Portrait by Inès Elsa Dalal

Cornellius got his first job in the Jewellery Quarter whilst he was at school, delivering diamonds and precious stones on Saturdays and one day during the week. After he left school, he returned to the area and got a job at Barker Ellis where he started in the soldering shop, putting the feet on items such as silver goblets and condiment sets. After about six months, Cornellius was moved to the stamping shop where he stamped out parts for candelabra, tea sets and trays. He also gained experience of flat hammering, emboss rolling and electroplating whilst at the company. In around the year 2000, the company closed and Cornellius got a job at another local firm, WJ Bakers where he did flat hammering – a type of skilled metal forming for larger household items. Cornellius also worked at JW Evans for a short period of time and then went to work on a self-employed basis for Barker Ellis and Chatterley.

Cornellius is a volunteer at the Coffin Works Museum and enjoys sharing his experiences of working in the Jewellery Quarter with visitors, and particularly the time he spent in the stamping shops perfecting his skills.

Every once in a while my mum would say to me, “Have you been working in the acid shed?” and she’d hold my washing up and it would be full of holes in it, you don’t know there’s holes in your clothes till you wash them, they just fall to pieces. I did get quite a few acid splashes over the years and I‘ve still got a few marks on my arms there.

– Cornellius Sullivan

Listen to Cornellius

Cornellius talks about the process of flat hammering