The market in the Bull Ring has played a crucial role in the development of Birmingham from the 12th century until the present day, it is famous today a place to come to shop. Fairs were important to commerce it brought folk from all over into Birmingham. At the centre of the market is St Martins Church the landmark of the Bull Ring. These Fairs were 1st granted in 1250 Henry III to William de Bermingham the right to hold them.
With its long history of selling live stock in Bull Ring, this is where its gets its name. Most towns & villages in the past had a Bull Ring of some sort. Sad story behind the name probably refers to bull-baiting, a custom of tying up the bull on a metal ring with on lookers surrounding it while the crowd would be making bets it was a popular sport going back to Roman times, including Queen Elizabeth I it is said she enjoyed it. It was considered letting a pack of dogs on the bull it tenderised the meat before slaughter, before going to the butcher to be sold in the market. This so-called sport was banned by Parliament in 1835.
1809 the Statue of Horatio Nelson by Richard Westmacott, erected by public subscription, is unveiled in the Bull Ring, along with the lamp columns surrounded by iron railings with lanterns standing on up-ended cannon at each corner. The original plinth was made of marble & carved with the people of Birmingham. The first statue of Admiral Lord Nelson to the great national hero to be erected in Britain. Nelson visited Birmingham in 1802 to great acclaim after his victories at the Battle of the Nile and Copenhagen. He visited Matthew Boulton and the Soho Manufactory to arrange the striking of the medal for the Battle of the Nile.
To develop the Bull Ring primarily into retail market for the town, the wholesale markets were moved to a purpose-built building neo classical design by Charles Edge it was completed in 1835 with columns.at the entrance this was exposing building the Market Hall holding 600 stalls. It stood here until WW2 when it was bombed it taking out the roof this was not repaired and it remained there until 1960’s when it was demolished to make the Bull Ring Shopping Centre, this is when the statue of Lord Nelson was moved, unfortunately the lamp columns along with the plinth were lost. livestock from 1817 and fruit and vegetables from 1883 to the purpose-built Smithfield Market built at St Martins Church see map.
'OS Map name 014/05', in Map of Birmingham and its Environs (Southampton, 1884-1891)
The painting is taken from to views of the Bull Ring to capture the feel of the old market town showing where the stall was placed in the triangle space our flower seller sitting by the statue of Lord Nelson. With Our Lady grandma coming to the Bull Ring.
If you wish to find out more about Birmingham past check out these websites.
The painting is named after the family who had a long history of selling flowers in the Bull Ring for 150 years they sold flowers. It was Ellen Kelly in 1909 the mother of seven children Jack, Dick, Nelly, Mary, Martha, Rose, and Katie the girls who lived by the Bull Ring where it all started from.
In recent years the three sisters Nellie, Katie and Mary Sutton who worked together have passed away. Mary Sutton passed in 2009.
Described as the “Queen of all flower-sellers” Then in 2016 the last of the generation Katie Kelly passed both sister ages 89 described as Birmingham’s own “My Fair Lady” They worked decades together in the Bull Ring becoming famous girls selling their flowers getting up early to purchase the flowers from the wholesalers and passing them onto us, the customer.
Our Lady’s Grandma is out at the poplar Bull Ring Market standing by Nelson just about to purchase some nibbles from the stall holder. The flower seller is having another successfully day despite the damp weather.