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Thread: Unity Works - Birmingham - Feb 2018

  1. #1
    Join Date
    August 2014

    Default Unity Works - Birmingham - Feb 2018

    The History

    The Unity works, in Vittoria Street, was owned and occupied by Henry Jenkins and Sons LTD. This company was made up of Henry Jenkins, James Jenkins, Fredrick Jenkins and Samuel Jenkins, trading under the style or firm of Henry Jenkins and Sons, General Stampers and Piercers, of Birmingham, in the county of Warwick, for the invention of "certain improvements in metallic clips for permanently or temporarily binding or holding together manuscripts, papers, pamphlets, or for other like purposes."'

    In 1897 the company was registered on 8 November, to take over the business of medallists, die sinkers etc. of
    the firm of the same name.

    In 1992 Heritage bought Henry Jenkins and Sons, which was established in 1886, and supplied London Mint and Raleigh Bicycles. The company still owns the Henry Jenkins building in Vittoria Street in the Jewellery Quarter but Mr McDonagh believes many of the buildings in the area are not suitable for modern manufacturing."
    2 other companies used the Unity works as well, B & G Silversmiths and William Adams LTD, both silversmiths.

    B & G focused their work on repairing and re-plating EPNS as opposed to making silverware like William Adams LTD.
    I can find a few examples of William Adams LTD including a record of their silver hallmark.

    The British Heritage listing states that in 1865 Unity Works was built as a toolmakers works and was originally a symmetrical 12 bay front with a narrower 3 bay shallow end breaks, extended in similar style with 5 slightly broader bays in 1898. The architect was J P Osborne and was the same for firm Henry Jenkins and Son. Three tall storeys red brick with effectively painted plain stone dressings. Impressively scaled functional design with plinth and sill bands linking close set sills with consoles. Projecting dentil eaves cornice. The south end contains a wagon archway on ground floor with keystone whilst the north break has 3 close set round headed windows with keys and lintel impost blocks. Ground floor openings otherwise arcaded down to plinth with linked impost blocks and keystones; apron panels below window sills. First floor windows segmental arched and plain frieze carried across heads of second floor windows; consistent use of iron frame small pane windows.

    The future for the building is uncertain and was set to be converted into flats and a conversion plan was drafted by PCPT Architects as the building is Grade II listed. & Unity & Vittoria Works - PCPT Architects

    There was clear evidence of some work stripping the building had begun, such as lighting and conduit in the courtyard entrance and a few other empty rooms but obviously nothing has been done for a while.

    The Explore

    Another lead thrown in my direction by @clebby.

    So I’d driven passed this a few times and decided to have another look with a pal and we gave it a crack. Entry was fairly simple and from what I heard all and sundry visited it in the few days after we were there.

    Inside was a bit dark and dingy and we didn’t catch the place in the best light and didn’t actually expect to get in. It was a fairly rushed visit so we took our pics as quickly as we possibly could.

    Some of the stuff left in here was simply awesome. Metal working tools that took me back to being an apprentice. The likes of which just don’t get used these days.

    I’d have killed for the flypress’s, press tools and scales out of here to go into a museum.

    There’s an idea, Birmingham should have a museum for the history of the jewellery quarter

    Anyways enjoy the pics

  2. Thanks given by: 5t3tcv743, consett, etc100, Hugh Jorgan, HughieD, Ipcre55, KPUrban_, krela, Mearing, oldscrote, One eyed Spaniel, RedX_unleashed, Rubex, smiler, Tigershark
  4. #2
    Join Date
    June 2014


    Thats a lovely place well documented!

  5. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  6. #3
    Join Date
    September 2005
    Bristol, UK.


    Very nice, thanks.

  7. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  8. #4
    Join Date
    January 2013
    People's Republic of South Yorkshire.

  9. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  10. #5
    Join Date
    February 2015
    Aberdeen, Scotland


    A nice history write-up and nice photos. It must have been a bit noisy with all those stampers going like hammers but what about the workers' hearing, I wonder how many suffered deafness in later life.
    When the going gets tough - the tough get going.

  11. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  12. #6
    Join Date
    February 2008
    Rawdon Leeds


    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Jorgan View Post
    It must have been a bit noisy with all those stampers going like hammers but what about the workers' hearing, I wonder how many suffered deafness in later life.
    A good estimate would be that for somebody who did this job for much of their working life - 95% would have lost the ability to hear the higher frequencies and between 10% and 15% would have been profoundly deaf at the end of their working lives. Introduction of ear/hearing protection was one of the most important pieces of H & S Law ever introduced. My uncle was completely deaf due to childhood illness at the age of seven and he always stated that deafness was a far more isolating condition than blindness. I understand what he meant - Standing in a crowded pub and seeing the happy crowd, but not hearing anything. However it depends on what you are and like doing - sight loss would stop me doing all my hobbies, complete hearing loss (already suffer the usual age related loss) would just be a social hinderance.

  13. Thanks given by: Hugh Jorgan
  14. #7
    Join Date
    November 2018


    Beautiful photographs

  15. #8
    Join Date
    October 2010
    Lost in Cornwall


    Nice set MR, I enjoyed it, Thanks

  16. Thanks given by: mockney reject
  17. #9
    Join Date
    April 2011


    Top stuff mate very nice
    my facebook page /
    my new website;

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DerelictPlaces is a forum for people with an interest in the history and documentation of disused, derelict and abandoned buildings to come together and share their experiences, photography and historical findings. Our military, industrial and historical heritage is fast disappearing under the pressure of regeneration, the need for new housing, and often through simple neglect; Our aim is to document these places before they disappear entirely.
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