Some history on Bradford Street at Digbeth, Deritend and Bordesley in Birmingham in the county of Warwickshire


Bradford Street Pubs

other houses ...

Adam and Eve
Anchor Inn
Boar's Head
Cup Inn
Hope and Anchor
King William IV
New Inn
Postage Stamp
Queen's Arms
Royal George
Royal William
Shepherds' Rest
Warwick Arms
White Horse
White Lion

More information to follow ....

Photographs of Bradford Street

Birmingham : Factories in Bradford Street at Deritend [1954]
© Image from author's photographic archive. DO NOT COPY

Captured on December 20th, 1954, this view shows the factories that were located on the south side of Bradford Street, a short distance up the hill from Alcester Street. Amazingly, amid all the redevelopment that has taken place in this area, the red brick works behind the parked vans survived into the 21st century. In 2024 the building served as the Chinese Community Centre, a charity organisation founded in 1977 with premises in Sparkbrook. When the building was commissioned, the proprietors were seemingly confident that the street numbering would not change as a gable features the raised terracotta numbers 99, 100, 101, 102. In the late Victorian era this was the premises of Thomas Willcox & Co, Limited, gas fitting engineers. Thomas Willcox, who was born in Lawley Street, enjoyed a successful career and headed the business until his death in December 1899. He was also a director of the Birmingham General Cemetery Company. An influential non-conformist, his charities were numerous. He was invited to seek membership of the City Council but, owing to his retiring disposition, he declined the honour.¹ He would commute to work from the family home at Claremont on Guy's Cliffe Road in Warwick. He was succeeded by his son, Harry, of Fowgay Hall in Solihull. He passed away in October 1930. I believe the firm went into liquidation during the following year.

Birmingham : Advertisement for the Trade Loose Leaf Co. Limited of Bradford Street at Deritend [1959]
© Image created from newspaper advertisement in the Birmingham Daily Post : February 12th 1959, Page 9.

Following the liquidation of Thomas Willcox & Co, Limited, the premises, known as the Guidex Works, were occupied by the Trade Loose Leaf Co. Limited. The firm remained for several decades. Signs for the business can be seen on the frontage of the building in the above photograph. Glancing at more recent trade directories, the stationery firm were still here in the early 1970s.

Next door to the Guidex Works, was the old manufactory of Eli Griffiths & Sons, lamp manufacturers. A firm that traded here at the Beacon Works for a considerable number of years, produced lamps and lanterns for the domestic market, along with supplying maritime companies and the railways. The firm was founded around 1870 by Eli Henry Griffiths of Harborne. He was succeeded by sons, Richard William and Thomas Leonard Griffiths.

Contemporary Photographs

Related Newspaper Articles

"On Thursday week a most daring robbery was committed on the premises of Mr. H. Burbidge, corn factor, Bradford Street, Birmingham. Upon the shop being opened, it was discovered that the iron safe in which Mr. Burbidge kept his books, title deeds, and cash, had been carried off. The safe weighed nearly 4001b, and was fastened to the wall by the strong brackets on which it rested. Though nothing else had been disturbed, the booty thus obtained was considerable, there being in the drawers of the safe no less than £140, of which about £55 was in gold, £35 in silver, and the remainder in notes. To Mr. Burbidge, however, the cash was the least valuable portion of its contents. The inquiries made, with a view of ascertaining how the safe was carried off, led Mr. Burbidge and the police to conclude that it had been taken off the premises shortly after six o'clock, at which hour the constables on night duty are relieved. Betwixt nine and ten o'clock a boat passing through a lock of the canal situated at the back of Trinity Church, experienced some obstruction in its progress, not being able, we presume, to sink low enough. An examination led to the discovery that an iron chest was lying in the lock. Mr Burbidge went to the spot, and, with assistance, endeavoured to recover it. Finding, however, that on raising the safe the books were dropping out, he went to the canal office for the aid of the officials. Mr. Lloyd, one of the managers, kindly returned with them. The lock was completely emptied of water. The safe was recovered, with it all the books and important documents, though of course the cash had disappeared. Sledge hammers must have been used to force the chest open. It was so bent and torn that its maker would have been unable to identify it. There is no doubt that the operation of forcing it open was performed on a piece of waste ground near Trinity Church, and as the noise of doing so must have been considerable, it may seem surprising that detection did not follow. This, however, shows that the boldness and daring of the thieves was of a calculating character. They thought that at such an hour no one would be likely to suspect the nature of their occupation, especially as one of the stone-breaking yards belonging to the Corporation immediately adjoins the spot. We believe that the police have obtained some clue to the thieves."
"Extraordinary Robbery"
North British Daily Mail : January 26th 1856 Page 1

"In Birmingham, we briefly alluded to the disastrous flood at this town, in our last Courier. The first indication of the flood was observed about ten o'clock on Thursday morning, when the River Rea rose suddenly much beyond its usual level. The current was very rapid, but still, there being no obstruction, it was supposed the water would pass off the usual way. The river, however, gradually continued to swell, and about five o'clock in the afternoon a sudden and overwhelming stream rushed through the flat grounds on the left side of Vaughton's Hole, and inundated the thoroughfares leading from Moseley Street through Cheapside and Bradford Street to Digbeth. The water this time had risen about six feet in the river, and was so high that it could not pass freely under the bridge at Deritend. This obstruction considerably swelled the river between that point and Moseley Street, and the momentarily increasing current forced the water over the banks, and completed the inundation of the streets. In Rea Street the passage was entirely stopped by water to the depth, in many places, of nearly four feet; in part of Bradford Street the water was of the same depth, and covered a space nearly two hundred feet in length. The houses were deluged, and not only were the cellars of many of them filled with water, but the lower rooms were also flooded to a depth of nearly three feet, thus greatly damaging the furniture and goods of the inhabitants. The hucksters, provision dealers, and grocers sustained severe losses, their goods being either swept away or irretrievably injured. In several instances barrels of treacle, oil, and other commodities in cellars were stove in, and their contents mingled with the water. At the works of Messrs. Henn and Bradley the water rushed through the gateway into the lower part of the premises, where a great number of women and girls were employed. The machinery was immediately stopped, and the terror amongst the females was indescribable. Numbers of them waded through the rising water, and serious fears were entertained for their safety. A cart was at length procured, and six men having attached themselves to it, the women were safely removed from the premises. At the screw manufactory of Messrs. James, Bradford Street, a considerable loss of property was occasioned by the flood, as was also the case on the premises of Mr. Hill, timber-merchant, and Messrs. Nicklin and Sneath, wire-workers. Mr. Palmer, of the Anchor Inn, sustained very heavy loss. His cellars were completely filled, and about twelve hundred gallons of ale were spoiled, and several barrels of spirits and dozens of wine rendered unfit for use. Fortunately, before the inundation attained its height, Mr. Palmer succeeded in removing a quantity of hops, but had not time to secure his other property. At seven o'clock the violence of the flood was at its height, the whole this part of the town, extending from the waste land near Vaughton's Hole to Moseley Street, Rea Street, Barford Street, Cheapside, Bradford Street, Digbeth, and to near Oxford Street, was covered with water varying in depth, from one to four feet. In Digbeth, Mr. Bayliss of the New Bull's Head, suffered great loss; his cellars were completely filled, barrels carried to and fro, and not less than £100 worth of ale and spirits were destroyed. The water penetrated to the premises of the Battery Company, causing some damage, and nearer Deritend Bridge, where there is a footpath below the level of the road, the houses and yards were literally filled with water, and from the Leathern Bottle the people made their escape from the upper windows. At the Old Bull's Head the inundation was very destructive, and Mrs. Ferrer, the landlady, has been a considerable sufferer, as has also Mr. Bennett, of the Horse and Groom. At Vaughton's Hole whence the torrent burst forth, the effects were most ruinous. The extensive brick-yard of Mr. Harrison was completely submerged, the machinery swept away, and the clay pits filled; his loss will be very heavy. A substantial wooden bridge opposite the brick-yard was also swept away in the course of the night. Mr. Brown, the same neighbourhood, has likewise suffered severely from the partial destruction of several newly-erected houses. They were completely filled with water, and their foundations, and those of other houses, are said to have been undermined. The flooding in the parts mentioned was so excessive that all traffic was stopped, and unless by means of waggons, carts, cabs, and horses, ingress to, and egress from the houses was rendered impossible. Considerable sums of money were realised by the carriers, whose charge for each person conveyed varied from one penny to one shilling. Following the outward course of the river where it runs parallel to Heath Mill Lane, or Gibb Street, the end house of a row abutting the stream, and recently erected by Mr. Muddyman, was destroyed, the gable end giving way. The occupants lost the whole of their furniture, which was carried down the stream. A wall thirty feet long and nine inches thick was also swept away, with its embankment. Fortunately no lives were lost, the inmates of the houses providentially escaped before the building gave way. Lower down the river a portion of the abutment of the wooden bridge leading into Floodgate Street was broken down, and from this point to Fazeley Street, walls, pigsties, and outhouses have been much damaged, and in many instances completely demolished. The ground formerly occupied by the old Mill Pool was also partially overflowed, and the whole of the streets in that neighbourhood, from Bordesley Street to Deritend, were more or less flooded. The water appears to have forced itself a passage up the culverts, and broken into the cellars of the houses. In the neighbourhood of Little Ann Street, the proprietor of the Swan public house, and Mr. Hudson, of the Woodman, sustained considerable loss from the bursting of barrels, bottles, etc. Perhaps the most alarming spectacle in connection with this catastrophe was that which presented itself in Lawley Street and its vicinity, where the water accumulated vast bodies. From the viaduct over the Liverpool Railway to Garrison Lane, Lower Dartmouth Street, Great Barr Street, a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile, it was almost one sheet of water several feet deep. The danger here was considered exceedingly great, and many instances of a distressing nature occurred to increase the apprehensions of the inhabitants. The working men coming home were unable to reach their houses, and not knowing the fate of their wives and children, were in the most distressed condition. Some of them plunged through the water regardless of consequences, and endeavoured to reach their houses, and many narrowly escaped with their lives. Hundreds of the inhabitants were taken from the windows of their houses in carts before the flood had reached its greatest height; and a gentleman residing in the neighbourhood of the Midland Railway Station, secured his family by means of a boat. So sudden was the accumulation of water, that many mothers were separated from their children for several hours, and, as may be readily supposed, were during that time in the most distressed condition. The landlord of the Viaduct beer house, in Lawley Street, narrowly escaped while endeavouring to save some of his property. He had succeeded in removing several barrels of ale from his cellar to an apartment at a higher level, when his strength failed him, and he was only saved from drowning by clinging to a corner of the staircase. He was completely exhausted, when someone came to his assistance and dragged him out of the cellar. The Midland Railway station was under water to a considerable extent, and it was not until the floodgates near the spot were cut away by order of Mr. Pigott Smith, the Town Surveyor, and Chief Superintendent Stephens, that the water abated. In the lower part of Saltley, near Aston Park wall, the water accumulated to great extent, and the immense body rushing down the river near this place caused the bursting of a portion of the canal bank. The effect was most extraordinary. Three boats laden with metal were carried into an adjoining meadow, where they are now stranded. The villages in the vicinity of the town, including Harborne and Nineveh, are much flooded, and agricultural operations have been suspended. Various opinions were at first entertained to the cause of the flood. It appears that a considerable volume of water descended from the Lickey Hills, and inundated the fields along the course of the river, but the main cause of the vast overflow is supposed to have originated with the Birmingham and Worcester Canal. The water in the canal had risen considerably during the day, and the officers of the Company found it necessary to relieve the unusual pressure on the embankment by opening the valves at Selly Oak and Edgbaston tunnel, and cutting a short trench in the footpath. The water thus liberated instantly rushed into the adjoining fields, and formed a junction with the River Rea. The destructive element in a few minutes forced a channel through the low lands running parallel with the Birmingham road, where it was joined by the branch of the Rea. The Dog Pool speedily became full, and the water ultimately united into one immense sheet on the lands at the back of the Pershore Road, about a mile above Vaughton's Hole. At this spot the flood received a further accession from Bourne Brook, which had swollen to such an extent that the water could not find passage under the ordinary arch. The hedgerow was forced down, and the waters rushed in torrents across the Pershore Road into the river on the opposite side. The three branches of the Rea having thus become united, the whole of the surrounding country was deluged, and the waters forced their way into Birmingham with the disastrous results above detailed."
"Recent Fearful Floods"
Leamington Spa Courier : November 20th 1852

1. "Local News And Jottings" : Birmingham Mail; December 26th, 1899, Page 2.

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"Henry Perkins, [25], packer, Bradford Street was charged with indecently behaving himself to three little girls yesterday. The offence was proved, and the prisoner, who received a good character, was fined 40s. and costs."
"Indecent Behaviour"
Birmingham Daily Post : December 29th 1880 Page 6.

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