Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,518 pages of information and 233,949 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Britannia Nail Works

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of Birmingham

Formerly the home of the Britannia Brewery[1]

1836 Advert: 'TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by E. and C. ROBINS, ...... all that extensive Establishment formerly the Britannia Brewery, now the BRITANNIA NAIL WORKS, occupying a space of between two and three Acres of Freehold Land, on the banks the Birmingham Canal, between Walmer-lane and Aston-road, and extending to Blews-street, where it has its entrance from the town ; the whole inclosed by close gates and high walls. The centre building is an immense, lofty, and substantial pile, occupied by the machinery for cutting and forming nails ; and the buildings surrounding tbe court consist of workshops, warehouses, packing-rooms, store-rooms, and counting-houses, and a suitable abode for a resident partner or active superintendant; and with a view to further extension in case of need, large quantity of land is secured and now inclosed within the walls fronting to Blews-street. This valuable Freehold Property is perhaps the most extensive and comprehensive in its advantages any in the town, and is well adapted any kind of manufacturing or mercantile business. For further particulars .....'[2]

1844 Works visited by the King of Saxony[3]

1846 Visit of Ibrahim Pascha to Birmingham: 'From the Proof-House Ibrahim was conducted to the Britannia nail manufactory, where every kind of this article, from the tenpenny-nail, so famous in nursery song, down to the smallest tin-tack is turned by millions out of hand. The celerity of the operation and the vast number of nail-cutting machines driven by one steam engine appeared to have resolved the difficulty which the prince had previously felt as to how it was possible to sell useful articles of manufacture at such apparently incommensurate prices.'[4]

Prosser The Engineer: "A Forgotten Birmingham Genius" - Richard Prosser's life and work is being studied in depth by Susan Darby, and a wealth of information has been made available online. The instalment of his biography 'Rescuing Richard: The Brothers' Feud & The "Chunk" Conundrum' covers information concerning The Britannia Nail Works.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 13 September 1830
  2. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 17 October 1836
  3. Aris's Birmingham Gazette - Monday 1 July 1844
  4. London Daily News - Wednesday 17 June 1846