Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).

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The Chamberlain Brothers: Austen and Neville - from Birmingham to Westminster





Joseph Chamberlain had two sons, Austen Chamberlain and Neville Chamberlain. While all three became MP's, Old Joe never became leader of the Conservative Party like his sons did (was also a Liberal originally). Austen was Leader of the Conservative Party from 1921 to 1922. While Neville became Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940 (stepping down when WW2 started).


For my Joseph Chamberlain post, follow this link Joseph Chamberlain: Birmingham's visionary Mayor in the late 19th Century.

Austen Chamberlain

His full name after he was knighted was Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain, but he was best known as Austen (probably to distinguish from his more famous father Joseph Chamberlain). Born in 1863 he lived to 1937. His mother was Harriet Kenrick, who died in childbirth. Austen was born at Giles House at 83 Harborne Road in Edgbaston (there is a blue plaque here from the Birmingham Civic Society).

He stood to become an MP with the Liberal Unionist Party, which later merged with the Conservative Party. He later became Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922. He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1903 to 1905, Secretary of State for India from 1915 to 1917, Leader of the House of Commons from 1921 to 1922, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1929 and First Lord of the Admiralty during a period in 1931. Austen was the MP for Birmingham West and he had the seat from 1914 to 1937 (from the death of his father Joseph Chamberlain to his own death). The constituency was created in 1885 and abolished in 1950. He was the only Conservative Party leader of the 20th century to never become Prime Minister, and he never fought an election as leader.

In the Council House in Victoria Square are these marble boards called Freemen of the City of Birmingham. All three members of the Chamberlain family are on it. Joseph Chamberlain was the first in 1888 (having been Mayor of Birmingham and later an MP). Austen Chamberlain was in 1926 and his brother Neville Chamberlain in 1932

After Joseph Chamberlain died in 1914, Highbury Hall passed to Austen Chamberlain. During the First World War, the hall was described as "dark and gloomy". It was used as a hospital and home for disabled soldiers. Austen handed the hall to trustees in 1919, and it was passed to the Corporation of Birmingham in 1932, when it was used as a home for elderly women. Birmingham City Council restored it in 1984, and in the last few decades, it's been used as a conference venue, and also for functions such as weddings. More recently it's been taken over by the Chamberlain Highbury Trust in 2016. A fundraising campaign was launched in 2018 to help restore the building and parkland.

See this post when the last Highbury Hall open day was held during Birmingham Heritage Week in September 2018.

Neville Chamberlain

He was the half brother of Austin Chamberlain, and the son of Joseph Chamberlain and his second wife Florence Kenrick. He was born in 1869 and died in 1940. He went to school at Rugby School and was later a student at Mason College. He got elected to Birmingham City Council in 1911 for the Liberal Unionist Party for the All Saints' Ward which was located in his fathers Parliamentary Constituency of Birmingham West (later held by Austen from 1914 to 1937). Neville became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1915. He first got elected to Parliament in 1918 for Birmingham Ladywood until 1929. He was later the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston which he held from 1929 until his death in 1940. He served as Prime Minister from 1937 to 1940. Like his brother before him, he never fought an election as leader of the Conservative Party.

Portrait below seen at Highbury Hall of Neville Chamberlain, while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1933. He held that role twice, first time from 1923 to 1924, and the second time from 1931 to 1937.

Heading back to Birmingham, to Edgbaston High School for Girls near Westbourne Road in Edgbaston. This building dates to 1960 and was by H. W. Hobbiss & Partners. Alterations in 1991 by S. T. Walker & Partners. This is quite close to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and it is near the entrance used by the Magical Lantern Festival. Neville Chamberlain lived near here from 1911 to 1940 when he was in his constituencies. You will find another blue plaque from the Birmingham Civic Society on the building. Am not sure when his former home was demolished, as the school is now on the lands (including the more modern school buildings to the left of here).

The Birmingham Municipal Bank seen at 301 Broad Street (will now be part of Centenary Square next to the Westside Metro extension). Seen in September 2013 from the Library of Birmingham, several years before Arena Central actually started.  Neville Chamberlain suggested the idea for the bank way back in 1915, originally for savings. This building was built in 1931 / 1932, and Neville Chamberlain while Chancellor of the Exchequer, laid the foundation stone in 1932. It was the Birmingham Municipal Bank headquarters and is now a Grade II listed building. It was opened in 1933 by the Prince George. It became a TSB bank in 1976, until it was sold to the council in 2006. The bank later became part of Lloyds TSB, but the building has been closed for many years. It had been occasionally opened for Birmingham Hidden Spaces. The University of Birmingham will be taking it over and it will be fully restored. It will become an arts venue with exhibitions and performances. It is now to the right of 1 Centenary Square (HSBC UK, was 2 Arena Central). The Register Office used to be to the right of it (later House of Sport, now demolished). That will be the 5 Centenary Square site (was 1 Arena Central).

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.