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Friday, July 17, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, UK: DAY 3--MUSEUM OF THE JEWELLRY QUARTER









We spent most of the day at the Museum of the Jewellry Quarter (at left)

(http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/motjq.bcc).





The morning was taken up with the Annual General meeting of the Bead Society, held in one of the rooms in the museum .



Here are most of the BSGB members who attended the meeting. Normally there are about 25-30 members at the annual meeting but illness and personal emergencies cut down on the number of attendees this year.








We set up some of the same exhibits of beaded items that were on display at the John Peek Room but Margaret Carey also brought along her Turkish POW snake for us to see.





Margaret's Turkish POW snake, creatively mounted on a straw place mat.











When we broke for lunch, Don and I decided to grab a hot lunch at Rose Villa Tavern, one of the local pubs. We sat at a little table in view of this impressive bar and had a lunch of fish and chips and sausage, beans, and chips.










The outside of Rose Villa Tavern











The bar.








In the afternoon, a Jewellry Museum staff member gave us a fascinating tour of the museum. The museum is made up of the two houses that held the Smith and Pepper Company, one of many jewellry manufactures that were located in Birmingham. Smith and Pepper closed in 1981 after over 80 years in business. After the elderly owners failed to find a buyer for the factory, they simply fired the remaining 13 employees, locked the door, and walked away from the buildings. Everything was left as it was on that last day including dirty tea cups, overalls on hooks, and jars of marmite and jam. Nine years later, the Birmingham City Council raised enough money to turn the factory into a museum.


Our guide took us through the office with its antique adding machine and typewriter, the spiral staircase to the factory floor used only by management, the collection of stamping dyes, jewelers' bench, stamping machines, and other stations in the factory. Since our guide was also trained to use the equipment, he gave us a lively and informative view of the workings of the jewellry factory. We even got little brass scottie dogs as souvenirs of our tour.





Bead Society members in the factory office listening to our guide (standing by the famed spiral staircase).













Jeweller's bench with stations for 2 jewellers and 4 apprentices. The leather pieces hanging down from each station are there to collect the gold scraps and dust, which would be reclaimed at the end of each work day.












Another part of the factory. This is where our little scottie dogs were cut out.












Our souvenirs.











After our tour, Bead Society member headed home while Don and I took the metro back to central Birmingham. Here is the Jewellry Quarter metro stop. We were told by one of the Bead Society members that the green metal structures are antique toilet stalls that are now used as decoration.





















Back in central Birmingham, we walked along part of the canal system and ended up having delicious hamburgers at Handmade Burger Company (http://www.handmadeburger.co.uk/ ), one of the many restaurants and pubs along the canals.




Here is one of the restored long boats that are narrow enough to travel on the canal. Many of these boats have been turned into living spaces and even a restaurant.







Then it was back to the hotel to pack for our trip to Paris early in the morning. Except for the cool and rainy weather, we enjoyed our stay in Birmingham.


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