Some history of Milk Street
More information on Milk Street to follow. I probably created the page as I had a link to Milk Street from another page. When building the site it is easier to place links as they crop up rather than go back later on. I realise this is frustrating if you were specifically looking for information on Milk Street. There is information on Birmingham dotted around the website - click here for a suitable starting place.
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If you would like to share any further information on Milk Street - 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
These articles demonstrate that Milk Street was a very dangerous place to be in the 19th century......
Three men, Thomas Graves, William Hands, and Jacob Baker, were committed to the assizes, charged with wilfully and unlawfully wounding
James Parr, police constable 245. The prosecutor deposed, that he was on duty in Milk Street, about three o'clock on Sunday morning. He heard a cry of police! and murder!
He proceeded towards the spot whence the cry came, and went down No.9 court, when he immediately received a blow on the head from the prisoner Graves, and his hat fell off.
The prisoner Hands then struck him on the head with some weapon which cut his head, and fell to the ground. Two men were with them; one of whom is the prisoner
Baker; and all four dragged him into the entry, beat him severely, and took his belt, staff, lanthorn from him. He got from them into the street, and sprang his rattle.
They followed him, took it from him, knocked him down, and kicked him. One of them cried out "damn his eyes give him enough - kill him. He kept hold of Hands until
policeman 232 came up, and the other three ran away. He and that officer then went down the yard; and in a house they found Graves, who was bleeding from the head from
a blow he gave him with his rattle in the street. They were taken to the station, when Hands said he was very sorry he had not killed him. When in bed on Monday the prisoner
Baker was brought to him, and he recognised him as another of the four. By Mr. Hall, who appeared for the prisoners : He had given no provocation. He did not go to
Graves' house to ask for a light or pin. Graves did not say he had no drink to give him. He had not had any drink that night. Police Constable Sayers, 232. deposed to
hearing the cry of murder! and police! He went into Milk Street, and there he saw Constable Parr and the prisoner Hands, who had hold of each other. He went to the
prisoner Graves' house, where he found Parr's staff and hat. His rattle and cape he took from Hands in the street. Mr. Hall : Parr appeared weak and staggering
from loss of blood. Police Constable 236 stated that he apprehended the prisoner Baker on Monday, in Milk Street, telling him that it was for assaulting a constable, he
said that served him blasted right. Charles Wood, a young man, residing in Milk Street, deposed to seeing from his bedroom window four men attacking a policeman. The
prisoner was one of them. Mr. Charles Gem, surgeon to the police force, stated that the prosecutor had been under his care. His head was very much bound. There was a
contused wound about an inch and a half long; and he had several bruises to the body. For the defence it was attempted to be shown, that the policeman was intoxicated;
in contradiction of which, Inspector Milton very properly observed, that there was not a more sober man in his [second] division."
"Outrageous Assault Upon a Policeman"
Birmingham Journal : March 28th 1840 Page 3
"A number of roughs were brought up at the Birmingham Police Court yesterday morning on charges of ruffianism, and were more or less severely dealt with. The cases had all reference to the doings of two gangs of roughs - namely, the Milk Street and Barr Street gangs. The first case was heard in the Second Court of Police, before Messrs. A. Chamberlain, G. H. Lloyd, and F. B. Goodman, and the prisoner's name was Benjamin Bloxwich, alias Block, of 21 Court, 4 house, Milk Street. He was charged with assaulting Frank Nolan, of 18 Court, 3 house, Great Barr Street; and he was also summoned for being drunk and disorderly. The evidence showed that on the 7th inst. prosecutor, who it was stated belonged to the Barr Street gang, was passing along Coventry Street in the evening, when he encountered the prisoner and a number of roughs. Prisoner at once assaulted prosecutor, and knocked him down. He then put his foot on prosecutor's chest, and beat his head severely with the buckle-end of a belt. He was in this position when Police Constable Meeson arrived upon the scene. The officer heard prisoner say that he would knock prosecutor's brains out, and at once went to the latter's rescue. Prisoner showed fight, and Meeson therefore drew his staff and knocked him down. Prosecutor was taken to the Queen's Hospital in an unconscious condition, and it was there found that he had sustained eleven scalp-wounds, four of which exposed the bone. Prisoner said that he only acted in self-defence. Evidence was afterwards given on the charge of being drunk and disorderly. Mr. Chamberlain said that it was evident prisoner belonged to a dangerous gang, who carried on fighting in the street. The magistrates were determined to put a stop to that sort of thing, and to the use of buckles; and prisoner would have to go to gaol for two months, with hard labour, for the assault; for being drunk and disorderly he would have to pay 10s. and costs, or go to gaol for fourteen days, the terms of imprisonment to run consecutively.
The other cases were heard in the Third Court, before Messrs. Barrow, Peyton, and J. Lowe. The defendants were Ambrose Liddell, Edward
Beasley, Christopher Harris, Thomas Dalton, and another youth, named Humphries, who were charged with "slogging" in Milk Street, on the 5th of
April. Police Constable Watson [56 E] stated that he was called to Milk Street on the 5th of April. Prisoners and several other men were fighting with belts and
stones. Humphries and Dalton belonged to the Milk Street slogging gang and the other three prisoners belonged to the Barr Street gang. One of the Milk Street gang was so
badly injured that he had been in the Queen's Hospital until Monday. Police Constable Robbins corroborated Police Constable Watson's evidence. The Superintendent
of the E Division said that during the last week or two he had been obliged to put on seven extra policemen in the Milk Street quarter on account of the slogging gangs.
Each of the prisoners was fined 20s. and costs, or one month's imprisonment, with hard labour. John Bloxwich, another Digbeth rough, brother to the Bloxwich mentioned
above, was summoned for violently assaulting Police Constable Bertie [68 E]. In this case it was shown that the Milk Street and Barr Street gangs went into Coventry
Street to fight. One of the gang fired a pistol in the street, and when Bertie went up to him a bystander shouted, "Mind, policeman, he's got an axe." The officer
then noticed that a rough named Dalton had a pickaxe in his hand, and was just swinging it round at him. Bertie caught hold of it, and was about to arrest Dalton, when
defendant, who was standing three yards away, threw half a brick. The police officer "ducked," but the missile struck him on the collar. Defendant, who had been
previously convicted of assaults, was sent to gaol for three months, with hard labour."
"The Crusade Against Ruffianism"
Birmingham Daily Post : April 16th 1890 Page 7
And when the police weren't fighting with the gangs, they kicked off among themselves.......
"Yesterday at the Public Office, before Messrs. T. C. S. Kynnersley, C. Sturge, and John Poncis, Hubert Smith, who was up to that morning a
police officer in the borough force, was placed in the dock, charged with having been drunk and disorderly on his beat on the previous evening, and assaulting Police
Sergeant Casey, in whose section he was. Mr. John Smith appeared for the defence. Casey stated that at about two o'clock that morning he was visiting his men, when
he found several constables, amongst whom was the prisoner, standing at the corner of Milk Street; Addressing Smith, he said that he had been looking for him; he
had expected to have seen him before. One of the other men explained that there had been a row in Milk Street, and that they had come from their beats to disperse the mob.
Casey then accused Smith of being intoxicated, and told him that he would not let him go to his beat again, but he must remove him to the station. Smith then replied,
"An old bastard like you won't take me;" upon which Casey said he should, and, laying hold of him, drew his staff, and was about to remove him, when Smith took
out his staff also, and at the same time, seized his sergeant's staff. The other constables then interposed, and also took hold of Smith, who, being enraged at this
interference, fell to kicking, Casey receiving the most of the blows upon his shins. Smith was then, with some difficulty, taken to the police station, where he was locked
up on the charges of assault and drunkenness. In cross-examination by Mr. J. Smith, the witness further stated that the acting-inspector on duty [Sergeant
Donnery] said that he would let the prisoner go out to do duty on another beat, if Casey did not press the charge for assault, but Smith refused to go on duty again.
The prisoner did not say, as far as his recollection went, that he would be locked up and have the case investigated before the Magistrates. Smith was not excited only
- but drunk - really intoxicated. As respected his own sobriety, Casey said that he had had three glasses of ale that evening, one of which he paid for. He did not
remember where he had had all the drink. He did not have any whiskey. "Drunk?" he replied to a rather pointed question as to his precise state, "No. I
wasn't drunk; No. Nor yet mystified. [Laughter.] No, I never get that way." He could not remember when or where he had the last glass of ale. He thought
it was in Adderley Street. Acting-Inspector Donnery then stated that the prisoner was brought into the office that morning by Sergeant Casey, on the charge of being
drunk and assaulting his superior officer. Both Casey and Smith were very much excited. The prisoner had had some drink, and was not in his opinion capable of doing police
duty properly; but had Smith been a civilian, he should not have thought him sufficiently inebriated to entertain the charge of drunkenness. He walked straight, but
seemed very excited; in fact so was Casey. Prisoner refused to go on the beat with Casey again, and was consequently locked up. He said he wished the case to be taken
up before the magistrates to be investigated. In cross-examination the witness stated that before the prisoner was brought up he was taken before the Watch Committee
and dismissed. Casey was a very irritable man, and there had previously been an altercation between Smith and the sergeant. Police Constable Moore described the altercation
between Casey and Smith that morning, and stated that there had been a grievance between them for some time. He did not think at all that Smith was drunk. In the course of
the altercation in question Casey said he had been looking for the prisoner a quarter of an hour, and Smith turning round said, "If you say that to me I'll knock
off your head." Casey drew his staff, and Smith did the same. Casey said the prisoner should go to the station, and Smith replied, "That he would not be taken."
An endeavour was made to remove him, whereupon the prisoner commenced kicking. Several other witnesses were called in corroboration; but the Magistrates considered that
the prisoner had received enough punishment by the dismissal from the force, and discharged him."
"An Insubordinate Policeman"
Birmingham Daily Post : March 30th 1864 Page 4
And these men tarnished the credibility of the street name.......
"Charles Tetley, milk dealer, Milk Street, was summoned for selling milk adulterated with water, and also for selling milk from which the
cream had been taken. In one case a fine of 20s. and costs was imposed, and in the other defendant was ordered to pay the costs. Alfred Evans, milkseller, also of Milk
Street, was fined 20s. and costs for selling milk from which 25 per cent. of cream had been taken."
Birmingham Daily Post : January 5th 1884 Page 4