Made in Birmingham

JOSEPH CHAMBERLAIN’S EARLY POLITICAL CAREER

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During the late autumn of 1854 a young man arrived in Birmingham on the train from London and took a cab to his ‘digs’ in Frederick Street on the edge of the Calthorpe Estate in Edgbaston and less than a mile away from the offices of Nettlefold and Chamberlain in Broad Street.

There he would spend many long hours in the years that followed. The young man was eighteen-year-old Joseph Chamberlain and, as it proved, he and Birmingham were made for each other.

At the time when Chamberlain arrived to represent his father’s investment in his uncle’s screw manufacturing business, Britain was in the first year of a three-year-long war with Russia, fought mainly in the Crimea but also in the Baltic. Already that autumn there had been three major battles: the Alma on 20 September, which gave its name to more than a score of Birmingham streets and terraces, Balaclava on 25 October and Inkerman on 5 November, clearing the way for the bloody and exhausting siege of the Russian fortress of Sevastopol.

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