By Tony Chesters, research volunteer

The Victoria Works was built for Joseph Gillott to produce steel pen nibs by his new pressing method. The building was partly designed by Charles Edge of Birmingham. It is a listed building because of its importance in the industrial development of Birmingham and because of the international importance of this first mass production of pen nibs. It occupies a large site, with a frontage in Graham Street from Frederick Street to Vittoria Street and back as far as number 20 Vittoria Street. The company were producing pens there until 1956 when they moved to Dudley. Various businesses used the buildings after this, many, but no all, linked to jewellery.

T Holland were long term tenants (1959 – 1981) but during this period others only stayed for a short time. By the mid 1980’s the buildings were quite run down and were refurbished and converted into apartments and offices in the early 1990’s. This use continues to this day with an eclectic mix of business  premises as well as residential apartments occupying the site.


Building Timeline

1839 - 1840

Built for Joseph Gillott as a purpose built steel pen factory


Mass production of pen nibs on site reaches 105 million, more than 80% of world-wide production


Visit by Albert, Prince of Wales (later King Edward V11), and Princess Alexandra


A bust of Queen Victoria added to the frontage to mark her Golden Jubilee


Invention of the Biro led to reduced demand for nibs from the 1940's onwards


Firm leaves the site for new factory near Dudley

1957 – 1985

Site used by various businesses

1985 - 1994

The building was extensively restored and now comprises offices and apartments