13 June 2015

South-West Prospect, 1731

Birmingham nearly three hundred years ago.

The vista of Birmingham, above, is a copy of one first produced in 1731, as the town was growing and beginning to achieve fame and prominence as a centre for industry and ingenuity. In the distance the landscape is one of rolling green fields, and from the vantage point taken, you can see the spire of Yardley Church (on the right), Whitacre, Curdworth, as well as Charlbury Forest in Leicestershire. It was produced by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck, who visited Birmingham in 1729 to take initial drawings (see below).

The inscription written at the bottom is added below:

"BIRMINGHAM (anciently written BIRMYNCHAM also BRYMYNCHAM) is neither Borough nor Corporation; but remains, what it was before the Norman Conquest, only a Lordship: nevertheless, by the Industry & Ingenuity of its Inhabitants & the Advantage of its being an open free place of Trade, it is become famous for the vast Quantities of Iron & Brass, besides, Thread and Leather &c. manufactured there, and risen to A Competition with any of the most flourishing Towns in England being adorn’d with several beautiful Structures, such as a New Church: a Charity School, wherein are maintain’d and taught upwards of 50 Boys & Girls and a Free Grammar School founded and endow’d with a large revenue by King Edward teh sixth now rebuilt in a stately and commodious form. The Town is govern’d only by two Constables & holds a large Weekly market on Thursday, with two Annual Fairs, one on Ascension day, & the other on the feast of St. Michael. ____________ 1. New Hall. 2. St. Philip’s Church. 3. The Road to Worcester. 4. The Free School. 5. The Market House. 6. The Parsonage. 7. Charlbury Forest in Leicestershire. 8. St. Martin’s Church. 9. Curdworth. 10. Whitacre. 11. Lady’s Well. 12. The Manor House. 13. Digbeth. 14. The Bridge. 15. The River Rea. 16. St. John’s Chappel in Deritend. 17. Collshal. 18. Yardley."

The landmarks listed have been numbered more clearly below.

Below is one of the original drawing that the Buck's produced in 1729.

Drawing for the later printed prospect, pen and Indian ink with wash over pencil, 1729.
Held at Birmingham Museums (1934P399).

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