe wound in his throat. He was then in an insane state of mind. The injury to his throat was so severe that food had to be administered to him
by means of the stomach pump. A few weeks after his admission to the hospital, the deceased was attacked with pneumonia, from which he gradually sank and died on Sunday
last. The jury returned a verdict that "the deceased committed suicide whilst in a state of insanity."
Birmingham Daily Post : April 6th 1900 Page 7