The history of penmaking around Britain

Colin Waters explores Britain’s penmaking industry, particularly associate with Birmingham. Vast fortunes were once made from manufacturing the humble pen nib. For example, Josiah Mason and Joseph Gilliot, from Sheffield, came from poor uneducated backgrounds but went on to make their fortunes in the trade. Mason used his fortune for philanthropic purposes, including founding Birmingham … Read more

Trace your Birmingham roots

There’s a wealth of material to help you to discover how your ancestors lived, worked and worshipped in England’s second city, as Doreen Hopwood explains. Today, Birmingham is home to over a million people and is renowned for its multicultural diversity. It’s come a long way since 1086, when the Domesday Book described it as … Read more

Woman of the waterways

From Mid Wales to the Black Country and back, Hannah Evans had a hard life on the canal system, writes Raymond Humphreys. Life could be hard for anyone sucked into the early industrial revolution. The story of my great-grandmother, Hannah Evans, illustrates this. Hannah was born in Guilsfield, Montgomeryshire in 1848, the second of the … Read more