Jewellery Quarter in good ‘nick’

By on 11/09/2009 in News

A one time women's prison, a former jewellery workshop and a beautiful 18th century church are just some of the venues opening to the public on 11-13 September as part of ArtsFest, the UK's biggest free arts festival and Heritage Open Days – England's biggest voluntary cultural event.

Amongst the highlights in Birmingham this year is a chance to take a tour behind the scenes at The Vaults restaurant in Newhall Place which had previously been a brewery, a workhouse and a women's prison. 

The annual Heritage Open Days allow people to visit buildings for free that are usually closed to the public or charge for admission. 

Visitors to the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter throughout Saturday will be able to receive temporary henna body art from Ranjit Kaur Mendi Design. 

There will also be a performance of the Anglo Sikh heritage play 'The Maharajah & The Kohinoor' which tells the story of which tells the story of the Maharahjah Duleep Singh and the time he spent at the court of Queen Victoria. 

The play a positive  response when it was recently performed at the Tower of London. 

Throughout Friday - Saturday there will also be costumed guided tours of the former Smith and Pepper workshop. 

Other highlights on the weekend in the Jewellery Quarter will be live drama, street theatre and music at St Paul's Church, poetry workshops in the Pen Room Museum and internationally recognised theatre company 'Stans Café' will be previewing a new version of their show “Giant Steps” at the A.E. Harris press works factory. 

There will also be guided walks of Key Hill cemetery and, at the Fine Art showroom, artist Robert Bowers will be attempting to beat the world record at speed painting.

Amongst the other venues in the Jewellery Quarter taking part this year will be Newman Brothers' Coffin Fitting Works - who made the coffin furniture for Dian - Princess of Wales, JW Evans - The Silver Factory, The RBSA Galleries and St Paul's Gallery   For a full guide to all of the venues taking part in this years Heritage Open Days, please visit and click on 'West Midlands'.

Throughout the weekend there will be a free hourly vintage bus service from the ArtsFest bus stop on Margaret Street in the city centre to the Jewellery Quarter, there will be special ArtsFest entertainment during some journeys. See bus stops or Info Points for full timetable. 

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport & Culture, commented:  “The Jewellery Quarter offers local people and visitors to the city a unique glimpse into the history of one of Birmingham's great industries.  The venues provide a magnificent setting for the broad range of free arts and cultural activities on offer during ArtsFest and Heritage Open Days. 

ArtsFest is the UK's biggest free arts festival and is organised by Birmingham City Council with support from a huge number of sponsors, partners, arts organisations and volunteers.  For more information go to or contact the ArtsFest team on 0121 464 5678.


Media contact:  Jason Lewis  0121 303 4266
Notes to Editors

Saturday 12 September

RBSA 1st & 2nd Floor Galleries
10:30-17:00  Friends of RBSA Open Exhibition Work by contemporary Birmingham artists

RBSA 1st Floor Gallery
11:00-12:00  Connie Wan Art historian Connie Wan disucsses RBSA founder Samuel Lines.

14:00-16:00  John Shakespeare
Demonstration of oil painting techniques

12:30-13:00  Stella Maris Six Wives - Music from in and around the court of Henry VIII

13:30-14:00  The Rose Trio

St Paul's Gallery
12:15-12:30   The Mandrills

13:00-13:30   Gabbidon

14:00-14:30   SheBang

15:00-15:30   Mr Cricket Wonky wonderful music for everybody

16:00-16:30   The Lights

St Paul's Church
12:00-12:30   Black Adder Clog Morris North Western style clog Morris

12:45-13:15   Bloco Louco – Samba percussion band

13:30-14:00   Acapella Birmingham Chamber Choir

14:15-14:45  Someone-at-the- Door Samba Band

The Pen Room
12:30-14:00   SMART Poets, Poetry Workshop

The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
10:00-16:00  Take this opportunity to discover the skill of the jeweller's craft and enjoy a unique tour of an original jewellery factory, frozen in time.

The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter
10:30-15:30  Ranjit Kaur Mendi Design Henna Body Art Applying temporary henna body art to visitors throughout the day

10:00-10:30  Anglo Sikh Heritage Play The Maharajah & The Kohinoor Story of Maharajah Duleep Singh

Key Hill Cemetery
13:00-13:30  MDCC Theatre Company The Hamlet Globetrotters Comedy sketches based on Shakespeare

Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September

A.E. Harris Factory
10:00-18:00   Stan's Café – Giant Steps

The Pen Room
11:00-16:00  Located in a former pen factory. The Pen Room recalls the history of the Birmingham Pen Trade and all the companies involved. Exhibits and displays provide an insight into the variety of pens and writing equipment manufactured during the Nineteenth Century and the first half of the Twentieth Century, by companies situated in and around the Jewellery Quarter. The Pen Room is suitable for people of all ages and there is something of interest for everyone

UK Fine Arts Fine Art Showroom
11:00-17:00  Visit the UK Fine Arts Showroom in the prestigious Jewellery Quarter district to browse sculptures and paintings by International artists such as Tony Evans, Willard Wigan MBE (the world-famous micro-sculptor) Stanley Kerr, Kieran Crowder, Len Gifford and many more. Viewing is usually by appointment only however the showroom will be fully open to the public throughout the ArtsFest weekend when artist Robert Bowers will be attempting a world record at speed painting to see how many famous faces he can paint within 24 hours starting midday on Saturday. After midday on Sunday they will go on sale - first come first served!

Key Hill Cemetery
11.00 -13.00,
12:00- 14:00
and 12:00- 14:00 Guided Cemetary Walks
Looking at those buried in the Cemetery from Birmingham's past including the Bird family (the inventors of custard and blamange), Joseph Chamberlain and Robert Lucas Chance (whose glass company glazed Crystal Palace)

Sunday 13 September

RBSA 2nd Floor Gallery
4:00-14:30   Voices of City of Birmingham Choir Mini-Concert

15:00-15:30   Voices of City of Birmingham Choir Mini-Concert

St Paul's Gallery
12:00-12:30   HINGe

13:00-13:30   Four Lovers

14:00-14:30   Sons Of The Desert

15:00-15:30  The Beautiful Thief

Key Hill Cemetery
14.00 -14.30  Alexander Locket and Ian England - Project Pigeon

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