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Discovering family ties with the Cartlands; Carl looks back at an historic Birmingham family and what influence it had on Kings Heath.

JAMES CARTLAND was a most successful Birmingham brassfounder. He started up in the trade in 1823 at 2, Weaman Row in the Gun Quarter, along with a partner called Dyer. A decade later the partnership had been dissolved and Cartland was making his own way.

His business grew so rapidly that he quickly moved his factory to bigger premises in Constitution Hill. At this Great Western Brass Foundry, the company became one of the most important brass founders in the world.

In 1886 it published a huge 682 page catalogue that included over 2,000 items. Although it was emphasised that the firm was a "cabinet builders and naval brass founders", the range of its brass products was quite extraordinary - from polished brass folding fire screens with illuminated glass panels to brass pen racks and paperweights.

A regular winner of awards in international competitions, such as at Adelaide, Australia, in 1887, by the end of the century James Cartland and Son, with between 600 and 700 workers, was the largest employer in Birmingham in the builders' cabinet furnishing and naval brass foundry trades.

During the inter-war years the factory was moved to Armoury Close in Little Green Lane and was advertising itself as brass founders, fanlight openers and hinge manufacturers. It closed in 1955.

Like many prosperous manufacturers, James Cartland bought property, first of all in and around the Gun Quarter, and moved his family to Edgbaston. But then, and again like so many successful businessmen, he decided that he wanted to have an estate in the country. So in the later 1840s he bought a house in King's Heath that would be called The Priory, hence Priory Road (Station Road until 1903).

Then located in the parish of King's Norton in Worcestershire, the house was surrounded by nine acres of land. Ten years later, James died and in the succeeding years the estate was extended to 57 acres by his successors. In 1889, Major John Howard Cartland inherited the property. The oldest son of John Cartland and his wife Ann Howard, from Liverpool, his military rank came from his service with the Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars Yeomanry - a forerunner of the Territorial Army.

Major Cartland improved the 17th century farmhouse in which he lived. Here he was later visited by his young relatives Barbara and Ronald Cartland. She would become famous as a novelist, whilst her brother was elected in 1935 as Conservative MP for King's Norton.

Ronald Cartland gained a reputation for his independent thought, attacking the Conservative Government for doing too little to help the unemployed in the areas most hit by the Depression and for its policy of appeasement to Nazi Germany.

Having joined the Territorial Army in 1937, Ronald was called up when war broke out. He became a major in the 53rd Anti-Tank Regiment, (the Worcestershire Yeomanry) Royal Artillery and served in France. Unhappily, he was one of the many British soldiers killed in the retreat to Dunkirk.

As for Major John Howard Cartland, he became a High Sheriff of Worcestershire and was regarded as the squire of King's Heath. Under his instructions, the architect John Bateman drew up plans to cut roads through and build houses on his estate. The first were erected on the corner of Melstock Road, although the progress of development was slow thereafter.

My own family, the Chinns, had a connection with the Cartlands in the later 19th century, when King's Heath was still a village and when the pear tree which stood outside the Cross Guns public house was a landmark.

From family stories, I knew that my great-grandfather Richard had gone to Moseley National School, as did myself and my brother Darryl. In our childhood in the 1960s it was surroundebut in his day in the 1870s it the midst of the Worcestershside.

I also knew that Richard's Henry, had farmed somewhHeath and that he had died iaccident. However it was not years ago that I found that mgreat, great-grandfather, Henand his wife, Ann, nee Barwethe 88-acre Church Farm in Kfor many years. The 1840 Tithindicates that his farmhouse Alcester Road, about where Snow stands.

Henry was a tenant of WillCongreve Russell, one of the landowners in Moseley and In 1832, it was he who paid fbuilding of the grand Kings Hthat stands in Kings Heath PHenry Chinn was able to ptenancy of Russell's land on also Henry. Unhappily the fothe family changed badly for 1868 when the younger man bankrupt.

It must have been a bitter ped by houses had lain in hire countryfather, ere in King's in a farming t until a few my great, nry Chinn ell, rented Kings Heath he Map e was on the Sainsbury's liam e biggest Kings Heath. for the Heath House ark.

pass his to his son, ortunes of r the worse in n was made pill for Henry the elder to swallow. As he came to the end of his life his life's work in raising his family's position to one of comfort and security had been shattered. He died in 1873 at the old age of 80 and was buried at St Mary's, Moseley - as had been his mother, father and wife. Worse was to come for his family.

His bankrupt son, Henry the younger, had quickly found work as a farm bailiff with the Cartlands of The Priory. This house now belongs to King Edward's Camp Hill School and lies just behind Kings Heath Park.

Henry lived with his wife and children just by the park in a cottage in Vicarage Road. It was not the life of a prosperous tenant farmer but it was still a good job that was far better than that of an agricultural labourer. Then tragedy struck in 1877. The family story goes that Henry fell off a load of hay and broke his neck. He was 54 and was buried at All Saints Church, Kings Heath.

Whatever the cause of death, it was a disaster for his widow Mary Anne. She had five children aged 12 and under, but with no man she lost both his income and her home - for the cottage had gone with the job. Mary Anne must have been a strong and determined woman for she kept her family together and out of the hated workhouse.

Putting what belongings she had on a hand cart she traipsed to nearby Sparkbrook, then part of Balsall Heath, and rented a back house in White Street. Here Mary Anne scratched a living as a washerwoman. Her ability to cope against adversity meant that she got by; though she and her children, including my great-grandfather Richard, knew what it was to be clammed and to have to scrat to survive. Having worked to keep her family out of the workhouse, she died in 1910, still living in White Street and still a widow.

Two years before her death, Kings Norton and Northfield Urban District had paid PS11,000 for what would become half of the present Kings Heath Park. It was bought from a trust set up by the Cartlands, who had bought the house that had been built for Congreve Russell and the land around it. This trust sold the remaining half of the grounds to Birmingham Corporation for PS5,000 in 1914, and it was immediately incorporated into Kings Heath Park.

During the inter-war years, Kings Heath had many facilities including football and cricket pitches, three grass tennis courts, two crown green bowling greens, one putting green, glasshouses, a pool, ornamental gardens, a tea room and public toilets. Like other parks in Birmingham, it was highly popular, especially for families at weekends and bank holidays.

''Henry was a tenant of William Congreve Russell, one of the biggest landowners in Moseley and Kings Heath. In 1832, it was he who paid for the building of the grand Kings Heath House that stands in Kings Heath Park


The start of the Alcester Road South in Kings Heath. The Adam's shop on the left was on the corner of Drayton Road, whilst the car beyond the phone box is coming out of Addison Road. My great, great, great-grandfather's farm house would have stood further along, almost to the right of the bus

A young lad in Kings Heath Park in the early 1900s

The famed works of Taylor and Challen, makers of lathes and presses of all kinds and sizes, in Constitution Hill in the 1960s. James Cartland and Son's foundry of was to the right of the last building in view on the right

The officers and council of the Kiings Heath Horse Show Society in 1921. Their president, Major Cartland, is sitting in the middle of the front row
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 14, 2013
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