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A Brassworks under the Library of Birmingham


Birmingham was famous for brass working during the 19th century. Archaeological excavations before construction of the new Library of Birmingham revealed well-preserved remains of a 19th-century brass works under the car park that formerly occupied the site.


The works was known initially as the Union Rolling Mills, and later became Winfield’s Cambridge Street Works. It made decorative brass objects such as bedsteads and house fittings and later became involved in metal rolling, making gas fittings, and wire manufacture. The works developed in the 1820s following the construction of two canal arms. A large brass rolling and wire drawing mill along the north side of the Gibson’s Arm was powered by a Boulton and Watt steam engine. The archaeological remains found in the excavation also included machine bases, boiler flues, chimneys, hearths, furnaces and casting pits. The works was extended in the mid 19th century to cover the southern side of Gibson’s Arm and workshops and crucible furnaces were found here.


Excavations beneath Centenary Square found remains of the Broad Street Metal Works and Screw Manufactory on both sides of the Baskerville canal basin. The most substantial structures were a machine base and fly wheel pit. a detailed report on the excavations has been produced.

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Last Updated : 28th August 2013