• 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

"Sweep and Bullion Assayer"?

jane k

master brummie
My grandfather William Henry Lyles Hayden (born 1883,died 1929) was a metallurgical assayer. On the 1911 census he was living in Lozells and his occupation was an assayer in the "sweep and bullion" trade.
I think this means he was involved in extracting precious metals from waste but I`d appreciate any other information on this. I believe he worked in foundrys rather than the jewellery trade


Super Moderator
Staff member
Yes, that assumption would be correct, though probably assaying material other than waste. during jewellery manufacture particulate matter containing precious metals accumulates in the building. Regularly this was collected either in the larger firms by their own employees, and by specialist outside people in the case of smaller firms. In more recent times special vacuum cleaners are used. This process can involve taking up the floorboards to get at the "sweepings" that have accumulated there. The workshop of Smith & Pepper had their own furnace where these sweepings were burnt to remove organic material. This would then be sent off for refining. I would assume that your grandfather worked for a refining co. there were a number in Birmingham at that time, two of them being the Sheffield Refining co in Warston lane and john Padmore & sons, Branston St


Ex-pat Brummie
Yes, Mike, spot on. My late nephew was foreman of the H. Samuel ring manufacture department and that was the procedure followed there.

Maurice :cool:

jane k

master brummie
thanks both of you. Unfortunately he died when my mother was only 5 so she didn`t know exactly where he worked. She could remember him once taking her to work with him and seeing the furnace