Birmingham Office History

/ / Birmingham Office History

Our Office Manager has been researching our Birmingham office…

Talent Hive moved into their current premises in 2018. The building is known locally as the Flaghouse, as it once housed a large ship’s mast through the centre of the building (and through the roof) which was used as a flag pole. Unfortunately the top half of the mast came down in treacherous weather some time ago (I’m glad I wasn’t anywhere near when it did!) however the base still stands prominently in the entrance of the building.

The FlagHouse is one of a multiple use buildings in the historic Victoria Works. The collection of buildings are Grade II listed in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. It was built in 1839–40 for Joseph Gillott, who manufactured pen nibs, and was one of the first purpose-built factories in the Jewellery Quarter. It is situated opposite the Argent Centre, another building constructed for industrial use around the same period. The factory was one of the largest of its kind, with nearly 600 workers. Steam engines of 60 horsepower powered the mass production of the nibs.

Joseph Gillott had an important part to play in the development of Birmingham. After a brief period of schooling, Gillott began working in the cutlery trade in his home town of Sheffield. In 1821 he moved to Birmingham, where he found employment in the steel toy trade, the technical name for the manufacture of steel buckles, chains and light ornamental steel-work generally.

About 1830 he turned his attention to the manufacture of steel pens by machinery. His company rapidly became successful and Gillott was soon a very wealthy man. It was rumoured locally that he buried some of his money in his cellar so that it did not become known that he had acquired so much. He certainly spread his cash across a number of bank accounts in Birmingham. In 1840 he opened his Victoria Works; the business employed mainly girls. Gillott also invested in the new railway companies and especially in property and land – not only in Birmingham, where he bought a large estate in Edgbaston, but also in London and Wales.

More information on the Jewellery Quarter, Joesph Gillott and the Victoria Works can be found the English Heritage guide you can download here.