Narrowboat Tacet

Silent Movement - Our gap year travelling the inland waterways

Saturday 3 December 2011

Jewellery Quarter

We set out this morning to follow the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter Heritage Trail.
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

fly press

rolling mill

jewellers workbench

jeweller's peg

gas soldering torch

10 people worked around this bench


drop presses

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.


  1. Were the BCN moorings as predicted?

  2. Glad you enjoyed your visit to the Jewellery Quarter. Your post was tweeted out by @MyJQ to share it with the JQ community ;-)

  3. Captain Ahab,
    Your very helpful list has been spot on so far. After a couple of nights ouside Bannatynes,we spent Monday night in Gas Street Basin and tonight we are back on the main line just behind the NIA. Tomorrow we expect to be on the Engine Arm
    Thanks again for your help.

  4. Brian,
    We had a great time looking round and especially at the museum.