Birmingham in 1850. On the ground reporting of life in the manufacturing metropolis of Victorian Britain.

Labour and the Poor Volume IX - Birmingham eBook Cover


Labour and the Poor Volume IX: Birmingham


Charles Mackay


Hardback, Paperback & Kindle

ISBN (Hardback):


ISBN (Paperback):




Birmingham in the mid-nineteenth century was a manufacturing powerhouse. Thousands of workshops were turning out a vast range of goods, supplying the nation and the world. Everything from massive steam engines to minute buttons were made here and it was almost a given that if it was made in metal, then it was made in Birmingham.

From the makers of swords, matchetts, and bayonets to the manufacture of fire-arms. From pearl buttons to pens, from workers in glass to workers in brass. From the factory women to the Ragged Schools for their children and the amusements of the people—all this and much more is explored.

The investigation into the working and living conditions of the working class people of Birmingham ran to 21 letters. The first letter was published on October 7th, 1850, the final one on March 10th, 1851.

Charles Mackay was the “Special Correspondent” for The Morning Chronicle tasked with the investigation as part of their “Labour and the Poor” series.

The Table of Contents for Volume IX is shown below but for a better appreciation of the material we suggest previewing the Print Edition Sample which includes the Table of Contents, a sample letter, and the Index.

Labour and the Poor Volume IX: Birmingham

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Letter I.
    • Parochial and Moral Statistics.
  • Letter II.
    • Sanitary Condition.
  • Letter III.
    • The Metal, Florentine, and Horn Button Manufacture.
  • Letter IV.
    • The Pearl and Fancy Button and Stud Manufacture.
  • Letter V.
    • The Manufacture of Fire-Arms.
  • Letter VI.
    • The Manufacture of Fire-Arms.
  • Letter VII.
    • The Condition of Factory Women and their Families.
  • Letter VIII.
    • The Employment and Education of Children.
  • Letter IX.
    • The Manufacture of Steel-Pens.
  • Letter X.
    • Glass-Makers and Workers in Glass.
  • Letter XI.
    • The Manufacture of Swords, Matchetts, and Bayonets.
  • Letter XII.
    • Workers in Brass.
  • Letter XIII.
    • Workers in Brass (concluded).
  • Letter XIV.
    • Heavy Steel Toys.
  • Letter XV.
    • Light Steel Toys.
  • Letter XVI.
    • Tin-Plate, Japan, and Britannia Metal Workers.
  • Letter XVII.
    • Die-Sinkers, Medallists, Coiners, &c.
  • Letter XVIII.
    • Gilders, Platers, and Electro-Platers.
  • Letter XIX.
    • Industrial and Ragged Schools.
  • Letter XX.
    • Amusements of the People.
  • Letter XXI.
    • Clubs of Working Men and their Families.
  • Index   ** print editions only **

For anyone interested in family history or social history, the “Labour and the Poor” series really is an invaluable resource.