The Jewellery Quarter has been the place of working goldsmiths and silversmiths for over 200 years. There is a fascinating museum in the original factory of Smith & Pepper, jewellery manufacturers. The workshops are just as the Smith family owners left it in 1981 when they retired. As they had not brought in modern machines and working methods, it takes you right back to early 20th century ways.
stamps and dies
work bench at the window
gas soldering torch
10 people worked around this bench
We really enjoyed seeing the workbenches, with their leather aprons to catch any precious dust. The tools and ways of working creating many types of pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings for wholesale in UK and abroad. It wasn't until the 1970's that there were any jewellery shops here, now there are many.
Also on the trail we stopped at the Pen Room, telling the story of the Birmingham pen trade. We were able to have a go on the fly presses to cut, shape and split a nib.
It's amazing how many different types of pen nib were made here, and how many thousands were pressed out each day. Most of the workers were women and it was piece work, very poorly paid.