Gold Dust

at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter


In role as a new batch of workers, the children begin the programme on their first day of work. It is 1890 and they have been brought from their slums to the jewellery factory where they are to work as apprentices. They try out some of the jobs they will be required to do – assembling necklaces, weighing gold for the other workers to make into jewellery and preparing invoices and orders. Under the stern gaze of Mr Jack and Miss Nancy the children experience the realities of working in a Victorian factory. They hear the hopes and dreams of their fellow workers for a better life, away from the poverty and dirt of the city; dreams that are thwarted when some gold is stolen. The children try to help and resolve the injustice of a false accusation and challenge Mr Jack on his working practices. Suggesting he has a responsibility for the way his workers behave, the children tell him how he could make life better for his workers.

Gold Dust took place in the award winning Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, the fascinating time capsule that is the Smith and Pepper factory in Hockley. The machinery, tools and processes the children experience have remained largely unchanged since the company began trading at the turn of the 20th century.

Keying into the English, History and PSHE curriculum, children

  • experienced an authentic working environment
  • encountered social attitudes and working conditions of the late Victorian era
  • investigated how Birmingham has changed over the last hundred years.


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