Home Early Years Middle Years Later Years Recent Years 1 Recent Years 2 Choir Personalities SITE Info

        "   Opens  with  song "Hand of Friendship"                                                        Click on Button for SITE INFO

                                                                updated 25/08/08  look for  symbol

                      A first in our history. 52 members reached in 2008 



                       Birmingham Icknield Male Voice Choir                          

                                    The history of the oldest choir in Birmingham. 1900 - 2007   

In the beginning was the song and the song was good”. I make no apologies paraphrasing the bible. Song and music has been the bedrock of ancient civilisations and religions up until the present day. When mankind had a celebration or commiseration, chanting & dancing were integral. From the cave dwellers worshipping the animals of the forest to the Plain Song of Pope Gregory, evolving into the more sophistication performances we enjoy today.


                   The Choir evolved from the Adult Schools Movement. Ceasing in 2010 



The adult school movement started in the late 1790s and grew from small beginnings to be a major influence in education. In the early days it was probably to encourage people to read the bible, and as a significant number were illiterate this was broadened to include education in more diverse ways for the “Working Man” Women were not considered to be worth spending the time being educated, a view that was due to change! The movement spread especially in Wales and Scotland.

Birmingham unfortunately cannot lay claim to founding the first Adult School but Nottingham is perceived as the first by William Singleton who was a Methodist and Samuel Fox a Quaker, so

named it is said “they trembled in the sight of God.”                                                                         

Here in Birmingham it should be noted that Joseph Sturge and William White – were instrumental in leading the way with Adult schools.


        THE SOCIETY OF FRIENDS (Quakers) 




        In 1845 Joseph Sturge set up an adult class in Severn Street, (Severn Street British School)

        (see also below) led by members of the Society of Friends. It had evening classes in arithmetic,            geography and grammar.Other activities were included -  painting, leatherwork and music.

In 1895 a medallion was issued to commemorate it's 50th Anniversary.

       Lancasterian School, Severn Street, 1809. Contemporary print From: British History Online

      Not known if this is the school that Joseph Sturge started the Adult Class.


 Philanthropists and social reformers such as George Dawson, Robert William Dale, and George Cadbury brought together  the links of those in society  that desperately needed help. A sort of social “cats cradle”

 Several Mayors and Lord Mayors of the City acknowledged that their fitness for the office

 had greatly increased by the part which they had taken in Adult School work.

The most famous of these was Joseph Chamberlain. After moving toBirmingham in the 1860s,

he became a teacher at the Early Morning School attached to the Church of the Messiah         (founded by George Dawson) in Broad Street. When he became a national figure ("Brummagem Joe" as he was later nicknamed), his busy career as a politician did not prevent him from keeping in touch with many of his Adult School associates.






                               1866 the Icknield – Newtown Early Morning Schools were founded. Also in this year;

  • The Birmingham Reference Library on 26th October was founded;

  • Lord Austin born was born

  • Penfold Hexagonal; Known as the 'New Standard Letter Box' designed by J.W. Penfold and built by              Cochrane in Birmingham; Examples of these can be seen in Pulteney Street, and Laura Place, Bath;

  • Cadbury Brothers in 1866 saw a turning point for the company with the introduction of a process for pressing  the cocoa butter from the cocoa beans. This not only enabled Cadbury Brothers to produce pure cocoa essence, but a plentiful supply of cocoa butter remaining was also used to make new kinds of eating chocolate.

  • 1860 The Birmingham Mint in Icknield Street was founded.

            For a considerable time, the Cadbury family were prominent both in the life of the city of Birmingham, also in the Religious  Society of Friends (Quakers). It was considered that John Cadbury, the founder of the Cadburys,

was active for many years in the temperance society.  Alcohol was perceived by him to increase poverty among the working people. With his son George Cadbury, b 1838 – 1923 who was a  teacher in the adult school   movement they taught hundreds of men to read and write between 1849 and 1911.

    Where the Choir Started;





    It is claimed that the naming of Icknield Street is not proven. Some sources ascribe it to William Hutton in the

    19th century who was the person who wrote the first History of Birmingham in 1783.


    Icknield Street School

Icknield Street Map     Icknield Street School Listed Grade 2*   


                                                                                            Photo acknowledgement Mac Joseph "Old Ladywood"

The school is now a Sikh temple and has suffered a fire in recent years but has now been repaired.

Buildings at Risk

Buildings at Risk 2



The school opened in 1883 (J.H. Chamberlain's death), as Icknield Street Board School. It became a secondary modern in 1945. In the 1960s it had over 950 pupils, believed to have closed in the 1970s.  It is one of Martin and Chamberlain's Board Schools - Board Schools more, and is listed Grade II, and they built another 40 of them around the city, also NELSON STREET, and STEWARD STREET, and OOZELLS STREET. They were built with certain aims in mind, e.g. healthy ventilation and that is why they had towers, to allow air circulation, as the classrooms show here. ART CLASS, and INTERIOR VIEW. Martin built in red brick with terracotta decorations in a Venetian Gothic style and used decorative tiles with foliage motifs, as also can be seen at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in Margaret Street,  J H Chamberlain,  is buried at Key Hill Cemetery. (as is Joseph Chamberlain no relation), they also extended the Grand Hotel and designed the original 1879 Central Library  which was demolished in 1974. John Henry Chamberlain had formed a partnership with William Martin in 1864 and they became the leading gothic architects in Birmingham. Their offices were located in the Christ Church buildings (now demolished) at the top of New Street, close to the Town Hall and Council Buildings in Victoria Square. Chamberlain was also responsible for scores of Birmingham buildings including Spring Hill Library, just up the road, and Joseph Chamberlain's home Highbury Hall, as well as the Chamberlain Memorial Fountain.



Where photos are used I may have given acknowledgements but some are in the public domain or taken by myself. I will remove without question any that are deemed to be copyright.

                                                        Thank you, contact details at bottom of page.




                                                                Hit Counter

                                           On the email link below, please click and edit. This is to deter spammers.

                     Email to; Birmingham Icknield MVC History

                                                        Phone No. 07985041167

                                                Webmaster: Icknield Choir History
                                We take no responsibility for the information on external links

Current Date
by The JavaScript Source