Portrait by Andy Pilsbury

Tony Evans’ grandfather Jenkin set up the business in Albion Street in 1880, initially making dies and tools, and later creating a range of his own silver holloware products which he sold only to other manufacturers. In 1919 Jenkin formed a limited company as J W Evans & Sons, Ltd with himself and his two sons Harold and Austen as directors. After finishing school at 16, Tony came into the business where he learned each of the skills in the factory such as soldering, stamping, toolmaking, and book keeping. In addition he also gained a City and Guilds Certificate in Silversmithing and Design at the Vittoria Street School of Art.

Tony was called up for national service aged twenty and spent two years in the RAF. It was during this time that he met his wife Pat. When Tony returned to the business in 1961, he balanced a busy work life with marriage in 1963, and having a young family. The silver goods the company made for other manufacturers always bore their own makers’ marks. In 1980, on the 100 year anniversary of the company Tony registered JWE for the first time as the J.W.Evans hallmark at the Birmingham Assay Office. In 2008, the Grade II* listed building and its archive and tooling were sold to English Heritage, and the business closed.

J W Evans is regarded as one of the most complete surviving historic factories in the Jewellery Quarter, and probably in the country. It is now an English Heritage museum.

Once a stamper had been through Evans’ stamp shop and had been shown how to overcome all the difficulties of metal stamping, that person would be quite valuable in the eyes of our competitors who would then try and poach some of our people, because if a man had been in the Evans’ stamp shop for some time he would have a very good CV.

– Tony Evans

Listen to Tony

Tony talks about the improvements to the J W Evans building in the 1980s