Our venues


Photo bmag

World class museum in the heart of Birmingham city centre.

Chamberlain Square

Birmingham, B3 3DH

0121 348 8038

Photo thinktank

Award-winning science museum for fun-packed family days out.

Millennium Point, Curzon Street

Birmingham, B4 7XG

0121 348 8000

Photo aston

Explore the splendour of one of the last great houses built in the Jacobean style.

Trinity Road, Aston

Birmingham, B6 6JD

0121 348 8100

Photo blakesley

Discover a fine Tudor house and beautiful gardens just a few miles from the heart of the city.

Blakesley Road

Birmingham, B25 8RN

0121 348 8120

Photo jewellery

A perfectly preserved workshop in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.

75-80 Vyse Street

Birmingham, B18 6HA

0121 348 8140

Photo sarehole

A 250 year old working watermill famous for its association with author J.R.R Tolkien.

Cole Bank Road

Birmingham, B13 0BD

0121 348 8160

Photo soho

Georgian home of the Birmingham industrialist, Matthew Boulton.

Soho Avenue (off Soho Road)

Birmingham, B18 5LB

0121 348 8150

Photo weoley

The ruins of an exquisite fortified manor house built 750 years ago.

Alwold Road

Birmingham, B29

0121 348 8160

19 Sep 2017

Volunteering with Birmingham Manufactures

Three hundred words (or so) on our week as Summer Research Assistants for the Birmingham Manufacturers Project.

Armed with subject files of photographs, a scanner, and an Apple Mac we set to work to see what exactly you could learn in just a week on the project. 

While many of us can easily name a handful of iconic Birmingham born manufacturers and brands, this sporadic minority is in no way representative of the many manufacturers that helped the city gain notoriety as the Workshop of the World and the City of a Thousand Trades. Instead, companies like Cadbury’s, Typhoo and Austin Motors form only the tip of the manufacturing iceberg. Behind these household names exists a wealth of local manufacturers who produced everything from whistles, to pen nibs, to jewellery and tools. And, whilst the iconic producers survive in our kitchen cupboards or architectural remnants like the Custard Factory at Digbeth and the model village at Bournville, all that remains of many are ageing records and photography filed away, lost or donated to archives and stores. 

It soon became clear that photographs and photography provide an insight of unequivocal importance to the research project, and not only because a large majority of the records are in photographic format. Without wanting to feed into the typical clichés it must be stressed that photographs can afford us with the luxury of illustrating both the physical and manufacturing infrastructure of these key industries. Like many others we had never heard of a number of the manufacturers located in Birmingham, like the tool manufacturers, Wynn Timmins Ltd. However, after being gifted with a file full of prints, negatives and three A4 sheets of limited descriptions of the factory, by Thursday afternoon we were becoming fluent in the practices of tool production. 

Wynn Timmins, Century Works, Degreasing Plant, photographer by W.G Belsher, 1977
Wynn Timmins, Century Works, Degreasing Plant, photographer by W.G Belsher, 1977.

Which leads us to conclude that if two research novices can ascertain a comprehensive understanding and appreciation for the lesser known manufacturers of Birmingham in just one week, then the completion of the project should cast a brighter light on those manufacturers that helped characterise Birmingham as the United Kingdom’s Second City.