Birmingham has a vast wealth of heritage when it comes to metal working, and the greatest export, along with guns and cars, was silverwear and jewellery. Once the foremost silversmithing industry in the world and made famous by Matthew Boulton and the invention of electroplating in the city.
Many artifacts can still be seen in Birmingham & Midland Art Gallery, but a great way to experience a snapshot of the city’s silver making past is to visit the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.
When the proprietors of the Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing firm decided to retire in 1981 they ceased trading and locked the door, unaware they would be leaving a time capsule for future generations. Tools were left strewn on benches; grubby overalls were hung on the coat hooks; and dirty teacups were abandoned alongside jars of marmite and jam on the shelf.
In the eighty years before its closure little changed with the working practices or equipment used within the family-owned business. Even the décor had more in common with early 20th century trends than a thriving business in the early 1980s. Today the factory is a remarkable museum, which tells the story of the Jewellery Quarter and Birmingham’s renowned jewellery and metalworking heritage.
- Visit to the Smith & Pepper factory by guided tour. Allow one hour for guided tour. Last tour approximately one hour before closing. The maximum number of people on each tour is 18.
- The museum shop, which stocks a range of locally made designer-maker jewellery.
- Live demonstrations at the jeweller’s bench showing how the Smith & Pepper bangle was made.
- The vast array of original tools, stamps and machinery that remains inside the factory.
The museum is open all year round and has space available for hire, but entrance to the factory is by guided tour only. School parties and pre-booked groups are welcome. Please contact the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter for further details.
The shop, cafe and temporary exhibition space are FREE to enter.
Charges apply to the tour of the Smith and Pepper factory and the galleries. Book a tour: 0121 348 8263
Child (3-15 years) £3.00
Child (under 3 years) FREE
75-79 Vyse Street, Hockley, Birmingham B18 6HA, United Kingdom
Tue- Sat: 10.30am - 5.00pm. Closed Sun and Mon. Open Bank Holiday Mondays.