I love Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, and although I often think that not nearly enough is done to promote the rich cultural and industrial history of the area, English Heritage took a step in the right direction recently.
JW Evans is a unique, living record of a trade that once made Birmingham famous throughout the world. Run by the same family since the 1880s until the present day, its premises – tucked in behind an ordinary terrace of Victorian houses - is complete with equipment, tools, dies, pattern books, wage books, inventories, and accounts poignantly left just where they were the last time they were used.
Founded by Jenkin William Evans in 1882, the business passed from father to son to grandson and each generation made the silver tableware that graced dining tables around the world. When Anthony Evans retired in 2008, English Heritage stepped in and bought the houses and their contents.
They are now offering a limited number of tours of JW Evans for small groups, but you'll need to book in advance if you want to visit.
On a related note, this seems like a pretty good excuse to announce that Graham and I are going to be curating our first Obsessionistas show in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter just around the corner from J.W. Evans at the beautiful School of Jewellery in December. If you are in the area please do come along and say hello.
Images via English Heritage.