Portrait by Andy Pilsbury

James Butler has been involved with the Jewellery Quarter for most of his life, his parents both worked at Barker Brothers which was a large silversmithing company and a major employer in the area. James started an apprenticeship aged 17 at Henry Radcliffe where he also attended the School of Jewellery one day and week and two evenings learning silversmithing skills such as hammering, filing, soldering and hand raising. James then went on to be employed at A E Jones where he worked for twenty years, making many objects including chalices for churches and sporting trophies.

In 1984, James and an apprentice from AE Jones, Andrew Macgowan, decided to set up their own business called Regent Silversmiths. They rented a small workshop in the Deakin & Francis building and the business grew steadily. Eventually James and Andrew managed to buy a premises for their business on Frederick Street, with some help from Birmingham City Council. They have kept their Frederick Street workshop and continue to do their own work from there, but now have more flexible working hours.

James is proud of his career working as a silversmith and has won awards for his work including the Gold Award at the Goldsmiths Design and Craft Awards for a rose bowl that he made.

If I hadn’t left [A E Jones] when I did, I’d probably be out of work, I would have lost everything, So, meeting Andrew, and he suggested we go into business, was the best thing that ever happened. It took off from there.

– James Butler

Listen to James

James talks about staring up his business, Regent Silversmiths, with Andrew Macgowan