• Welcome to this forum . We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Gun Quarter or Gun Factory photos - plea for help


Brummie babby
Hi, I have set up a website about the Birmingham Gun Trade. I have tried to illustrate it with as many photos as possible and have quite a few of the present day locations (as they are fairly easy to take!). However, I have less of the locations from their heyday (slightly harder to obtain!), especially areas around the Gun Quarter that were ripped down for the ringroad developments. If anybody has any old photos that they would be happy for me to use I would be most grateful. One of the things I can find very little on is any of the Webley and Scott buildings around Weaman Row and Weaman Street.


That's great news Jon I wish you every success with you web site. The gun factories were so important to the city and their history should be preserved and in the public domain. I hope you get some pictures and info. I will sort out the info I have and send it to you. My best wishes. Wendy.

Ron Rogers

master brummie
Hi GunBoy
My Grandfather and many of my distant relatives were in the gun trade in Birmingham (18??- 1911) , could i please have the name of your website
thanks Ron Rogers


Brummie babby
Hi all, thanks for the interest and also from Wendy for some information about William Tranter. However....my original plea still stands, any photos out there please??!
I am aware of the Phyllis Nicklin ones that I have made use of but surely there must be some more photos out there of the Gun Quarter or environs? Well I live in hope anyway.
As well as photos, if anyone has got any information or stories that they would be happy to pass on I am more than willing to see if I can incorporate them on the site.
Anyway, thanks in advance and what a brilliant site this is!! J


master brummie
In the meantime, Hayboy, you could consider gun industry ads from some of the old directories. Good luck with your website. I am so pleased that you included maps.


Exiled Brummie
Hi, I put on some stuff some time ago but most of it was lost when we changed hosting. Here it is again.

" Birmingham Gun Quarter

I've got a copy of an article written by Dr D M Smith from the University of Manchester sometime around 1964. It makes fascinating reading (perhaps some of you have already read it.)

To paraphrase Dr D M Smith:

The Gun Quarter occupied an “L” shaped area on the western side of the General Hospital. The area contained an mixture of industrial and residential property, with the Georgian facades hiding a multitude of small factories and workshops created by the conversion and extension of what were originally built as town houses for the well-to-do. (see the illustrations earlier)

By no means all the workshops were occupied by gun makers, but it was as the gun manufacturing district that the area was recognised universally as a distinctive part of the city.

Two distinct concentrations of gun makers existed after the end of WW2, in the north around St Mary’s Row, Loveday Street and Price Street and to the south between Weaman Street, Whittall Strett and Steelhouse Lane.

“The concentration mentioned earlier represents the core of what was formerly a more extensive concentration, as the approximate limits of the Gun Quarter almost a century earlier indicate.” (See map on my first post)

“The first major incursion into the L-shaped area was made at the end of the 19th century when the Weaman Row-Russell Street area was cleared to make way for the General Hospital.

The reason for this concentration in such a small area is to be found in the organisation of the Gun Trade. At an early stage the need to speed up production led to division of labour and the trade soon separated into a number of branches, each specialising in one process. Perhaps the first activity to become clearly defined as a separate branch of the trade was the making of gun locks, which became concentrated in Wolverhampton and Willenhall during the 18th century. Barrel welding probably developed as a separate trade during the same period.

The Gun Trade thus became divided into two main sections – the “material makers”, producing the various parts of the guns and the “setters-up” who did the assembly and finishing. Between these came the manufacturer, or “gun maker”, who collected together the products of the material makers and then put them out to the setters-up.

Pigot’s Commercial Directory of Birmingham published in 1829 listed persons engaged in the gun trade under 14 different headings.” (Table 1 on my first post indicates the variety of activities operating as separate branches even at this early date.) “The complex organisation of the trade is further emphasized by J. D. Goodman’s list of workmen employed in 1865, which includes 32 separately distinguished activities in the material making section, together employing 3,420 workers and 19 setting-up trades with a combined labour force of 3,920.

A few branches of the gun trade, such as lock-making were undertaken in the Black Country. The location of barrel-making, which required some heavy machinery, was restricted by the need for water or steam power (only 9 of the 27 gun barrel makers in Pigot’s 1829 Directory had locations within the Gun Quarter.) Most branches, however, could be carried on in any small factory or workshop and their congregation in one particular part of Birmingham was a natural result of the need for close contact between material maker, manufacturer and setter-up. If materials had to be collected from or sent out to places beyond the Gun Quarter, additional costs would arise from the consequent expenditure of time and effort.”


Exiled Brummie
Hi, I'm having trouble putting on the photos. When I go to "Advanced" and select, then upload, photos they appear blank. Is this a current Forum problem? I've never had this problem before.
Thanks in advance for any advice.


If you have posted them before change the name of the pic and try again, this normally wotks.


Exiled Brummie
Thanks Mike, but I've renamed them with the word "New" preceeding the titles and still no good.
On the "Manage Attachments" screen when I "Add Files", instead of appearing on the "Home" section it goes straight to the "Attachments" bit but the thumbnail is greyed out although the file name appears.:(


Exiled Brummie
I've renamed them as numbers and managed to upload some. Can't work out why they won't upload with completely changed words!


Brummie babby
Hi David, thanks for posting the images (not as easy as you had hoped following the thread!). I have downloaded copies and will incorporate some/all of them onto the site. The last image of the Midland Gun Co is a great one. I have got a Phyllis Nicklyn one that show the converted chapel on the corner but not the other side of the street so that will make an interesting addition and comparison to the existing photo. Many thanks again, Jon

dek carr

gone but not forgotten
David the photo of the Midland Gun Co where is that? Is it on the corner of Loveday St and Shadwell St I am interested in the building on the opposite corner.Dek

Ray Barrett

The photo.(plate 29)inside a gunsmiths workshop is exactly as I remember it.
I worked at the British Hub in Weaman St.in the early 50s.the whole street was a hive of similar workshops,the one I worked in was the size of the one in your photo.and it contained about 15 belt driven centre lathes.We were paid 5/- for turning a gross of bicycle hubs,it was a sort of waiting room till National service called.Would not have liked to have missed it though,you could always pop in and watch the gunsmiths at work,what skill they had.