Why Cambridge Street Works, which once employed so many hands, should have so completely collapsed is, as I have hinted, a bit of a mystery. I can only guess, and as tracking conundrums is not my purpose in these chapters, I will leave others to unravel the riddle if they can. It is, however, a matter of local business history that some thirty years or more ago the Cambridge Street concern shewed signs of tottering to its fall, and when Mr. Atkins went into the business as a proprietor, he had to make some sweeping reforms that naturally created some resentment and criticism. Possibly the business was “eating its head off,” and the process of deglutition had to be rigorously curtailed. This having been done, the business thrived and prospered once more, and continued to do so for some years. I will not follow its fortunes to its ultimate fall. It became a public company, and now it is no more.
Winfields’ is not the only important local business that has gone under during the past fifty years, yet it is satisfactory to find that many of our old-established manufactories and businesses have survived, and still exist in some form or other. Elkington’s, Gillott’s, and Hardman’s still flourish, and among the brassfounders Pemberton and Son’s, Tonks and Son’s, Cartland’s, and others, go on their way rejoicing, casting, stamping, lacquering, and polishing, and pushing brassfoundry into more ornamental and utilitarian use.
Some of our old-established merchants and factors are still with us. The trade of Messrs. Keep and Hinckley, whose place of business was for years near St. Mary’s Square, is now carried on by Keep Bros., in Broad Street. The establishment of Rabone Bros., merchants, also in Broad Street, still stands where it did. The businesses of Rock and Blakemore, Moilett and Gem, and others, are still carried on by survivors of the old firms.
As for the new industries, the new firms and companies that have been created in our midst during the past half-century, their enumeration and description would be a big story, and would require a large volume to tell it. That volume I do not propose to begin. I desire to close my present little chapter, and perhaps I shall not be the only one who will be glad to come to the end of it.
THE MUSICAL FESTIVALS.
Though it can hardly be said that the Birmingham Musical Festivals have had any direct bearing upon the progress and development of town and city, the world-renowned musical gatherings associated with the name of Birmingham have had something to do with the fame and fortunes of the Midland capital. Established more than a century and a quarter ago, they attained a pitch of musical excellence and importance that attracted the attention of the civilised world. Birmingham, indeed, was for a time, and is still to some extent, the Mecca of musicians, and the Birmingham Musical Festival is generally regarded as the premier musical meeting of the country.