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259
BIRMINGHAM

mineral and coal districts of Flintshire and North Wales into touch with the Birkenhead docks a considerable traffic has resulted. A handsome Young Men's Christian Association building and a commodious theatre have been erected. In 1897 the ruins of the ancient Benedictine Priory were purchased by private subscription and presented to the town. They have been carefully restored at the expense of the corporation. The general trade of the borough has increased, and latterly shipbuilding and ship repairing have developed to a considerable extent.

Birmingham, one of the chief manufacturing towns (a county borough) of England, in Warwickshire, 112½ miles (by rail) from London, with an area of about 30 square miles. The greatest length from N.E. to S.W. is about 7 miles, and the greatest breadth a little over 4 miles, the form being roughly oblong. The London and North-Wester, the Midland, and the Great Western rail-ways run through Birmingham, the two former having a joint station in New Street, and the latter a separate

Map of suburbs of Birmingham.

station in Snow Hill. The population grew from 360,000 in 1875 to 408,000 in 1881, to 430,000 in 1891, and, certain extensions having ban made in the boundaries during the interval, in 1901 was found to be 522,182. The death-rate was 24.8 per 1000 in 1875, 19.1 in 1885, and 20 in 1899. The following table shows the number of births, deaths, and marriages in recent years

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The boundaries and parliamentary representation of the city have undergone considerable changes since 1875. At that date the town (which became a city in 1889) still returned the three representatives assigned in 1867. By the Representation of the People Act of 1885 this number was increased to seven, and a corresponding number of parliamentary divisions created. By the Provincial Local Government Board Act of 1891 four Local Board districts were added to the city of Birmingham for local government--Harborne (Staffordshire), Balsall Heath (Worcestershire), Saltley, and the rural hamlet of Little Bromwich (Warwickshire). These districts were by the Act declared to be in the county of Warwick, though still remaining in their respective counties for the exercise of freehold votes. By this At the boundaries of the city were made coterminous for parliamentary, municipal, and school board purposes. No change was made in poor-law areas or in existing ecclesiastical rights. Since 1875 considerable changes have been made in the laying out of principal streets. In the year named a great Improvement Scheme was initiated, with the twofold object of clearing away a mass of insanitary property from the centre of the town (in some parts of which an alarmingly high death-rate prevailed) and of constructing a main thoroughfare from the centre to the N.E. outlet, commencing from New Street, near the principal railway station, to Bull Street, and thence continuing to the Aston Road. The scheme received parliamentary sanction in 1876, and was finished in 1882, the total cost being £1,520,657. This led to an almost total extinction of the residential quarter in the centre of the town. The great thoroughfare thus created is called Corporation Street. It was rapidly lined with buildings of considerable beauty, these being erected on leases of seventy-five years' duration, at the expiration of which they become the property of the Corporation.

The most marked extension of building has been eastwards and southwards in Saltley, Balsall Heath, and Small Heath, and to the N.W. in the direction of the Handsworth boundary, but building sites are being rapidly filled up in all quarters. Edgbaston, the fashionable suburb, owing to the strict rules enforced by the ground landlord, still remains remarkably open, and is an almost unique example of a semi-rural district, where almost every house has a garden, extending to within less than a mile of the centre of a city of more than half a million inhabitants. This feature has had a most important effect in preserving the local life of Birmingham intact, Inasmuch as the richer and more influential inhabitants, instead of residing at a distance from the centre, as in so many large towns, remain in close contact with the general community and take a full share in municipal government and the administration of charities. Edgbaston is however becoming partly surrounded by manufacturing districts, specially to the S.W. where the growing districts of Selly Oak and Bourneville, with their ever-increasing factories, interpose between it and the country proper. On the E. side of the city the transition from town to country is well defined, but to the N.W. the exit from Birmingham conducts from one populous district to another. On that side Birmingham has joined hands with the Black Country, nearly the whole of the road to Dudley, 10 miles distant, having the character of a street.

Drainage.—The sewage of the city is dealt with by a body known as "The Birmingham, Tame, and Rea District Drainage Board," constituted in 1877. It consists of nineteen members, of whom twelve are elected from the City Council, the others representing districts outside the municipal area. The total area drained is over 45,000 acres, and is likely to be increased, the whole of the sewers falling to a common outlet at Saltley, adjacent to a sewage farm of 2000 acres in the valley of the Tame. After being purified in tanks by precipitation with lime the fluid matter is passed through the land and issues as clear water into the Tame. The solid residuum is dug into the land. The board has power to serve precepts on the various local bodies included within the area In 1899 the precept on the Birmingham corporation amounted to £32,725, representing three-fourths the total expenditure of the board.

Lighting and Water.—Both the gas and the water supplies are in the hands of the corporation. The two local gas companies were bought out in 1875. In that year 290,000 tons of coal were carbonized; in 1899 the quantity was 515,000, in addition to which 1,400,000 gallons of oil were also used for gas manufacture. Since 1875 the annual sale of gas has increased from 2327 to 5201 million cubic feet. The capital expenditure has increased from £2,000,000 to £2,283,000, i.e., a reduction of capital per 1000 cubic feet of gas sold from 17s. 5d. to 9s. 2d. £680,000 has been appropriated front the profits of the undertaking, and from the interest on the invested reserve fund, in aid of the rates. The rates in the lighting area have been indirectly relieved by £200,000 by means of reduced charges for public lighting : the Art Gallery building has been provided, and a reserve of £658,000 accumulated. The corporation has taken over the electric supply from 1st January 1900, the purchase money being £420,000. The water was acquired in 1876. In contrast to the gas undertaking, the water has never been looked upon as a profit-making concern, this being expressly disavowed, and the motive of public