I’ve just completed the last of three elevational drawings for my brother Alan (and his wife Lesley!). The first two were of Queen Square in Bristol, but the final one ended up being of Vittoria Junior School of Arts+Crafts, Birmingham (now Birmingham School of Jewellery). A slightly strange choice you might think – although I just love Brum’s Jewellery Quarter. In fact, this was our father’s school from the age of 13 until (we think) he was apprenticed to Dams and Lock (printers) at the age of 16. The new school had been opened in the (then) factory building at 84 Vittoria Street in 1890 as a school for the jewellery and silverware industry - housing up to 460 boys from the age of twelve and a half years.We don’t really know how or why Ron (as a working class youngster) attended this school, but it might be linked to the fact that his father Fred had been a “jewellery worker” (according to the 1911 census). The Birmingham Jewellery and Silversmiths Association had been keen to set up a school for the industry and so perhaps they had encouraged attendance by boys (yes, just boys at that time!) of their own workers?
Photo: a poor quality image, I'm afraid, of the completed drawing (too big to scan!)
Background: The Birmingham School of Jewellery and Silversmithing was established in 1890 as a branch of the School of Art when Martin+Chamberlain converted a goldsmith's factory, built in 1865 to a design by J. G. Bland. The top storey was added in 1906 by Cossins, Peacock & Bewlay who also designed the south extension in 1911. The school was acquired by Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham City University) in 1989, along with an adjoining site.
The university commissioned Associated Architects who designed a further south extension which was constructed between 1992 and 1993. They also redesigned much of the interior, creating a full-height atrium with gallery access to workshops. The reception area can also be used as exhibition space. The project won the 1995 RIBA Architecture Award and the 1996 Civic Trust Award.