William Dargue's

History of Birmingham on your Doorstep

(and other downloadable documents - see below.)


A History of Birmingham Places & Placenames . . . A to derives from William Dargue's History of Birmingham on your Doorstep which is to be found on the Birmingham Grid for Learning, the city's educational website, at www.bgfl.org. It is stressed that this is work-in-progress and not a finished document. It is copyright-free under the conditions set out in that document. The author is keen to hear feedback from readers and, under the conditions specified, welcomes contributions, which will be acknowledged. There is an extensive annotated bibliography in this document. The version concurrent with the publication of this A to Y is available here.


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William Dargue's History of Birmingham on your Doorstop
This History of Birmingham on your Doorstep was written initially as a resource for Birmingham schools.
Microsoft Word Document 4.5 MB


The History of Birmingham on your Doorstep was written initially as a resource for Birmingham schools. I compiled it to support history teaching with the aim of encouraging and enabling local Birmingham history to be included in general history teaching. It is vital for children to know the history of their locality and how it fits into the broader picture.

There is history right under your feet, in your own backyard, there is history on your Doorstep - or not very far away! Wherever you stand in Birmingham, people have walked over that same spot for a quarter of a million years, and here is the evidence to prove it. Whatever history topic or period you cover there is local information here. I am keen to give teachers the precise locations of evidence of past times. I want you to be able to take your children and their educated imaginations to the very place where a Stone Age hunter dropped his axe, to the exact riverside site where corn was ground for a thousand years, to the very place where steam transformed the industrial history of the world - and for children to know that history happened right there, where they are standing. And is there anything surviving that gives a clue to the past?

This resource will help you to help your children begin to explore the two great historical themes of Change and Continuity - and it's all on your Doorstep.

This document is not the result of primary research, but compiled from a very wide variety of secondary sources. Information is presented chronologically for the most part, and in periods rather than centuries, though later periods and centuries are roughly concurrent.


The Contents list is chronological. Each period has local background information usually alongside a regional or national perspective. For teachers to easily find out about their own locality Gazetteers form a major component. They are organised by the type of site and chronogically - so there is, for instance, a gazetteer which includes churches with surviving medieval evidence. The Gazetteers list and detail archaeological and documentary evidence and surviving buildings and their locations. They are in postcode order and give district and street names. Browse the A-Z Index to see the variety of Gazetteers available; this is also a good starting point for browsing the whole document. I also include sizeable extracts of contemporary documentary evidence to show people's experiences and opinions of Birmingham.

Readers should also find useful a number of potted lives of Birmingham people in the Biography, a Glossary with local examples, and an Appendix of items contributed by other authors which includes a good section on the origins of Streetnames.


See below for other related materials.

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A Tale of One City: The New Birmingham
Papers Reprinted from the "Midland Counties Herald", by Thomas Anderton 1900
Anderton 1900.doc
Microsoft Word Document 321.5 KB
Personal recollections of Birmingham and Birmingham Men
Reprinted from the "Birmingham Daily Mail," with revisions, corrections and Additions by E. Edwards 1877.
Edwards 1877.doc
Microsoft Word Document 613.5 KB
An History of Birmingham
The Second Edition,with considerable Additions,
by W. Hutton 1783
Hutton 1783.doc
Microsoft Word Document 1.9 MB
A Description of Modern Birmingham
Whereunto Are Annexed Observations Made during an Excursion Round the Town, in the Summer of 1818, Including Warwick and Leamington
Charles Pye 1818
Pye 1818.doc
Microsoft Word Document 457.0 KB
Showell's Dictionary of Birmingham
A History and Guide arranged alphabetically
compiled by Thomas T Harman 1888
Showell 1888.doc
Microsoft Word Document 1.9 MB
Memorials of Old Birmingham
Traditions of the Old Crown House in Der-yat-end in the Lordship of Birmingham with some Notice of English Gilds
by Toulmin Smith 1863
Adobe Acrobat Document 3.1 MB

For more on-line texts see also