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BillChapman
BillChapman

The early years of Esperanto in Birmingham

    With its myriad of small workshops practising a wide variety of specialised and highly skilled trades, Birmingham encouraged exceptional levels of creativity and innovation. It is not surprising that the new planned language Esperanto attracted learners here.

Birmingham with its thousands of small workshops practising a wide variety of specialised and highly skilled trades, encouraged exceptional levels of creativity and innovation and provided a diverse and resilient economic base for industrial prosperity. Its resulting high level of social mobility also fostered a culture of broad-based political radicalism, which under leaders from Thomas Attwood to Joseph Chamberlain was to give it a political influence unparalleled in Britain outside London, and a key role in the development of British democracy. It is perhaps unsurprising that the new planned language Esperanto attacted adepts here.

1903: Frederic William Hipsley, Fernleigh, Highbridge road, Wylde Green, Nr Birmingham Anglujo

1903: Francis Henry Potts, 4 Handsworth Wood Road, Birmingham Anglujo

1903: Adolf Schlichter, 300 Belgrave Road, Birmingham, Anglujo

1903: Thomas E. Woodward, 123 Hockley str., Birmingham Anglujo

1904: W. Arthur Williams, 6 Anderson Road, Erdington, Birmingham Anglujo

1904: Eric E. Westbury, 60 Bournbank road, Selly Oak, Birmingham Anglujo

1904: H. E. White, Teneriffe, Forest road, Moseley, Birmingham, Anglujo

1905: F-ino (=Miss) E. Mary Edwards. 3 Lloyd St., Small Heath, Birmingham Anglujo

1905: A. Palmer-Jones, 249 Aston Lane, Perry Barr, Birmingham, Anglujo

1905: W. H. Thos. Partridge, "Elsimre" Grove Lane, Handsworth  BIRMINGHAM Anglujo

1906: Joseph H. Dixon, The Hermitage, Four Oaks , Birmingham Anglujo

1906: F-ino (=Miss) Mary G. Clarke, 17 Strensham Road   Birmingham Anglujo

1906: G. Arncliffe Percival, 127 Westminster Road, Birchfield, Birmingham Anglujo

1906: W. C. Amery, 9 Temple Street, Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: William E. Turner, 261 Ickneild St, Hockley, Birmingham Anglujo

1906: F-ino (=Miss) Emily Cattell, 11 Wood St, Ladywood, Birmingham Anglujo

1906: J. J. Shield, 20 High Street, Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: W. T. Fennell, 42 Stockfield Rd, Tysley, Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: David Aughtie,  41 Ettington Rd, Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: P. Stanley Beaufort, The Studio, Easy Row,  Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: Vivian Erwood Robson, 111 Park Road, Aston, Nr. Birmingham Anglujo

1906: Daniel J. O'Sullivan, Ivy Bank, 19 Brougham Street, Handsworth,  Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: E. H. Moreton, 20 Murdock Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: S. W. Keyte, "Fairfield" Eastern Road, Selly Park, Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: James G. Beauchamp, 270 Tiverton Rd, Selly Oak,   Birmingham, Anglujo

1906: H. Grant, 5 Elvetham Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: J. W. Ord, 131 Hubert Road   Bournbrook (apud Birmingham), Anglujo

1907: N. M. Bloore,   150 Pershore Street, Kings Norton, Birmingham, Anglujo

1907: D. W. M. Hall, 270 Tiverton Road, Selly Oak, Birmingham, Anglujo

1907: Wilfrid Owen, Oscott College, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: J. O. Wall, Oscott College, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: W. H. Garbutt, 3 Weatheroak Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: H. A. Brown, Mountfield, Chantry Rd, Moseley, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: Harry T. Hall,   208 Pershore Rd, Stirchley, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: E. B. Walker, Christchurch Vicarage, Summerfield. Birmingham Anglujo

1907: Howard Durnell,  52 Newton Road,   Sparkhill, Birmingham Anglujo.

1907: T. K. Yang, 32, Salisbury Bd., Hadworth, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: T. J. Perry, 21 Mansen Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham Anglujo

1907: Fino (=Miss) H. L. Robins, 48 Esmé Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham, Anglujo

1907: A. Watton, 227 Nineveh Road, Birmingham Anglujo

1908: A. N. Lloyd, St Ambrose Vicarage, Birmingham. Anglujo

1908: D. Derrington, Tufa Mount, Sth. Yardley, Birmingham, Anglujo..

Not much is known to me about many of those listed, although some are to be found in post office directories. A striking exception is Frederic William Hipsley. He was an Esperantist and civil engineer born in 1876 in London. In the 1911 census he is describes as a “land surveyor sewage disposal”. He was a lifelong member of the international body Universala Esperanto-Asocio (founded in 1908), a secretary of Birmingham Esperanto Society, secretary and later president of the Midlands Esperanto Federation. According to Ancestry.com he died in 1959. As a Quaker and therefore a Conscientious Objector, he served in the Friends' Ambulance Unit during the First World War. He translated a number of devotional texts from English into Esperanto. Hipsley was the translator of “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” (Ho Am', tenanta min konstante) into Esperanto.

Francis Henry Potts (born abt 1864), the son of a solicitor, was a commercial clerk at the time of the 1901 census.

Adolf Schlichter was born about 1854 in Germany and died in 1913. He was a Manufacturers' Agent in the 1890 and 1892 Kelly´s Directory of Birmingham. He is described as a “Traveller” in the 1913 Kelly´s Directory of Birmingham.

Arthur Lloyd was curate-in-charge of St. Mary & St. Ambrose from 1891 to 1915. This church was a daughter parish to St Bartholomew's Church, Edgbaston.

The D. Derrington listed was, I believe, Edwin David Derrington (1887-1968). In 1911 he was an assistant at builder’s merchant in his father's business.

W. T. Fennell (1873 – 1928) was described as “strip caster German silver” in 1901, while David Aughtie (1877-1968) was a schoolmaster.

William Samuel Keyte (1875 – 1947) was a solicitor’s clerk. WE can trace the travels of Norman Margetts Bloore (1879 - 1955) to Canada where he is described as a theological student, as a chef in the Canada Census of 1911. He then moved south to the United States, where he was employed by the Salvation Army as a book keeper and then as a minister.

James George Beauchamp (1877 – 1955) was describes as a “gun barrel filer” in 1901.

Clearly those interested in the language, although spread over the city, came together from time to time. According to an inside cover of The British Esperantist magazine for 1908 an Esperanto Society in Birmingham had been founded in September 1906. Its secretary in 1908 was W.E. Turner of 6 Monument Road and the President is listed as P. Galloway. The Birmingham Esperantists succeeded in meeting throughout the First World War.

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