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Canning collection stays in Birmingham.

Byline: Sarah Probert

Documents providing a unique insight into Birmingham's political and sporting achievements leading up to the Second World War are to return to the city.

The folios collated by Sir Ernest Canning and his wife Lady Emily Canning during his reign as Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1937 to 1938 were snapped up by the city council for pounds 850 at an auction yesterday.

The collection had a guide price of pounds 300.

The local authority bought them with the help of ex-Lord Mayor and a former leader of the city's Conservative group, Sir Neville Bosworth.

The documents, which include personal correspondence and photographs featuring luminaries such as Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain and Lord Nuffield, will be placed alongside the Canning Business Archives in Birmingham Central Library.

Sir Neville offered to support the city council in its bid for the material after reading about the collection in The Bir-mingham Post. He said: 'I had great affection for Ernest Canning and it would have been a shame if this collection was to go out of the city.

'There will be people of my generation who knew him and I am quite sure they will be interested in reading these documents.'

Sir Neville, who as a junior councillor was appointed to the finance committee by Sir Ernest, added: 'I knew him very well. He was a father figure to young politicians. I believe he and his wife were a formidable couple.'

The collection, which includes photographs of the old market hall and New Street Station as well as folios showing Birmingham preparing for war - including troop movements, inspections and air raid precautions - were discovered at a car boot sale in Sutton Coldfield.

They also include a letter and a photograph from the Aston Villa football team, which were sent to the Lord and Lady Mayoress while the team was on a controversial trip to Germany in May 1938.

The unnamed vendor took the collection to Richard Winteron Fine Art Auctioneers in Burton-on-Trent where it went under the hammer yesterday.

A spokesman for the auction house said: 'This was a most exciting lot for us and the fact that the pieces were found at a car boot sale is quite a find. They will shortly be returning to Birmingham and we understand the public will have access to them.'

Paul Hemmings, the Central Library manager for archives, local studies and history, said: 'The Canning Albums are an important record of a key time in Birmingham's history.

'They form an interesting insight into the life of one of the best-known mayors of the city. The albums will complement the Canning Business Archives that are already held by the City Archives in Birmingham Central Library.

'They were purchased by the city with assistance from Sir Neville Bosworth, a former Lord Mayor of Birmingham.

'The albums will be added to the collections of the City Archives and will be accessible to the public in the near future.'

Lady Canning, formerly Miss Emily Gent, died in 1939 while Sir Ernest, who remarried, died in 1966 at the age of 90.

Photo stirs memories of Villa's old boys

This photograph, part of the Canning collection auctioned yesterday, of the Aston Villa team outside a hotel during their controversial 1938 tour of Germany stirred memories after The Post asked readers if they could identify the players and staff.

The following is a selection of some of the letters sent in by readers.

Sir, I have identified a few of the Villa 1938 team.

Born in 1926, my father took me to Villa Park on Easter Tuesday 1935, the year they were relegated to Division Two - the whole city was in mourning!

The team which evolved from that season leading up to the outbreak of World War II, was, in my view, one of the finest ever to wear the claret and blue. How times have changed!

As a boy I watched them regularly from the Holte End from about 1937 onwards. My hero was George Cummings who I haven't been able to identify. The team was: Rutherford, Callaghan, Cummings, Massie, Allen, Iverson, Shell, Haycock, Broome, Starling, Hongleton.

Oh dear - shut this man up!

DON THOMAS Solihull Sir, Your photograph of the Aston Villa team of 1938 (Post, May 6) evokes memories of pre-war Aston Villa. In particular the tall blond figure of Jimmy Allen, centre half back from many seasons in the thirties. He is standing in the centre of the front row. Allen was transferred from Portsmouth for a record fee of around pounds 10,000 - I don't remember the exact figure, but I do know that it was a record to raise many eyebrows at that time.

What a contrast with today's fees which represent an inflation of 100,000 per cent.

Allen was the hero of many Villa games. At the end of one victorious cup-tie I remember seeing him chaired in triumph off the field by enthusiastic supporters.

Other memories of Villa Park are: the military brass band complete with drum major and the hardy character who used to walk on his hands around the perimeter of the pitch.

S E WHITEHOUSE Edgbaston Sir, As a supporter of Aston Villa for some 68 years I can name several members of the Villa party in the photograph which appeared on page two of The Birmingham Post Tuesday May 6. The players I recognise front row left to right: Starling, Haycock, Massey, Callaghan, Allen, Iverson, Carey, Biddlestone, Hubert Bourne (trainer); Second row left to right: Maund, Kerr, Shell, Houghton, Cobley, Pritty, L Latham.

Two prominent figures also appear in the photograph namely: Mr Fred Normansell (middle of photograph in black homberg) and an older player but acting as coach Frank Barson (at back of photograph on the left).

Is it Frank Broome standing right at the back of the photograph at the top - could anyone enlighten me?

J Gould Leicester

Any other readers who can identify the team or have memories of the Villa, during good times and bad, can write to the Editor, details page 10.


The Villa team during their 1938 visit to Germany; Sir Ernest and Lady Emily Canning; Sir Neville Bosworth
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 14, 2003
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