Some history of Ryland Street
Ryland Street, an arrow-straight thoroughfare, led from Broad Street in a north-easterly direction to Morville Street. The route was continued onwards via Ledsam Street towards Icknield Square and the Birmingham Canal.
Laid out in the 1830s, Ryland Street was applied only to the section from Broad Street [then known as Islington] to the crossroads formed by Grosvenor Street West. The road branching right [north-east] from the crossroads was formerly known as Mill Street as it led to the New Union Mill operated by the Birmingham Flour and Bread Company. Dating from around 1813, the mill is shown on the above extract from a plan by John Kempson dated c.1818. Ryland Street was not laid out by this stage. Connecting with Morville Street, the road from the crossroads was formerly known as Ryland Street North and the numbering was different to later years.
The thoroughfare was named after the Ryland family, prosperous Unitarians whose home on Easy Hill was attacked during the Priestley Riot of 1791. Unlike many dissenters, the Ryland family remained for a period in Birmingham. Louisa Anne Ryland is thought to have been born at The Laurels in Edgbaston in July 1814. However, whilst she was a child the family did leave the town and headed to The Priory at Warwick. The family adhered to NIMBY principles and, when the railway carved through their estate, they removed themselves to Barford Hill House at Sherborne.
When Henry Smith asked for the hand of Louisa Anne Ryland her father refused as he had plans for her to marry into the aristocracy. Denied the union, Louisa Ryland decided not to marry. I am surprised that nobody hints at her long relationship with Charlotte Randall. After her death she left instructions not to be buried alongside her family but to be laid to rest next to her companion.
In 1843 following the death of her father, Samuel Ryland, Louisa inherited the vast family wealth. She was the owner of considerable land, particularly around Birmingham and throughout Warwickshire. She owned much of Ladywood and the Islington Estate on which the grid-like streets had been laid out during the previous decade.
Although being further enriched by rents in Birmingham, Louisa Anne Ryland gave plenty back to the town. She helped to build churches, schools and hospitals, along with donating land for parks, notably at Cannon Hill and Small Heath.
I have just about enough photographs of Ryland Street to conduct a short tour. There are more photographs of the thoroughfare on the excellent Ladywood Past and Present website run by Mac Joseph. Here, I will kick-off on the western side of the street leading from The Roebuck on the corner of Broad Street. This was where the majority of the shops in Ryland Street were clustered, as shown by this photograph displayed courtesy of the Photo by D. J. Norton website maintained by his son Mark Norton. Taken in 1961, the left-hand side of this photograph shows the newsagent's shop run by John and Hazel Turtle who moved to Golden Hillock Road before the wrecking balls moved in to remove these properties. Their shop was No.21 and had tradtionally been a newsagent's for some years. During the Second World War it was run by Maud Lewis who remained until at least the mid-1950s.
Continuing past Grosvenor Street West and the entrances to several courts, one would arrive at the infant's school, photographs of which you can find on the Ladywood Past and Present website. You can see the building in the above photograph which shows St. Barnabas' Church, a structure designed in a mix of Gothic and Decorated style by the Dudley architect William Bourne. Adjoining what was then Christ Church School-, the foundation stone of St. Barnabas was laid by Louisa Anne Ryland in August 1859. It was planned that the building, constructed with Hampstead red stone with Hollington stone dressings, would accommodate 800 people. A key feature was the lofty octagonal crocketed turret. The building contractor was William Nelson who was also based in Dudley.
To the left of the photograph in the above photograph there is a former shop. It was some years since anybody traded from there, the property becoming residential. In the early Edwardian period this was the premises of the hairdresser Edward Fisher. 20 years earlier in 1883 it was also a hairdressing business being run by Joseph Ridge.
After St. Barnabas' Church the land falls away down to Morville Street. This photograph looks from the latter back up Ryland Street. The shop on the corner was No.127. Here in the early 1960s the property had mixed use. Value House Limited was a Ladies' Outfitters business. The premises had been a grocery shop back in the day. In the Edwardian period it was run by Joseph and Alice Bartleet. The other shops tended to change activity over the years. Further up the hill there were a few factories. The Midland Rubber Company Limited must have created a bit of a pong. Another key employer was the Ryland Street Works of Young's, engineers and machinists.
Crossing the street to the other corner of Morville Street was the Ryland Garage in the early 1960s. This business occupied premises earlier used by the haulage contractor Alfred Thompson. There was a slight hint of art deco in the simple structure.
Ryland Garage appears to have been a dealership for Austin and Land Rover. Inside the showroom is a shiny new Mini, the most iconic vehicle of the 1960s. The logo of Ryland Garage featured a lorry. I believe that the business may have started with sales of commercial vehicles along with coach-building. This photograph was taken not too long after the business concentrated on motor cars.
This long factory building had been taken over by Ryland Garage and was used as their workshops. I am not sure if this factory once formed part of the other works on the land between Ryland Street and Sherborne Street. By the Second World War the building was given over to more production on rubber. In 1940 the factory was occupied by the British Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd., along with the India Rubber, Gutta Percha & Telegraph Works Co. Ltd. The latter was a London-based company with headquarters and works in Silvertown. They were a firm with a dreadful record of working conditions and low pay which led to a major strike led by key activists Fred Laing and Will Thorne. Leading figures in the bitter struggle included the trade unionist and founding member of the Independent Labour Party Tom Mann, along with Eleanor Marx, the daughter of Karl Marx. I can only hope that they treated the local residents of Ladywood better than those in the East End of London.
Continuing up the hill one would arrive at St. Barnabas' Junior School, the boy's entrance to which can be seen above at the right-hand side of the photgraph. I do not have to waffle on too much here because on the Ladywood Past and Present website Mac Joseph has compiled many photographs sent in by former pupils which creates a lovely gallery of memories. I thought I would concentrate on the shop next to the entrance as no doubt this was a favourite tuck shop for those who had a penny or so to spare.
The shop next to St. Barnabas' Junior School was the archetypal neighbourhood newsagent's, sweet shop and fag emporium. Oh, and it had a chewing gum machine on the wall. I wonder how many boys twiddled the knob to try and obtain a freebie from this machine? Above the shop window is a sign for "Boyfriend," a magazine or girls' paper, which had only launched two years before this photograph was taken. The paper featured music, love stories, fashion tips and one of the early 'problems' page aimed at teenagers. The billboard for the News of the World was advertising a feature by Terry Downes, the middleweight boxer dubbed "The Paddington Express." The newsagent at this time was Frederick Hammond. His wife Ivy operated a hairdressing business.
Looking back along Ryland Street from the school one can pick out the frontage of the former King's Head, a beer house that closed in April 1917 when the property was de-licensed. The building later became a café which, during the Second World War, was run by Charles and Florence Denton.
This 1961 views shows both the girls' and boys' entrances to St. Barnabas' Junior School. It was opened in 1862 for boys and girls but was enlarged in 1869 when a classroom for 60 boys was created, along with a schoolmaster's house and playground. The school was closed in 1966.
Continuing along Ryland Street from the schools was the expanded Grosvenor Works that extended across a large site. The general shop featured above was at No.56 run for many years by Leah Alexander. She was running the shop in the Second World War despite being born in 1866.
A short distance further along was the Rose and Crown, a public-house that closed in May 1936 and was subsequently converted into a café. During the Second World War the business was run by Mary Reay but here in 1961 it was trading as Joe's Café. He had put up a sign stating "STOP for a good cup of tea!" Joe's Café offered freshly-cut hot and cold sandwiches, along with hot meals. Plus, of course, Park Drive fags.
Here we get a tantalising glimpse into Joe's Café and once a room inside the former Rose and Crown. A customer is looking out as the photographer snaps away. Note the sign stating that 'Service, Cleanliness and Civility is Our Motto.'
The bloke inside Joe's Café may be the milkman taking a break from deliveries and enjoying a cuppa. A risky business leaving your milk float parked in the street as the local urchins would generally help themselves to some free drinks! This milk float was part of the Co-operative Dairy.
This shop on the corner of Essington Street was home to Johnson's Butcher's for generations. On the Ladywood Past and Present website Mac Joseph has a very old view of the shop with carcasses hung along the frontage. Charles Johnson was the name of the premises from the late Victorian period. It had been a butcher's shop previously. In the early 1880s the shop was run by William Clarke.
This shows the opposite corner of Essington Street looking towards Broad Street. In Victorian times the shop on the corner was a chippy. However, by the Edwardian period the confectioner Ralph Stone was trading from here. Rose Cresswell operated a similar business on the corner during the Second World War. She traded next door to the hairdresser Minnie Terry. The gap in the terrace towards Broad Street was caused by an incendiary bomb during the bombing of Birmingham.
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on Ryland Street - Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I will post it here.
Street Metal in Ryland Street
These are a few of the cars featured in the photographs of Ryland Street. I thought it would be a good idea to display them for enthusiasts of old metal. I am not a car buff but there is something nostalgic about these vehicles. Moreover, although they rusted and fell apart within a decade of rolling off the production line, they had far more character than modern cars. Thanks to all those on the Birmingham History Forum who helped identify the makes and models.
The car at the rear of this line of parked vehicles is a F Series Vauxhall Victor, a saloon first introduced in February 1957 although this is a later variant.
Looking a bit like a saloon car a noir film detective would drive, this is a Morris Oxford Series MO. These were manufactured between 1948 to 1954. I think it may have been designed by Alec Issigonis, the man famous for the Mini.
I am drawn towards the young lad with a scooter rather than this Standard two-door panel van.
The ubiquitous Moggy Minor was a common sight around Brum. However, the vehicle parked behind is one of the lesser-spotted variety. It is a mid-1950s Humber Hawk Mk VI Estate which, when tested in 1956, had whopping top speed of 79.7 mph.
And finally, here is a Ford Anglia with an Austin A55 Cambridge parked behind. Some 154,000 of the latter were produced at Longbridge before it was superceded by a new model in 1959. Ford sold ten times that amount of the Anglia, a car I remember seeing as a young boy being raced at Hednesford by most of the competitors.
Related Newspaper Articles
"An inquest was held at the Grand Turk Inn, Ladywood Lane, yesterday afternoon, before Dr. Birt Davies, Borough Coroner, on the body of a
newly-born female child, found on Thursday in an out-house at the back of Ryland Street North. The first witness examined was Detective Sergeant Mountford, who
stated that about ten o'clock on Thursday morning he received information, in consequence of which he went to the court at the back of No.26 Ryland Street North.
He examined an out-house there, where he found certain appearances which led him to make further search, and in the night-soil he found the body of the deceased
female child. It was quite dead, and cold and stiff. The head was lowermost, and the body was entirely covered. He had it removed to the police station. In consequence
of something which he heard, h caused a house in the yard to be watched, and on his return he found that a woman named Susan Smart had left the house, and the sergeant
[Murray] whom he had left in charge, was bringing her to the station. Witness took her to the police station, and on arriving there, Mr. Warrilow, surgeon, had
some conversation with her. She, had a bundle in her possession, which he searched and in it he found some dirty linen and other things, which confirmed his suspicion
that she had been delivered of a child. He subsequently charged her with concealing the birth of a female child that morning, and she made no reply. Mr. Warrilow
examined her as soon as she was brought into the station, and he reported that she had been recently delivered of a child. She was not at present fit to be brought
there - By a Juror : Mr. Warrilow was passing at the time the child was found, and I called him to see it. Mr. Warrilow stated that he had made a
post-mortem examination of the body at the Coroner's request. The deceased was 7½lbs. in weight, and 18 inches long. Externally, there were no marks
of violence; internally, the brain was congested, the lungs filled the cavity of the chest, were entirely crepitant and floated in water when cut in pieces, also
after compression. The intestines were empty. He believed the child had breathed, but could not say that it had had an independent existence from the mother. The
inflammation of the lungs might take place during birth. No other evidence was adduced; and the Coroner, in addressing the Jury, said the only verdict consistent
with the facts would be that the child was still-born. The Jury accordingly returned as their verdict that deceased was still-born."
"The Suspected Child Murder in Ryland Street North"
Birmingham Daily Post : September 6th 1862 Page 2