The wonderful annual JQFestival is fast approaching, celebrating all that is great about Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Well, did you know Birmingham City University, (BCU) has a School of Jewellery right in the heart of this area? It is located on Vittoria Street, No’s 82-86, not too far from the Golden Square. A recent visit to the School’s library, to become more familiar with the service and its stock, enabled me to unearth some gems of information on the rich educational history of the building.
During the late 19th century Birmingham’s jewellery trade grew. Consequently there was a demand for technical education in craft skills. In response, in 1888, the Birmingham Jewellers’ and Silversmiths’ Association and the Municipal School of Art began delivery of classes at the Ellen Street School to the west of the Quarter. It proved so popular that in 1890 oversubscription meant a move to the current Vittoria Street premises. Built in c 1865, on the former rear garden of No. 30 Frederick Street, the Venetian Gothic building had been acquired by William Randle for his goldsmith’s manufactory. Over time the building has been extended to meet need, most notably in 1911/12 and 1992/3.