Jewellery Quarter



On the subject of dereliction, I spent the afternoon in Birmingham, and staring from the train window it really is amazing how much of the city lies derelict. When I think of British industrial decline and blight, I immediately picture distinctly 'northern' towns, miners, cobbles, that sort of thing. Birmingham seems so close to the south east that I find it hard to equate with being so violently backwards to its big sister London. But these days in the capital there is barely a square inch that has not been reappropriated and re-developed.

I was in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham and it was almost entirely empty. There are one or two 'trendy' internet start-ups, such as the one I was visiting, moving in to the rows of blank-fronted warehouses, but mostly it is street after street of empty dereliction. The area certainly paints a sombre picture of the remains of our once thriving manufacturing industry. In London, the entire place would have become loft apartments years ago. It actually reminded me a lot of Shoreditch when I first moved there in the mid nineties, just a few lonely artists and a pub, not even a corner shop to speak of. I wonder how long it will take for the Jewellery Quarter to become the seething wanky trend-pot that Shoreditch has become? It is of course inevitable, although I always dislike the gentrification of industrial areas. I like seeing the utilitarian victorian dirt lying alongside the sterile modern glamour in our cities.


9 comments:

Gaw said...

Nice post. I think the Jewellery Quarter has been about to happen for a long time now. I'm not sure the centres of these provincial cities are bound to revive. It's easy for an area to be edgy and therefore cool in London - it's a lot more difficult elsewhere. I think it's because the link with the old industries and their blight is a lot closer, because it's more recent and also because the population is less transient.

Gaw said...

Oh, and they're less rich and populous.

Word verification: Palkisse. German for a 'man "mwah mwah"'

Brian said...

Interesting post. I notice that the photo of Newman Brothers' was taken years ago - not that its changed much but to see what it looks like inside checkout: Newman Brothers'

The Jewellery Quarter is experiencing slow regeneration and is a great place to live in work. The mix of commercial, residential and historical gives the Quarter is unique atmosphere ;-)

worm said...

thanks for that Brian - very interesting! - do you by any chance work for a Jewellery quarter regeneration department, and were summoned here by google alerts?

and Gaw - so, in your opinion, what do you think will happen to some of these areas if they're not gentrified - do you think we'll see a Uk Detroit?

David said...

One area of the Jewellery Quarter is largely derelict but the majority of it is thriving. Also some buildings that look derelict are actually home to workshops :-)

Gaw said...

I think they'll probably stay pretty much as they are. But hey! what do I know? anything could happen. My point is regeneration has happened more slowly and in more limited fashion versus London and I don't see why this should change.

BTW I like Brum and lived there for a year.

worm said...

don't spoil it for me David! - I like it that its run down and empty! far better that it maintains its old character than because yet another faceless district of overpriced apartments and shiny coffee-shops. Here's hoping those workshops keep on for years to come!!

worm said...

Gaw - Im not sure that I can hand-on heart say that I like Brum - its just got too many crap boring 1930's red-brick houses in it for me - if there was more georgian housing stock I'd like it more, because Im hopelessly middle class like that

Brian said...

Hi Worm,
No I don't work for the Jewellery Quarter Regeneration! I'm a local resident with an interest in the JQ. I do use google alerts to source things of interest for myjq.tumblr.com.
More residents are moving into the area and a community is beginning to develop. A new Farmers' Market called 24 Carrots has recently been started.
If you're ever in Brum again I'd be happy to show you round some of the gems of the Jewellery Quarter ;-)