Assay Office Birmingham throws open doors for public event

Ex-employees of the Assay Office Birmingham get a tour around the Newhall Site.

With only a few weeks to go until the Assay Office Birmingham begins the move to its new home on the other side of the Jewellery Quarter, ex-employees (pictured) and current staff welcomed their friends and families to visit the current Newhall Street site before it closes.

The building was purpose built in 1877, but has steadily been redeveloped and expanded to create a maze of rooms, corridors and two staircases which comprise the Assay Office now.

Visitors were treated to a tour of the private library and silver collection, including some rare and valuable articles from as far back as 1773.

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Guests were also invited to see live hallmarking demonstrations by assayer Diana Donnelley, hand-marker Faye Grove and hallmarking supervisor Rose Nightingale.

Meanwhile in the Laser Room, Suki Singh was showcasing work from the other end of the technical spectrum as he lasered hallmarks onto curved hollow pieces.

Ex-staff were also surprised to see the AnchorCert Analytical laboratory and the old ‘smoking room’ where the visibility was once seriously impaired by cigarette smoke. Now the space is filled with state-of-the-art equipment to test for harmful substances in leather and textiles.

The new site of the Assay Office is located within the St George’s development and Enterprise Zone fronting Icknield Street in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

Commenting at the ground breaking ceremony in May 2014, Birmingham Assay Office chief executive and Assay master, Stella Layton, explained: “The new building will enable us to offer better facilities to our customers in terms of efficiency and security and much better, working conditions for our staff. It will provide a centre of excellence to the local trade and make our important private collection of silver and our library more accessible to researchers and other enthusiasts.


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