Memories and Smells of Birmingham’s Metalwork Industry

The smells of the Birmingham jewellery quarter and it’s many industries and workshops came flooding back to me when we began to hunt down industrial metal cabinets with a view to selling. That familiar aroma of swarf and machine lubricating fluids albeit not everyone’s favourite scent certainly holds a special place in my heart.

I reminisced how fortunate I was as a student at Birmingham School of Fine Art and later as an artist sharing studios in Birmingham to have access to the largest steel stockholders to the smallest supplier for just about anything I required. They were always very helpful and never dismissive of my occasional, somewhat unorthodox ideas.

These steel cabinets have a real sense of familiarity and recognition about them. Although they are still used for a multitude of purposes within various metal working industries we feel they can still have a place within a domestic or commercial setting. Coming in a diverse melange of sizes and uses we are proud to have located some quite unique pieces.

However, unlike my fond memories of oily smells we have given these pieces some intensive steam cleaning with an industrial steamer kindly lent to us by a local garage in Hockley that has looked after our vehicles for many years. Now, the only fragrance is that of beeswax which is used in the finishing process.

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