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The Jewellery Quarter is a 'villagey' gem at the heart of the city

The Jewellery Quarter is an historic, vibrant and happening place in the city.

St Paul's Church and St Paul's Square, Hockley.

The Jewellery Quarter is an historic, vibrant and happening place in the city. Jayne Howarth discovers that people who live and work in the JQ love the community feel of the place and that it’s also a great place to get a business idea off the ground.

 
The centre of the UK’s jewellery making sector, The Jewellery Quarter , is now more than just the place to buy diamonds and high-end designer watches.

An historic part of the city, it dates back more than 250 years and is a designated conservation area that boasts the only Georgian square in the city, St Paul’s Square, the centre of which is St Paul’s Church, a Grade I listed building known as the Jewellers’ Church.

An area of more than 200 listed buildings, it has undergone a transformation over the past ten years, becoming a place where you not only work, but where you also live and play.

And it’s hard to miss all the residential development work that has been going on in the Quarter, with restorations of former factories and new builds adding further lustre to the area.

These include the £14.5 million Badge Works opened in 2014, creating a series of townhouses and apartments in Tenby Street; Kettle Works in Icknield Street, which will be a complex with 550 apartments; and the second phase of The Quarter in Warstone Lane was bought by Delph Properties for £16 million.

More: 'Desperately needed' go-ahead for Jewellery Quarter flats

Popular with single professionals and couples, it’s also attracting families who want to take advantage of a villagey feel in the city centre.

So what is the attraction of the JQ?

Tina Francis, a tapestry maker who has lived and worked in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter for the past two years, said she enjoyed the city living with a community feel.

“Living in an area where making happens is important to me,” she said.

Before returning to Birmingham, she lived in Brighton, where she ran the Central Trail for Artists Open Houses, a festival that takes place every May.

Last year, she organised the first Jewellery Quarter Open Studios with the support of Jewellery Quarter BID (Business Improvement District), which saw open studios, workshops, heritage venues and a brewery open up for a weekend.

“That’s what I like about the Jewellery Quarter. If you have an idea it’s possible to get it working quickly.”

She is now developing plans for this year’s event, which takes place on July 23 and 24.

Brian Simpson for Jewellery Quarter(Image: 2014 Marta Kochanek)

IT consultant Brian Simpson moved to Birmingham from Northamptonshire with partner Mark 12 years ago and fell in love with the JQ.

“Initially we moved to Birmingham and rented,” said the 57-year-old. “We spent 18 months looking to buy all over Birmingham. It just happened that we rented in the JQ and during these 18 months we fell in love with the area.”

When they first moved to George Street, the JQ had about 3,000 residents. There are now nearly 7,000 residents and that figure is expected to rise to about 10,000 by 2020.

“We saw that the area was on a ‘tipping point’, ” explained Brian, who lives in Fleet Street and also has an office in the Jewellery Business Centre, on Spencer Street.

“New independent businesses were opening up all over the JQ, as well as new bars, restaurants and coffee shops. We can walk to the city centre in only ten minutes and we’re in easy reach of Centenary Square. Basically – location, location, location!”

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Brian is behind the MyJQ Twitter account, which has about 17,000 followers, and he’s also a trustee of the Blue Orange Theatre in Great Hampton Street, as well as a supporter of the Birmingham Conservation Trust based in the Coffin Works.

“I have become quite involved in the JQ community,” he said. “There is fascinating history and heritage on every street.

“There is an eclectic range of architecture, which include over 200 listed buildings, and some real modern eye-sores.”

Jodie Cook, managing director of JD Social Media Ltd, lives in Newhall Street with husband Ben. She says: “I love living in the Jewellery Quarter because of its greenery and independent coffee shops – especially now Urban Coffee does Sunday roasts!

“The JQ also has excellent sporting facilities – I train at MSC Performance, a world-class strength and conditioning gym on Clement Street, and love bouldering at Birmingham Bouldering Centre.”

What is there in the JQ?

The Jam House in St Paul's Square, Jewellery Quarter.

Food and drink

If you love dining out, there are more than 30 restaurants in the JQ, including Anderson’s Bar & Grill, Pasta Di Piazza, Lasan, Fleet Street Kitchen, and Two Cats Kitchen.

You’ll never want for a pint in the JQ. Favourite haunts include: The Church, known for its superb food, The Lord Clifden, voted Best Entertainment Pub 2015 and known for its urban art collection, the Actress And Bishop, The Shakespeare Inn and Rose Villa Tavern.

You are also never far away from a caramel macchiato in the Jewellery Quarter.

Independent coffee shops include Urban Coffee, Pomegranate, Saint Kitchen, and Eight Foot Grocer – a little independent store that serves food, coffee as well as deli items.

If cocktails are your thing, tantalise your tastebuds at the JQ’s many bars, including Vertu, The Vaults, and the newly opened gin joint 40 St Paul's.

More: Third new craft beer bar to open in Jewellery Quarter

Entertainment

Dance the night away at The Jam House, see performances at the independent Blue Orange Theatre, and view plays and art projects at Stan’s Café Theatre.

Culture

Spend a day wandering around the RBSA art gallery, Museum Of The Jewellery Quarter, Pen Museum, Coffin Works and Wonderful World Of Trains And Planes.

Schools

Although there are no primary schools within the Jewellery Quarter zone, Brookfield Primary is in Hockley, on the edge of the Quarter. Its last Ofsted in December 2013 rated the school as “good”. There is also Nelson Primary School, Ladywood, which was graded as “good” in April 2015; and St Edmund’s Catholic School, Springhill, which was also given a “good” rating by Ofsted in its last inspection in May 2014. The JQ has two secondary schools – Perry Beeches II, in Newhall Street, which opened in September 2012, and Perry Beeches IV, in Albion Street, which opened in September 2014. They are both free schools.

See more from the Jewellery Quarter here.

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