Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) was a social reformer, radical politician and Imperialist who, despite never becoming Prime Minister, was one of the leading political figures of late Victorian and early Edwardian Britain.
Having made a fortune in screw-making by the age of 38, Chamberlain became deeply involved in the Civic Affairs of Birmingham where he was elected Mayor in 1873. He became a social pioneer with innovative schemes for education, housing and municipal ownership of Gas and Water which earned Birmingham the reputation for model Civic Government.
Subsequently, Chamberlain became a major figure in national politics. He played important and often controversial role in the major political issues of his day such as Irish Home Rule, The Anglo-Boer War (1849-1902) and international tariffs.
Throughout his career Chamberlain retained a strong political base in Birmingham which was known as his ‘Duchy’ which was centred on his home of Highbury.