By Steve Rose, research volunteer

Original house dated back to c. 1824 and was owned and occupied by a button maker, William Elliott, who also owned number 26 Frederick Street. William Elliott was registered as still living at there on the 1839 electoral roll where the property is described as a freehold house, warehouse and shops – the site of the older Western Half of the Regent Works. They made buttons at the Button Works (which was on the corner of Regent Street with Frederick Street).

In 1880 , a report in the Birmingham Post on 14 October revealed that the property was occupied by a William Henry Evans Fearn who was trading under the name of William Fearn as an elecro-plater and gilder at the Regent Works. The newspaper article reveals that he had filed a petition for liquidation with liabilities estimated at £2,100 and assets yet to be ascertained. His financial difficulties. This mirrored the financial problems being encountered by the Greenberg family at number 26 Frederick Street in the 1880s who filed a petition to appoint a receiver 3 years later in 1884.

The misfortunes of William Fearn perhaps paved the way for the changes to happen later in the 1880s. By 1888 the house and earlier workshop ranges were demolished and replaced by a new building containing warehousing, offices and a large first floor showroom designed by Douglas J Williams. The building is on an L plan, with the short arm of the L to Frederick Street incorporating offices and a showroom and the long arm was warehousing.

This was built for the Berndorf Metal Works Company, an Austrian Company which also traded in Birmingham and Sheffield. The Birmingham operation was described as follows:  the building is large and important in appearance and is evidently designed for the business; the firm are manufacturers of a great variety of metal goods, rolled metal, wire and tubing, goods in white alloy and nickel, and should be able to command a very extensive trade. The manager is Mr. B. S. Spittle [1] 

Arthur Heckford who was the manager of the works in 1893, is registered in the 1891 census as an agent in the silver metal trade born in 1858 and residing with his wife and family in Hampton in Arden. He features in both the 1901 and 1911 Censuses as a Metal Merchant living with his family in Solihull.

Recent years have seen the complete refurbishment of the building to reflect some of the changes in the Quarter. In 2006 it became the Vertu Bar and ten years later was refurbished again to become the current Button Factory, a bar and dining establishment, opened in June 2016.

Although unlike many of the buildings in the area, 25 Frederick Street is not a listed building, an article in the Birmingham Mail of 8 June 2016 revealed how the latest modifications had restored sympathetically many of the original features of the 1824 house.

[1] The Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith – 1st June 1889.

Building Timeline

c. 1824 - 1839

Original house owned and occupied by a button maker, William Elliott


Occupied by a William Henry Evans Fearn, an elecro-plater and gilder


House and earlier workshop ranges were demolished and replaced by a new building containing warehousing, offices and a large first floor showroom for Berndorf Metal Works Company


Becomes Vertu Bar

2016 - present

The Button Factory, a bar and dining establishment

Berndorf Metal Works advert from 1893