16 Frederick Street was built around 1870 as a small jewellery factory, at a time when the local area was being developed from residential to industrial premises. What began as an outer residential suburb for Birmingham’s landowning and professional classes gave way to factories and workshops for jewellers and other metal goods manufacturers.
The first occupants were Thomas Godfrey and Andrew Cotterell, both listed in Kelly’s 1872 trade directory simply as ‘jewellers’. In a newspaper advert from 1881, Godfrey advertised for an apprentice who could make ‘bright gold earrings’.
Samuel Mordecai Levi followed, and after landing from Australia, set up shop in around 1891, staying for 20 years before moving premises to Vyse Street. Like many others in the area, Levi made a range of silverware including candle sticks, match cases and photo frames. Herbert Samuel Willis was at 16 Frederick Street at the same time as Levi, and listed in the 1892 trade directory as an Australian agent, commissioning jewellery to local firms. He lived in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire a small village on the river Sowe. He lived there with his wife Florence and his three servants – Agnes, Frederick and Emma but he seems to have been living above his means! He appeared in front of the Birmingham bankruptcy Court in 1908 due to debts of £2741.
From the 1920s, the building was occupied by larger companies rather than artisan jewellers and small businesses that had come before. S Blanckensee & Sons were originally based next door at 14 – 15 Frederick Street and incorporated number 16 into their premises in 1924. They started out as factors, obtaining orders from retailers and putting the work out to a network of makers. They later started to manufacture jewellery as goldsmiths, silversmiths and diamond mounters.
In 1978, R. E. V. Gomm moved in and remained in the building until 1998. They designed and manufactured a range of enamel badges for brands, schools and societies, football clubs and transport enthusiasts.
Built and then occupied by jewellers Thomas Godfrey and Andrew Cotterell
Occupied Samuel Mordecai Levi, gilt jewellery manufacturer and Herbert Samuel Willis, Australian agent
John Silverston, jeweller, J H Stell & Co, gold chain manufacturers and James Bros, manufacturing jewellers all based here
Occupied by S Blanckensee & Son Ltd, manufacturing goldsmiths who were also based at 14 - 15 Frederick Street
R.E.V Gomm, badge makers were based here until the late 1990s
1000 Trades opens, a neighbourhood bar and kitchen