Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/293

There was a problem when proofreading this page.


time judge necessary, while once in every fifteen years the provisions of the deed may be varied to meet changing needs—theology only being definitely excluded. In 1897 a new Act was passed at the instance of the trustees, creating a court of 180 members, and removing the theological restriction. A measure of popular control is given through the appointment by the City Council of five out of the eleven trustees. The college opened in 1880 with 53 students; in 1884-85 the number was 525; in 1898-99 there were 666. In 1898 a public meeting carried a resolution in favour of creating a university. It was estimated that a quarter of a million was needed to endow and equip university on the scale proposed. Including £50,000 offered by Mr Carnegie, the Pennsylvania iron-master, and an equal amount from an anonymous donor, the rest from local subscribers, in the autumn of 1899, £325,000 had been subscribed, and the Privy Council was at once petitioned for a charter, which was granted. The draft provides for the incorporation of "the University of Birmingham" with faculties of science, arts, medicine, and commerce, with power to grant degrees, and for its government by a court of governors (of which women may be members), a council, and a senate. Mason College is merged in the university. It will be seen that one of the faculties is that of commerce, constituting a distinctive feature in the scheme of the university, the object being to bring its teaching into close touch with the industrial life of the city, the district, and the kingdom. Elementary education has passed chiefly into the hands of the School Board. In 1870 the existing voluntary schools provided accommodation for 30,000 children, about half of what was necessary. The School Board was elected for the first time in 1870. In 1898, 88,944 places had been provided, of which 56,868 were in board, and 31,751 in denominational, and 325 in private schools. The percentage of average attendance to the number on the books is about 82 in the denominational and 84 in the board schools. There were fifty-seven schools under the board, exclusive of two special schools for deaf and three for feeble-minded children. There are also under the board sixteen evening continuation schools, nine for boys and men, seven for girls and women; six commercial evening schools, three for each sex. There are two higher-grade schools, with a combined attendance of 585. The cost of the School Board to the rates has now amounted to about £120,000 per annum, and the total expenditure of the board, exclusive of capital, to £200,000 per annum. The Municipal School of Art was formed by the transference to the Corporation in 1885 of the then existing School of Art and the Society of Arts, and by the erection of a noble building in Margaret Street, the site having already been given and a portion of the cost provided by private donors. There are one central school and two branch schools. Evening classes are also held in six of the board schools. In 1899 there were 1300 students in the central school and 3828 in the branches and classes. The Midland Institute still continues an important work of higher education. A marked development took place in 1885, when, fresh room having been provided by the removal of the School of Art hitherto held in the building, the industrial department was greatly enlarged, resulting in the creation of one of the best metallurgical schools in the kingdom. The present number of students in the industrial department is 2499. On the erection of the Municipal Technical School the whole of the scientific teaching of the Midland Institute was transferred to the former. The Municipal Technical School was established in 1893 in the building of the Midland Institute, and in 1895 was housed in a noble building of its own, in Suffolk Street, at a cost of £93,000. It contains metallurgical and engineering workshops and laboratories, lecture theatres for the teaching of chemistry and physics, a women's department, and rooms for the teaching of machine drawing and building construction. There are 2595 students in the evening classes and 195 boys in the day school. The books in the Birmingham Library increased from 40,000 in 1875 to about 65,000 in 1899. The old building, its home for 100 years, has been demolished and a new one erected. The free libraries of the city are supported by a rate of about 1½d, in the £. There is one central library, having 140,000 volumes in the reference and 30,000 in the lending departments respectively, and nine free libraries in other parts of the city, each with a lending department and a reading room. The net borough expenditure on this item amounted in 1898.99 to about £14,000.

Miscellanea.—There are ten principal banks, five theatres, and six clubs; two morning and two evening papers, and four weekly papers. The great musical festival is still held triennially for the benefit of the General Hospital. Seven new parks or recreation grounds have been added since 1875, making the total twelve.

Public Buildings.—The noble block of buildings comprising the Council House and Art Gallery was commenced in 1874, the front portion completed in 1879, the rear in 1881. It completes the fine group of buildings, of which the Town Hall and Mason College are the other conspicuous members. The style is Renaissance, and the material is Darley Dale, Spinkwell, and Wrexham stone. The entrance is surmounted with a pediment filled with groups of excellent sculpture. The erection of that part which forms the Art Gallery was the work of the Gas Committee, to whom the council granted the site on condition that they would build such a gallery over their own office, the council having no powers at the time to raise the required funds. The cost of the Council House, exclusive of the art gallery, was £163,805. The Art Gallery contains a fine collection of modern paintings, including masterpieces of David Cox, Millais, Hunt, Henry Moore, Albert Moore, Briton-Riviere, Burne-Jones, In the industrial hall are rich stores of Oriental metal work, Limoges enamel, English and foreign glass, Japanese ceramics. In the side galleries are various textiles, and Persian, Rhodian, Gris de Flandres, and other pottery. There is a remarkable collection of Wedgwood wares. Notable also is the collection of arms, which is probably the most complete in existence. The purchase of pictures has been made from time to time by means of an Art Gallery purchase fund of £12,000, privately contributed and placed under the control of the corporation. Many valuable works of art have been presented by individuals. Few additions have been made of late years to ecclesiastical architecture (a feature in which the city is not rich). Christ Church, noted for its ugliness and standing in front of the Council House, was pulled down in 1899. A remarkably rich set of stained-glass windows by Burne-Jones has been inserted in St Philip's Church. Among the Nonconformists the best specimen of architecture is the Church of the Old Meeting (Unitarian) in Bristol Road, opened in 1885. The Assize Courts in Corporation Street, known as the Victoria Courts, are among the most beautiful public buildings of the city. Begun in 1887, after Birmingham had been created an Assize district, they were completed in 1891 at a cost of £110,000. The beautiful entrance and the great hall (8O × 40), lighted by noble windows of stained glass, are notable. The style is Renaissance; the colour red on the exterior, buff on the interior. The central block of the façade is flanked by turrets and richly treated. Among other public buildings erected since 1875 are the splendid lecture theatre of the Midland Institute, the new Post Office, the inland revenue office, the County Court, the School Board offices, the Volunteer Drill Hall—additional tokens of the amazing public activity of Birmingham during the last quarter of the 19th century.

Manufactures.-Birmingham manufactures retain their character of multitudinous variety. Among changes since 1875 may be noted the rapid growth in the jewellery and the gun trades, and in the making of metal tubes of all kinds. The following figures issued by the Assay office, showing the amount of gold and silver marked in successive years, will give sonic idea of the growth of the jewellery trade:—

This message box is using an invalid "type=cleanup" parameter and needs fixing.

The year 1897 was famous for a sudden development of cycle manufacturing, followed in 1899 by an almost equally sudden collapse. But the variety of manufactures is such that a misfortune occurring to one is not likely to destroy the general prosperity of the city.

Social Life.—One of the most marked features of social life in Birmingham is the fact that contrasts in the distribution of wealth are less strongly marked than in most other great cities. The distance between the poorest and the richest is bridged over by a larger number of intermediate gradations. Colossal fortunes are few; on the other hand there is a numerous class of rich men. These, however, for the greater part are actually engaged in trade or manufactures, and hold their place in local life rather on account of industry pursued than of wealth possessed. The number of the leisured class, enjoying largo incomes without participating in any local industry, is relatively small, but is said to be on the increase. There are many manufacturing companies, but great private firms are also numerous. In regard to labour conditions, the system of small masters, so rarely found at the present day, still holds its own in the manufactures of Birmingham, and shows no present signs of extinction. These facts give to the social relationships of the community a remark, able closeness, integrity, and permanence. (L. P. J.)


Birmingham, capital of Jefferson county. Alabama. U.S.A., situated in the central part of the state, in 33° 30' N, lat, and 86° 47' W, long., at an altitude of 600 feet. It is an important railway centre, being entered by five lines: the Central of Georgia, the Kansas City. Memphis and Birmingham, the Louisville