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Unity Works in Vittoria Street Birmingham
Unity Works in Vittoria Street Birmingham
The Unity works, also known as Vittoria works, 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 medalists, die sinkers etc of the firm of the same name.
Example of Henry Jenkins and Sons LTD makers mark & an example of of their produce
I couldn't find much history after this but i know the building was bought by heritage in 1992. "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."
Old Advertisement of Henry Jenkins & Sons LTD
2 other companies used the Unity works as well, B & G Silversmiths and William Adams LTD, both silversmiths. I can't find much about B & G, perhaps because they 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.
Example of William Adams LTD Hallmark & The second picture showing a piece created by the company with the clear WA initials to the top of the medallion.
Listed status description from British Heritage:
C1865 built as a toolmakers works and originally a symmetrical 12 bay front with narrower 3 bay shallow end breaks, extended in similar style with 5 slightly broader bays in 1898; architect J P Osborne for the same 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 break contains 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.
Oringinal Signage on the Unity Works
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. https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/commercial-property/jewellery-quarter-factory-conversion-set-11415369 & http://www.pcptarchitects.co.uk/2015/10/18/unity-vittoria-works/
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.
That is as much as I can find on the history, feel free to link me up with some more, as always it's a great pleasure reading up on these places after seeing them with your own eyes. Especially those hallmarks which actually seem very familiar from previous work relating to silver ware.
Was in Birmingham with Mockney Reject and Clebby mentioned this, whilst at a loose end after having a look at a few other industrial sites, we gave this a go, managed to find a very easy way in and had a rushed look around before the sun sank below the horizon which halted our visit as we ran out of light. Definitely have missed a fair bit here, although I'm aware since our visit a few others have taken a look so if there's much else of note then it would be interesting to see. Here's a few pictures of the works, drop forges and a few presses that thankfully were still present. I wasn't going to post anything as Clebby could easily do a better job than me having a lot more information and knowledge on this era of industry, but the more I've read about it, the more I've enjoyed writing this. So I hope you have as well and this isn't too long winded.
Another of the courtyard, just through the archway is the bottom floor of the factory where the drop forges are
Original Drop forges
When we first got in I was messaging Clebby and didn't really know what these were, he'd informed me what they were and how they were used and I've Just spent a bit of time looking up a bit more. Here's a diagram that explains how the company created the cutlery, plates and tools etc.
Drop forge diagram
Another shot from the other side
Section of the mechanical works of the drop forges, seemed as though it had been removed from the ceiling
Clocking cards and Entrance
Courtyard from the entrance
Assume these were the press moulds, some of them had produce such as door handles and plates still in them
More of the above
Avery scales in the same room
Cutlery produce including knives, forks and spoons for British Airways and Canada Air
More press moulds
More of the above and dated newspaper
Second floor, unfortunately empty except for some nice enamel lighting
Some millesque old wooden stairs