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Jewellery Quarter Research Trust

We are now the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust with three founding trustees, Douglas Wilks (Chair), Sue Chilton (Treasurer) and Sue Hutchings. This will allow the JQRT to expand and widen its activities.

Our main method of communication is our website which has grown and is widely used as a resource. We had a record month September with the 1,692 visitors and 16,774 page hits, membership is now 854. The most popular resource is still the memorial and burial databases followed closely by the Virtual Tour.


NEW DIRECTION FOR THE JQRT The JQRT has previously centred it’s research activities on and around the two jewellery quarter cemeteries, Key Hill and Warstone Lane. We have researched and recorded many of the people, monuments catacombs and chapels. All this, together with the research carried out by individual members, has been made freely available as a resource material on our website. This has proved very popular.

The JQRT is growing rapidly however, due to circumstances beyond our control it has become impossible to continue as we have done in the past. It was always Dick Empson’s intention that the activities of the JQRT should be wider and should include the jewellery quarter generally. Recent circumstances have convinced us that that time has arrived.

There are many areas of interest in the jewellery quarter, including the 207 buildings that have been listed by English Heritage. Recently the JQRT has been working with the Birmingham Conservation Trust team of researchers as a Research Partner helping to gather background information on it’s project to restore the Newman Brothers factory.

This has provided the opportunity to develop links with other organisations and to move into new areas of research within the jewellery quarter. We have a number of new researchers but need more. If you can help please contact Doug at post@jqrt.org or phone 07748 575688

Search our Free Databases

The JQRT provides three free databases







Official Birmingham Conservation

Trust Research Partner

The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter is an urban industrial area with a long history of jewellery and metal ware production carried out in a concentration of converted houses, workshops and manufactories seemingly unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

With its origins in the phenomenal eighteenth century growth of Birmingham the Quarter survives as a close-knit working entity, largely composed of small to medium sized family firms. It remains the major centre of gold jewellery production in the United Kingdom. Five building types give the Quarter its distinctive physical character.

These are converted houses, built houses with workshops, purpose built manufactories, purpose-built workshop or shopping ranges and specialist buildings supporting the trade which include the Birmingham Assay Office and the School of Jewellery.

The dense mix and domestic scale of these buildings is almost wholly associated with the development and localisation of the jewellery and small metal ware trades in the area. Many are still in use as industrial workshops, producing a range of metal goods using highly specialised skills, processes, tools and machinery developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and which have remained basically unchanged to the present day.

Metalworking in Birmingham is documented from the mediaeval period. By the eighteenth century the town was known for the production of 'toys', small transportable objects of relatively high value. These included jewellery and were hand-made by highly skilled small masters in houses and yards around the town.

The growth of the toy trades led to a huge increase in Birmingham's working population and a demand for building land. St Paul's Square, laid out from 1772, drew prosperous masters away from the cramped town centre and provided a focus for the nineteenth century development of the Jewellery Quarter. Domestic properties were all sooner or later converted for industry, with workshops built over the back gardens. From the 1820s houses were purpose built with workshops.

The first purpose built manufactories in the evolving Quarter were constructed in the 1830s . Increasing specialisation and subdivision of production among independent craftsmen led to the localisation of the jewellery trade. From the 1850s with further expansion of the industry the Quarter took on its close urban grain. From the 1890s to 1920 production was at its peak.




War Memorials



JQRT at the 2014 History Fair

New Free eBook

Burial in Birmingham

(18th to 20th centuries)


J. M. Wall

Cemetery researcher, PhD student, local historian
and museum intern.


Josie Wall's PhD thesis investigates the use of landscape and monuments in 19th century garden cemeteries, especially how burials of influential people affected cemetery development. One of the main case studies is Key Hill Cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter. Josie has said she feels blessed to live in a city with so many wonderful Victorian cemeteries, and wishes she had time to research them all!

While studying (part-time, self-funded) Josie has been working for Birmingham Museums Trust as a Visitor Service Assistant, working at Aston Hall, Sarehole Mill, and Thinktank. Josie is also coordinating a WWI Project for Moseley Society Local History Group (moseleyhistory.co.uk).

Josie found out about the job with BMT from Sarah Hayes during discussion about volunteering for The Coffin Works, but because of the job she has been working 7 days a week so hasn't been able to help much, sorry Sarah!

Josie did produce a 4 page leaflet, 'Burial in Birmingham; 18th to 20th centuries' for visitors, which has been adapted into an ebook format for JQRT. Josie is also compiling a Victorian Funerals leaflet, which she hopes to finish before the museum opens.

Josie has just begun working at the Museum Collection Centre, via a University of Birmingham cultural internship, to gain experience of curatorial work. Hopefully working Monday - Friday will give her more time for writing her new blog (cemeteryresearcher.com) which goes live on November 1st.

It's still under construction at the moment, but if you'd like a sneak-peek, please email Josie for the password (cemetery-researcher@hotmail.com).


JQRT eBOOKS are completely free of charge

and may be read on our website


In 1995 Centro made an application to the Home Secretary  for a licence for the removal of  human remains at the cemetery at Key Hill for the purpose of constructing  a light rapid transit system (The Metro).

In order that a record should be kept that is available to the public the JQRT  has constructed a diagrammatic plan however there are a number of errors in Centro's application and one page is missing which we have endeavoured to reconstruct. Updates and corrections  will no doubt follow.

The information, including names will soon be available in a new JQRT database.