#Birmingham is the ONLY British city with a dedicated ‘Gun Quarter’ where guns were made and tested…..Truly guns have played an important part in the history of Birmingham…..from the ‘Battle of Birmingham’ when Royalist forces under Prince Rupert in the English Civil War laid waste to the small manufacturing town of Birmingham for its support of Parliament and its provision of guns to the Parliamentary forces and the New Model Army…..to the role that Birmingham’s Gun Quarter played in the supply of guns in both world wars with the Birmingham Small Arms Company becoming world famous for the quality of its weapons….My Dad Leslie Charles Bracey worked in the Gun Quarter before the second world war carrying sporting guns to the Birmingham Proof House for testing as my Dad’s family lived and grew up in the Birmingham Gun Quarter living in the back to backs of Little Shadwell Street in the shadow of the Roman Catholic St Chad’s Cathedral
For Black History Month, this week’s blog post is a review of a recent addition to our holdings: Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution by Priya Satia published this year by Duckworth Overlook.
At the heart of this studious discourse rests an argument which provides a new appraisal of the forces which drove Britain’s place at the forefront of the industrial revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The central premise of the tome is that the real cause of economic and imperial expansion was due to an exceedingly lucrative military contracting the production of guns and other weaponry which kept the nation in an almost constant state of production and warfare. This revisionist view of the genesis of the industrial revolution places conflict and Britain’s global expansionist desires very much at the forefront of the country’s change to an industrialised nation.
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