When the proprietors of the Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing firm decided to retire in 1981 they ceased trading and locked the door, unaware they would be leaving a time capsule for future generations. Tools were left strewn on benches; grubby overalls were hung on the coat hooks; and dirty teacups were abandoned alongside jars of Marmite and jam on the shelf.
In the 80 years before its closure, little changed with the working practices or equipment used within the family-owned business. Even the décor had more in common with early 20th-century trends than a thriving business in the early 1980s. Today the factory is a remarkable museum, which tells the story of the Jewellery Quarter and Birmingham’s renowned jewellery and metalworking heritage.
Highlights are: a visit to the Smith & Pepper factory by guided tour. Allow one hour for guided tour. Last tour is approximately one hour before closing. The maximum number of people on each tour is 18; the museum shop, which stocks a range of locally made designer-maker jewellery; live demonstrations at the jeweller’s bench showing how the Smith & Pepper bangle was made; the vast array of original tools, stamps and machinery that remains inside the factory.