A new heritage group set up this autumn will work to keep at bay concerns that historic buildings and traditional skills may be lost from the famous, 300-year-old Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.
Last year, English Heritage placed the area on its Conservation Areas at Risk list as being of “medium” vulnerability. However, in the list published in October for 2012, the jewellers district came off the list completely. Now the new group will campaign to make sure it stays that way.
Its leader, Marie Haddleton, who also edits a local magazine, and has worked in the area for some three decades, established Jewellery Quarter Heritage, and aims to work closely in conjunction with Birmingham City Council to create “affordable” workspace, attract new businesses to the district, and oversee the conversion of empty buildings back in to workshops.
She explained that the council had reduced its conservation officers to just a couple of them, while the Jewellery Quarter Regeneration Partnership Land and Property Group has also been lost.
Funds for the new group, which will have “supporters” rather than members, will come from voluntary donations.
The group is also campaigning for traditional jewellery making skills to be kept in the quarter.
Haddleton explained: “Technology has meant a change to some of these skills, inevitably. But the future of the jewellery industry will depend on having a fresh influx of designer-makers.
“Although the council does provide some affordable workshops for up to a year, the problem is what happens after that.
“Most local schemes for refurbishment are for offices or homes, and while there’s a lot of talk about ‘affordable housing’, workshops at good prices are never mentioned. But jewellery designers do not need a lot of space, only a small area with a workbench and basin, water and gas.
“Having a mixture of workshops and residential spaces doesn’t always work. We keep an eye on the planning applications coming in to check that they are in accordance with the management plan.”
Visit The Quarter!
The Quarter is the original website for Birmingham’s jewellery quarter, complete with a history of this district, in the heart of one of the UK’s most important cities.
You can also get all the travel information you need, along with a detailed map, and a lowdown on precious metals, diamonds and other gemstones.
As well as plenty of places to buy jewellery, this part of Birmingham is also full of places to eat and drink, as well as galleries and museums. There’s even a School of Jewellery! So you’ll have no shortage of opportunities to relax and celebrate after buying, say, a diamond engagement ring.
While you’re in the Quarter, either virtually or literally, check out Marlow’s Diamonds, for a full range of engagement, wedding, eternity and multi-stone rings, along with a selection of other jewellery.
We’ve been trading for more than three generations and deal only in diamonds of the finest cuts, colour and clarity. All come with independent certificates from globally recognised bodies. Learn more online.