This category contains 8 posts

Birmingham Industry

As the City of a thousand trades, Birmingham has been the hub of the nation’s industrialisation from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. Whilst times have changed in recent years and many of the traditional industries, and companies, are distant memories – and if Birmingham City Council had its way it could be argued that those memories too would fade away – Birmingham was built on industry and its history is inseparable from its development. In this section we recall some of the industries and companies that defined the City.

Birmingham Assay Office – Newhall Street

Opening in 1773 following the Hallmarking Act, the purpose of the Birmingham Assay Office was to validate the quality of the precious metal used and to hallmark the item to attest to this measure having been validated (the hallmark indicating the maker and date of item and the anchor symbol indicating the Birmingham Assay Office).  With a […]

Cadbury – Bournville

Amongst the doom and gloom that is usually associated with Birmingham’s ever-shrinking industry it is nice, for once, to report a success story and there are currently none better than that of Cadburys. Beginning in a small shop in Bull Street in 1824, John Cadbury’s fledgling business began to rapidly expand and by 1847 brother […]

Alstom (Metropolitan-Cammell Ltd) – Washwood Heath

Opened under the Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Company, the works at Washwood Heath operated hand in hand with, and eventually absorbed the work of, Joseph Wright & Sons works at Saltley. Developing stock for the railways of the Empire and the flourishing rail industry at home, the company enjoyed great susccess and in 1929 […]

Birmingham Battery & Metal Co – Selly Oak

The Birmingham Battery & Metal Co opened a new rolling mill in Selly Oak in 1871 to equip them for their new venture into rolling and tube production. Incidentally, to dispel a popularly held local misconception, the company did not make ‘batteries’: ‘battery’ was a term for hammering, or battering, ingots of metal into various […]

HP Sauce – Aston

Another example of a British institution being sold to a company from abroad and later to be closed is the stalwart of the British breakfast table, HP Sauce of Aston. The recipe for HP brown sauce was bought from its creator, Nottingham grocer Frederick Gibson Garton, by Edward Samson Moore, owner of the Midland Vinegar […]

M&B Cape Hill Brewery – Smethwick

Opening in 1881, Henry Mitchell took over his father’s pub, the Crown Inn in Smethwick, and, as did a large number of landlords during the period, set about constructing a small brewery adjoining the premises. In 1877, Mitchell began constructing the Cape Hill brewery which was completed in 1879 and became a joint venture with […]

Austin Rover – Longbridge Demolition

One of the more shocking elements of the demise of Longbridge, social and econimic consequences aside, was the changes it bought about to the landscape of the southern tip of Birmingham.  Views that I had known all my life had suddenly, and drastically, changed.  For visitors to the City approaching from the South along the […]

Austin Rover – Longbridge

One of the giants, if not THE giant, of Birmingham industry was that of Austin Rover (under its many guises). It can virtually be guaranteed that anyone like me, growing up in South Birmingham, knew countless people employed at the sprawling factory and, in many cases, had generations of relatives who had worked there. For […]