There are many and varied reasons why Birmingham shouldn't have become the centre
and focus of the Industrial Revolution in the way that it did. For one thing, it
doesn't possess a sea port, or much in the way of natural resources. At the end of
the eighteenth century, it didn't even have much history.
And that is possibly one of the reasons for its success. Most of the other centres
of population and industry had grown up from towns dating back to the Middle Ages
or before, where methods and regulation of work were set fast and adhered to. Birmingham
was more in the nature of a frontier town, where an entrepreneur could try whatever
he wanted without interference from vested interests - at least to start with!
But whatever the secret to the mix, it was precisely this which created the conditions
in which industry flourished. The papers in this section will look at Birmingham,
its condition and environment and, hopefully, create a 'feel' for the eighteenth
century version of 'the white heat of technology.'
● The first paper is 'A Ramble 'Round Old Birmingham' by Prof. George Selgin, who
has created a snapshot of Birmingham as it was on a mid-October Friday in 1829.
● Then we move on to a descriptive article "Soho - Birmingham" published in vol 220
of 'The Penny Magazine' on 5th September 1835, which contains a potted history of
Soho, the Manufactory, and other interesting facets, as seen by contemporaries.
The East Prospect of Birmingham by William Westley, published 1732
BIRMINGHAM, a Market Town in the County of WARWICK, which by the art and industry
of its Inhabitants, has for some years past been render'd famous all over the World,
for the rare choice and inventions of all sorts of Wares
and Curiositys, in Iron, Steel, Brass &c; admir'd as well for their cheapness, as
their peculiar beauty of Workmanship.